The Dangerous Rise of Sexual Politics
Islamic radicalism may be creating a “clash of civilizations,”
radicalism is undermining the social foundation of all civilization.
*Stephen Baskerville teaches political science at Patrick Henry College.
He is the author of Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers,
Marriage, and the Family (Cumberland Books).
“All politics is on one level sexual politics.”
— George Gilder, 1986
Four decades into the boldest
social experiment ever undertaken in the Western democracies, the full impact of
what was once quaintly known as “women’s liberation” is at last becoming clear.
The political class of both the Left and Right have colluded to limit the
debate to a series of innocuous controversies: job discrimination, equal pay,
affirmative action. Only abortion has any depth, and that
debate has been mired in stalemate.
Meanwhile, beneath the
political radar screen, the real consequences are finally emerging: a massive
restructuring of the social order, demographic trends that threaten the very
survival of Western civilization, and perhaps least noticed, an exponential
growth in the size and power of the state — the state at its most bureaucratic
Feminism has now
positioned itself as the vanguard of the Left, shifting the political discourse
from the economic and racial to the social and increasingly the sexual.
What was once a socialistic assault on property and enterprise has become
a social and sexual attack on the family, marriage, and masculinity.
This marks a truly new kind of politics, the most personal and thus
potentially the most total politics ever devised: the politics of private life
and sexual relations.
Sexual politics is both
feminist and homosexual, with no distinct line separating them.
Feminism has been the more overtly political doctrine.
Until recently, gays asked mostly to be left alone and as such gained
especially males, probably do not consciously think about their sexuality in
expressly political terms. Yet homosexuality in itself can
be a political statement, especially lesbianism, which for many constitutes the
personal dimension of feminist ideology. “Feminism is the
theory, lesbianism is the practice,” in words attributed to Ti-Grace Atkinson.
“For many of today’s feminists, lesbianism is far more than a sexual
orientation or even a preference. It is, as students in many
colleges learn, ‘an ideological, political, and philosophical means of
liberation of all women from heterosexual tyranny.’” For
sexual activists, sex itself is not a private but a political act.
Recalling Henry Adams’ definition of politics as the “systematic
organization of hatreds,” it requires little imagination to see that this
rebellion against sexual “tyranny” has politicized and transformed sex, an act
associated at its most sublime with love, into what may yet prove history’s
purest distillation of hate.
ideology has ever appeared before, and its unprecedented power is at once
obvious and disguised. Obvious, because it is not difficult to see that
politicizing sex and sexual relations potentially penetrates far deeper into the
human psyche, unleashes energies and emotions, and disrupts relationships and
institutions far more fundamental than those attacked by radical ideologies of
the past. The capacity for intrusion into the private sphere of life is
unrivalled since the bureaucratic dictatorships of the last century and
potentially surpasses even them. “Radical feminism is the most destructive
and fanatical movement to come down to us from the Sixties,” writes Robert Bork.
“This is a revolutionary, not a reformist, movement, and it is meeting with
considerable success. Totalitarian in spirit, it is deeply antagonistic to
traditional Western culture and proposes the complete restructuring of society,
morality, and human nature.”
Yet how precisely the
scenario is playing out is far less clear and, indeed, has escaped most
observers. The grip that sexual politics already commands
over our political culture is so profound that its most destabilizing features
are often undetected even by its harshest critics. Apart
from its advocates, few have even singled out sexual politics for focused
critical attention. It is bemoaned as simply another facet
of leftist politics, like socialism and racial nationalism.
But it is much more.
Sexual politics is the
most complex and subtle political ideology today. On the one
hand, the excesses of organized feminism’s formal agenda no longer command
serious respect. Many assume it is spent as a political
force, that “feminism is dead” and we live in a “post-feminist” age.
At the same time, unspoken feminist assumptions no longer hover in the
political margins; they have permeated the mainstream and thrive unchallenged
and unchallengeable on the Left, the Center, and even the Right.
The danger is not the absurdities of its extremists, whom few now regard,
but the steady erosion of social cohesion, civic freedom, and above all privacy,
as well as the politicization of personal life by a sexual ideology that has so
mesmerized us all that we are largely immune from realizing it.
Perhaps the greatest danger is the absence of coherent opposition.
For more than any other political movement, feminism neuters, literally
emasculates its opposition.
Many have discerned a
similarity between feminism and Marxism, but few appreciate how feminism extends
the socialist logic and may actually exceed its intrusive potential.
“Women’s liberation, if not the most extreme then certainly the most
influential neo-Marxist movement in America, has done to the American home what
communism did to the Russian economy, and most of the ruin is irreversible,”
writes Ruth Wisse of Harvard. “By defining relations between men and women
in terms of power and competition instead of reciprocity and cooperation, the
movement tore apart the most basic and fragile contract in human society, the
unit from which all other social institutions draw their strength.”
sex takes the logic of class conflict a great leap forward. The charge of
“oppression” is leveled not at broad, impersonal social classes but at the most
intimate personal relationships. The oppressor is not the entrepreneurial
class or entrepreneur but the husband (or “intimate partner”), the father, even
the son. To relieve the oppressed, the all-powerful state nationalizes not
only the private firm but the private family. Human intimacy — the
individual’s last refuge from state power — is not only a collateral casualty
but a targeted enemy.
The danger therefore
comes not so much from the assault on freedom generally (which traditional
tyrannies also threaten) but specifically from the attack on private life,
especially family life (which traditional dictatorships usually left alone).
“Radical feminism is totalitarian because it denies the individual a
private space; every private thought and action is public and, therefore,
political,” writes Bork. “The party or the movement claims
the right to control every aspect of life.” Daphne Patai
also perceives this hostility to privacy. “Feminism today,
in its erasure of the boundaries between public and private, is writing a new
chapter in the dystopian tradition of surveillance and unfreedom,” she observes,
“...whereby one’s every gesture, every thought, is exposed to the judgement of
one’s fellow citizens.”
This attack on privacy is
especially dangerous, because today many conservatives — those otherwise most
likely to challenge feminism — themselves do not value privacy and civil
liberties. By a destructive irony, feminists have already
appropriated “privacy” as a rationale for abortion in legal cases like Roe v.
Wade, leading conservatives (who at one
time extolled the virtues of private life) to abandon the concept itself.
Many conservatives also dismiss civil liberties as a pretext for
acquitting criminals. This leaves the Left with a monopoly
as guardians of the Bill of Rights. The guilty do indeed go
unpunished, but partly because the innocent are convicted in their place.
As we will see, the principal political force driving incarceration today
— of both the innocent and the guilty — is politicized sexuality.
“Revolutions are very
hard indeed on privacy,” observes our leading sociologist of revolution.
That the totalitarian governments of the twentieth century intruded
themselves into the most intimate corners of personal life, politicized the
private, and destroyed much of family life is well known.
But even they did not usually make the destruction of private life their
Modern sexual politics,
by contrast, specifically targets privacy, and especially family privacy.
Political theorist Carol Pateman insists that denying “the dichotomy
between the public and the private...is, ultimately, what the feminist movement
is about,” and two prominent feminists sneer at “the ideology of the family as a
bastion of privacy.” Feminism’s fundamental principle —
that “the personal is political” — is so obviously totalitarian that historian
Eugene Genovese (himself a former Marxist) has termed it “Stalinist.”
Again, this potential is obvious theoretical. What is
seldom appreciated is how far the potential has been realized.
“Radical feminists must regard it as unfortunate that they lack the power
and mechanisms of the state to enforce their control over thoughts as well as
behavior,” muses Bork. “However, the movement is gradually
gaining that coercive power in both private and public institutions.”
Actually, they have it now.
Feminism’s triumph has
not come through its most extreme ideologues. Much as
Stalinism inherited the methods and practices of czarist absolutism and Russian
nationalism, the triumphal phase of the new feminist and gay politics comes by
commandeering and politicizing the very institutions they once renounced:
motherhood, marriage, the family, the church, the state.
The early feminist attack
on marriage and the family is now largely forgotten or dismissed.
“We can’t destroy the inequities between men and women until we destroy
marriage,” Ms. magazine editor Robin
Morgan wrote in her 1970 book, Sisterhood is Powerful.
Sheila Cronin, head of the National Organization for Women, said that
“Freedom for women cannot be won without the abolition of marriage.”
Linda Gordon elaborated in a famous 1969 article in WOMEN: A
Journal of Liberation.
“The nuclear family must be destroyed,” she declared:
The break-up of
families now is an objectively revolutionary process.… Families have
supported oppression by separating people into small, isolated units, unable to
join together to fight for common interests.… Families make possible the
super-exploitation of women by training them to look upon their work outside the
home as peripheral to their “true” role.… No woman should have to deny
herself any opportunities because of her special responsibilities to her
children.… Families will be finally destroyed only when a revolutionary
social and economic organization permits people’s needs for love and security to
be met in ways that do not impose divisions of labor, or any external roles, at
While such statements are
often dismissed as the ranting of extremists, a glance at the state of marriage
and the family today reveals that this is precisely what feminists have
achieved. But they achieved it in ways much more subtle than
these screeds indicate. While Germaine Greer famously urged
women to refuse to marry, that strategy could achieve nothing.
It was by participating in marriage that feminists destroyed it.
Homosexual activists are
now simply following the feminists’ lead. The most extreme
homosexual activists renounce marriage altogether and leave it in peace; it is
the “moderates” who hope to transform marriage in their image and thereby
undermine it. Yet precisely because it is obvious,
homosexual marriage is not the most dangerous threat to marriage today; it has
provoked vocal opposition.
The really dangerous
trends are more subtle and arouse little opposition; some have even been enabled
and abetted by conservatives. While feminism in its
earliest, ideologically pure stage demanded “equality” and “rights,” today, even
as the ideological purists are relegated to the margins, it is nonetheless
wheedling its way into the mainstream and conservative culture by appropriating
traditional morality, including the very feminine “stereotypes” against which it
campaign to appropriate motherhood, for example, cynically but superficially
exploits the pieties of traditional morality and the sentimentalities of
uninformed conservative people. Feminists like Ann
Crittenden have learned to extol motherhood, enabling them to pose as victims
and gain sympathy from the general public and even from conservatives.
Waving the banner of motherhood, feminists leave the patriarchy little
But feminists are not
defending motherhood; they are politicizing it. “The
feminists...want to thoroughly politicize the last bastion of personal life in
our society: families,” writes Wendy McElroy. “They want to
wrest motherhood from its traditional right-wing associations and make it a
left/liberal issue, with ‘Mothers Are Victims’ writ-large on its banner.”
The deception is subtle but profound. Motherhood is
no longer a private relationship but a claim to political power and to marshal
the coercive state apparatus against those depicted as the oppressors of
mothers. The feminization of a wide range of issues having
no obvious connection with sexuality is now culminating in what one newspaper
calls “the radicalization of America’s mothers”: “Some
commentators argue that the whole agenda in the US is shifting towards ‘the
politics of maternity’.”
Not only Code Pink, mobilized in opposition to the Iraq war, but more subtle are
the Million Mom March (criminalizing gun ownership), Mothers Against Drunk
Driving (criminalizing private, nonviolent acts), and more recently the militant
Moms Rising, are variations on the theme. “These ‘pro-family’ women wish
to ‘harness’ what [Naomi] Wolf calls the ‘pissed-offedness’ of mothers in order
to play ‘hardball politics,’” says McElroy. Many are deceived into
believing that feminists have become the champions of traditional motherhood and
families, when their actual agenda is to make them dependants of the state.
“Crittenden indicts not feminism, but capitalism, and argues for government to
‘economically recognize’ motherhood so that women will not be dependent upon
The deception succeeds
because motherhood is an easy claim to privilege and always has been.
Crittenden’s 2002 book title, The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most
Important Job in the World Is Still the Least Valued,
is itself a revealing sleight-of-hand. If anyone has
devalued motherhood, of course, it is feminists. Susan
Douglas and Meredith Michaels demonstrate with their own book title, registering
precisely the opposite gripe: The Mommy Myth: The
Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined Women.
Apparently opposites, these authors all share the conviction that mothers
are oppressed by something.
The two titles succinctly convey feminism’s determination to depict
everything pertaining specifically to women as “oppression” and highlight
feminist complaints as a strategy to, as they say, “have it all” without regard
for consistency or logic. This points to a trait feminism
shares with all radical ideologies but carries much further: the capacity to
expand its own power and that of the state by creating the very problems about
which it complains. “Mothers do not receive sufficient
respect from society,” McElroy paraphrases Crittenden, “as if feminism weren’t
largely to blame.”
This is potent because it
politicizes the private and cynically exploits society’s natural sympathy for
women. The older battle cries of liberal feminism, opposing
traditional gender roles or promoting equal pay, have given way to “victim
feminism” which insists that women are by definition victims.
The shift was almost imperceptible but profound, for the victim posture
exploits, rather than renounces, women’s traditional weaknesses, which are also
and always have been claims to privilege: motherhood, children, domesticity,
sex. Feminists have turned these into claims to state
intervention by posing as victims of not just an impersonal “society” but newly
invented or redefined “crimes” of which only women can be victims and that only
men can commit: rape, sexual harassment, domestic violence, child abuse,
nonpayment of child support (plus lesser, more vague offenses like “aggressive
driving”). These new crimes politicize precisely the spheres
of life that normally we are at pains to protect from politics and the
competition for power: home, family, children — and the criminal justice system.
They succeed because they exploit the natural desire of both men and
women to protect and provide for women. (Though here too,
homosexuals are following the feminists’ lead with demands for “hate crimes”
laws that likewise politicize criminal justice.)
These are all appeals to
female fear. Ironically, they are also appeals to male
chivalry, to rescue damsels in distress, to display masculinity (an emergent
theme in conservative literature) by creating occasions for combat with other
men. But in contrast to traditional chivalry, this gallantry
does not proceed from personal duty and requires no risk, courage, or
self-sacrifice. The chivalry feminists demand is
bureaucratic, exercised by officials with a professional or pecuniary interest.
It is politicized chivalry, displayed not by individual men but by cadres
wielding state power such as police and plainclothes quasi-police functionaries.
This is evident
in the campaign for “victims’ rights.” This began as an effort by
conservatives to provide more effective recourse to crime victims, largely in
response to liberal moves to weaken punishments. President Reagan’s 1982
Task Force on Victims of Crime led to the creation of US Justice Department’s
Office of Victims of Crime. A glance at that agency’s website reveals that
the campaign has been hijacked by feminists, and most of the “crimes” have been
redefined in feminist terms: the “victims” are mostly women, the
“perpetrators” are mostly men, and the “crimes” are mostly political.
The politicization of
criminal justice is seen in the redefinition of rape and explosion of false rape
accusations. Legal theorists like Catherine MacKinnon, who
asks “whether consent is a meaningful concept” and who has repeatedly suggested
that virtually all heterosexual intercourse amounts to rape, have been highly
influential at law schools throughout the United States and with the governments
of individual states and Canada. “Any honest veteran sex
assault investigator will tell you that rape is one of the most falsely reported
crimes,” says Craig Silverman, a former Colorado prosecutor known for his
zealous pursuit of alleged rapists. Purdue University
sociologist Eugene Kanin found that “41% of the total disposed rape cases were
officially declared false” during a 9-year period, “that is, by the
complainant’s admission that no rape had occurred and the charge, therefore, was
false.” Unrecanted accusations mean the actual percentage of
false allegations is almost certainly higher. Kanin
concluded that “these false allegations appear to serve three major functions
for the complainants: providing an alibi, seeking revenge, and obtaining
sympathy and attention.”
The Center for Military Readiness provides additional motivations: “False
rape accusations also have been filed to extort money from celebrities, to gain
sole custody of children in divorce cases, and even to escape military
deployments to war zones.”
daily we see men released after decades in prison because DNA testing proves
they were wrongly convicted. And they are the fortunate
ones. While DNA testing has righted some wrongs, the
corruption of the rape industry is so systemic that, as last year’s Duke
University case shows, hard evidence of innocence is no barrier to prosecution
and conviction. It is well documented that feminist crime
lab technicians fabricate and doctor evidence to frame men they know to be
innocent. Yet there has been no systematic investigation
by the media or civil libertarians as to why so many innocent citizens are
regularly incarcerated on fabricated allegations and evidence.
The exoneration of the Duke lacrosse players on an obviously trumped-up
charge has resulted in few attempts to determine how widespread such rigged
justice is against those not wealthy or fortunate enough to garner media
attention. Even conservative critics studiously avoided
acknowledging feminism’s role in the accusations at Duke but instead emphasized
race — a minor feature of the case but a much safer one to criticize.
There is little
indication that white people are being systematically incarcerated on fabricated
accusations of non-existent crimes against blacks. This is
precisely what is happening to men (and even some women), both white and black,
accused of the kind of “gender” crimes that feminists have turned into a
Oppression and Superiority
is the alpha and the omega of contemporary Communism,” wrote Milovan Djilas
during the repression of the 1950s. “Ideas, philosophical
principles, and moral considerations...— all can be changed and sacrificed.
But not power.” Something similar can be said about
today’s feminism, an ideology with no fixed principles, as evidenced by its
capacity to spawn interminable discussions about its “true nature”:
At times all gender differences are social constructions; at other times
women have special “needs.” Women are oppressed by gender
roles, but those same roles confer a claim to moral superiority because they
make women more “caring” and “compassionate.” Men and women
must compete on equal terms, except when men must be excluded from certain
competitions so that women can win. Fathers should share
equally in rearing children, but custody (and the power and money that accompany
it) must always go to mothers. Alison Jaggar, author of
Living with Contradictions, proclaims unashamedly that feminists should
insist on “having it both ways”: “Feminists should embrace
both horns of this dilemma,” she writes. “They should use
the rhetoric of equality in situations where women’s interests clearly are being
damaged by being treated either differently from or identically with men.”
Her words are revealing. This “rhetoric of equality”
is just that: rhetoric. As with Humpty Dumpty, words like
“equality” change meanings when convenient; “interests” alone endure.
As Jaggar admits, it proceeds from no principles other than power: to
increase the power not so much of women, as of those who claim to speak on
behalf of the rest. This is revealed by the fashionable
euphemism used to disguise it: “empowerment.”
The shift from liberal
demands for unisex “equality” to claims of a positively superior politics
characterized by greater “caring” and “sensitivity” than traditional masculine
power politics carried far-reaching implications. What might
appear as a moderating compromise with traditional gender roles was in reality a
modest sacrifice of ideological purity in exchange for power.
theorist Kathy Ferguson envisions a world where male-dominated power politics
would be supplanted with this feminine politics of empowerment. Male power
brokers would be replaced by quasi-Platonic female “caretakers” whose claim to
leadership would be their compassion. In this feminist utopia the only
remaining problem would be who would minister to the needs of these saintly
souls. “For a feminist community, then, Plato’s question ‘Who will guard
the guardians?’ might be rephrased as, ‘Who will care for the caretakers?’”
Professor Ferguson would
have been less visionary but more perspicacious if she had asked, “Who will
guard the caretakers?” For her dream of a syndicalist rule
by caretakers is now the reality, and the caretakers have run amok.
“Caretakers routinely drug foster children” runs a headline in the Los
Angeles Times. “Children under state protection in California group
and foster homes are being drugged with potent, dangerous psychiatric
medications, at times just to keep them obedient and docile for their
This points to feminism’s
most institutionalized and destructive legacy: not
eliminating gender roles, which it has not done and can never do, but
politicizing the feminine. While some among feminism’s
elites moved into traditional male occupations, many more women entered the
workforce at functions that extended the domestic roles with which they were
comfortable. Thus rather than caring for their own children
within the family, women began working in new professions where they care for
other people’s children as part of the public economy: daycare, early education,
and “social services.” This transformed child-rearing from a
private familial into a public communal and taxable activity, expanding the tax
base and with it the size and power of the state, while also driving down male
wages. Soon, a political class paid from those taxes began
to take command position in control of vastly expanded public education and
social services bureaucracies, where they supervise other women who look after
other people’s children, further expanding the size and scope of the state into
what had been private life.
This trend renders the
dream of a more caring public sphere through feminism not only naïve but
dangerously utopian. For as feminists correctly pointed out,
the feminine functions were traditionally private.
Politicizing the feminine has therefore meant politicizing and bureaucratizing
private life. This is how the “totalitarian” potential which
Bork and others perceive is already being realized in ways even they may have
yet to grasp.
Though many overuse this
term, one danger of loose usage is to immunize us from recognizing the real
thing. For long recognized as a defining feature of
totalitarianism is that it is specifically bureaucratic
dictatorship, which is precisely what the ideological politics of
Marxism-feminism have produced. Controversies over equal pay
and affirmative action have diverted attention from the massive feminist
breakthrough in the hidden realm of bureaucratic politics, where it encountered
virtually no opposition or even notice. With striking
resemblance to Djilas’ “new class” of apparatchiks, what the institutional Left
generally and feminism in particular are constructing today is not simply
tyranny but bureaucratic tyranny, tyranny no individual consciously planned and
no individual can stop.
Far from softening the
hard edges of power politics, feminism has merely inserted
calculations of power into the most private corners of life.
It has subjected family life to increasing political and bureaucratic control.
It has decimated families through twin processes whose direct connection
with feminism have not been fully appreciated: the weakening of parents and the
politicization of children.
The most obvious example,
as Bork and others point out — and where, again, some opposition has arisen — is
in the politics of schooling. Public schools were the
earliest triumph of socialism and of the state’s gradual usurpation of parental
roles within the liberal democracies. The ideological
foundation of public education in weakening parental authority and transferring
it to the state emerges in the words of a political scientist:
owed as a matter of justice the capacity to choose to lead lives — adopt values
and beliefs, pursue an occupation, endorse new traditions — that are different
from those of their parents. Because the child cannot him or herself ensure the
acquisition of such capacities and the parents may be opposed to such
acquisition, the state must ensure it for them. The state must guarantee
that children are educated for minimal autonomy.
What has not been
appreciated — again, even by critics such as private school and homeschool
advocates — is that the schools were the first triumph of not simply the welfare
state but the welfare state matriarchy.
Connected to this
matriarchy is another that has become even more powerful and authoritarian
because it has grown up upon less resistant low-income communities and, until
recently, was largely hidden from the middle class: the massive and constantly
expanding political underworld of the “social services” bureaucracies.
Ironically, two leftist
authors have perceived the danger more readily than most conservatives.
They even adopt Djilas’ term, describing “a new class
of professionals — social workers, therapists,
foster care providers, family court lawyers — who have a vested interest in
taking over parental function.” “If children are the
clients, parents can quite easily become the adversaries,” write Sylvia Ann
Hewlett and Cornel West, “— the people who threaten to take business away.”
What Hewlett and West do not tell us is that this new class is driven —
in addition to self-interest and bureaucratic aggrandizement — largely by
The power of this
bureaucratic underworld derives almost entirely from children.
It is the world of social work, child psychology, child and family
counseling, child care, child protection, child support enforcement, and
juvenile and family courts. Overwhelmingly, it is
feminist-dominated. This is not always obvious, because its
matriarchs are not necessarily Vassar women’s studies majors indulging in
tedious dorm-room debates about whether feminists may wear lipstick.
But what it lacks in ideological purity it more than makes up for in
coercive power. Its operatives are quasi-police
functionaries with an agenda, and they are concerned less with ideological
consistency than with political power.
These feminists created
and now control the vast and impenetrable social services industries that most
journalists and scholars find too dreary to scrutinize. They
dominate the $47 billion federal Administration for Children and Families,
itself part of the gargantuan $700 billion Department of Health and Human
Services. They are both dispensers and recipients of its
$200 billion grant program (“larger than all other federal agencies combined,”
according to HHS) among local “human services” or “social services”
bureaucracies — probably the largest patronage machine ever created in the
Western world, reaching virtually into every household in the land and one that
makes the former Soviet nomenklatura
look ramshackle. They created and control the “family law
sections” of the bar associations and the family courts, which they modified
into their image from an earlier incarnation as juvenile courts (themselves
created from “compassion”). And they dominate the forensic
psychotherapy industry, with its close ties to the courts, social work agencies,
and public schools. By no means are they all doctrinaire
devotées of The
Feminine Mystique or The Female
Eunuch. But when push
comes to shove, they know their power comes from being female.
And again, their most potent source of power is children.
The growing political
power of this bureaucratic underworld is manifested today in the rise of what
amounts to a plainclothes feminist police force: the
dreaded, federally funded “Child Protective Services,” who seldom see a child
that is not abused.
During the 1980s and
1990s, waves of child abuse hysteria swept America and other countries,
resulting in torn-apart families, hideous injustices, and ruined lives.
Parents were unjustly separated from their children and incarcerated by
setting aside constitutional safeguards while the media and civil libertarians
looked the other way. Feminist prosecutors like Nancy Lamb
in North Carolina whipped up public invective against parents they had jailed
yet knew to be innocent. “The press was transfixed” by Lamb,
writes William Anderson, “with her flashing eyes and bobbed hair.
Lamb was speaking ‘for the children,’ you see, and the press adored her.
That she was making preposterous claims and attempting to destroy the
lives of seven people despite all good evidence to the contrary was not even
As with false rape
accusations, the politicization of child abuse reached its apogee in the Clinton
administration Justice Department. “From Janet Reno’s
infamous prosecutions of Grant Snowden in Florida...to the McMartin case in Los
Angeles, to Wenatchee, Washington,” writes Anderson, “the Edenton case was part
of a line of what only can be called witch hunts in which state social workers
badgered very young children until they came up with lurid tales — after having
denied that those things occurred.”
It was also during the
Clinton years that child protection was elevated to a paramilitary operation,
when Attorney General Reno used unsubstantiated child abuse rumors to justify a
violent assault against American citizens in Waco, Texas, resulting in the
deaths of 24 children whom she was ostensibly protecting.
This militarization of child protection was seen more recently in the largest
seizure of children in American history, also in Texas, when almost five hundred
children were seized from their polygamous mothers in the Fundamentalist Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also without any evidence of abuse.
“A night-time raid with tanks, riot police, SWAT teams, snipers, and cars
full of Texas Rangers and sheriff’s deputies — that is the new face of state
child protection,” writes attorney Gregory Hession, “social workers backed up
with automatic weapons.” The role of feminist ideology was
downplayed by the media but revealed by a spokeswoman for the state agency, who
justified seizing the children because of “a mindset that
even the young girls report that they will marry at whatever age, and that it’s
the highest blessing they can have to have children.” As
Hession comments, encouraging respect for motherhood is “abuse.”
The witch hunts were
carried into adulthood through “recovered memory therapy,” another feminist
innovation whereby wild tales of childhood sex crimes were manufactured from a
psychological theory. In Victims of Memory,
Mark Pendergrast shows how the recovered memory hoax destroyed families, ruined
lives, and sent innocent parents to prison, though as the price of getting
published Pendergrast bends over backward to insist, defensively and contrary to
his own evidence, that this was not driven by feminism.
Sexual Politics and the Welfare State
Though child abuse
officials now target middle-class families, bureaucratic child protection
originated in welfare. And indeed, the earliest institution
of sexual politics was the welfare state.
The welfare state has
traditionally been regarded as the landmark triumph of class politics within the
liberal democracies — the one successful achievement of “social democracy” that
has grown and survived even in countries, like the United States, which avoided
such terms. Yet from today’s perspective, the welfare state
stands as the first salvo of gender politics, the first social experiment of
government growth following the enfranchisement of feminists.
Each stage of welfare
state expansion has been justified not simply for the poor but specifically for
poor children. The
interests of these children could also be gradually divorced from their parents,
though in practice they tended to be identified with the mothers who claimed to
be the guardians of those interests: increasingly, single mothers.
The proliferation of single-mother homes lent plausibility to the
feminists’ new rallying cry, the “feminization of poverty,” that shifted poor
relief from a socialist to a feminist crusade.
But the feminization of
poverty was a deception from the start — a creation of ideology rather than of
any objective social phenomena and another example of ideology creating its own
grievance. Originally justified to provide for the families
of men who had been laid off during economic downturns or killed in war, the
welfare state quickly became a subsidy of single-mother homes and fatherless
children. It had immediately set in, that is, to expand
precisely the problem it claimed to be alleviating.
To justify this
sleight-of-hand, the architects of welfare state expansion needed a rationale,
and they found it in one of the most potent and destructive falsehoods ever
foisted on a well-meaning but gullible public, a falsehood that has served,
directly or indirectly, to justify the exponential expansion of not only the
welfare state but the scope and power of government in many other spheres.
This is the falsehood that government must provide for massive numbers of
women and children whose men have abandoned them. With the
abrupt reversal of an airbrushed Kremlin photograph, the welfare state’s
rationalizing figure was demoted from a hero to a villain.
The same working men who had been valiantly dying in imperialism’s wars or laid
off as innocent victims of heartless capitalism were suddenly and ignominiously
absconding from the bastards they had sired.
The destructive force of
this untruth is incalculable. Accept it, and virtually every
expansion of both social welfare spending and law-enforcement authority is
readily justified and indeed, unanswerable. Women and
children are being abandoned by irresponsible men: What
politician could resist that appeal?
But the truth was very
different. No evidence indicates that the ongoing crisis of
fatherless children is caused primarily by fathers abandoning their children.
It is now very clear that it has been driven throughout by feminist
policies and programs. Single mothers were not being thrown
into poverty by absconding men; they were choosing it because it offered
precisely the “sexual freedom” that was feminism’s seminal urge, regardless of
the consequences for their children. Single motherhood is
feminism’s most potent and most destructive accomplishment, and before the right
audience feminists not only concede but boast about it.
Single Mothers By Choice expresses this boast organizationally, and when
pressed, most single mothers will insist that that is precisely what they are.
While feminists readily pose as the champions of children when it comes
to perpetuating welfare dependency, it is clear that, beneath the rhetorical
fluff, the exhilarating power accruing to single mothers is more than adequate
compensation for pulling their children into poverty. In
fact, the very feminist intellectuals who popularized the term “feminization of
poverty” have acknowledged as much: “Independence, even in
straitened and penurious forms,” write Barbara Ehrenreich and her colleagues,
“still offers more sexual freedom than affluence gained through marriage and
dependence on one man.”
The myth of the
absconding father provided a means to leverage a massive expansion of state
power through emotional blackmail. It was also a declaration
of bureaucratic war against what is after all the first and foremost feminist
enemy, the literal embodiment of the hated “patriarchy”: fathers.
So long as the principal
engine for creating single-mother homes was welfare, the abandonment myth was
only implied. Everyone knew that welfare was subsidizing and
proliferating single-mother homes in the inner cities, but until money became
contentious no one was greatly bothered with assigning blame.
Most welfare mothers producing fatherless children were never married, so
no documentation attested to who was breaking up a “family” that had seldom
really existed in intact form.
As the phenomenon spread
to the middle class (today the fastest-growing sector of unwed childbearing),
the engine driving single-mother homes was not so much welfare as divorce.
Here the implicit became explicit with an open assault on two closely
connected institutions that had quietly ceased to exist in the welfare
underclass but which were still thriving in the middle class: fatherhood and
The matriarchal logic
of the welfare state became apparent as it expanded, perhaps inexorably, into
the middle class. This was effected through what is by far
the most subtle and potent weapon ever devised in the arsenal of sexual warfare,
the one which brought underclass problems (and the state welfare machinery that
had grown up to address them) to the middle class: divorce.
Divorce has never been
analyzed politically. Not generally perceived as a political
issue or a gender battleground, and never one they wished to advertise (largely
because they triumphed without opposition), divorce became the most devastating
weapon in the arsenal of gender warriors, because it brought the gender war into
every household in the Western world. What media accounts
facetiously laugh off as an amusing “battle of the sexes” is in reality an
intrusive, lethal political apparat whose fallout is hate, poverty, violence, and incarceration.
seriously misunderstood the divorce revolution. While they
bemoan mass divorce, they also refuse to confront its political causes.
Maggie Gallagher once attributed this silence to “political cowardice”:
“Opposing gay marriage or gays in the military is for Republicans an
easy, juicy, risk -free issue,” she complained. “The message
[is] that at all costs we should keep divorce off the political agenda.”
The first and foremost assault on marriage came not from gays but from
feminists. Michael McManus of Marriage Savers writes that
“divorce is a far more grievous blow to marriage than today’s challenge by
No American politician of
national stature has seriously challenged involuntary divorce.
“Democrats did not want to anger their large constituency among women who
saw easy divorce as a hard-won freedom and prerogative,” writes Barbara Dafoe
Whitehead. “Republicans did not want to alienate their
upscale constituents or their libertarian wing, both of whom tended to favor
easy divorce, nor did they want to call attention to the divorces among their
own leadership.” In his famous denunciation of single
parenthood, Vice President Dan Quayle was careful to make clear, “I am not
talking about a situation where there is a divorce.” The
exception proves the rule. When the late Pope John Paul II
spoke out against divorce in January 2002, he was attacked from the right as
well as the left. To the extent that conservatives have
addressed divorce at all, they tend to parrot the feminist line that divorce is
perpetrated by philandering men who inflict hardship on “women and children.”
long ago recognized its political power. As early as the American
Revolution, divorce has represented female rebellion: “The association of
divorce with women’s freedom and prerogatives, established in those early days,
remained an enduring and important feature of American divorce,” writes
Whitehead. Into the nineteenth century, “divorce became an increasingly
important measure of women’s political freedom as well as an expression of
feminine initiative and independence.”
But it was in the
twentieth century that feminists teamed up with trial lawyers and other legal
entrepreneurs to institutionalize “no-fault” divorce — a measure that subtly but
decisively amounted, no less, to “the abolition of marriage” as a legally
enforceable contract, in Gallagher’s phrase. The National
Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) claims credit for pioneering no-fault
divorce as early as 1943, which it describes as “the greatest project NAWL has
ever undertaken.” By 1977, “the ideal of no-fault divorce
became the guiding principle for reform of divorce laws in the majority of
Today, divorce stands as
the proudest celebration of feminine power. “Exactly the
thing that people tear their hair out about is exactly the thing I am very proud
of,” says Germaine Greer. Contrary to popular belief, the
overwhelming majority of divorces are filed by women. Few
involve grounds, such as desertion, adultery, or violence.
Nebulous justifications suffice: “growing apart,” “not
feeling loved or appreciated.” This includes divorces
Divorce demonstrates how
the hoax of paternal abandonment is an optical illusion, for today it is not
fathers who are abandoning both their marriages and their children en masse.
A glance at our social infrastructure reveals that, under feminist
influence, it is mothers. We have created a panoply of
mechanisms and institutions allowing divorcing mothers to rid themselves,
temporarily or permanently, of inconvenient children: “safe
havens” have legalized child abandonment by mothers; daycare is tailored to the
needs of mothers, not children; foster care relieves single mothers who cannot
provide basic care and protection; “CHINS” petitions allow single mothers to
turn over unruly adolescents to the care and custody of social workers; “SIDS”
and in some countries infanticide laws have even made the murder of children
semi-legal. And then of course there is abortion.
When one adds
the extension and proliferation of institutions not normally associated with
divorce but whose purpose is to relieve parents in general and mothers in
particular of childrearing duties — public schools, organized after-school
activities, convenience and fast food, psychotropic drugs to control unruly boys
— we can begin to see how massively our society and economy have been gearing up
for decades to cater to divorce, facilitate single motherhood, marginalize
fathers, and generally render parents and families redundant.
Divorce and “Same Sex” Marriage
also demonstrates how sexual radicalism reproduces itself in new forms.
It has almost certainly led to same-sex marriage, which would not be an
issue today if marriage had not already been devalued by divorce.
“Commentators miss the point when they oppose homosexual marriage on the
grounds that it would undermine traditional understandings of marriage,” writes
Bryce Christensen. “It is only because traditional
understandings of marriage have already been severely undermined that
homosexuals are now laying claim to it.” Though gay
activists cite their very desire to marry as evidence that their lifestyle is
not inherently promiscuous, they also acknowledge that that desire arises only
by the promiscuity permitted in modern marriage. Stephanie Coontz notes that gays are attracted to marriage only in the form debased by
heterosexual divorce: “Gays and lesbians simply looked at
the revolution heterosexuals had wrought and noticed that, with its new norms,
marriage could work for them, too.”
Same-sex marriage is
therefore only a symptom of the larger politicization of private and sexual
life. Further, just as the divorce revolution led to
same-sex marriage, so through the child abuse industry it has extended this to
parenting by same-sex couples.
Most critiques of
homosexual parenting have focused on the therapeutic question of whether it is
developmentally healthy for children to be raised by two homosexuals.
Few have stopped to ask the more momentous political question of where
homosexual “parents” get children in the first place. Here the discussion
does not require esoteric child-development theory or psychological jargon from
academic “experts.” It can readily be understood by any parent who has
been interrogated by Child Protective Services. The answer is that
homosexuals get other people’s children, and they get them from the same courts
and social service bureaucracies that are operated by their feminist allies.
While attention has been focused on sperm donors and surrogate mothers, most of
the children sought by potential homosexual parents are existing children whose
ties to one or both of their natural parents have been severed. Most
often, this has happened through divorce.
The question then arises
whether the original parent or parents ever agreed to part with their children
or did something to warrant losing them. Current law
governing divorce and child custody renders this question open.
The explosion of foster care and the assumed but unexamined need to find
permanent homes for allegedly abused children provides perhaps the strongest
argument in favor of gay marriage and gay parenting. Yet
the politics of child abuse and divorce indicate that this assumption is not
child abuse epidemic, and the mushrooming foster care business which it feeds,
have allowed government agencies to operate what amounts to a traffic in
children. The San Diego Grand Jury reports “a widely held
perception within the community and even within some areas of the Department [of
Social Services] that the Department is in the ‘baby brokering’ business.”
Introducing same-sex marriage and adoption into this political dynamic
could dramatically increase the demand for children to adopt, thus intensifying
pressure on social service agencies and biological parents to supply such
children. While sperm donors and surrogate mothers supply
some children for gay parents, in practice most are already taken from their
natural parents because of divorce, unwed parenting, child abuse accusations, or
connected reasons. Massachusetts Senator Therese Murray,
claiming that 40% of adoptions have gone to gay and lesbian couples, urges
sympathy for “children who have been neglected, abandoned, abused by their own
families.” But false and exaggerated abuse accusations
against not only fathers but mothers too make it far from self-evident that
these children are in fact victims of their own parents.
What seems inescapable is that the very issue of gay parenting has arisen as the
direct and perhaps inevitable consequence once government officials got into the
business — which began largely with divorce — of distributing other people’s
The Personal and the Political
The divorce machinery
intertwines the personal and the political as nothing before, and its personal
dimension is precisely what disguises the intrusiveness of its political power.
Divorce injects state power — including the penal apparatus with its
police and prisons — directly into private households and private lives.
“The personal is political” is no longer a theoretical slogan but a
codified reality institutionally enforced by new and correspondingly feminist
tribunals: the “family” courts. These bureaucratic
pseudo-courts permit politicized wives to subject their husbands to criminal
penalties for their personal conduct, without having to charge the men with any
actionable offense for which they can be tried in a criminal court.
To enforce this, divorce vastly expanded the cadres of feminist police —
child protective services plus domestic violence and child support enforcement
agents — that target men almost exclusively and operate outside due process
To justify its growth and
funding, this government machinery in turn generated a series of hysterias
against men and fathers so inflammatory and hideous that no one, left or right,
dared question them or defend those accused: pedophilia, wife-beating, and
nonpayment of “child support.” While family law is
ostensibly the province of state government, Congress heavily subsidizes family
dissolution through child abuse, domestic violence, and child support
enforcement programs. It invariably approves these by
near-unanimous majorities, fearing feminist accusations of being soft on
“pedophiles,” “batterers,” and “deadbeat dads.” Each of
these hysterias originated in welfare, each is propagated largely by feminist
social workers and feminist lawyers who receive the federal funding, and each is
closely connected with divorce.
Child abuse hysteria
targets both men and women, as we have seen. Yet most
accusations are leveled against fathers in divorce cases.
The irony is that it is easily demonstrable that child abuse is almost entirely
a product of feminism itself and its welfare bureaucracies.
The growth of child abuse
coincides directly with the rise of single-mother homes which are the setting
for almost all of it. Department of Health and Human
Services (HHS) figures demonstrate that children in single-parent households are
at much higher risk for physical violence and sexual molestation than those
living in two-parent homes. A British study found that
children are up to thirty-three times more likely to be abused in single-mother
homes than in intact families.
The principal impediment
to child abuse is thus precisely the first person the feminist bureaucracies
remove: the father. “The presence of the father...placed the
child at lesser risk for child sexual abuse,” concludes one study, defensively.
“The protective effect from the father’s presence in most households was
sufficiently strong to offset the risk incurred by the few paternal
perpetrators.” In fact, the risk of “paternal
perpetrators” is miniscule, since it is well established that not married
fathers but single mothers are most likely to injure and kill their children.
Sexual abuse, much less common than severe physical abuse, is perpetrated
mostly by boyfriends and stepfathers, though government figures often include
them as “fathers” to disguise the fact that biological fathers are the least
likely child abusers. A 2005 PBS documentary asserts
without evidence that “Children are most often in danger from the father.”
protection agents implement this propaganda as policy. A San Diego grand
jury found that false accusations during divorce were not only tolerated but
encouraged. “The system appears to reward a parent who initiates such a
complaint,” it states, describing “allegations which are so incredible that
authorities should have been deeply concerned for the protection of the child.”
Seldom does public policy
stand in such direct defiance of undisputed truths, to the point where the cause
of the problem is presented as the solution, and vice-versa.
Judges are not unaware that the most dangerous environment for children is
precisely the single-parent homes they create when they remove fathers in
custody proceedings. Yet they seldom hesitate to remove
them, knowing they will never be held accountable for harm to the children.
On the contrary, if they do not they may be punished by
feminist-dominated bar associations and social work bureaucracies whose business
and funding depend on a constant supply of abused children.
Bureaucracies often expand by creating the very problem they exist to solve.
Appalling as it sounds, the conclusion is inescapable that we have
created an army of officials with a vested interest in child abuse.
Child abuse is
not the only “family violence” to be exacerbated and politicized by feminists.
The mammoth “domestic violence” industry arose largely as a means of evicting
divorced fathers from their homes. “It’s an easy way to kick somebody
out,” says one family law specialist.
Like child abuse,
“domestic violence” has no precise definition. It is
adjudicated not as violent assault but as conflict among “intimate partners.”
It therefore obliterates the distinction between crime and disagreement
and need not be violent or even physical. Definitions from
the US Justice Department include “jealousy and possessiveness,” “name calling
and constant criticizing,” and “ignoring, dismissing, or ridiculing the victim’s
needs.” For such “crimes” men are jailed without trial.
circumvent due process protections. “With child abuse and
spouse abuse you don’t have to prove anything,” a seminar leader instructs
divorcing mothers. “You just have to accuse.”
One scholar calls it “an area of law mired in intellectual dishonesty and
injustice” and “a due process fiasco.”
domestic violence as a political crime to perpetuate male power.
Yet the scholarly literature has long established that men and women
commit domestic violence in comparable numbers.
More important than achieving gender balance, however, is to understand how the
explosion in accusations is connected almost entirely with family dissolution.
scholars now readily report that patently trumped-up accusations are routinely
used, without punishment, in custody proceedings to separate children from
fathers who have committed no actionable offense. Open
perjury is readily acknowledged, and bar associations and even courts actively
counsel mothers on how to fabricate accusations. Domestic
violence is “a backwater of tautological pseudo-theory,” write Donald Dutton and
Kenneth Corvo. “No other area of established social welfare,
criminal justice, public health, or behavioral intervention has such weak
evidence in support of mandated practice.”
that most cases arise during custody battles. Yet they
strenuously oppose divorce and custody reform, and their literature is
dominated by complaints not that violent convicts are walking the streets but
that fathers convicted of no infraction retain access to their children after
their wives divorce them.
separating fathers from their children are routinely issued during divorce
proceedings without any evidence.
Due process procedures are so routinely ignored that one judge told his
colleagues “not to become concerned about the constitutional rights of the man
that you’re violating.... We don’t have to worry about the rights.”
violence courts” are mandated not to dispense impartial justice but, says New
York’s openly feminist chief judge, to “make batterers and abusers take
responsibility for their actions.” These courts may seize
property, including homes, without the accused being convicted or even formally
charged or present to defend themselves. “This bill is
classic police-state legislation,” one scholar concludes.
Toronto lawyer Walter Fox calls them “pre-fascist”:
“Domestic violence courts...are designed to get around the protections of the
criminal code. The burden of proof is reduced or removed,
and there’s no presumption of innocence.”
Forced confessions are
also routine. Fathers are summarily incarcerated unless they
sign confessions stating, “I have physically and emotionally battered my
partner.” The father must then describe the violence, even
if he insists he committed none. “I am responsible for the
violence I used,” reads one form. “My behavior was not
The “deadbeat dad” is
another figure largely manufactured by the divorce machinery.
He is far less likely to have voluntarily abandoned the offspring he
callously sired than to be an involuntarily divorced father who has been “forced
to finance the filching of his own children.”
Child support was
originally rationalized (and federalized) as a means of recovering welfare costs
from allegedly absconding low-income fathers. Feminists
transformed it into a huge subsidy on middle-class divorce.
A child support schedule will tell a mother exactly how large a tax-free
windfall she can force her husband to pay her simply by divorcing, regardless of
any fault on her part (or absence of fault on his). The
amount is set by enforcement agents and collected at gunpoint if necessary.
Mothers are not
the only ones who profit by creating fatherless children. Governments also
generate revenue from child support and therefore from breaking up families.
State governments receive federal funds for every child support dollar
collected, incentivizing them to create as many single-mother households as
possible. Mothers are encouraged to divorce and governments simultaneously
maximize revenue by setting support at levels that are generous for mothers and
onerous for fathers. While little government revenue is generated from the
impecunious young unmarried fathers who hold most child support debt (and for
whom the system was ostensibly created), middle-class divorced fathers offer
deeper pockets to loot. By including middle-class divorcees, the welfare
machinery became a means not of distributing money but of collecting it, and
governments began raising revenue — which they can add to their general funds
and use to expand their overall operations — by promoting single motherhood
among the affluent.
This marked a new stage
in the expansion and redefinition of the welfare state: from
distributing largesse to collecting it. The result is a
self-financing machine, generating government profits through expanded police
actions by proliferating single-parent homes and fatherless children.
The welfare state has become a self-financing perpetual growth machine
for destroying families, bribing mothers, rendering children fatherless,
plundering family wealth, eroding due process, and criminalizing fathers.
The True Dysfunctional Homes
crimes than these may be attributable to sexualized public life.
It is well documented that virtually every social pathology today —
including violent crime and the drug abuse driving much of it — is attributable
to single-parent homes and fatherless children more than any other factor, far
surpassing race and poverty. That toxic environment is
usually and resignedly attributed to paternal abandonment, with the only
available response being ever-more repressive but ineffective child-support
“crackdowns.” If instead we see single parenthood as the
deliberate product of the feminist revolution, then the explosion of crime,
addiction, and truancy — and with them the massive expansion of the penal system
and state apparatus generally — takes on new significance.
It is then far from fanciful to suggest that sexual militancy also lies behind
larger trends in actual violent crime and incarceration.
“Solid research links the nightmarish increases in crime and violence among
young people between 1960 to 1990 to the entry of large numbers of mothers into
the work force [and] the rise in single-parent households,” Bryce Christensen
points out. Feminism may be driving not only the
criminalization of the innocent but also the criminality of the guilty.
We are thus fighting a
losing battle against crime, incarceration, and expanding state power generally
until we confront the role of sexual ideology in family breakdown and the social
anomie that ensues. While increased police and penal
measures are usually associated with right-wing politics, it is becoming clear
that the long-term force is sexual radicalism. Marie
Gottschalk describes how “women’s organizations played a central role” in the
dramatic rise of the “carceral” state. Gottschalk laments
that her fellow feminists who demand more incarceration of men have “entered
into some unsavory coalitions” with conservative “law-and-order groups.”
But conservatives might ask if their own legitimate concern about crime
has led them to serve inadvertently as the unwitting instruments of a repressive
ideology. For ever-more-draconian police measures will
only create a fortress state. No free or civilized society
can survive the mass criminalization of its male population.
Indeed, the fortress
state may be developing externally as well as internally.
Indications exist that recent Islamic militancy is fueled in large part from
perceptions of Western sexual decadence. Conversely, while
many feminists identify with the antiwar Left, the future may belong to hawks
like Phyllis Chesler and Hillary Clinton, who push war as an instrument of
worldwide women’s liberation and pressure governments to justify military
policies in feminist terms. Sexuality transforms military
life in complex ways. Bork criticizes feminism for weakening
our military readiness, emphasizing the dangers of women in combat roles.
Yet a more far-reaching consequence may be how
divorce debilitates military men. Men are increasingly aware
how easily they can be divorced unilaterally while serving their country, lose
their children and everything else they possess, and even return home to face
criminal penalties if they cannot pay child support imposed in their absence.
Immigration pressure may
also be traced to sexualized government institutions.
Immigrant “families” attracted to welfare are increasingly single mothers or
become single mothers soon after arriving. In Europe,
immigration is now creating a welfare underclass similar to that familiar in the
United States, which is itself expanding through immigration.
The principal rationalization for relaxing immigration standards — low
birth rates and the perceived need for younger workers and taxpayers — is
another consequence of the sexual revolution, one threatening Western
civilization itself. The welfare state itself, with its
offer of a universal retirement pension, certainly reduced the need for large
families as an insurance policy for old age. Yet even more
direct is sexual liberation, including contraception and abortion — which
shifted reproductive decisions from the family unit to the individual woman.
Here too divorce may be the decisive factor (and again the most neglected) — not
only breaking up families early but also generating fear of marriage and
procreation among men.
manifestation may be the credit crisis. As Star Parker points out, the
housing bubble was the result of welfare-state agencies pushing home ownership
as an entitlement on low-income “families.” We do not know how many of
these were single parents subsisting not on productive labor but on other
entitlements, but for intact, two-parent families home ownership is not usually
an impossibility at some point in life. “As the institution of government
grows, we sadly watch the collapse of the institutions that really sustain
growth of home ownership: American marriage and families,” writes Parker, citing
Census Bureau figures that homeownership overwhelmingly (86.3%) occurs among
Decades before the family crisis
became obvious, sociologist Carle Zimmerman demonstrated that family atomization
preceded civilizational collapse. Zimmerman showed how Greek
and Roman decline was preceded by a renunciation of family life, first by
educated elites and then others, and argued that our own civilization is on a
Zimmerman was writing
during the post-war baby boom — before “second wave” feminism, no-fault divorce,
same-sex marriage, and “demographic winter” — when the family was generally
assumed to be stable. Yet he predicted these developments
based on long-range trends — mostly elite intellectual fashions — whose
significance few others grasped. Indeed, Zimmerman
emphasized how difficult the decline is to perceive while it is taking place:
“These changes came about slowly, over centuries, and almost
imperceptibly.” Today, even as the family crisis becomes
undeniable, there is still little awareness of its full ramifications and how
close we are to the point of no return.
Modern sexual ideologies
are much more militant than anything in Greece or Rome and
more self-consciously hostile to the family. The
bureaucratic machinery they have constructed around the family is also much more
vast and entrenched than any in those civilizations. Indeed,
it is the most intrusive and repressive government apparatus ever created in the
United States. Yet today’s most outspoken family advocates
show little awareness of it, and few seem disposed to confront it or
organizationally prepared to resist it.
The sexualization of
public life stands behind every major threat to our civilization.
Unless we summon the courage to confront it directly, Western society
will become increasingly emasculated and will not survive.
This is what Zimmerman warned in the halcyon days of 1947, and since then his
warnings have only been vindicated.
1 Rene Denfeld, The New
Victorians (New York: Simon and Schuster,
2 Robert Bork, Slouching
Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline
(New York: ReganBooks, 1996), p. 193.
3 Quoted in Arnold Beichman,
“Undercurrents in the Conservative Tide,” Washington Times,
11 February 1997, p. A17.
4 Bork, Slouching,
5 Daphne Patai, Heterophobia:
Sexual Harassment and the Future of Feminism
(Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 1998), p. 199.
6 Crane Brinton, Anatomy of
Revolution (New York: Vintage, 1965), p.
7 Allan Carlson, “Standing For
Liberty: Marriage, Virtue, and the Political State,” lecture delivered at the
Family Research Council, Washington, DC, 16 June 2004. I am
grateful to Dr. Carlson for a copy of this lecture.
8 Carol Pateman, “Feminist
Critiques of the Public/Private Dichotomy,” in Stanley Benn and Gerald Gaus
(eds.), Private and Public in Social Life
(London: Croom Helm, 1983); Chow and Berheide,
Women, the Family, and Policy,
9 Interview in National Review,
24 February 1997, pp. 55(3).
10 Bork, Slouching,
11 New York: Random House, 1970,
12 Quoted in Patrick Buchanan,
The Death of the West (New York: St.
Martin’s Press), p. 41
13 “Functions of the Family,”
WOMEN: A Journal of Liberation (Fall
14 The Female Eunuch
(New York: McGraw-Hill, 1971), p. 317.
15 Viv Groskop, “The Mother of
All Battles,” The Guardian, 7 March
16 Wendy McElroy, “Feminists
Claim Motherhood as Liberal Cause, Foxnews.com,
21 May 2002 (http://www.wendymcelroy.com/ ifeminists/2002/0521.html).
17 A progressive scholar confirms
this. Marie Gottschalk, The Prison and the Gallows: The
Politics of Mass Incarceration in America (Cambridge, 2006), chs. 5-6.
18 Quoted in Stuart Taylor and K.C. Johnson, Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shames
Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case
(New York: Thomas Dunne, 2007), p. 375.
19 Eugene J. Kanin, “False Rape
Allegations,” Archives of Sexual Behavior,
vol. 23, no. 1 (1994), pp. 1-2.
20 “Sex, Lies, and Rapes,
internet site of the Center for Military Readiness (online:
http://www.cmrlink.org/social.asp?docID=276, accessed 5 August 2008).
21 The Innocent Project website,
includes rape cases but does not focus on them
22 An exception is Taylor and
Johnson, Until Proven Innocent.
23 Milovan Djilas, The New
Class (New York: Praeger, 1958), p. 170.
24 Alison Jaggar, “Sexual
Difference and Sexual Equality,” in Theoretical Perspectives on Sexual
Difference,” ed. Deborah L. Rhode (New
Haven: Yale University Press, 1990), pp. 239-254.
25 Kathy E. Ferguson,
“Male-Ordered Politics: Feminism and Political Science,” in Terrence Ball, ed.,
Idioms of Inquiry (Albany: SUNY, 1987),
26 Los Angeles Times,
17 May 1998.
27 Rob Reich, “Testing the
Boundaries of Parental Authority over Education: The Case of Homeschooling,”
paper prepared for delivery at the 2001 Annual Meeting of the American Political
Science Association, San Francisco, 30 August - 2 September
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28 Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Cornel
West, The War Against Parents: What We Can Do for America’s Beleaguered Moms
and Dads (Boston and New York: Houghton
Mifflin, 1998), p. 109 (emphasis added).
29 When Child Protection
Investigations Harm Children: The Wenatchee Sexual Abuse Cases,
American Civil Liberties Union of Washington (October 1997).
See also Dorothy Rabinowitz, No Crueler Tyrannies: Accusation, False
Witness, and other Terrors of our Times
(New York: Wall Street Journal Books, 2003).
30 William Anderson, “The Earl of Dook, or the Continuing State of State Justice in North Carolina,”
LewRockwell.com, 1 June 2006.
31 Gregory A. Hession, “Whose
Children Are They Anyway?” New American
23 June 2008).
32 Hinesburg, Vermont: Upper
Access Books, 1995.
33 John Lott and Larry Kenny,
“How Dramatically Did Women’s Suffrage Change the Size and Scope of Government?”
University of Chicago Law School, John M. Olin Law and Economics Working Paper
No. 60, pp. 5-6 (emphasis added).
34 Barbara Ehrenreich and Frances
Fox Piven, “The Persistence of Poverty. 1: The Feminization of Poverty When the
‘Family-Wage System’ Breaks Down,” Dissent,
vol. 31, no. 2 (1984), pp. 162-170.
35 David Blankenhorn,
Fatherless America (New York: Basic Books,
1995), pp. 1, 22-23.
36 Stephen Baskerville, Taken
Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family
(Nashville, Tennessee: Cumberland House, 2007), ch. 1.
37 Barbara Ehrenreich, Elizabeth
Hess, and Gloria Jacobs, Re-Making Love: The Feminization of Sex
(Garden City and New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1986), p. 197.
38 Barbara Dafoe Whitehead,
The Divorce Culture (New York: Vintage,
1998), p. 7.
39 Maggie Gallagher, The
Abolition of Marriage (Washington:
Regnery, 1996), p. 245.
40 Tunku Varadarajan, “Clash With
the Titans,” Wall Street Journal online
edition, 30 January 2002,
41 Whitehead, Divorce Culture,
pp. 15-16, 26.
42 National Association of Women
Lawyers internet site: http://www.abanet.org/ nawl/about/history.html,
accessed 6 November 2004. I am grateful to Judy Parejko for
43 Amanda Banks, “Greer Cheers
Divorcing Women,” The Australian, 8
44 Sanford Braver with Diane
O’Connell, Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths
(New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 1998), ch. 7.
45 Carle Zimmerman noticed this
trend decades ago. Family and Civilization,
ed. James Kurth (Wilmington, Delaware: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2008),
46 “Why Homosexuals Want What
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47 “The Heterosexual Revolution,”
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48 Eric Zorn and Allan Carlson,
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vol. 17, no. 8 (August 2003).
49 Stephen Baskerville, “The Real
Danger of Same-Sex Marriage,” The Family in America,
vol. 20, nos. 5-6 (May-June 2006).
50 Lethimstay.com, ACLU
Lesbian & Gay Rights Project http://www.lethimstay.com/
bigpicture_numbers.html, accessed 27
Families in Crisis,
report by the 1991-92 San Diego County Grand Jury (http://www.co.san-diego.ca.us/cnty/cntydepts/safety/grand/ reports/report2.html),
52 “The Debate on Gay
Marriage, Pro and Con,” Boston Globe
online edition, 12 March 2004 (http://www.boston.com/
53 Andrea Sedlak and Diane
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Abuse and Neglect (Washington, DC: US
Department of Health and Human Services, National Center on Child Abuse and
Neglect, September 1996), p. 8.
54 Robert Whelan, Broken
Homes and Battered Children: A Study of the Relationship between Child Abuse and
Family Type (London: Family Education
Trust, 1993), p. 29.
55 David Rowland, Laurie Zabin, and Mark Emerson, “Household Risk and Child Sexual Abuse in a Low Income,
Urban Sample of Women,” Adolescent and Family Health,
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56 Patrick Fagan and Dorothy
Hanks, The Child Abuse Crisis: The Disintegration of Marriage, Family, and
the American Community (Washington, DC:
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Families (Washington, DC: US Department of
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Publications Catalog 1994-95, NCJ 143498), pp. 5-6.
57 Child Maltreatment in
the United Kingdom: A Study of the Prevalence of Child Abuse and Neglect
(London, 2000); Leslie Margolin and John L.
Craft, “Child Sexual Abuse by Caretakers,” Family Relations
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Living with Both Parents,” Journal of Ethnology and Sociobiology
58 “Families in Crisis,” p.
59 Donna Laframboise, “Oh Dad,
Poor Dad,” Toronto Globe and Mail, 12
April 1997, D1-2.
60 Grace Coleman, et al.,
(eds.), 1999 National Victim Assistance Academy,
chap. 8, “Domestic Violence.” (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/assist/nvaa99/chap8.htm;
“last updated on Sunday, January 16, 2000.”).
61 Eric Zorn, “A Seminar in
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62 David Heleniak, “The New
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57, no. 3 (Spring 2005), p. 1009, 1036-1037, 1042.
63 Philip W. Cook, Abused
Men: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence (Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 1997); John Archer, “Sex Differences in
Aggression Between Heterosexual Partners: A Meta-Analytic Review,”
Psychological Bulletin, vol. 26, no. 5
(September 2000), 651-680; Murray A. Straus, “The Controversy over Domestic
Violence by Women: A Methodological, Theoretical, and Sociology of Science
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Relationships (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage,
forthcoming), accessed 24 October 2004 at http://www.vix.com/menmag/
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Martin S. Fiebert, “References Examining Assaults by Women on Their Spouses or
Male Partners: An Annotated Bibliography,” Sexuality and Culture,
vol. 8, no. 3-4 (2004), 140-177.
64 Anne McMurray, “Violence
Against Ex-Wives: Anger and Advocacy,” Health Care for Women International,
vol. 18, no. 6 (November-December 1997); Callie Marie Rennison and Sarah
Welchans, Intimate Partner Violence
(Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, May
2000, NCJ 178247), p. 5.
65 Thomas Kasper, “Obtaining
and Defending Against an Order of Protection,” Illinois Bar Journal,
vol. 93, no. 6 (June 2005); Elaine Epstein, “Speaking the Unspeakable,”
Massachusetts Bar Association Newsletter,
vol. 33, no. 7 (June-July 1993), p. 1; David Dunlap, “The Adult Abuse Act:
Theory vs. Practice,” UMKC Law Review,
vol. 64 (1996), p. 686; Jeannie Suk, “Criminal Law Comes Home,” Yale
Law Review, vol. 116, no. 2 (2006), p. 10.
66 Dave Brown, “Gender-Bias
Issue Raises ‘Optics’ Problem in Domestic Court,” Ottawa Citizen,
21 February 2002.
67 New Jersey Law Journal,
21 April 1988, letters to the editor section, p. 6.
68 “Transforming A Flawed
Policy: A Call To Revive Psychology and Science in Domestic Violence Research
and Practice,” Aggression and Violent Behavior
11 (2006), p. 478.
69 Callie Marie Rennison and
Sarah Welchans, Intimate Partner Violence
(Washington: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, May 2000,
NCJ 178247), p. 5.
70 “Leave No-Fault Divorce
Alone,” Daily Herald, 26 December 2004.
71 Sara Catania, “Taking Away
Battered Women’s Kids,” Mother Jones, 1
72 Epstein, “Speaking the
Unspeakable,” p. 1.
73 Russ Bleemer, “N.J. Judges
Told to Ignore Rights in Abuse TROs,” New Jersey Law Journal
140, 24 April 1995.
74 Frank Donnelly, “Domestic
Violence Court to Debut,” Staten Island Advance,
14 December 2003.
75 Robert Martin, “Train AGs
in Rudimentary Law,” Law Times (13
November 2001), p. 8.
76 Quoted in Dave Brown,
“Skirmish Fails to Scratch the Formidable Feminist War Machine,” Ottawa
Citizen, 9 April 2002.
77 Documents in the author’s
78 Jed Abraham, From
Courtship to Courtroom (New York: Bloch,
1999), p. 151.
79 Stephen Baskerville, “From
Welfare State to Police State,” The Independent Review,
vol. 12, no 3 (Winter 2008).
80 Attempts to attribute these
behaviors to poverty or racial discrimination have been refuted by studies that
control for these variables: Urie Bronfenbrenner, “Discovering What Families
Do,” in David Blankenhorn, et al.
(eds.), Rebuilding the Nest: A New Commitment to the American Family
(Milwaukee: Family Service America, 1990), p. 34; Ronald Angel and Jacqueline
Angel, Painful Inheritance: Health and the New Generation of
Fatherless Children (Madison: University
of Wisconsin Press, 1993), p. 188.
81 Bryce Christensen, “Hearth
or Hangman? The Family Politics of Lethal Force,” The
Family in America vol. 21, no 11/12
(November/December 2007), pp. 6-7.
82 Marie Gottschalk, The
Prison and the Gallows: The Politics of Mass Incarceration in America
(Cambridge: 2006), p. 11.
83 Christensen, “Hearth or
Hangman?” p. 6.
84 Dinesh D’Sousa, The
Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11
(New York: Doubleday, 2007), ch. 6.
85 Bork, Slouching,
86 Stephen Baskerville, “The
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vol. 4, no. 20 (24 October 2005).
87 Lionel Tiger, The
Decline of Males (New York: Golden Books,
88 Glenn Sacks and Dianna
Thompson, “Have Anti-Father Family Court Policies Led to a Men’s Marriage
Strike?” Philadelphia Inquirer,
5 July 2002.
89 “Welfare-State Policies
Caused the Financial Crisis,” WorldNetDaily,
4 October 2008.
90 Zimmerman, Family and
Civilization, p. 146.