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Corseted Minds: Does Fear of Irrelevance Send Conservative Men Fleeing to the Victorian Age?

If you focus on the utilitarian value of human beings, you may find yourself at some point nervously glancing in the mirror.

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As Joyce Appleby explains in her book The Relentless Revolution, it was capitalism that helped let the Angel out of the house, driving the medical breakthroughs that made the development of reproductive technology possible. And it was capitalism that withered away the bonds of power between men and women that for millennia had been based on male religious authority, and replaced them with bonds based on economic value. The priest no longer determined what women are for. The advertisements in Vogue, maybe. But not the priests. This is the postmodern paradox that conservatives must contend with. And it's driving them absolutely bonkers just now.

Nostalgia for a simpler time is a form of dragging your heels. It's a protest against something to which you have already partly capitulated. The demise of patriarchal structures, which ultimately derive their authority from religious systems, has been in progress for a while, and it will continue. The tragedy for conservatives is not this demise, but their failure to imagine a viable, dynamic and diverse culture in its place. A place in which men and women do not ask what the other is for.

Lynn Parramore is an AlterNet contributing editor. She is cofounder of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of 'Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture.' Follow her on Twitter @LynnParramore.