This is just the week for me to have sex on my mind. It’s not my fault, though, because the culture insists on pushing it into the forefront of my brain.
Ours is a sex saturated culture. Progressives like it that way and want it to stay that way. Conservatives point out that, while sexual pleasure is one of life’s blessings, a sexually saturated culture is not a healthy culture. Instead, it is one beset by fatherless children (who are more likely to live in economically unstable homes); unmarried teen mothers; demoralized women with low self-esteem; rampant sexually transmitted disease; abortion rates high enough to shock even many of those who support abortion in theory; and nihilistic youth who squander their sexual capital in loveless relationships during their teens and twenties, and who then wonder why, Peggy Lee-like, they’re left asking “is that all there is?”.
Since the statistics support the conservative view, statistics have only one way to challenge the conservative narrative — they have to denigrate the conservatives themselves, without actually touching upon the narrative. That’s what we’re seeing with Rick Santorum.
I haven’t yet warmed up to Santorum, but I don’t fault him for wanting to talk about problems in our culture. Birth control has changed behaviors and — which is something few want to acknowledge — the Pill is a very powerful drug that profoundly affects a woman’s hormonal balance. Blithely handing it out to teens, without parental knowledge or permission, is not something a culture should undertake lightly. And yet that’s what Progressives want to do.
Worse, if someone (Santorum, for example) says “Hey, wait a minute,” Progressives refuse to talk about the health risks of not only giving teens massive amounts of hormones, but also giving them permission to engage in activities that can harm them both physically and mentally. Instead, Progressives try to paint their challengers as maddened Victorian censors, intent upon using the full power of the federal government to return women to a barefoot and pregnant existence in the kitchen.
Don’t believe me? Just watch Jon Stewart, who manages in a single segment to (1) gloss over the lies within the HHS mandate (because nothing is free); (2) misrepresent the Church’s position regarding Obama’s HHS mandate by pretending that the Church is attacking contraception, rather than fighting against a government putsch that forces them to pay for contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization; (3) launches a direct attack on the Church’s decency; and (4) shows Santorum as a mad man. Warning: this video is NSFW.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|The Vagina Ideologues|
(Mr. Bookworm, having watched this segment, turned to me and announced “this is why I can never vote for Santorum. He’s a God freak.” Mr. Bookworm was taken aback when I said that he couldn’t support Obama either, because Obama had used Jesus to justify higher taxes. I got an earful of silence back after that one.)
James Taranto, in a post that looks at anti-Santorum attacks from conservatives who disagree with him on social issues, still manages to explain precisely what’s going on:
In truth, Santorum says only that he would “talk about” what he sees as the social harms of contraception. There is no conflict whatever between limited government and moral exhortation, provided the latter is unaccompanied by legislative or administrative action.
And the quote is very much in keeping with “a tradition rooted in the pursuit of happiness.” Santorum is merely making a case for deferred gratification. His claim is that the easy availability of birth control has enabled and encouraged a pursuit of pleasure that is inimical to the achievement of happiness. One may reasonably argue that Santorum is overgeneralizing or that on the whole he is mistaken. But to write him out of the American tradition on the basis of that quote, as Friedersdorf attempts to do, is simply bonkers.
What he says is that birth control has greatly expanded sexual freedom, and that sexual freedom has had consequences that are harmful to society and to women in particular. Again, one may disagree whether, on balance, these harms outweighed the benefits. But what is so upsetting about the idea that they might have? What in the world explains Friedersdorf’s and Rubin’s overwrought emotionalism?
Here’s our attempt at an explanation: In liberal metropolises like Los Angeles, Washington and New York (homes of Friedersdorf, Rubin and this columnist, respectively), a high proportion of conservatives have internalized the assumptions of feminism. One of those assumptions is that female sexual freedom, an essential component of sexual equality, is an unadulterated good. Santorum’s statements to the contrary challenge this deeply held view.
Furthermore, contemporary feminism is, as we recently argued, a totalitarian ideology, by which we mean one that tolerates no divergence between the personal and the political. If you are not a feminist, you can enjoy a lifestyle of sexual freedom and also take seriously the idea that sexual freedom is bad for society. If you are a feminist, that is a thoughtcrime.
Totalitarian ideologies sustain themselves in large part through fear, and feminism has been particularly fearsome of late, as the Susan G. Komen ladies and the Catholic bishops can attest. But our intuition is that this is a sign of weakness, not strength. The fearful reactions to Santorum’s heresies against sexual freedom reinforce that sense.
This column has its differences with Rick Santorum, but we admire him for his fearlessness in challenging feminist pieties. “One man with courage makes a majority,” Andrew Jackson is supposed to have observed. Is Rick Santorum such a man? If not, let’s hear a reasoned argument to the contrary.
Rick Santorum is not the only conservative who is subject to ad hominem attacks for daring to raise factual challenges to feminist pieties. In today’s SF Comical, Amy Graff, who is one of the paper’s official bloggers, is disgusted by an anti-Planned Parenthood video that is filled with a collection of graphic sexual images.
Reading Graff’s post, one finds that she’s not at all troubled by the fact that the video is correct in stating that Planned Parenthood, with help from federal tax dollars, goes to schools all over America to sell sex as a consequence-free activity for young people that’s fun, fun, fun. (Indeed, just the other day, a San Francisco high school celebrated Valentine’s Day, if not with PP’s help, at least with PP’s style.) Instead, Graff thinks it’s disgusting that the dirty-minded people at the American Life League were sick enough to assemble all of the PP propaganda in a single place:
The video was created to show that Planned Parenthood is a “perverted” organization, turning America’s children into sex addicts through community events featuring penis-shaped balloons, vagina macaroons, vulva puppet shows, and giant vagina costumes. And then there’s all the masturbation literature, graphic images of naked boys and girls, and online descriptions of sexual organs. Planned Parenthood would tell you they offer these materials to educate youth and encourage safe sex but Michael Hichborn, media director of the American Life League, says, “They’re selling pornography to kids as science.” No matter, this video is quite an impressive collection of lewdness.
Graff’s right in a way. Ripped free of the youthful “rah-rah” and feminist ideology in which PP packages these sexuality promotions, the material it routinely distributes as schools throughout America does look remarkably like pornography for the younger set. Here — see for yourself, but just be sure not to watch this video in the office:
Although this may come as a surprise to Progressives, conservatives like sex. Indeed, to the extent that devoutly religious people such as Santorum believe that human sexuality is a direct gift from God, they probably appreciate it even more than Progressives do, seeing as the latter simply view it as a pleasurable animal instinct.
Conservatives, however, are the ones who are willing to point out that nothing is free, not even a gift from God. Sex comes with strings attached, and it’s a health society that respects those strings and weaves them into a strong social fabric, rather than rope with which to hang our young people. It’s very important, therefore, that we fight back against the Obama narrative that has moderate social conservatives — meaning people who don’t want sexual segregation, burqas, the end of contraception, etc., but who do want sex, and women, treated with more reverence and respect — painted as the worst kind of puritanical totalitarians.