September 15, 2010

In cultures of honor, male role is more stable than female's

Looking at various cultures of honor, whether across geography or over time, the man's role is mostly the same -- he has to protect his honor at any cost, his kin will shame him if he neglects this duty, and others in the community are always interested to hear news about which men can and cannot be dissed.

There tends to be an emphasis on female honor in these cultures as well, only it requires her to protect her sexual purity, her kin will shame her if they find out she was flirting with a strange male, and others in the community are ever eager to know who's a slut and who is not.

Both of these are still going pretty strong in the Near East, where you still find honor killings of girls whose kin feel their honor has been besmirched by her sexual deviancy. But you didn't see quite the level of control over female sexuality in the American South. Today the emphasis on female honor is even less prevalent there, and there are several modernizing currents in parts of the Near and Middle East to allow females to show off what they've got and make eyes at men without fear of reprisal.

So despite all the whining you hear from feminists and beta male bootlickers about how disgustingly widespread and harmful the madonna/whore dichotomy is, it's actually a pretty fragile set of social-cultural roles. It's the men's roles as (often violent) defenders of their honor that are very slow to go away, leaving a good part of the world still saddled with the mentality and behavior of long-lasting feuds.

This makes sense since these cultures of honor tend to emerge in groups where people have enough stuff that's worth stealing, yet where there's little or no centralized police force to prevent the bad guys from running off with your stuff, such as among pastoralist groups. It's the male fighting back the other encroaching males that drives the culture of honor, so this role will stay around forever. The madonna/whore system seems like something that's only projected from the more basic domain of survival (male street cred) onto a less important one (female chastity), so it's likely to wane over time or not show up at all in some places.


  1. traveling boho9/15/10, 1:38 PM

    Might the desire to keep family-clan property in the family drive female seclusion practices? I get the impression there's a correlation between honor cultures and cousin marriage. When women are forcibly secluded from the outside world the only men they're ever likely to meet are their relatives. And vice versa for young men. Maybe it's another way of keeping outside males from accessing family property.

  2. What about outside men encroaching on your women? What about your women encroaching on your control of the family role?

    And in judging stuff more important than virtue, how do you account for the study and conclusions raised in this post:


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