Today’s sexual “Reign of Terror” started in the 1960s, when the Left turned social mores on their heads — and it will get worse before it gets better.
The original “Reign of Terror” occurred during the French Revolution, when socialism itself was fully birthed. It was a period during which the French Revolutionaries executed thousands of people, many of whom were themselves Revolutionaries, including the father of the French Revolution, Robespierre. We are seeing something akin to the Reign of Terror on the Left today with the sudden purging of stalwart Progressives who have engaged in sexual harassment and abuse. How did we get here and how will it end?
Through the early 60’s, we had conservative culture that I think could be defined by two things — a general belief in the chivalric code and a restrictive, though amorphous, view of appropriate sexual conduct and morals that was half Biblical and half Victorian. Society at large called girls “sluts” if they engaged in any sex outside of marriage. Meanwhile, we boys called such girls . . . on Friday nights with no real opprobrium unless we got the girl pregnant. There was a double standard, but one dictated by biological realities.
At its best, such conservatism comes from ancient Jewish and later Christian traditions aimed at creating and maximizing the strength of families, since families have, since time immemorial, been the foundational unit of civilized society. These traditions reined in men, whose biological impulse is to spread their seed far and wide. They made it clear morally that men should marry a woman, be monogamous during marriage, and raise the children of the marriage.
Having these traditions in place protected women, for whom pregnancy is a life-changing event, and, most importantly, protected children from the scourge of single motherhood. Today, the risks are poverty for the girls and criminality for the boys. In olden days, the more extreme risk was starvation.
Such traditions also promoted a healthy society, by limiting the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, many of which were potentially fatal in the long run. At their worst, such traditions were stamped with 5th century Augustinian notions that sex was evil, sinful and dirty.
All of this set up a permanent tension in society. Perhaps most illustrative of this is American Puritan society during the century after their arrival on these shores in 1620. Despite being intensely religious, they also struggled with natural human impulse. True, they punished with fines and the lash unwed women who bore children (though Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter, written long after the demise of Puritan society, unfairly caricatures that time).
But of all the discussions I have read in original sources, at least outside of the pulpit, the Puritan’s concern with unwed pregnant women was pragmatic, not biblical. They were concerned with the societal costs of unwed mothers and their children raised without a father.
That said, Puritans were, perhaps surprisingly, fully human in giving in to their sexual impulses. Best estimates are that half of the women in American Puritan society between 1620 and 1720 went to the altar with a baby bump. The Left, in attacking Western civilization, ridicules that as hypocrisy. Actually it is nothing more than the aspirational goals on one hand and the reality of humanity on the other, with Puritan mores intervening to shape, as best as possible, the result of that tension.
Fast forward to the rise of socialism and the socialist goal to remake the West into a utopian society. Ms. BWR, in an American Thinker article several years ago, pointed out that socialists have, since their inception, used sex as a tool to attack the Judeo-Christian religions and to sexualize children. In a related post of a few years ago, I traced the long effort of the socialist movement in this country to intervene in the family unit, inserting government (Leftist government) in loco parentis to strip sex of its moral and ethical dimensions for children. What began with the avowedly socialist Margaret Sanger in the early 20th century became part and parcel of the radicalized Third Wave feminist movement of the 60’s. [Read more…]