Thursday, January 31, 2008

Man the Protector - Woman the Hearthkeeper?

I read the following quote at Wren's site yesterday and I'm hoping some of you might have something to say on this topic either here at Mind Sieve or with Wren - I thought she brought up some excellent food for thought.....

from a phone conversation......."What I was really reacting to, I realized as she brought the conversation to a close, is the idea that men are supposed to take care of their families, men and not women. Then I remembered that she lives in a little town that has a church sponsored university, and most of the inhabitants of the town belong to that church. It has a very patriarchal view of family: the man must be the head.

Even though (my husband) is from a younger generation and a very different religious tradition, he expressed the same feelings the other day, that it was his main duty to protect and take care of his family. I like being taken care of and protected, but I also rail at the idea that it’s a man’s job and God intended it that way. I don’t agree with that; but, weren’t families stronger when more people believed that? What do you think?"

Having been raised with this premise and having lived with it through my first marriage, I find the essence of the idea that Wren is laying out to be still firmly embedded in my mind. Though my precious second husband and I have been together 24+ years, with me always having worked and contributed my fair share and sometimes more than a fair share, I still think the burden rests on him to be the protector of me. That expectation, I believe, is one that he holds and one that the social circles we live in currently agree to also. I don't really mind that he thinks he is to be the protector of me but still, it does seem rather unfair.....I know, life's not......

On the other hand, even when working FT, I still felt the nurturer role was mine; the hearthkeeper, chef, the keeper of the home. And, that's silly in itself as my spouse shares the laundry duties, picks up the drycleaning, clears and cleans the dinner dishes, cares for the cars, etc. He's as much the hearthkeeper as I and is so capable and caring in assisting in household duties, but still I feel that onus is on me as home maker!

Wren asks if God intended the protector role, etc. for man alone. I think "in the beginning" if we want to go with the literal interpretation of the Holy Bible, (BTW, for me scripture is not literal dictation from on High - inspired, but not literal) that God created a companion, not necessarily a burdensome being that had to be watched over and protected. She was an least until men began to write the history - I mean, he didn't have to eat the apple - oh boy, a whole 'nother topic:)

So, how does the man as protector and woman as hearthkeeper rest with other readers? Any thoughts?


  1. Dang, I'll never get this posted what with all those funny little letters I have to copy. What is this? Some sort of security system to keep out the blind and dyslexic? Anyway, I don't know what or how women think about woman as hearth-keeper. It's not a phrase I would have ever used or even thought of, but however women want to respond that's up to them and their prerogative. The same goes for man as protector. It's up to each man to respond to that from a male perspective, and I believe that most men will say that there is something within them that feels that protecting their homes and loved ones is very important. Like any generalization there will be a lot of variation around the norm that are still within tolerable bounds, and more than a few that are outside those bounds.

  2. I'm very flattered that you quoted me!

    I wish there were some comments from women in younger generations. It would be interesting to hear their take on the subject.

  3. Hi Wren, Don't be flattered, I think your comments are terrific. I also wanted to weigh in on the chaotic lives of children that you mentioned but have not gotten to that yet. It is a very provocative subject. Not only when children are in "distress" in families that are dysfunctional but when they are in perfectly happy families with ALL the activities introduced to a child's life these days - no time for play!

    Also, I too would love to hear from a "younger" generation woman on the protector/hearthkeeper roles. Although, a particular man in which I share very close quarters. has mentioned that it matters not what women or younger women, etc. have to say or think about the protector role - in his opinion it's man's DNA to protect his mate/ family etc. and really matters not what we think! Well!

    Thanks for coming by!

  4. The total absence of males in many young families, and the presence of predatory males in some, would argue against the DNA theory, don't you think? Both those factors affect the stability of many children's lives greatly. The instance of both situations is surely much higher in the younger generations than in ours, openness in reporting aside.