Moderation as Method of Maintenance to Mental Health
Early American society viewed the moderation of passion as necessary to maintain physical and mental health. Unbridled emotions were seen as the source of sickness and the driving force behind crime. Both gender roles had an expectation of rationality, of emotional control, though the patriarchal system of the time rested on men being the more rational.
Men carried on their shoulders the pressures of familial success; a ‘man’ was the head of the household, he held authority over his wife and his children. He had a duty to maintain this authority, and custom allowed him to use violence to such ends.
He also had a responsibility to provide for his family, and to be a successful member of the community. When men could not control their emotions or fulfill their societal duties, ‘intimate violence’ was the result.
Masculine intimate violence was the result of society’s unreasonable expectations and overwhelming pressures. Males were not men unless they had status within the community, but everyone in the community cannot have status. Those males that failed were pushed toward unbridled violence as the only outlet for their ‘masculine primitive’ which normally would’ve been expressed through patriarchal control or economic competition. What then, of unbridled violence between the master and the slave, since the master exerts both patriarchal control, and is engaged in economic competition? Such violence was necessary to maintain patriarchal control; the ‘masculine primitive’ manifesting its desire for survival. It is ironic that the driving force behind capitalism, the ‘masculine primitive’, undermines its society both socially and culturally through undesirable and uncivilized crime. The ‘masculine primitive’, without which capitalism could not exist, traps capitalism’s adherents into writing off a portion of the population as unproductive. This hurts efficiency, one of capitalism’s main goals. Capitalism and early American social values contributed to intimate violence as the repressed expression of the ‘masculine primitive’.