In a new book, political science professor at Boise State University, Professor Scott Yenor, makes it clear that the rise of individual autonomy brought about by the sexual revolution is hardly an “unmixed blessing”.
In the book, The Recovery of Family Life: Exposing the Limits of Modern Ideologies, Professor Yenor skillfully examines the ideologies of contemporary liberalism, radical feminism, and sexual liberation — ideologies that have sown so much chaos in modern society’s understanding of gender and sexuality — and characterises the results as a “rolling revolution”.
This new regime’s principles, he says, “are such that they will only with great difficulty, if ever, be achieved and they call for a continuous transformation of marriage and family life”.
For example, he says that today’s “leading edges” of the rolling revolution threaten to bring about an “eclipse of statutory rape laws and an open embrace of childhood sexuality”.
Yenor says the “contemporary liberal vision of marriage” fosters what sociologist Anthony Giddens calls the “pure relationship” — a relationship in which people are free to form relationships and to exit them “when they stop serving their life plans”. In other words, intimate relations “must be open as to the form and number of partners and the extent of their commitment”.
One ingredient of this “pure relationship”, Yenor argues, is the sexual liberationist principle of so-called “orgasm equity”. Because of the “sexual-industrial complex” that has grown up to achieve this end, the pornography industry has proliferated since the early 2000s and now has more revenue than any of the major professional sports in America.
But Yenor insists that “sex alone cannot and should not satisfy human beings”. He says that such sexual innovations have displaced the “Old Wisdom” concerning society’s foundation in the family.
“Political communities,” he says, “arise to protect and foster the enduring, pre-political relationships between biological parents and children.” Otherwise, he argues, there is an absence of new citizens to take on the responsibilities of freedom and citizenship and no country can “survive and thrive”.
Ironically, Yenor notes, the “public depends on the private to produce the next public, but the public has limited power over the private to achieve the public’s goals”.
Given the impending “demographic collapse” in developed countries, he proposes fertility promotion policies like the forgiveness of student loans for graduates who marry and have children before age 26.
He also expresses support for traditional concepts of marriage and motherhood — in contrast to feminism’s emphasis on the “mystique” of career for women as a way they can both help change the world and find their “paramount path to fulfilment, growth, and happiness”.
In reality, women have consistently dashed feminist aspirations and often “still gave priority to vocations as mothers instead of careers”. As a result, women comprise 50 percent of American law school graduates but only 20 percent of law firm partners.
Yenor suggests that these trends argue against the feminist concept of an “androgynous future” — a proposed “fifty-fifty world” in which “men and women, if such words can still matter, occupy equal numbers in all of society’s roles”.
According to feminist “civil rights ideology”, however, the continuing “sex differences we observe are products of society” or “unjust oppression.”
But Yenor suggests that facts from across history and cultures belie these assumptions. “Sex,” he says, “provides persistent grooves within which gender is always imagined and understood through time and space.”
In support of this view, he points out:
Men and women generally have different chemical bases, brains, susceptibility to diseases, interests or penchants, ways of thinking, psychological traits, and, generally, ways of feeling and acting; they differ in size, strength, and speed.
Yenor pithily concludes: “Biology ain’t destiny, but it ain’t nothing either,” and thus “disparities traceable to sex differences” will continue. He says that, particularly in the job market, a “more prudent and satisfying policy to accommodate this sex difference might involve encouragement to create part-time jobs” — positions that would appeal predominately to women.
Yenor also explodes myths concerning homosexuals, including the claim that high suicide rates among gay men result from social ostracism:
Same-sex men have higher suicide rates than same-sex women, for instance, suggesting that something other than the supposedly homophobic culture — something related to sex, gender, or both — contributes to elevated suicide rates.
He adds that to have any inborn “sexual orientation or to have a genetic predisposition to kleptomania is not being born to blue eyes or left-handedness.”
Yenor said in a recent interview that telling such truths about human bodies and their sexuality is increasingly difficult in the modern world. In the interview he said: “Defending grooves in modernity is difficult, for grooves point to limits on human power and will.”
Rolling revolutionists, says Yenor, claim that the “body is open to great, perhaps limitless reinterpretation”. And so, in the revolutionists’ view, adherents to “traditional morality must be actively discouraged (perhaps even proscribed) for their own good and for society’s”.
He explains why such muzzling might seem necessary from the revolutionists’ point of view: “To admit the legitimacy of opinions contrary to the rolling revolution is to admit that the rolling revolution does not represent progress in knowledge of human beings.” So, he says, court cases Lawrence v. Texas and Obergefell v. Hodges, “as based on the reigning civil rights ideology, must be overturned if a reasonable society accommodation is to be found” between homosexuals and wider society.
Ultimately, Yenor is making a stand against the sexual revolution by dissecting its false promises. He is suggesting that enlightened rollback, whatever the societal costs and odds, is the necessary response to those radicals who want to throw out all nature.
In doing so, he has provided an important guide to the counter-revolution.