Men, Motherhood, and Feminist Ideology

Mark Richardson debates feminists who argue that in marriage, men have all the autonomy while women carry all the burdens of parenthood.

If a man held autonomy to be a key aim in life he would never marry and never consent to an active fatherhood. Marriage and fatherhood lock men into a life of work and responsibility in which there is rarely time or money for a man to do as he pleases.

It’s not an easy thing for a man to adjust to and increasing numbers of men appear to be opting out or at least delaying their commitment to married life.

Most men, though, do sacrifice the larger part of their autonomy to work, marry and have children. They do so because of an impulse to find love and a soul mate; because of a sense that becoming a husband and father are the proper “offices” for an adult male through which their lives are completed: because of the instinct to procreate to pass on something of themselves to future generations; and because of paternal instincts to have children to love and to guide to adulthood.

Men are in their natures protectors and so there is a level at which meeting the burdens of fatherhood is a self-fulfilment.

Well spoken! Feminists who disparage the male gender and the institution of marriage understand neither. Men and women have different but symbiotic roles — that’s a biological fact of life that we ignore to our peril. It is true that some men abuse their role and mistreat the women in their lives. But they usually end up just as unhappy as the women who abuse their roles.

Traditional marriage, when lived by a man and woman who really love and care for each other, is the best arrangement for human happiness for everyone involved — husbands, wives, and kids.


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