Lighter Side of Independence Day: Five Subversive Sex Tips (…I Mean, Relationship Pointers) from the Founders.

I know what you’re thinking; what is this, Cosmo Magazine?  Has Grunt lost his mind?Truth is, I never had much of a mind to lose.  😉  And relax; these are family friendly.  Besides, after so many grim events lately, we could use a little weird humor, especially if it’s historical, right?

1. Just Get Married Already!, by Ben Franklin.  I know this is ironic, given that Franklin, himself, never really married.  He did, however, propose to Deborah Read when he was only 17, and established a common-law marriage with her eventually after he was denied permission to marry her.  More important, though, is that Franklin really believed marriage was the best state of man, and he made a famous plea to a particularly horn-doggish friend in a letter that has only recently received wide attention because of its explicitness.

Marriage is the proper Remedy. It is the most natural State of Man, and therefore the State in which you are most likely to find solid Happiness. Your Reasons against entring into it at present, appear to me not well-founded. The circumstantial Advantages you have in View by postponing it, are not only uncertain, but they are small in comparison with that of the Thing itself, the being married and settled. It is the Man and Woman united that make the compleat human Being. Separate, she wants his Force of Body and Strength of Reason; he, her Softness, Sensibility and acute Discernment. Together they are more likely to succeed in the World. A single Man has not nearly the Value he would have in that State of Union. He is an incomplete Animal. He resembles the odd Half of a Pair of Scissars. If you get a prudent healthy Wife, your Industry in your Profession, with her good Economy, will be a Fortune sufficient.

In this day and age, I think these words, if not actually subversive, deserve to be repeated.

2. If You Can’t Marry, At Least Stay Away from Pretty Young “Trophy” Dates; They’re Nothing But Trouble, by Ben Franklin.  Ok, he didn’t say it in these words, but in the same letter to the same friend, he did enumerate eight reasons why older women should be valued as companions.  In our modern, youth-worshipping culture, that is a very subversive idea.

3. Ditch the Suspicion; Not All Excuses are Lame, by George Washington.  Not many letters between George and Martha Washington exist because most were destroyed by Martha, and it’s been theorized that it was all because of a sustained rift that developed between them which resulted in many angry letters during his participation in the war.  One particular letter survives because it was intercepted by the British and published in order to humiliate Washington.  In it, Washington expresses how hurt he was that Martha would entertain suspicions about his fidelity due to lulls in his letter writing frequency.  As discovered later, some of those lulls were, in fact, due to the British interfering with their mail.  Psy-Ops, indeed!

4. Maybe the French Don’t Have it All Figured Out, You Know?, by Thomas Jefferson.  While Jefferson clearly admired the French in many ways, he admitted that he was never really comfortable in their society, despite spending a lot of time in Paris.  In particular, it greatly troubled him that women were so politically involved there.  Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that he disapproved of the way they were involved.  Even though he was used to the conversation of intelligent women in Virginia society, he regarded the aggressive and independent participation of women in the salons of Paris to be overly “slutty.”  And yes, he used that word to describe some of what he saw.  Some have suggested that Jefferson was just “bitter” because he didn’t get the attention he desired from the beautiful young ladies of Paris, but I think that’s probably ridiculous.  His criticism is quite consistent with his view of the roles of men and women, which was of the traditional view and generally accepted by most people in 18th century America, but quite different from today.

5. Don’t Hide It When You’re Checking Out the Ladies; Your Bride Will Appreciate Your Honesty, Even if it Takes a Few Decades for Her to Realize It, by John and Abigail Adams.  Paradoxically, there was one woman in all of America who Thomas Jefferson admired as an intellectual equal, despite his insistence that women should not compete directly with men in that sphere.  That was Abigail Adams.  John and Abigail Adams are still famous for their love letters that number over a thousand, but the truth is that these two functioned very much as equal partners in their participation in the founding of this country.  They did not always agree on politics; for example, Abigail famously stated that all men would be tyrants if allowed, and that women should be given equal power and votes.  John always disagreed, and feared instead the “tyranny of the petticoat.”  Nevertheless, they always enjoyed a closeness and productive cooperation that endured until their final days, which were happy.  But there was, perhaps, one exception.

During one of John’s diplomatic trips to Paris, he foolishly mentioned a little excessive praise of the “handsome… and exceedingly brilliant” French ladies he’d met in Paris.  This was too much for Abigail, who was suffering through considerable labor in managing the Adams homestead with the consolation of too few letters from her husband.  She fired off an angry and extensive reply, but as Margaret Hogan recounts, the anger didn’t last long, and soon they were back to addressing each other as “My Dearest Friend.”  Should we conclude that John would have avoided his little faux pas if his wingman, Ben, had been there to edit his letter and slap him upside the head for being stupid?  Perhaps.  But I’d like to think that John had no regrets.  This marriage was obviously strong enough to allow total honesty, and I believe that John preferred his esteem for his wife remain intact, not reduced by fake deference, though it involved a fight.  I also believe that she was of the sort who appreciated his honesty, which may have seemed to be disrespectful of her feelings, but actually stands as testimony to the astonishing candor that they shared.

Please direct all hatemail to GruntOfMonteCristo, and hold the other contributors to this blog “compleatly” innocent.

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About GruntOfMonteCristo

Fearless and Devout Catholic Christian First, Loving Husband and Father Second, Pissed-Off Patriot Third, Rocket Engineer Dork Last.
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18 Responses to Lighter Side of Independence Day: Five Subversive Sex Tips (…I Mean, Relationship Pointers) from the Founders.

  1. texan59 says:

    Great stuff. 😀

    • Thanks for being brave enough to comment on my idiot attempts at humor, Tex. I will remember your kindness later with beer, if I get a chance. 😀

      • texan59 says:

        The two of us probably shouldn’t seek a career in marital counseling, but it’s fun to play one on TV. 😀 I’ll take you up on the offer on Friday!

  2. Shalini says:

    I thought this was a blog hit bait and promptly avoided it! 😀

    • I don’t blame you! When my wife read this post, she didn’t laugh – at all. I should have taken that as a sign and just deleted it. On the plus side, she didn’t get angry with me, either, so I take that as victory. 😉

  3. zmalfoy says:

    Honestly, I did find this funneh, and filled with good advice. I shall endeavor to not be sluttish in my political opining . . . *snickers*

    • *snork!*
      Actually, I did think about you when I was reading about John and Abigail Adams’ arguments about women in politics. It made me think of something you wrote in response to an Ann Barnhardt essay about suffrage over a year ago, and I must say, even though your modesty will hate this, it was one of the most brilliant and insightful things I have ever read by ANYONE on the subject. So much so, that I would ask you to expound on it someday. If you don’t, I will write about it on my own and hold you up as a genius, and I know you will HATE that. 😀

      • zmalfoy says:

        The only thing I remember writing in response to the AB essay on sufferage was my Confessio . . . which wasn’t exactly political . . .

        • I don’t know what a Confessio is, unless you mean the 3-parter from last year. But the response I’m talking about was made sometime after Dagny’s Treehouse post:
          http://theconservativetreehouse.com/2011/02/07/permanently-disqualified-from-everything-by-ann-barnhardt/
          Your response may have been a post on American Slytherin, but the part I remember was that you characterized the need for women to “self-censor” their natural dominance in social (especially church) settings as a kind of “female chivalry.” Just as men have to hold their natural physical strength in check, and so refrain from dominating women in Christian society, women have been called, traditionally, to hold their own tendency to dominate church business in check, and “allow” men to be in charge to a certain extent. Obviously, this is not a popular idea in our post-feminist world, and it’s a subtle point, but I think it captures the nature of how men and women worked together in Christian unity in past centuries without a War of the Sexes. Chivalry worked both ways. That’s genius! The modern opinion, of course, is that women are treated as inferior by Christianity, but I think we know that isn’t the case, and your explanation does a great deal toward explaining why it’s not true. Do you know what I’m talking about?

          • Shalini says:

            Hey thanks for this link. It’s long, so I’ll have to read it tomorrow, err…later today. But it looks like a topic I’d enjoy reading. I wonder how I missed it the first time!

            • You’re very welcome, Shal. The post was from the first 2 months of existence of the Treehouse. I’m not sure you had discovered, yet, where the Honey Trail folks had gone at that time, but I’m not sure.

          • zmalfoy says:

            yes. That’s the post I was thinking of. (Confessio means Confession, and that;s what a large portion of that post was . . .)

            The thing with Chivalry as I see it, is that it only works when working both ways. Both sexes must restrain themselves in their relative spheres of strength–while respecting the strength in their complement, or else everything becomes unbalanced and out of whack, which is what makes the War of the Sexes start up again. Men unrestrained leads to horrific physical and emotional abuse and depravity. Women unrestrained leads to horrific emotional and sometimes physical abuse, and depravity. When both sexes are unrestrained lacking respect for the other, civilization devours itself. The War of the Sexes (a lie) is waged full throttle, depravity and abuse feed each other in a vicious cycle, until the entire culture collapses from the internal cannibalism between men and women.

            I do think that the early feminist movement had some valid points. Some, mind. I do think there was a tendency among some or many men to see equate exterior weakness with internal weakness. There is no reason women shouldn’t be every bit as learned as men and, I would even add, that women ought to learn the arts of war as well, even though I believe that women should never be in combat. While the brains of men may tend more toward math while women may tend toward words, there’s no reason that we shouldn’t foster all young people to be the next Marie Curies and Will Shakespeares. Educate the individual, not the demographic. However, when the Gifts of various Family Roles (mother, wife, father, husband, son, daughter, sibling. . .)were subordinated to the lesser gifts of science or literature . . .this is when the self-cannibalism started . . .

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