Alright, so I think everyone is aware that I am a large advocate of HOHs, and look back at a better time when there were more of them. ‘Head-of-household’ was a term that people of the non-spanking persuasion used quite frequently and quite consciously. Those were good times.
But you talk of men being the head of household NOW and people will look at you as if you just asked them for a weasel sandwich. I understand why. Times have certainly changed—whether or not they changed for the better is HIGHLY debatable, but they HAVE changed, and for the first time since the dawn of time one half of the population is now trying to do exactly what the other half had spent since the beginning of time getting good at. I think it’s not our role as women to be HOH—not that we don’t have power. I believe, in fact, that we have more power than anyone in our family—we are naturally attuned to everyone’s emotions and can either hold a family together or tear it apart, depending on how we use this power. But we aren’t head-of-household because we tend to get caught up more in the drama of life than in the practicalities. We tend to enjoy problems rather than try to fix it, except for the ones that don’t need fixing—we like fixing those.
This has been our role—our strengths, and our problems, since time was known as ‘time’, and it was perfectly natural. We’re social creatures for a reason, and we are truly in our element when we deal with feelings, connections, and health. But for everything else, we started along the line to put men in charge of that, maybe because we didn’t want their awful responsibilities to start with. I don’t know, but the men’s job as protector, bread-winner, alliance-maker, war-fighter, politician and handyman is not ‘fun’, and neither is the unpopular position of HAVING the “last word” on something. And so we gave it up to men and promised, in return to try to ‘obey’ them.
But now, women are really opposed to the whole “obeying” point. And normally not because they don’t think that someone in the relationship needs to be obeyed, only they’d rather have their cake and eat it, too. But the men so far, in the last couple of decades, have merely shrugged their shoulders, and found it in themselves to negotiate a position that they spent 1000 generations getting for themselves.
I recognize the original roles that my ancestors were good enough to render into a sort of tradition. And because of such, I went out on a limb to be traditional at my wedding. It was important to me that “obey” be in my half of the vows. Strangely, it wasn’t that easy. Do you know how long it took me to find “obey” in wedding vows on the internet? The majority of weddings now leave it out of the vows altogether. Some ignore any sort of logic and put it in BOTH vows. I even saw some women on forums who argued that only the man should have obey in his half of the vows, although I don’t know if this is just a “Yay! Girl Power!” thing, or if they actually married men who were so pathetically emasculated that they tolerated such vows.
It took two hours. AND I’m a good Googler. But every Christian denomination, even the conservative ones, has decided to avoid that vow like the plague, simply because it’s “not PC”. But my question is… Why? Why should having a man as head-of-household be a cultural taboo? It seems to me that it’s a natural desire…
But THAT is one of those opinions that I’ve put in my pocket, especially during most dinner conversations. And then, last week, I picked up “Mere Christianity” because it was recommended to me. I was very startled to see my opinions written down in a way that I couldn’t describe them, being that I have been a professional writer for only 2 years and CS Lewis had been, at the point of writing the book, publishing for 16 years. Obviously, he had it down by then and was quite skilled at his craft, and can actually make a persuasive argument, unlike myself. Here’s what C.S. Lewis had to say on the subject:
“…So much for the Christian doctrine about the permanence of marriage. Something else, even more unpopular, remains to be dealt with. Christian wives promise to obey their husbands. In Christian marriage the man is said to be the ‘head’. Two questions obviously arise here. (1) Why should there be a head at all—why not equality? (2) Why should it be the man?
(1) The need for some head follows from the idea that marriage is permanent. Of course, as long as the husband and wife are agreed, no question of a head need arise; and we may hope that this will be the normal state of affairs in a Christian marriage. But when there is a real disagreement, what is to happen? Talk it over, of course; but I am assuming they have done that and still failed to reach agreement. What do they do next? They cannot decide by a majority vote, for in a council of two there can be no majority. Surely, only one or other of two things can happen: either they must separate and go their own ways or else one or other of them must have a casting vote. If marriage is permanent, one or other party must, in the last resort, have the power of deciding the family policy. You cannot have a permanent association without a constitution.
(2) If there must be a head, why the man? Well, firstly is there any very serious wish that it should be the woman? As I have said, I am not married myself, but as far as I can see, even a woman who wants to be the head of her own house does not usually admire the same state of things when she finds it going on next door. She is much more likely to say ‘Poor Mr. X! Why he allows that appalling woman to boss him about the way she does is more than I can imagine.’ I do not think she is even very flattered if anyone mentions the fact of her own ‘headship’. There must be something unnatural about the rule of wives over husbands, because the wives themselves are half ashamed of it and despise the husbands whom they rule. But there is also another reason; and here I speak quite frankly as a bachelor, because it is a reason you can see from outside even better than from inside. The relations of the family to the outer world—what might be called its foreign policy—must depend, in the last resort, upon the man, because he always ought to be, and usually is much more just to the outsiders. A woman is primarily fighting for her own children and husband against the rest of the world. Naturally, almost, in a sense, rightly, their claims override, for her, all other claims. She is the special trustee of their interests. The function of the husband is to see that this natural preference of hers is not given its head. He has the last word in order to protect other people from the intense family patriotism of the wife. If anyone doubts this, let me ask a simple question. If your dog has bitten the child next door, or if your child has hurt the dog next door, which would you sooner have to deal with, the master of that house or the mistress? Or, if you are a married woman, let me ask you this question. Much as you admire your husband, would you not say that his chief failing is his tendency not to stick up for his rights and yours against the neighbors as vigorously as you would like? A bit of an Appeaser?”
Yep. I, too, was thrilled. I think there’s a whole lot more to it than that, mind you. But it’s definitely a worthy and dependable name to spit out in defense of men at the dinner table when your feminist friend comes to dinner, and comes with a small pre-set argument.
I am the last person who would say that women are not useful, or in any way a lesser person then men. I am extremely proud of my gender. I tend to look upon the most feminine, maternal people with a great respect and jealousy, and the more I am like them, the happier and more at peace I find myself. I feel taken care of, but on the other hand, I feel like everyone respects the role I’m able to provide, and James, my husband, feels more confident in his role by providing it.
Anyway, I just wanted to share that little bit of fun with you. I’ll post again shortly.