The Sexual Revolution Turns Ugly
How many intellectuals have come to the revolutionary party via the path of moral indignation, only to connive ultimately at terror and autocracy? ∼ Raymond Aron
The Sexual Revolution is now out of control. Initially promising freedom, like all revolutions, it has entered something like its Reign of Terror phase and is devouring its own children. As with other revolutions, it is not because the revolutionaries enjoy broad popular support; it is because civic and religious leaders are confused, divided, and cowed into silence. Those whom one expects to impose some order on all this—conservative politicians, religious leaders, civil libertarians, journalists, scholars—are either hiding under the table or signaling their virtue by themselves fanning the flames of a hysteria that they show no interest in trying to understand.
Even as one hysteria—the campus “rape epidemic”—is finally exposed as a hoax by the common sense of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, another breaks out over Harvey Weinstein and others (and still others) emerge almost daily. The commentariat from the left to the right is either diffident or so intoxicated with sanctimony that they are unable to write about it critically. Yet once we strip away the obfuscating jargon and ideology, it becomes very clear what is going on.
For there is nothing new about the sordid behavior. All that is new—and all that makes it newsworthy—is that it has been politicized.
To begin with, there is not, and never has been, any epidemic of “sexual harassment,” “sexual assault,” “domestic violence,” or the rest. It is not that deeds associated with these terms do not happen; the terms themselves are ideological constructions designed to create hysteria and mean nothing. There are, and always have been, criminal statutes in place to protect women (along with everyone else) from violent crime. There have also long been civil provisions to protect them from sexual pressure from superiors in the workplace. Anyone experiencing either of these offenses can readily file charges or complaints. And no, there is certainly no longer any “stigma” against doing so, if there ever was.
What we do have—as many long ago warned we would have—is a highly sexualized culture controlled by men and women who have succeeded in changing the terms of sexuality because they have both ideological and pecuniary interests in using sex as a financial tool and a political weapon. Privileged men and women have thrown off virtually all controls on sexual indulgence, which they can use not only for personal self-gratification but also—and quite predictably—as the means to advance their careers, accumulate wealth, eliminate rivals, punish opponents, extort money, and generally acquire political power. These practices are especially rampant in the commanding heights of our culture: the media, universities, Hollywood, television, and the fashion industry, all of which by their nature are dedicated to profiteering off sexual appeal and which bestow high rewards on people who provide it. Because most of us are consumers of these industries, few of us can completely wash our hands of responsibility.
The early opposition to all this, by Christians and other ethical critics, was long ago ridiculed into silence by the political shock troops of the Revolution: the feminist and later the homosexualist ideologues, who advertised unrestricted sex as a form of political “liberation” from “oppression.” This enlisted the intellectuals and provided a moralistic zeal that diametrically inverted the moral stigma from those who indulged in the sexual freedom to those resisting it, who were then stigmatized as political oppressors.
Now, after decades of serving as the intellectual apologists for this crass culture, those same radical ideologues have found that they can further increase their influence and power from the chaos they helped create by turning the resulting unpleasantness into newfangled quasi-crimes that no one fully understands and which permit no defense. Having ridiculed not only the Christians themselves into silence but also their annoying, old-fashioned vocabulary of “sin,” “immorality,” “fornication,” and “adultery,” the radicals have substituted jargon that instead condemns ideological unorthodoxy (“sexism,” “misogyny”) and implies criminality: “sexual harassment,” “sexual abuse,” “sexual misconduct,” “sexual assault,” sexual this and sexual that.
In short, sexual ideologues have created a new political theology, replete with a politicized, government-approved definition of sin. Or in other words, they eliminated religious sin and replaced it with political crime. Rather than removing the shame and stigma of the “fornicator” and “adulterer” as they promised, they have simply replaced it with that of the “abuser” and “harasser.” In the process they have replaced morality with ideology, and community standards with themselves as the sole arbiters of innocence and guilt.
Is there a difference? Yes. The traditional sins were clear and precise, they applied equally to all, they were enforced by apolitical authorities like parents, churches, and local communities, and the punishment was social disapproval and ostracism. By contrast, the new ideological crimes are vague and lack any fixed definition, only men can be guilty of them, and they are enforced by lawyers and gendarmes and punishable with lawsuits and prison.
This “liberation” illustrates precisely the logic that transforms the Rights of Man into the Reign of Terror. The fanatical Antoine de St. Just could have been speaking for the Sexual rather than the French Revolution when he declared, “No freedom for the enemies of freedom!”
No one really understands what terms like “sexual harassment” and “domestic violence” mean, which is precisely the point. They can mean anything, and the definitions are constantly expanded (even with a seemingly clear matter like “rape”) and tailored to fit the accused. Thus they blur the distinction between behavior that is distasteful or (dare I say it?) immoral from that which is criminal, and they circumvent the due process protections of the criminal law with flimsy procedures and “relaxed” rules of evidence, often in irregular kangaroo courts which are erected—like the pseudo-courts in other revolutions—to ensure the predetermined outcome of punishment.
In Weinstein’s case, it is not clear what precisely the accusations are. Typically, we hear of matters that seem clearly criminal: “rape.” But then it starts to sound vague: “abuse,” “exploitation,” “misbehavior.” Which is it? (A columnist notes the same modus operandi in the “harassment” scandal now engulfing the British House of Commons: a “toxic list included open and perfectly consensual sexual relationships along with the supposed infractions.”) This MO allows the penal system to intervene in the private lives of innocent people by linking their ordinary acts to criminality. The vagaries allow them to establish the larger principle that all male-female relations themselves constitute political oppression.
None of the Hollywood figures queueing up to advertise their virtue by denouncing Weinstein seem to have any first-hand evidence of anything. Two report that he met them for interviews in his room wearing a bathrobe. The rest have “rumors” and “stories” from others. Several say he behaved with complete professionalism and did nothing improper. Some report physical passes, and some reports do sound like they crossed the line into both sexual and physical assault (including many against men), in which case there are, again, criminal statutes that could readily have been invoked at the time. Would complaints have jeopardized one’s career? Welcome to the responsibilities of citizenship.
Far more likely of course is that the “victims” were part of a larger game trading sexual allure for career advancement.
If someone has evidence that Weinstein committed a crime, it can be reported, he can be tried, and that could be the end of it. But that would not serve the radicals’ lynch mob agenda—the same lynch mob that Secretary DeVos has challenged in the universities, and others have challenged involving “child abuse,” “domestic violence,” “deadbeat dads,” and the rest.
The point is not to report a crime but to create hysteria that can then be used against people far more innocent than Weinstein appears to be. Weinstein will have to plead his own case. But once the flimsy procedures are in place—as a result of hysteria from the same Hollywood and media culture that created the problem in the first place, they can then be used again the innocent.
Even beyond the university students, few of whom will ever see the inside of a jail, other targets are indeed already languishing behind bars because of the zeal of the sexual hysterics—and the silence of others.
Now that Secretary DeVos has made it safe to do so, conservative pundits—who for years remained mute as other journalists and a few scholars risked their careers and reputations to blow the whistle—are now coming out of the woodwork to trumpet their own virtue. Even the National Review, which for years studiously looked the other way in the face of rampant injustice, and even supported the hysterics, has suddenly discovered that the witch hunt, about which they were told for years, is real.
But the proof of their newfound virtue will be seen in how they respond to the other, more serious injustices and witch-hunts still being fomented by the feminist victimization industry. Military men are likewise subject to trumped-up accusations of “sexual harassment” and hounded out of the services, as Brian Mitchell, Martin Van Creveld, and others have documented, if they are not first plundered by the divorce courts. And as Stuart Taylor and K.C. Johnson along with others have shown, those accused of rape in the real courts can no more expect justice than in the campus kangaroo courts, and they can spend years in prison.
In fact, even the larger the rape hoax is only one of a series of witch hunts generated by the radical sexual lobby:
I. Despite numerous exposés since the 1980s, knowingly false accusations of child abuse against selected parents for political purposes are still out of control: Christian parents, homeschooling families, involuntarily divorced fathers, or any parents. Here too we see the politics of accusation, the suspension of due process protections, and the fingerprints of the radicals. Like the feminist attorneys whose salaries drain taxpayers’ dollars at the Department of Education and students’ tuition in the state-funded universities, feminist lawyers and social workers launch equally groundless accusations to rationalize the government confiscation of children from their parents. Also like the university rape accusations, hoax after hoax, horror story after horror story, make little impact on the juggernaut of fabricated accusations.
II. Systematic accusations of “domestic violence” constitute what attorney David Heleniak calls “a due process fiasco”: Heleniak identifies six separate denials of due process (and there are more). Here too, violent assault is criminally punishable in every jurisdiction on earth. But “domestic violence” has nothing to do with violent assault, any more than “campus rape” has anything to do with real rape. It is another politicized collusion between the radicals and the bar associations, earning enormous salaries by denying due process to innocent Americans who possess no platform to defend themselves. In feminist parlance, “domestic violence” can mean anything from verbal insults to refusing demands for money. It is virtually never adjudicated with a jury trial, and—most astounding of all—no one is ever acquitted.
III. Accusations of nonpayment of child support—so-called “deadbeat dads”—constitute perhaps the most vicious witch-hunt and hoax, where due process protections are non-existent. Assembly-line hearings often last a minute or two, when men are sentenced to indefinite incarceration that can last years. Many receive no hearing at all but are sentenced (they too are never acquitted) in an “expedited judicial process.” According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, accused fathers must prove their innocence against unspecified accusations, without counsel, and without a jury. Most frighteningly, no public record of the incarcerations exists.
Unlike these men (and women), those like Harvey Weinstein (Bill Cosby, Julian Assange, etc.), plus students and soldiers who indulge in casual sex, arguably are asking for trouble and deserve what they get. At one time, we might have understood their ordeal theologically: though they receive an unjust punishment from man, they are being justly punished by God. This theological principle might help some men see a more constructive course to correct not only their own comportment but also the larger political problem. It could well convey the message to men that, like it or not, you are inevitably the ones that will be held responsible, and it is therefore up to you to exercise the moral (and political?) leadership.
Yet significantly, no such argument has been put forth for discussion by church leaders, who simply avert their eyes and hold their tongues from matters that would seem to be in their direct purview: sexual morality. So cowed are Christian leaders that they almost never speak of “fornication” and “adultery” (or even “sin” very much), even in their own churches. So now they too try to save themselves from irrelevance by jumping on the bandwagon to advertise their own ideologized virtue. Today one is far more likely to hear a sermon about “sexual harassment” or “misogyny” than about fornication or adultery, despite the huge social and economic consequences generated by out-of-wedlock births. Ironically, the very “self-righteousness” accusation they have tried for years to deflect they now embrace.
Yet the theological principle hardly justifies unjust quasi-criminal punishments. For one thing, any secular government must distinguish sin from crime, as the old religious standards recognized in distinguishing legitimate spheres for Caesar and for God. Ironically, the hyper-secularized radicals are the ones substituting a new political theology and a quasi-theocratic approach to sexual ethics.
Now the revolutionaries, intoxicated with power, are moving beyond defenseless private individuals and targeting larger prey in the realm of high politics. They tried this in the election campaign against Donald Trump, turning his lewd comments into an opportunity to further insinuate ideology in the place of traditional sexual morality.
Now, more subtly, they have set their sights on their own liberal-left elite. By targeting Weinstein and others like him, the radicals are (by accident or design) adroitly recruiting conservative moralizers as their stooges. Conservatives delight in pointing out that liberal male politicians like Bill Clinton who are the most outspoken feminist supporters are also the most aggressive womanizers. Yet lacking the fortitude to content themselves with traditional stigmas against Clinton’s or Weinstein’s immorality in hitting on married women and betraying their own wives, they parrot the radical jargon of the “harassment” industry. When one understands the dynamics of feminist politics it is clear that the radicals will have the last laugh, because the end result is that we further abandon morality for ideology.
But perhaps the greatest impact of this sleight-of-hand is the morally debilitating effect it has on all of us. I mean not simply our willingness to accommodate sexual permissiveness but even more our willingness to confuse self-righteous moralizing with true moral understanding. The Weinstein affair vividly illustrates how ideology has turned our public discourse into a cacophony of sanctimonious scolding. Rather than establishing clear rules of sexual morality and having the courage to uphold them in our daily face-to-face interactions with other people, we hire professional disapprovers with political muscle—journalists and media pundits, lawyers, judges, police, and jailors—to inflict punishments in our name, while we sit back and safely jeer at the malefactors from afar. This indulgence in the soothing pleasures of moral posturing entails no risk to ourselves and no requirement to take responsibility for our own role in either the sexual decadence or, if they turn out to be unjust, the ensuing witch hunts. And we need not bother ourselves about niceties like rules of evidence or due process of law. In short, we have adopted the justice of the mob, into which the Sexual Revolution, like every revolution, must inevitably degenerate.