Often, people will say that a husband should only be respected if he “earns” it. This attitude is precisely the problem. A wife ought to respect her husband because he is her husband, just as he ought to love and honor her because she is his wife. Your husband might “deserve” it when you mock him, berate him, belittle him, and nag him, but you don’t marry someone in order to give them what they deserve. In marriage, you give them what you’ve promised them, even when they aren’t holding up their end of the bargain.
And this is precisely where Matt goes careening full speed off the rails.
Respect cannot be given automatically, nor can it be demanded or required by the structires of relationship, class, or power. It can only be earned.
The problem here is that the cultural Armageddon of the past fifty years destroyed the standards by which marital respect, not to mention gender respect, were universally agreed upon by all sides, so that everybody knew what was necessary to both earn respect, and to give it. Well, mostly so, at least.
Back then, we all knew what a “good husband and father” was like. He was the breadwinner. He took the responsibility for feeding his family, clothing them, sheltering them and, up to a certain point, educating them. Some went further than others, but as long as you provided at least the basics, and refrained from abusing your family via drink, drugs, and temper, you were recognized as being worth of respect not only from your family, but from society at large. And if you weren’t given the respect you had earned in society’s eyes, the fault lay not on you, but on those who refused to give the respect that had been earned.
Conversely, women had their own metrics of respect. There were the home-makers, the nurturers. In significant ways they raised the children. They passed on much of the dominant culture to the kids, with some help from pop. They cooked and cleaned and did the everyday drudgery that made a house a home. And if they did all that well, then they were considered worth and deserving of respect from their families, and from the society at large, with similar social penalties for those who withheld that earned respect.
In short, we once understood and agreed upon what the terms “a respectable man,” and a “respectable woman” meant, both in and outside a family relationship.
Over the past fifty years, mostly due to the rise to dominance of progressive feminism, that agreement has not just been broken, but utterly destroyed.
What would you call a good woman today? How would you describe her? For what would you agree she deserves respect?
Similarly, what are the metrics for earning respect as a man in America’s current culture?
I’d say there is absolutely nothing a male can do in today’s social climate that makes him worthy of respect from women, or from the culture they dominate. For having the bad luck to be born with a penis, men must be denigrated and disrespected at every opportunity. On the other hand, that same society now teaches us that woman can only receive respect, which they earn and deserve merely by being born with a vagina.
Gender respect in America has become a zero-sum game and, worse, a game no man can survive intact while playing, let along achieve the victory of being respected.
That won’t last, of course. Too much of nature and history mitigate against it. Just as the period when America stood astride the globe like a collossus in those few short decades after World War Two and, especially, after the fall of the USSR, the time for women standing astride the American culture like collossi requires a very special, and likely very short-lived set of peculiar circumstance.
I expect that all sides will learn about this soon enough, and good and hard.