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The sexes

Brave new army

Here’s an interesting pair of stories that illustrate how “anti-discrimination” rules originally based on claims that a distinction is utterly irrational can change fundamental standards that determine the ability of an institution to perform its core mission:

  • Female petty officer wins sex bias claim. The Brits wouldn’t let her work part time after having a baby, because the military has to be ready 24/7/365. She took her case before an employment discrimination tribunal and won.
  • No Punishment Set for Soldier Mom. The Army told her to go back to Iraq and she said no. It seems that there was custody dispute involving the children of her husband and his ex-wife. Her husband was otherwise engaged, so she wanted to stay to handle it.

This kind of thing pops up every time “anti-discrimination” rules materially change the way an institution operates. I suppose it’s part of what’s behind the change in the rhetoric of the anti-discrimination movement from “we’re all the same” to “let’s celebrate and include our diversity.” Rationally speaking it’s unclear why “diversity” is so important that it trumps all other possible considerations, military preparedness and competence for example, but this is one issue on which rational discussion is routinely ruled out of order.

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Men, women, shopping and family law

Some recent items on the sexes:

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What can’t keep on won’t keep on

I wouldn’t much like to live in like Dar-ul-Islam, but Dar-ul-Liberalism simply doesn’t work in the most basic ways:

Our rulers may be on Darwin’s side, but Darwin, I’m afraid, can’t return the favor. If Western man can’t restore Christendom, he’s likely to end up with the stripped-down form Pim Fortuyn objected to that caught on further East. The paradise of juvenile sex that at bottom Fortuyn stood for just isn’t in the cards as a workable society.

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Expertise and family life

The institutional expert consensus on the raising of children by homosexual couples is that

there is no evidence that lesbians and gay men are unfit to be parents or that psychosocial development among children of gay men or lesbians is compromised in any respect… . Not a single study has found children of gay or lesbian parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents.

Charlotte J. Patterson, “Lesbian and Gay Parenting,” American Psychological Association Public Interest Directorate (1995): 8.

The Family Research Council has put together an informative summary of materials on what lies behind that consensus — junk social science, ideology, and willful blindness in a matter involving the well-being of large numbers of children.

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The confusion of attempted simplicity

Privacy, tolerance, and the “wall of separation” were supposed to keep the government out of our private affairs, and especially out of our churches and bedrooms. Things haven’t worked out quite so smoothly, or at least that’s most likely the view of the Christian mother who is appealing a judge’s decision that prohibits her from teaching her daughter that homosexuality is wrong.

A woman living in a lesbian relationship adopted an infant daughter. Several years later she converted to Christianity, decided the relationship was wrong, and left it. Her former lover — who had no legal relationship with the woman or her adopted daughter — sued for joint custody and got it, with the added requirement that the mother had to “make sure that there is nothing in the religious upbringing or teaching that the minor child is exposed to that can be considered homophobic.”

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The New York Times on MBA mommies

I find this a very odd article: The Opt-Out Revolution. It’s an extremely long New York Times Magazine piece about women with MBAs or whatever who decide they don’t like having careers. I suppose the problem is the people the people the piece is about. They’re present-day middle-class Americans, which means their highest goal is “fulfillment,” with maybe a little gloss of PC and altruism. They’re well-educated by current standards, which means they’ve lost any ancestral common sense they might otherwise have had, and have nothing to replace it but technical knowledge, half-baked ideology, dreams of “success,” and their own homemade theories. And they’re women, which means that the expectations of other people are very important to them, and on occasion they may have a weakness for complex rationalizations.

Anyway, it’s notable that the piece includes the thought—held ambivalently but not rebutted—that there are biological differences between the sexes that affect behavior. In spite of the concession to reality, the author doesn’t go off message. She presents the male characteristics these women are rejecting wholly negatively, and ends with the suggestion that they are carrying forward the wonderful feminist revolution in gender roles even more gloriously than before:

Women started this conversation about life and work—a conversation that is slowly coming to include men. Sanity, balance and a new definition of success, it seems, just might be contagious. And instead of women being forced to act like men, men are being freed to act like women. Because women are willing to leave, men are more willing to leave, too … Looked at that way, this is not the failure of a revolution, but the start of a new one. It is about a door opened but a crack by women that could usher in a new environment for us all.

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Amazing news — men and women differ genetically!

Here’s an interesting article relating to sexual differences: Genes Organize Male, Female Brain Differently. Actually, the findings presented—that there are genetic differences between male and female brains—don’t seem at all surprising. After all, men and women differ genetically almost as much as chimpanzees and homo sapiens, there’s a whole chromosome’s worth of difference, so why not expect to find that their brains differ genetically? Nonetheless, it appears from the article that since the 70s there’s been a sort of dogma that the differences were entirely due to differential hormone exposure in utero (and were thus in a sense environmental), a dogma that has now been refuted.

Still, the cause of PC soldiers on: the only difference between male and female brains the article mentions is one that seems to make it easier for women to articulate their feelings, and in its very first sentence it says that the findings undermine “the notion that homosexuality and gender dysphoria [the belief that one has been born in a body of the wrong sex] are matters of choice.” In fact, all the rest of the article does is quote the speculations of some scientist at the David Geffen School of Medicine to the effect that although hormones don’t explain such conditions it’s possible some genetic condition might.

For those unfortunate enough to read the New York Times, the article also gives some statistics on sexually ambiguous babies that (as I recall) are about an order of magnitude lower than the ones Natalie Angier offered in a several chirpy little articles she wrote about how gender is socially constructed because there are lots of ambiguous babies who have to be made male or female by surgeons.

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New York Magazine counsels sexual restraint!

Pascal observed that it’s difficult to speak chastely of chastity, and it must be far more difficult to speak chastely of pornography. Still, you have to deal with what’s around us, and it’s worth noting that even New York Magazine, which is in the business of treating everything as a consumer good, is starting to notice some complications when that treatment is applied to sex. Or at least they don’t much like internet pornography, and have just published a cover story with a backup piece by Naomi Wolf to say so. It’s true that their big complaint is that growing interest among men in technofantasy tends to cut actual women out of the action, so they’re far from giving up the “consumer indulgence” approach to that side of life, but accepted views on sex are so dogmatic that raising any issues at all is a big step forward.

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More on love and marriage

Wendy McElroy gives some startling statistics on the decline of marriage in her piece on The Marriage Strike (by men who don’t much like what current family law has to offer them). During the first half of the ’90s the marriage rate dropped from 9.8 to 7.6—I had no idea there had been such a sharp downturn. The piece gives sources, and I link it at a site that includes it as part of a collection of related items called “ Civilization

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Bent to straight

In spite of hate speech laws the mainstream press is probably a bit freer and more diverse in Britain than America. Here, for example, is a reasonably straightforward article on reparative therapy for homosexual orientation—something you’re not likely to see in the national press here. For those who pursue it, more often than not the therapy is successful. (It’s obvious, by the way, that the claim that homosexuality is inborn and immutable is opportunistic. The real goal of the movement for sexual liberation is a world of fluid sexuality.)

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Romance today, or whatever

Here’s what marriage looks like to what seem to be an increasing number of young men. It appears that getting rid of traditional rules and understandings hasn’t done much for relations between men and women. Many men find that the classic accusations of the misogynist—women are fickle, deceitful, treacherous, perverse, manipulative, sexually unreliable, physically repulsive and whatnot—are gaining in plausibility. This is bad.

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Leftist sociologist notices something

Some things, it seems, are too obvious for even a left-wing sociologist to miss. Or so one gathers from Nannyhood and Apple Pie, a review of The Commercialization of Intimate Life by Arlie Russell Hochschild. Dr. Hochschild naturally refers to feminism as a worthy but “stalled” gender revolution, and blames all problems on capitalism (as opposed to what?). Still, she’s noticed the essential point that others have somehow missed: the actual effect of the feminist movement has been to abolish family life for the sake of fully integrating everyone—men, women and children—into a rational universal system of production and consumption in which third-world women are imported to provide whatever remnants of human closeness are found absolutely essential.

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The world our thoughts have made

The understanding of morality and public order that’s authoritative today holds that sex can’t have any meaning that’s publicly recognized. Freedom and equality demands that each of us construct its meaning for himself. Anything else would be institutionalized oppression that touches on the most intimate aspects of what we are. Such views are integral to modern ways and ideals. Since that’s so, the only possible goal of sex education is to show possibilities, develop the ability to choose, and fight the notion that some choices are somehow worse than other choices.

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Sexual politics in California

More evidence that the modern bureaucratic state simply fails to understand family relations—how they work, what they mean, why they matter:

It’s worth noting that such ways of thinking are particularly characteristic of California. The promised boost to family values from the influx of Hispanics and Asians never comes. Instead, multiple cultures lead to multiculturalism and the amoral administrative state.

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Arms and the man

The Pentagon inspector general reported recently that nearly 20 percent of female Air Force Academy cadets said they had been sexually assaulted since arriving at the academy. Because of related scandals, the Air Force has transferred the academy’s leadership and is looking into what has been going on.

It’s hard to determine particulars from the mist of press coverage, but the acadamy appears to be an institution that has lost its way. According to Col. Laurie Sue Slavec, an academy graduate herself and until recently in charge of cadet discipline, the issue has never been forcible rape but milder forms of misconduct brought on by widespread drinking, partying and casual cohabitation. Other indications of indiscipline include a faculty member who was having sexual relations with two male cadets, an officer responsible for overseeing cadets who was a “peeping Tom,” and special treatment for athletes that interferes with command structures.

Luckily, help is on the way. Feminists have pointed out that Slavec’s distinction between forcible rape and lesser misconduct—and no doubt worse, her reference to “contributing flirtatious activity”—is “more than disturbing. It speaks to the level of understanding of what constitutes rape.” It’s not likely the investigators will disagree. So presumably cadets will be trained in elaborate rules regarding sexual consent and an obtrusive and biased enforcement mechanism put in place. And everyone seems to agree that female cadets need more support at the academy, where there are few women in leadership positions, so two of the four officers who were fired will be replaced by women.

A more PC and feminized Air Force Academy, run by officers who in the nature of things will be ideologues or careerists—just the thing that’s needed to help it regain its soul and honor! Some people might say that if you want to train someone to lead men in combat sexual integration isn’t quite the thing, and if you turn sexual relations into a pure matter of consent you’ll get problems. We’ve clearly gotten beyond such views in the U.S. military, though. Repeated sexual scandals show where that’s taken us.

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EU invasions on land and sea

The imperialism of the new sexual righteousness: European Parliament Says Athos Monks Must End 1000-Year Male-Only Tradition, and Dutch abortion ship invades Poland. Mount Athos has been the center of Orthodox monasticism for more than a thousand years, and part of their discipline has always been the exclusion of women. The European Parliament finds it intolerable that any place anywhere fall short of feminist orthodoxy, so they’re demanding that the Greek government straighten the monks out. And when a much-hyped visit of a Dutch ship offering abortion cruises to Polish women was greeted by protestors throwing eggs and red paint, the European press called the protestors “angry,” “fierce,” “irate,” “outraged,” “abusive,” “insulting,” “ultra-conservative” and “reactionary.” Tolerance, as we all know, only goes one way.

[Update: for a generally sensible discussion and analysis of the Athos situation, see Trespassers on the Holy Mountain.]

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India resists gay agenda

If the notion that there’s something amiss with homosexuality is just an ignorant prejudice based on nothing, why is it so durable and widespread? Could there be something wrong with the fundamental analysis? In India they seem to think so, but they’re not quite sure why: Centre says being gay will remain a crime, its reason: our society doesn’t tolerate it.

An interesting thing about the story, from the Indian Express, is that it suggests that in spite of the talk against colonialism and whatnot the articulate classes in India still get all their ideas and attitudes from their betters in the West. No one seemed able to give an account of why there’s a problem with homosexuality as such. The title of the piece not only picks up the recent Western mannerism of identifying “being gay” with “engaging in homosexual conduct,” but explicitly says that the reason for the ban is simple social intolerance. And just as the Supreme Court in Lawrence appealed to the EU in favor of legalizing homosexual sodomy, the pro-homosexuality group in the Indian proceeding appealed to the American example. Everybody quotes everybody else worldwide, with the result that actual thought disappears and discussion become utterly divorced from realities.

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Marriage unmasked

Contemporary liberal theory, as it applies to marriage, tells us that our lives are constituted by our desires and marriage restricts our desires. The necessary conclusion is that marriage is made in hell:

Consider, for instance, the endless regulations and interdictions that provide the texture of domestic coupledom. Is there any area of married life that is not crisscrossed by rules and strictures about everything from how you load the dishwasher, to what you can say at dinner parties, to what you do on your day off, to how you drive - along with what you eat, drink, wear, make jokes about, spend your discretionary income on?

What is it about marriage that turns nice-enough people into petty dictators and household tyrants … Then there’s the fundamental premise of monogamous marriage that mutual desire can and will last throughout a lifetime. And if it doesn’t? Well apparently you’re just supposed to give up on sex, since waning desire for your mate is never an adequate defence for ‘looking elsewhere’.

Like the man said, hell is other people. Sometimes they don’t do what we want or fill our needs, and that’s intolerable. Think of how much happier people would be if the ties that bind were abolished, and everything were put on the sensible arms’-length footing of whim, money, and relative power!

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The rainbow does not include all colors

The British Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement is calling on the Home Secretary to bar the Anglican primate of Nigeria, a leading opponent of the confirmation of New Hampshire bishop-elect Gene Robinson, from entering Britain on the ground that he might “incite the hatred of gay people.” Meanwhile, in Canada, The Toronto Star published an article by a priest setting forth the Church teaching that “[t]he homosexual condition is a disorder, and homosexual acts are grave moral aberrations.” Of ten letters responding to the article, six accused the priest of hate crime (an example). Since the Canadian parliament is considering whether to make “hate propaganda” directed against homosexuals a crime, the wave of accusations is no joke.

It shouldn’t be surprising that “tolerance” turns out so intolerant. In its contemporary sense it’s a fraudulent principle, because it can only be a relative and not—as liberals pretend—an ultimate standard. Its application inevitably depends on what is thought necessary for good social order. If the family and therefore sexual restraint are thought fundamental, then principles and actions that disorder them will, one way or another, be inhibited or suppressed. If the radically free individual is thought fundamental, then traditional morality will get the same treatment. The fundamental political and moral question, now as always, is what substantive way of life is best. Liberals’ refusal to deal on that basis suggests a lack of confidence in their answer. Traditionalists should note and respond accordingly: by offering a better way of life they can win.

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Love, marriage, and — the dole?

Here’s what happens to government “pro-marriage” initiatives: Stop wasting marriage money!. Funds allocated by the British government to “strengthen the institution of marriage” are being given to gay and lesbian groups, organizations that provide contraception and abortion referrals for teenagers, and organizations for the divorced and separated. Not, one supposes, what the proponents had in mind.

The problem is that a bureaucracy, like any other actor, has to understand things in its own way, and a modern bureaucracy can’t understand marriage because marriage is non-rationalized and non-technocratic. When bureaucrats hear “marriage” they think “sex and relationships” and disburse the funds accordingly, favoring the organizations that share their own rather value-free approach to the matter. Any other approach would make no sense to them, and forcing them to change the way they act would require constant supervision by non-bureaucrats, something by its nature very difficult to organize.

Marriage is mainly informal, moral, non-rationalized, and local. What has disrupted it is the overgrowth of value-free, formal, rational and universal institutions like the modern bureaucratic state and world market. The way to restore the balance needed for a tolerable way of life is to cut back on the activities of competitive institutions, not to extend those activities to include promotion of marriage. You don’t solve fundamental organizational problems by trying to force organizations to act in opposition to their nature.

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