Two friends, well known to me, were talking about paternal discipline a few years back. To protect their identities and remember recently deceased, I will call them Gary and Whitney.
I have known Gary since childhood. He married Whitney a number of years ago, and I know her for over 20 years now. Gary and I happened once to talk about a friend of ours who I will call Martin, for his middle name. Gary was wistful when he talked about Martin; he recalled once being there when Martin’s father was due to arrive home. The excitement was palpable, with both Martin and his sister excited at the prospect that their father would soon return.
Martin’s father was a man with rheumy eyes and a faint whiff of alcohol about him always. He did not strike me as a very authoritative figure, but his children hung on his every word and obeyed his commands. They seemed to fear to displease him. Gary noted this and mentioned how he and his siblings never had the same reaction: their father’s return left them either indifferent, or sometimes fearful. Older then, Gary realized that his father
had never had the joyful experience for any man of seeing a bright-eyed child run to greet him upon his return home; he now valued even more highly what his father had had to go through to provide for his wife and family.
At this point Whitney chimed in. She wondered why Gary had mentioned being fearful. She, like Martin, was used to waiting in the front window with her sister, looking for any sign that her father was coming home so
they could each be the first to spot him and run to greet him. She could not imagine that sort of fearful relationship with her own father.
She asked about methods of discipline in our homes. Neither Gary nor I could recall Martin’s mentioning corporal punishment at his home, but both of us recalled the commanding tone in his father’s voice: when he spoke, we, too, obeyed. Gary and I were both spanked or beaten, I with a belt, Gary recalling that his father once used a large wooden kitchen spoon of his mother’s (that Gary then said he had thrown away and lied about having done so to his father) and one time beat his brother with a piece of wooden flooring; but generally, he used a belt.
Whitney mentioned that her father hit her or her sister only once, and never did so again. No, she said, if you disobeyed her father, you got the silent treatment. He would not talk to her or acknowledge her presence until she had apologized; he sometimes took this to the level of not acknowledging an apology unless delivered through his wife, as he would pretend he could not hear the penitent child.
Gary and I were aghast. We much preferred our own forms of discipline; Whitney agreed. It was much harder to deal with her father’s method of discipline; disobedience meant that you were a non-person in his eyes. She hated it.
And yet, Whitney revered her father. He died when she was only a young woman, a death that shocked the
hundreds of people who attended his funeral (this was years before Gary married her and before I met her, so I report her perceptions, not my own observations.) Gary told me once that she and her sister and mother were
“enthralled” by him. Years after her husband died, Whitney’s mother died. Gary told me that the number of people who showed up to give respects to a man long dead by showing for the funeral of his wife overwhelmed him; he felt the power of God and the dead man’s presence, welcoming his wife whose spirit he was too long separated from.
This was years before I stumbled on the Manosphere via a chance link at TakiMag in September, 2009. Now I would know: Martin’s dad and Whitney’s dad were both Alphas. Gary’s dad was a Beta. Having read extensively at Dalrock’s place, I can understand the source of this. While I do not recall Martin’s dad’s history, Whitney’s paternal grandfather was a respected patriarch in his community and the center of his entire extended family (so she reports). Gary’s paternal grandfather was a proto-pickup artist; Gary’s dad was the result of what we used to call a broken home (so, not surprisingly, was Gary’s mom, as he pointed out to me when we discussed alpha and beta a while back.), his father leaving to visit his mistress and their presumed love child on Thanksgiving. Gary’s dad never had the male influence teaching him the art of masculine self-control, helping him internalize the dictum “control yourself, or someone else will do it for you.”
The results in the families are instructive. Gary and his siblings racked up three divorces among them, with Gary reporting that only his and his oldest sister’s marriages of the surviving marriages could really be considered functional. That he credits to himself, but Gary, too, is (was? I turned Gary on to Dalrock and Athol…) a beta. Whitney has put up with much from Gary, but stuck it out, I think seeking in him the same sort of patriarch her own father had been. Whitney and her sister are both accomplished professional women, while Gary and his siblings, several of whom are QUITE smart, have wandered through adult life in a fog, showing the same lack of self-control that afflicts his father and mother with obesity.
Will’s article on corporal punishment brought all this back to me. I do not mean to suggest that corporal punishment makes a man beta, but that being a beta, Gary’s dad never learned limits or control. That is why he could take a wooden implement that could cause bruising and hit a child with it. That is why he would not set any punishment count or targets, but merely hit until his anger was sated; in contrast, I had other friends who could tell with amusing detail whether certain transgressions were worth the precisely measured smacks that they would earn by them.
Another thought occurs to me as I write this. There is a pleasurable aspect to corporal punishment for any man. As boys, we play at the hero, dispensing violence justly against monsters, human and not. We imagine ourselves the American soldiers in World War II liberating Dachau, or the sheriff shooting our cap guns off to bring law and justice to a frontier town. Dispensing corporal punishment in this sense provides us with a sense of participating in righteous anger, which Aquinas would tell us is not a sin, unlike Wrath.
In contrast, when I think NOW of Whitney’s dad and his method of punishment, it strikes me as something only an alpha could do. Every fiber within a father’s heart yearns to hear the pleading of a child calling to him; Whitney’s dad would not have needed to be tied to the mast to ignore the call of the Sirens as Ulysses did. We all want our children in our arms, but Whitney’s dad must have had superhuman strength to resist taking his child again in his until she agreed with his principles and accepted that she had done wrong and apologized. Whitney learned self-control, and it has kept her and Gary’s marriage together through rough times.
As a Patriactionary, I work for a society that reflects here on Earth what God has made in Heaven. The Church is the Bride of Christ, and the husband is the head of the family; the wife submits to him as the Church does to Christ. All are under the authority of the Father.
When we sin, we choose to separate ourselves from God. God does not now choose to strike us down, not even from sins crying out to heaven for retribution. God is Perfection, uncorrupt. If we die in a state of mortal
sin, we are eternally removed from his presence. He must ignore us and keep separate from us; he must TREAT US AS IF WE DID NOT EXIST. This must have hurt him more deeply than Whitney’s dad, but been of the same sort of hurt. Whitney’s dad would allow acts of contrition to come through his bride; God sent his Son as the willing innocent lamb to be sacrificed for our salvation. The Son’s bride will bring our message of
contrition to Him, and He to the Father.
So when I was asked how a Patriactionary could oppose corporal punishment, I was compelled to report this story. We can all agree that the undisciplined little brats running wild are the sign of no paternal influence; I would hope my tale has shown you that Alpha punishment is modeled on the Alpha and the Omega, and recapitulates in form and method divine Justice and Mercy. Ignoring misbehavior is easiest and worst; hitting provides some sense of justice and also pleasure; but an alpha knows that the child must internalize self-control and obedience to clearly explained rules, and will not acknowledge the child until the child can demonstrate that this lesson has been learned.