Trust versus "consent" in long-term relationships
"...my hunch is that “male headship” discourse almost certainly appeared as an effort to make the positive case, against the emerging cyborg norm, for sexed asymmetries that had been reframed from “normal” to “inexplicable and morally indefensible."
My MIL is convinced that the 1950s and 60s version of trad relationships (where the wife is a slave at home and the man is an abusive adulterer) is the ONLY way relationships looked prior to the sexual revolution, and that the choice is egalitarianism/feminism or wife beating. The irony is that she and my FIL own a farming operation and are basically living out the normal arrangement prior to the industrial revolution (she manages the money/business and home while he applies technical skill and physical labor, assets are owned equally). But she doesn't consider it "trad". Lol.
Wifely submission in the trad world is coupled with husbandly headship that treats spouses as absolutely beloved people for whom husbands should be willing to risk all, work for, and die for if need be. Ephesians 5:25-29: "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself up for it: That he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life: That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish. So also ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife, loveth himself. For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also Christ doth the church..."
Obedience also has its limits (see Aquinas, Summa II-II-104), and no woman is expected to withstand abuse. So I wouldn't call it a "kink"; I'd call it an answer to your question about what to do about the internal HR deparment that's been inculcated in everyone's minds.
That said, there could be (likely are) people for whom the idea of male headship is fueled by kink. But the phenomenon in itself is reflective of natural law and sacred Tradition, and if ordinate, works to keep society ordered and happy.
I was thinking along similar lines recently:
"Once you abandon all objective standards, once you declare that all behaviours ethically are equivalent, then consent is all you have left. Provided everyone involved consents, then being courted and, months later, made love to by someone who adores you is no wiser or better or worse than having choke / chem-sex in a toilet with someone who may or may not be a psycho and whom you met 3 hours previously."
As for the story from Reddit, why can’t the guy just tell his girlfriend what he wrote? She surprised him and he overreacted. He can apologize for overreacting and they can work out something for the future.
An American pro football coach once observed that he had a solid coaching contract: He could not be fired—DURING A GAME—if he was ahead in the fourth quarter, and moving the ball. Such is the dominance of the business/contractual model of sports-as-business.
A similar dynamic animates modern sexual relationships, such as the one in the anecdote of this piece. They are based in the Enlightenment foundation of personal-autonomy-above-all. Constant contractual renegotiation. No permanence, no broader social fabric. Just me and you, baby—me and you. But mostly me. Not so sure about you.
Well, our system is perfectly aligned to achieve the results we are now seeing. If nothing changes, nothing will change.
And the BDSM lifestyle, the submissive wife—both are just extended sexual fantasy role-playing unless they are nested in a way-of-being-in-the-world having a better conceptual foundation than cogito ergo sum.
Interesting: Andrew Tate is now a Muslim. Shia Leboeuf, Catholic. Roosh V, some kind of Christian.... Just anecdata, proving nothing. But there's a clue to pursue.
Relationships are more fun when two people complement each other. I would say that the same holds true for friendships. You need to have enough in common and enough difference. I also find that one person often takes the lead in friendships and groups of friends.
Happy marriages I have observed have confident wives and agreeable husbands. This may be peculiar to my British middle class culture. The brooding alpha lording it over a scurrying little woman is just not in my experience.
So as part of Gen Z, all I can say is you'd have to remove us completely from the system as it stands similar to the way the mouse utopia experiment was done to prevent a population collapse, since what can be seen is a type of behavioral sink.
As well as that, from what I have overheard and been told by others my age and slightly younger is that they do have sexual contact reasonably often, but it is not even consensual but just a hedonistic burn in the moment.
Which is why, I think, a lot of these couples get burnt out and move on even after months to years of being with each other, as they haven't accepted each other's boundaries or what each of them perceives as their respective ways of showing intimacy towards each other.
Trust is a time derived commodity that can only be developed by repeated experiences of being dependable and honest. Hard to build and easy to destroy, sadly. Marriage is a time honoring sacrament -- all the days of our lives -- and should be an opportunity to build that trust (although obviously there is no guarantee.) The traditional Christian marriage vows honors that trust by outlining exactly how deep and dependable we are called to be: in sickness and in health, for better or worse, etc. It is not about being dependable only when things are going swimmingly.
I think we do a better job of understanding how male female relationships are supposed to be by looking at Adam and Eve before the fall. Too often we interpret "power dynamics" through the sense of the curse but the message of the Bible/Jesus is that love is never coercive. He is returning us to our pre-fall state. Sex should be playful and loving. As I tell my husband "tend the garden" and you get to pick the fruit! I think Favale does a great job of explaining this but it was not a new concept to me.
Finally, I think that man is dealing with mixed feelings about his morning treat is that she is taking not giving him something. Sure it is pleasurable but her neediness is over-riding his actually being there (conscious.) I get how he feels.
Actually, what happened in the 1960s was not the invention of male headship in the religious community, but it’s diminishment. A large number of people in the 1960s started arguing for egalitarian marriages and thus the uptick in the number of people speaking about head ship. Headship in marriage was very explicitly written about in about ad 60, and points back to the creation story. Commentaries on the scripture very explicitly, use it all the way back through history, including such people as John Calvin, and John Gill.
In its most basic form, marriage is a contract. In each contract it is outlined the stipulations to keep it valid. They can vary to whatever works for the parties involved. The most successful marriage or relationships are the ones that are a collective. That they value the other person and the collective that represents their relationship and their happiness above and or equal to their own individual happiness. I suppose any kink or headship that would fall into that perimeter would work as well as more egalitarian ones. The trick with gen z or other generations is is the thinking about oneself and communication. Why didn’t he just communicate to her he enjoyed it but was taken aback by the behavior at first and also realized she needed reassurance and physical love and that was what she was trying to do, instead of assuming she was breaching his consent( selfish) and she, noticing his reaction did apologize- so she tried to communicate both before and after. I am all for healthy boundaries but I have noticed sometimes that they are too I centered and not really thinking about the other person and their feelings as well. And a relationship must have that to survive.
The New Testament view is that each spouse's interests should not be divided (1 Corinthians 7:34, the word is μερίζω) between serving God and serving their spouse. We are told to "worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only" (Matthew 4:10). The way to reconcile this is to "trust in the Lord with ALL your heart, and lean not on your own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5).
When we align ourselves in trusting Him, he takes care of the obstacles between us. We must get our love from Him so that it will overflow into others, many today are trying to get their love instead from their spouse. A relationship in which both parties are looking to get before giving is not sustainable, as many have learned the hard way.
With respect to authority, it is not necessarily an advantage to the man because it means that the Husband will be held more accountable to God for how he stewards the home. If anything, this should inspire we husbands to greater humility and grace. In 1 Peter 3:7 Husbands are instructed to "be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect ... so that nothing will hinder your prayers."
Blessings to you and I hope that made sense!
“Male Headship” is a nice way of saying “wife-beaters.” The ONLY people who want that kind of relationship are worthless men who need to be worshiped by a weak, stupid, coward.
Just as a very MINOR aside. A funny scene in the brilliant, but short-lived TV series called “Upload”, where, before people have sex they automatically hit a digital recorder hanging around their neck at all times (and presumable connected to the central mainframe) and record their consent to the encounter.
This article should be required, repeated, reading for every HR type, Dean, and institutional scold in the business of making real people's lives miserable.
Coming from a 46-year marriage, I can only agree that "many long-term couples find leaning into sexed asymmetry much more congenial than compulsory egalitarianism. And, still more provocatively, it implies that for some at least, the relationship between “consent” and power asymmetry is much more complicated than the now-normative liberal claim that all relations of authority are by definition tyrannical."
The acknowledged asymmetry of our marriage isn't a problem, despite numerous feminists suggesting it should be, and we have resigned ourselves to the fact that we are our own measure, and other people shouldn't stick their noses in. The harmony in our relationship is based on our complementary differences, and loving each others peculiarities.
No woman actually wants a man to be in charge when it comes to relationships (or much else). They do, by and large, want men to take on public responsibility for decision making though. Thus for men one of the keys to long term relationship success is accepting this charade and realizing the way to "lead" is by figuring out what she already wants and then acting as if it was actually your idea.
Of course to maintain your sanity in the long run you want to find someone whose desires mostly align with yours, but in those cases where they don't you have to accept that your wants are going to lose out.