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The Last Contrarian
 
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The insufferable "wisdom" of housewives

29 January 2014, 12:48

You tangle with a domain expert at your own peril and stand to gain nothing more than a deserved ridiculing before witnesses if you do so. But this is exactly what people do all the time.

I can fully appreciate the superior practical, experience-based, generational wisdom of housewives the world over. I would not dare argue with a master of the mop, the iron, the oven, and the washing machine about how to best get ink stains out of my shirt, how to properly clean an oven, or how to even raise the model son or daughter. These are things I am wholly ignorant of, and whenever those expert in this domain of knowledge speak, I remain silent, because chances are I am going to learn something.

Why is it then that so many housewives can’t respect the superior understanding of those whose domain expertise are not located around the management of the common household, but things far far more complex and critical to the future of civilization?

In conservative cultures, where the family is regarded as the foundation of society, one would be wise not to argue in public with overly vocal and extremely confrontational housewives—or worse yet, mothers. Out of the woodwork will crawl an army of defenders—comprising even of one’s own peers—pointing out peripheral and otherwise irrelevant attributes of the housewife/mother and reminding all intellectuals that they had their diapers changed by this type of woman, were raised by this type of woman, fed by this type of woman, dressed by this type of woman, and sent off to university with the support of this type of woman.

Even if this were all true, how does that make such women experts on the economy, or authorities on the subject of there being an afterlife or not, or experts at discerning the individual merits of the next batch of presidential candidates?

“Because they are older and have more life experience than you do,” one will shout as if saying something profound. Well, let’s compare the common housewife’s/mother’s experience against that of elite academics, politicians, and other domain experts who on a daily basis have to contend with very complex issues in society and the many—even more complex—solutions to those issues.

The housewife/mother, even if threescore and ten (a very archaic way of saying 70) would not have done any research as to the viability of Tokamak reactors, would not have proposed or furthered any significant ideas in parliament, and would not have invested any noteworthy amount of time building the technological infrastructure of tomorrow’s world. Yet, these housewives/mothers (with the support of the mommy defenders) feel that they can draw on their decades of experience doing laundry, mopping floors, cooking dinner, and dressing their children for school (and, I swear, some of them for university/work too) and dismiss profound ideas they suspect primarily because they don’t understand these ideas.

At this point in the discussion—being unable to counter any of the factual remarks I’ve thus far made—the mommy defenders usually hurl their last insult: That those who need to deal with complex things are elitists wanting to rob ordinary people from having an opinion about how the world is run!

I can argue against this accusation in a number of ways, but doing so in a way that resonates with the housewives, mothers, and the mommy defenders is success I have yet to savour. I simply ask why it is that those who have—pardon my pointing out the obvious fact—otherwise lived their lives to the full feel entitled to decide how those of tomorrow necessarily must live. Why is it that those who have domain expertise in managing a successful household feel themselves suitably qualified to determine exactly how safe a nuclear reactor built outside of town would be?

Why must society be subject to the opinions and protestations of those whose aim is to elbow their way into a future world they will in no way personally partake of—all in the hope of extending their influence far beyond what is merited? At point will the imminently irrelevant stop judging themselves fit to tell now grown adults (and true experts in their own capacity) right from wrong, good from bad, designating the achievable from the unachievable, prescribing the desirable over the undesirable—as if the motherly authority they once wielded in our adolescent lives still retained jurisdiction over the thoughts and actions we need to make today for our own children to come?

Conservatives, with their endless reliance on their mommies, have turned the mother/housewife into the pillar of society, claiming that we are all doomed to a fate worse than death if we don’t listen to our ‘all-knowing’ mothers, forever. I’m sorry, but running to my mommy for life, love, and financial advice when I am already a discerning adult is not a practice I would recommend to anyone born in the 20th century—just in case the goal is still for us all to become independent adults, capable of making our own decisions and learning from our own mistakes.

To fail and then fix one’s own failures is the only way a generation proves itself worthy of inheriting society from the generation that raised it.

Finally, the vehement mob of ‘mommy defenders’ also seem to be of the opinion that all orphans—people who often grow up without the positive influential of a mother in their life—are destined to be degenerates and failures, falling far short of the model of the ‘model citizen.’ Conservatives are usually the first to label anyone who did not partake of the joys of family, childhood, and the dinner-table card games as despicable people with no moral backbone and no values, promoting ideas that no conservative should bother listening to.

Listening to conservative ‘logic,’ one is sometimes left to wonder how the billions around the world with no—or plainly unfit—parents ever managed to become the decent people many of them, indeed, are.

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