by Ken Rolheiser
Throwing out the father with the baby bath

In attempting an article on Patriarchy my research took me through feminism, a sexual revolution, fatherlessness, quickie divorces and various considerations of the morality involved.

Let me begin with two examples to help us focus. Example 1: In the 1970’s, in Flint Michigan, a landlord heard a sixteen-year-old mother say, “Yeah, I got pregnant so that I could get my own place.” The Aid for Dependent Children was set up to offer this assistance.

Example 2: Kendrick Castillo died while saving fellow classmates from a school shooting in the Denver suburbs. Kendrick’s parents were a patriarchal family, church going, and passing on traditional cultural and social values.

Evidence of the values held by Kendrick – his father John remembers telling Kendrick if there was ever a school shooting, to hide and stay safe. Kendrick told him, “Ok, I’ll do that. But if I don’t have a choice, I’ll fight back.” John and Mary still visit their son’s grave daily.
The benefits to society of a family that prays together and stays together is evident here. In “The Father Figure as He Should Be” John Horvat II discusses how the image of an ancient patriarch evokes sentiments of veneration and respect.
In the traditional patriarchal family the father leads with authority that is expressed more by influence than command. This is the very structure misunderstood and attacked by the radical feminism of the 1960s.
In 1960 five percent of babies were born to unwed mothers. Today 40.6 percent of babies are born in a home without a father. (“Why Fatherlessness Is the Core of Family and Societal Problems” Edwin Benson).

Other factors have been at play from the Sexual Revolution of the sixties to the present. 1967 saw San Francisco’s “Summer of Love” complete with Scott McKenzie’s “If You’re Going to San Francisco, be sure to wear flowers in your hair.” Then 1969 saw Woodstock’s explosive mixture of rock music, drugs and sex upon its muddy fields.

The Feminist movement, partly rooted in the sexual revolution of the 1960s, said the family kept women from pursuing careers like men could. Friedman’s The Feminist Mystique depicted an unhappy mother isolated at home with domestic and boring tasks while the husband enjoyed a stimulating workplace.

More radical feminism led to lobbying for “no-fault” divorce laws and the procurement of legal abortions in Roe v. Wade 1973. The slow evolution to the present has included abortion on demand and the advertising of divorce online for $137.00, roughly the equivalent of the cost of a dinner with your “new” paramour.

Edwin Benson says in “Why Feminists Feel Threatened by the Family”: “the feminists must ‘redefine’ the family. They do this by slandering the traditional family with the menacing term ‘patriarchy.’ As the family became increasingly ‘nuclear,’ it lost much of the strength of its normally extended relationships. Artificial contraception and procured abortion further destroy the family by depriving it of children.”

Without going into abrasive feminists like Germaine Greer’s The female Eunuck, who might have thrown out the father with the baby bath, let me bring us back to the hope and reality that patriarchal families still exist and will survive. I grew up in one.

The nuclear families that split off in the present generation often still hold the values and mores of their parents and grandparents. In some cases they are doing a better job than we did.

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