Father Doesn’t Know Best

Washington Post Blog Column

Only a female columnist could swallow this in a secular state like the United States. Just because Alexandra is a she does not mean she can assume that “God knows best” and that her god has the right to dictate my choices, my sisters’ choices, or the choices of any girls I know who face the question of whether to have a child conceived in the violence of rape.

The one thing this columnist is right about is equating “God knows best” with the facile TV show from the white-male-dominated description of the 1950s. She obviously buys into this despite its romanticization of the past in trying to bury the racism and sexism and other forms of supremacy that were raging in the 50s and began to be stamped out in the 1960s.

Substituting “God knows best” for Father Knows Best is simply code for “I don’t know,” which I guess stems from her self-loathing in her acceptance of patriarchy.

While I understand why the Washington Post would want this to come out of a female columnist’s mouth, I’m rather surprised it gives such voice to what I call a neotribal view. It’s neotribalism, a term I reappropriate and redefine to mean that it makes no difference which tribe and which male leader.
 I equate all male tribes, from mullahs to Mormon bishops, like Romney once was.

When comparing various types of fundamentalism, most people focus on the differences among them. To be sure, honor killings are not the same as denying women their reproductive rights. And while I acknowledge those differences, I redefine the term neotribalism as a means of understanding the assumptions they share — patriarchal rule on top of reasserting the primacy of the patriarch in the private sphere (the family).

Denying women the right to choose, and especially endorsing an outlier position by saying that raped girls and women should not have the right to chose, shares these two fundamental assumptions with the honor killings that fundamentalists in the Middle East argue are Islamic: They both assert patriarchal rule, and they both assert that a man’s rights within the private sphere should be protected by the public sphere.

Published by *Ruth Frick O'Brien

Professor Ruth Frick O'Brien, City University of New York, Graduate Center, 1st "professorette" nicknamed by Rush Limbaugh nickname. Ruth Frick* O'Brien & Frederic Halper* O'Brien, Dep.M.E. @ National Review *(honoring our mothers)

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