Tuesday, July 26, 2016

From Inmates to Democratic Sweethearts of the World

In order to break down the distinctions between home and the world and women’s place as of the home and decidedly not of the world, Floyd Dell finds “it will be necessary to break down all the codes and restrictions and prejudices that keep women out of the great world.” Notice that Dell writes all. Not some, not even most will suffice to accomplish our goals. All. This is not merely a suggestion or even an action plan; it is an indictment. Every single scrap and iota of the previously held dichotomy must go. It must be eradicated so that women can cease to be inmates of the home and be transformed, liberated to be the democratic sweethearts of the world with whom men initially fell in love and with whom they will craft lives of partnership and promise.
But as much as men might say they want it, Dell warns, they have to face that underneath it all they really fear women’s liberation from the home. They prefer to keep masculinity a mystery, a space outside mundane concerns, to make a haven of all things male and, by extension, to relegate all things not delightful to the realm of pedestrian household concerns.
In the end, feminism assures us, we will revel in having sweetheart partners, but yes, they will come at the cost of making profane everything masculine. We all deserve this, but men stand to lose much in it all. There are those among us who would make this transition as easy as possible, and I count myself among them. But I will not, nor do I think any among us should, allow men’s discomfort at shrinking privilege allow anyone to be an inmate.

If we are all free, then we will likely disagree more, and more loudly, and life might be messier and less comfortable overall. I am reasonably certain that all this will be our future. We will all of us see the mundane as more personally ours as well as the whole of the world’s stage. This is the price for being a fully inducted member of society, for being a citizen, for being an adult.

Floyd Dell, “ Feminism for Men . . . in 1914,” in Okun, Rob, Voice Male, (Northampton: Interlink Books), 2014, p. 215.