The Global Sexual Revolution: Destruction of Freedom in the Name of Freedom
(Angelico Press, 2015).
In his final Christmas Address to the Roman Curia before he retired, Pope Benedict XVI criticized a new philosophy of gender: “According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature that man has to accept and personally make sense of:it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society.” Pope Benedict noted the “profound falsehood of this theory” and argued that within itself it contained an “anthropological revolution” the consequences of which are grave:
[I]f there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him.
Indeed, under gender ideology children become “object[s] to which people have a right and which they have a right to obtain.” This is not, however, simply a rejection of anthropological and metaphysical reality. It goes deeper; it denies God. Thus, Benedict concluded: “The defense of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God,” on the other hand, “is defending man.”
Gabriele Kuby attempts to defend man—and God—in her book The Global Sexual Revolution: Destruction of Freedom in the Name of Freedom. It is an important but flawed book. It is important because it details the attempts, usually by Western elites, to mainstream the philosophy of gender and sexuality critiqued by Pope Benedict in that December 2012 speech. It is flawed because it is prone to rely upon sources and citations that either appear to be or are in fact suspect and unreliable. In this way it resembles the website that co-published the book, LifeSite. It is more a polemic than a reasoned study, so its influence will be limited. A reader will have to supplement and check certain assertions made by Kuby. Still, Kuby’s account of the genealogy and effects of the gender revolution is plausible and merits serious consideration.
Kuby’s most significant and powerful chapter is that detailing the various thinkers who laid the groundwork for today’s near-constant assault on the family and nature. In it, Kuby describes the sorry and sordid details of some of the progenitors of today’s gender ideology, including Margaret Sanger, Wilhelm Reich, Magnus Hirschfeld, Sigmund Freud, Alfred Kinsey, and Simone de Beauvoir. The disordered thinking and living at the root of our current crisis is harrowing to read. For instance, Kuby describes Reich promoting “masturbation as a ‘way out of the harm of abstinence’ and sexual intercourse starting at puberty, because ‘suppression [of youth sexuality] is essential for maintaining compulsory marriage and family as well as for producing submissive citizens.’” Reich died in a Pennsylvania prison after being arrested for shipping his “orgone accumulator”—a contraption that supposedly harnessed a biological life-force—across state lines. In a similar vein, de Beauvoir famously stated in The Second Sex that “[o]ne is not born, but rather becomes a woman” and saw marriage and motherhood as shackles to be escaped. She instantiated her theory in her own life, living an open relationship with Jean-Paul Sartre, seducing minors, and promoting abortion. These are the founders of the movement that daily seeks to disassociate men and women from their nature.
As Richard Weaver observed, ideas have consequences, and the theories espoused by these thinkers have come to flower in our present age. Kuby describes the international effort towards gender mainstreaming. Kuby explains that this is “about much more than equality of men and women.” Rather, gender mainstreaming “involves manufacturing equality through ‘deconstruction’ of the binary hierarchical gender order to arrive at a diversity of genders with equal value and equal rights.” Kuby details the way experts and elites have worked to foist this deconstruction of gender upon Western societies and now on the international community.
In a chapter entitled, “Intolerance and Discrimination,” Kuby demonstrates how the push for gender mainstreaming has resulted not only in a detachment from reality—and the attendant loss of freedom it entails—but the loss of basic freedoms even to speak out in defense of reality. The examples are legion—indeed, many of us can point to examples in our own lives. Kuby writes, “The transformation from a democratic society, founded on Christian faith, to a hedonistic totalitarian one does not happen in just one step. There are no signs that this trend will stop, unless people rise to defend their values and democratic rights.” In one sense, Kuby is right. And through her book she is giving people tools and data to raise their voices. At the same time, I fear that Kuby is unaware of the way in which liberal democracy has a built-in logic that leads to the very soft totalitarianism she rightly condemns. In this sense, her critique is not radical enough.
In the end, Christian anthropology, Christian realism, Christian charity, and Christian hope are the only things that can help to stem the tide of the gender ideology that Kuby describes in vivid detail. It is Christian anthropology, which understands that humans are made in God’s image as man and woman, male and female, that will help to reorient society. It is a Christian realism that purifies reason with faith and sees reality as it actually is that can help to reground society in nature and the given. It is Christian charity that will allow Christians to live attractive lives that draw in the hurt and wounded of our world—hurt and wounded in part because of the rampant gender ideology—to Christ and reality. And it is Christian hope that will allow us to weather these storms. As then-Cardinal Ratzinger said, “[T]he fate of a society always depends on its creative minorities. Christian believers should look upon themselves as just such a creative minority, and help [the West] to reclaim what is best in its heritage and to thereby place itself at the service of all humankind.” By witnessing to the reality about man and woman in love and hope, Christians can help leaven the world and lift it out of its current darkness.
Conor B. Dugan is a husband, father of four, and attorney who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
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