The Federalist Uses Amy Coney Barrett’s Nomination to Push MRA Ideas

The Federalist Uses Amy Coney Barrett’s Nomination to Push MRA Ideas October 5, 2020

Would you believe, there’s a Federalist article titled How Strong Women Like Amy Coney Barrett Submit To Their Husbands With Joy. No, really. That’s not satire!

Here is the byline for the article:

Leftists are attacking Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett for having a view of marriage entirely in keeping with a proper reading of scripture.

Oho. Okay then. Let’s have a look.

Author Matthew Cochran notes that (maybe) Paul told women to submit to their husbands “as the church submits to Christ.” He then continues as follows:

How then do Christians submit to Christ? Not as mindless automatons, but as people with agency and intellect who align ourselves with our Lord’s purpose. We do not bury our talents, but creatively devote them to his Kingdom, according to his instruction, and with the gifts with which God has equipped us. That is precisely how wives are to submit to husbands.

Uh. What now.

Two things.

First, the command that the church submit to Christ applies to all Christians, not just to men. Why not just have a system where every individual Christian submits to Christ? Wouldn’t that make more sense?

Cochran says Christians submit themselves to Christ “not as mindless automatons, but as people with agency and intellect who align ourselves with our Lord’s purpose” and that women are to submit themselves to their husbands in the same way. But why have some people align themselves with God’s purpose, and require others to align themselves with other individual humans’ purposes?

Second, Jesus is not currently a living breathing person here on this earth giving specific commands in audible words. But husbands are. So the idea that women submitting to their husbands is the same as believers obeying Jesus is nonsense. For example, if evangelical Christians feel that an individual church is not correctly teaching what they feel the Bible says, they can and do leave. Wives don’t get to do that.

Evangelical Christians pioneered the idea that all a person needs is their Bible—the idea that the layperson could interpret the Word of God for themselves. So we’re not even talking about people obeying their pastors, here. We’re talking about people living in alignment with what they personally believe the Bible says. Contrast that with someone having to obey the commands of a living breathing speaking person they live with.

I genuinely do not know why I am spending this much time on this tripe. However, the Federalist is a well-read publication among conservatives, so I will go on.

The specter of domestic abuse is frequently raised in response to these verses, which, indeed, is a real issue with real victims. Nevertheless, complaining that biblical submission primes women for abuse makes about as much sense as complaining that “honor thy father and thy mother” primes children for abuse.

Um. It does.

Here, I’ll say it: our society’s emphasis on children honoring and obeying their parents primes children for abuse. It also primes parents to abuse their children, and it primes other adults to look the other way.

Also, the relationship between a husband and wife is fundamentally different from the relationship between parent and child because it is a relationship of two peers. Two adult humans.

But, back to Cochran:

The husband has a responsibility to patiently care for his wife’s needs and to help her to grow into what God ordained her to be. Some men may do a poor job of it, but nobody bats an eye when the Bible tells men to die for their wives. Tellingly, it is only when it instructs women to submit to their husbands that everyone loses their minds.

This might make sense if men were called on to die for their wives with any sort of regularity, but they are not. Women, in contrast, are called on to submit to their husbands every damn day. 

Also, feminists want women to be able to join the military, and they want to reject the idea that women are delicate flowers who need protecting. Cochran does not seem to be aware of this.

Frankly, what flows most strongly from Cochran’s piece is sheer ignorance. He does not know what feminism is. He has not taken the time to find out. It ought to be shocking that Cochran would write a piece like this without doing the least bit of research—and that the Federalist would then publish it. But for conservatives in 2020, such glorification of ignorance and lack of expertise it commonplace.

Cochran next displays his utter lack of any understanding of what marriage is like or how it works. Cochran’s words would be almost sad if he were not using them to justify the oppression of women—and if they were not published in a publication that is well-respected and treated as authoritative by man conservatives.

For example, have a look at this bit:

Whereas demands for equality destroy the spirit of love and good-will upon which a loving marriage depends, submission primes the pump of loving-kindness.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. My husband believes just as strongly as I do in equality within marriage, and yet, we have a marriage based soundly on a spirit of love and good-will. The idea that equality cannot coexist with a spirit of love and good-will is utterly baffling. Has Cochran never had a friend?

The idea that submission “primes the pump of loving-kindness” is equally false. I’m sure that in some cases submission can coexist with a spirit of love and good-will. I’m not saying it can’t! People are complicated beings. But the idea that submission creates loving-kindness is false. And frequently, they do not coexist at all.

Interestingly, Cochran immediately moves to kink. In fact, he can’t stop. He goes on and on and on and on:

Let us then consider two of the many blessings submission provides to a couple.

The first such blessing is romance. It may not be the foundation of marriage as some are tempted to think, but it certainly makes marriage more joyful. Consider the classic romantic metaphors: “Falling in love.” “Swept off your feet.” “Head-over-heels in love.” “Under his spell.” They all have one thing in common, and it certainly isn’t equality. On the contrary, all of these metaphors imply a considerable measure of submission.

These metaphors are not coincidental, for romance and equality are antithetical to each other.

I’ll spare you the rest, because he keeps going. Cochran is once again showing his utter ignorance. Romance and equality are by no means antithetical. Cochran is also throwing out red flags left and right. It’s gross. He honestly thinks that romance requires a woman to submit herself to him. That’s disturbing—and dangerous. What’s perhaps most odd is that Cochran thinks it’s okay to share these views with the world, without any sense of embarrassment or concern about how this may make him look.

That is how out of touch with reality he is.

Women are typically attracted to a man’s confidence and initiative in the face of risk — and therefore not to a man she can lead by the nose because he fears causing a fuss.

This is so gross and disturbing. Just, wow.

Look, someone I know got married recently, and was attracted to her husband specifically because he’s laid back and won’t try to domineer over her like her father did over her mother. But even that is not whatever the heck this “lead by the nose” bit is. You know what that is? It’s projection. Cochran wants a woman he can lead by the nose. He can’t imagine what a relationship based in equality actually looks like. So it’s either he domineers over a woman, or she domineers over him. He can’t imagine anything else.

Next, Cochran adds this:

Submission also brings the blessing of peace into marriage by uniting a couple in common purpose. There are innumerable times a husband and wife must act as one: choosing how to raise their children, where to live, how to divide the household labor, and so forth.

Good husbands and good wives listen to one another and appreciate the other’s unique talents and insights in every situation. Nevertheless, even the happiest couples have times when they disagree — when they want to go in different directions. … During such times, equality introduces more conflict than it resolves, for it cannot be implemented in a marriage.

No. False.

God, he got so close for a moment, and then he completely ditched it.

He goes on:

In the political realm, our commitment to equality leads us to adopt democracy. But voting is of no value in a two-person system, for in the event of a conflict, there is never a majority. So how can each spouse receive equal say?

You see what I mean when I say that Cochran is fundamentally ignorant on this? If he actually wants an answer to his question, he should ask someone. Maybe a feminist, or maybe a (secular) marriage counselor. Or even any married person who believes in gender equality! There are plenty of people who could explain what decision-making in a marriage founded on equality looks like. Cochran’s primary objection appears to be that he can’t imagine it. And asking experts is silly, so he prefers to bloviate in ignorance.

Indeed, Cochran goes on and on on this point. He suggests that maybe couples having disagreements wait each other out, but that says this just means “the most obstinate spouse” gets their way. He says maybe they take turns getting to make each decision, but notes that that would require “agreeing on how important each decision is.” He says maybe they let the most qualified person decide, but asks how they can agree on that. 

He concludes as follows:

Even if one could create a complex logical flowchart in which importance and qualifications are given values that are kept in constant balance, that would describe the relationship between two computers rather than a husband and wife. Nobody wants that.

Cochran fundamentally cannot imagine what a relationship between two equals might look like. He cannot conceive of it, so he declares it impossible. No, literally—he declares it impossible:

Equality simply does not exist in marital decision making.

His ignorance is showing. In spades.

Mutual love and respect need to exist, but equality cannot create these things. What demanding incoherent equality does create is a strong sense of entitlement. If equality is simultaneously expected and impossible, it leads only to meaningless blame games. Demanding marital equality merely stokes the fires of resentment. And as the Book of Proverbs also warns men and women alike, “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.”

Even in marriage, the buck must stop with someone. Considering how much contempt women tend to have for men they dominate, there’s very little genuine desire for the buck to stop with the wife.

Holy crap, Cochran’s a full-blown MRA. Jesus Christ.

I just checked, it does not look like he’s married.

OMG, he’s not married.

He wrote all this about how equality and marriage can’t coexist, all this stuff like he knows how marital relationships work, and he’s not even married. And the Federalist published it.

I knew their standards were low, but—seriously?

Speaking of low standards, Cochran never brings his piece back to Amy Coney Barrett. He started with her, and he put her name in the title of his piece, but he never even returns to her? This article should have been sent back for further editing for simple stylistic reasons, apart from the messed-up content.

I don’t understand why Cochran thinks his piece will do anything but convince people that Amy Coney Barrett should definitely not be put on the Supreme Court. If, according to Cochran, Barrett obeys her husband as a Christian is called to obey Christ—to the point of making his vision her vision and living under her husband’s instruction (Cochran’s words)—Barrett’s husband is the one the Senators should be interviewing, and not her.

This is exactly the problem—that a belief in wifely submission could impact Berrett’s judicial decisions—and yet Cochran doesn’t even address it. He doesn’t seem to realize it needs addressing. The level of intellectual rigor in this article is sorely lacking. Even Cochran’s title—How Strong Women Like Amy Coney Barrett Submit To Their Husbands With Joy—feels dark and unfulfilled. His article was not actually about that. Instead, his article was about how abject female submission is necessary to marital bliss.

Cochran used Barrett’s nomination as an excuse to grandstand about his half-baked MRA unmarried male ideas about marriage, and the Federalist just let him do it. Cool.

Cochran’s article is currently 3rd in the slider on the Federalist’s front page.

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