State of the Culture: Losses and wins

By Jonathon Van Maren

The province of Ontario continues to highlight what happens when you elect a LGBTQ activist to the highest office: post-modernism gets replaced with post-reality. From the National Post:

Ontario is considering more changes to the collection and display of gender information on government documents, not long after announcing gender-neutral driver’s licences and health cards.

Public consultations launched earlier this month look at how gender information is treated on government forms and identification documents, including birth and marriage certificates.

A preamble to an online survey says “people with transgender and non-binary gender identity may face barriers and other negative outcomes when trying to access services” so the government wants to ensure its policies are inclusive.

Ontario has already announced that starting in early 2017, drivers will be able to select an X instead of an M for male or F for female on their licences.

All of this, of course, is rolled out with the utmost solemnity so as to ensure that the common man is aware that this Significant Move is really a Very Important Step towards human rights and equality for all. No wonder the downtown Toronto elites never understood why nobody cared that Rob Ford smoked a bit of crack—at least Ford stuck to trying to keep money in people’s pockets, rather than constantly foisting sanctimonious gestures towards emerging gender ideologies.

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Ross Douthat’s brilliant column, A Playboy for President, requires no further comment:

IN a different campaign or era, it would have been a race-altering moment; in this one, it was barely a scandal. There was Melania Trump, the potential first lady of the United States, posing stark naked in ’90s-era photos published by the New York Post — and then in the next day’s edition, canoodling lipstick-lesbian style in bed. Yet the press yawned, her husband’s latest outrage overshadowed it, and it only stayed a story because the date of the photos raised questions about the future Mrs. Trump’s immigration status.

This election was supposed to be a referendum on Hillary Clinton, long a polarizing figure because she seemed to embody the cultural transformations of the 1960s — the liberal, feminist, working-mother spouse of the first boomer president…

So in word, deed and his wife’s “artistic” shots, it’s Trump rather than Clinton who has confirmed the full triumph of the sexual revolutions.

I say revolutions, plural, because Trump is a reminder that the 1960s happened in stages, with different figures and worldviews shaping its social shifts. As John Podhoretz wrote in a shrewd column, Trump and Hillary are both children of the ’60s — but of its opposite ends, the Brat Pack era in Trump’s case and the flowering of boomer liberalism in Hillary’s.

Much of what seems strange and reactionary about Trump is tied to what was normal to a certain kind of Sinatra and Mad Men-era man — the casual sexism, the odd mix of sleaziness and formality, even the insult-comic style.

But while that male culture was “conservative” in its exploitative attitudes toward women, it was itself in rebellion against bourgeois norms and Middle-American Christianity. And if Hillary is a (partial, given her complicated marriage) avatar of Gloria Steinem-era feminism, her opponent is an heir of the male revolutionary in whose club Steinem once went undercover: Hugh Hefner.

It was Hefner who fully embodied the male sexual revolt. Today he’s just a sleazy oldster, but in the beginning he was a faux philosopher, preaching a gospel cribbed from bohemia and various Freudian enemies of repression, in which the blessed pursuit of promiscuity was the human birthright. But really a male birthright, for a certain kind of man: The sort of hep cat who loved inviting the ladies back to his pad “for a quiet discussion on Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz, sex.”

That was the ideal, at least. Trump, the thrice-married ubermensch who jokes about Megyn Kelly’s period, is the more usual reality. (So, albeit with more surface class, was the ultimate early-’60s man, the sex-addicted J.F.K.)

That obvious gulf helps explain why Hefner passed from a phenomenon to a sideshow, while a more feminist vision of liberation became the official ideology of the liberal upper class.

But only gradually and partially. The men’s sexual revolution, in which freedom meant freedom to take your pleasure while women took the pill, is still a potent force, and not only in the halls of Fox News. From Hollywood and college campuses to rock concert backstages and Bill Clinton’s political operation, it has persisted as a pervasive but unspoken philosophy in precincts officially committed to cultural liberalism and sexual equality.

It has also endured by going downmarket in the culture. If you watched “The Girls Next Door,” the TV show about Hefner’s ménage, you noticed that the Playboy mystique was emphatically not a joke in the lower middle class environs that produced his centerfolds and their most adoring fans. Like Trumpism, Hefnerian values have prospered in the blue-collar vacuum created by religion’s retreat, community’s unraveling.

Then finally, among men who were promised pliant centerfolds and ended up single with only high-speed internet to comfort them, the men’s sexual revolution has curdled into a toxic subculture, resentful of female empowerment in all its forms.

This is where you find Trump’s strongest (and, yes, strangest) fans. He’s become the Daddy Alpha for every alpha-aspiring beta male, whose mix of moral liberation and misogyny keeps the Ring-a-Ding-Ding dream alive.

There aren’t nearly enough of these fans to win him the election. Steinem’s revolution (Clintonian complications and all) should easily beat Hef’s at the ballot box this year.

But the cultural conflict between these two post-revolutionary styles — between frat guys and feminist bluestockings, Gamergaters and the diversity police, alt-right provocateurs and “woke” dudebros, the mouthbreathers who poured hate on the all-female “Ghostbusters” and the tastemakers who pretended it was good — is likely here to stay. With time and Christianity’s further decline, it could eclipse older culture war battles; in the pop culture landscape, it already does.

Ten years ago, liberals pined for a post-religious right, a different culture war.Be careful what you wish for.

Amen.

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The fallout from America’s legalization of gay marriage is not yet complete, and our collective rebellion against nature has barely begun. From the Christian Post:

Two pairs of lesbian couples are suing New Jersey in order to get insurance coverage for their artificial insemination operations.

Erin and Marianne Krupa and Sarah Mills and her partner Gloria Torres filed suit earlier this month against New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Richard Badolato.

“This civil rights case is about family and the right of all New Jersey women who dream of becoming mothers to access the reproductive healthcare they need to realize that dream on an equal basis, regardless of their sexual orientation,” reads the lawsuit.

“Although New Jersey mandates that insurance plans operating in the state cover medically necessary expenses incurred in the diagnosis and treatment of infertility, this mandate, in relevant part, defines infertility as an inability to conceive despite engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse with a male partner for either one or two years, depending on a woman’s age.”

The Krupas and Mills and Torres are being represented by Grace Cathryn Cretcher, attorney with Beranbaum Menken LLP of New York City.

In an interview with The Christian Post, Cretcher explained why she agreed to take the case, which was filed August 1 in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

“Particularly given that my educational and professional background and interest is in constitutional and civil rights law, taking the case was a no-brainer,” explained Cretcher.

“Not only is helping make NJ a fairer place where all citizens can access resources to help them start families on a constitutionally equal basis obviously a great cause, but after Windsor and Obergefell, we believe there is little to no question about the unconstitutionality of the NJ infertility mandate.”

Got that? Lesbian couples are complaining about infertility. No disrespect intended, but I’m pretty sure if the two fine ladies went to an infertility clinic and explained their problem, they would be politely informed that they’re doing it wrong. A male is required to contribute to the process. Two lesbians, regardless of their enthusiasm and the combined power of their potential maternal instincts, are not going to conceive. Unless, of course, they demand that the government fund a facsimile family that can be created for them artificially.

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For some good news, for a change, head on over to the National Review to read David French’s analysis of a victory for religious liberty in California.

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Over at the Gospel Coalition, Tim Keller explains how the reorientation of American values is impacting conservative Christianity.

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At Breakpoint, the great Eric Metaxas delivers a brilliant takedown of cultural Marxism:

Christians are sometimes accused of being “in denial,” especially when it comes to matters of sex. But after reading about a recent AIDS conference, I have to ask: Who’s really living in fantasy land?

At the recent UN international AIDS conference in South Africa, the actress Charlize Theron announced that HIV “has no biological preference for black bodies, for women’s bodies, for gay bodies . . . HIV is not just transmitted by sex,” she explained. “It’s transmitted by sexism, racism, poverty, and homophobia.”

Matthew Hanley, a Senior Fellow with the National Catholic Bioethics Center, writes at Mercatornet that while it was Theron who made these nonsensical remarks, they could have been made by almost any professional at the conference. When Theron says AIDS is not spread just by sex, “she means to direct attention away from sex itself, to minimize its primary role, and to shift ultimate [blame] anywhere else.”

“Statements like these,” Hanley adds, “sound less like medicine than a strand of Marxism—cultural Marxism.”  Marxism has “morphed away from the sphere of economics and into the sexual revolution,” he explains. This means that “every form of sex has necessarily come to be regarded …as equal; therefore . . . Nothing must jeopardize the truly radical assertion that there are no differences in the arena of sexuality . . . Objective hazards must be repackaged to conform to the value assigned to sexual behavior—which is something we don’t do for other public health matters.”

For instance, nobody says smoking cigarettes or drinking huge amounts of sugary drinks is healthy and normal–or distributes pills in schools to offset the effects of tobacco and sugar. Instead, we urge young people to avoid cigarettes altogether, and cut down on the soft drinks.  But heaven forbid we tell them to avoid sex.

To sum up the progressive worldview: We can change the climate, but we can’t keep our pants on.

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