The Dangerous Rise of Sexual Politics
Islamic radicalism may be creating a “clash of civilizations,”
but sexual radicalism is undermining the social foundation of all civilization

By Stephen Baskerville, PhD*

*Stephen Baskerville teaches political science at Patrick Henry College. He is the author of Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family (Cumberland Books).

“All politics is on one level sexual politics.” — George Gilder, 1986

Four decades into the boldest social experiment ever undertaken in the Western democracies, the full impact of what was once quaintly known as “women’s liberation” is at last becoming clear.  The political class of both the Left and Right have colluded to limit the debate to a series of innocuous controversies: job discrimination, equal pay, affirmative action.  Only abortion has any depth, and that debate has been mired in stalemate.

Meanwhile, beneath the political radar screen, the real consequences are finally emerging: a massive restructuring of the social order, demographic trends that threaten the very survival of Western civilization, and perhaps least noticed, an exponential growth in the size and power of the state — the state at its most bureaucratic and tyrannical.

Feminism has now positioned itself as the vanguard of the Left, shifting the political discourse from the economic and racial to the social and increasingly the sexual.  What was once a socialistic assault on property and enterprise has become a social and sexual attack on the family, marriage, and masculinity.  This marks a truly new kind of politics, the most personal and thus potentially the most total politics ever devised: the politics of private life and sexual relations.

Sexual politics is both feminist and homosexual, with no distinct line separating them.  Feminism has been the more overtly political doctrine.  Until recently, gays asked mostly to be left alone and as such gained widespread sympathy.

Many homosexuals, especially males, probably do not consciously think about their sexuality in expressly political terms.  Yet homosexuality in itself can be a political statement, especially lesbianism, which for many constitutes the personal dimension of feminist ideology.  “Feminism is the theory, lesbianism is the practice,” in words attributed to Ti-Grace Atkinson.  “For many of today’s feminists, lesbianism is far more than a sexual orientation or even a preference.  It is, as students in many colleges learn, ‘an ideological, political, and philosophical means of liberation of all women from heterosexual tyranny.’”[1]  For sexual activists, sex itself is not a private but a political act.  Recalling Henry Adams’ definition of politics as the “systematic organization of hatreds,” it requires little imagination to see that this rebellion against sexual “tyranny” has politicized and transformed sex, an act associated at its most sublime with love, into what may yet prove history’s purest distillation of hate.

No sexual ideology has ever appeared before, and its unprecedented power is at once obvious and disguised.  Obvious, because it is not difficult to see that politicizing sex and sexual relations potentially penetrates far deeper into the human psyche, unleashes energies and emotions, and disrupts relationships and institutions far more fundamental than those attacked by radical ideologies of the past.  The capacity for intrusion into the private sphere of life is unrivalled since the bureaucratic dictatorships of the last century and potentially surpasses even them.  “Radical feminism is the most destructive and fanatical movement to come down to us from the Sixties,” writes Robert Bork.  “This is a revolutionary, not a reformist, movement, and it is meeting with considerable success. Totalitarian in spirit, it is deeply antagonistic to traditional Western culture and proposes the complete restructuring of society, morality, and human nature.”[2]

Yet how precisely the scenario is playing out is far less clear and, indeed, has escaped most observers.  The grip that sexual politics already commands over our political culture is so profound that its most destabilizing features are often undetected even by its harshest critics.  Apart from its advocates, few have even singled out sexual politics for focused critical attention.  It is bemoaned as simply another facet of leftist politics, like socialism and racial nationalism.  But it is much more.

Sexual politics is the most complex and subtle political ideology today.  On the one hand, the excesses of organized feminism’s formal agenda no longer command serious respect.  Many assume it is spent as a political force, that “feminism is dead” and we live in a “post-feminist” age.  At the same time, unspoken feminist assumptions no longer hover in the political margins; they have permeated the mainstream and thrive unchallenged and unchallengeable on the Left, the Center, and even the Right.  The danger is not the absurdities of its extremists, whom few now regard, but the steady erosion of social cohesion, civic freedom, and above all privacy, as well as the politicization of personal life by a sexual ideology that has so mesmerized us all that we are largely immune from realizing it.  Perhaps the greatest danger is the absence of coherent opposition.  For more than any other political movement, feminism neuters, literally emasculates its opposition.

Many have discerned a similarity between feminism and Marxism, but few appreciate how feminism extends the socialist logic and may actually exceed its intrusive potential.  “Women’s liberation, if not the most extreme then certainly the most influential neo-Marxist movement in America, has done to the American home what communism did to the Russian economy, and most of the ruin is irreversible,” writes Ruth Wisse of Harvard.  “By defining relations between men and women in terms of power and competition instead of reciprocity and cooperation, the movement tore apart the most basic and fragile contract in human society, the unit from which all other social institutions draw their strength.”[3]

Politicizing sex takes the logic of class conflict a great leap forward.  The charge of “oppression” is leveled not at broad, impersonal social classes but at the most intimate personal relationships.  The oppressor is not the entrepreneurial class or entrepreneur but the husband (or “intimate partner”), the father, even the son.  To relieve the oppressed, the all-powerful state nationalizes not only the private firm but the private family.  Human intimacy — the individual’s last refuge from state power — is not only a collateral casualty but a targeted enemy.

The danger therefore comes not so much from the assault on freedom generally (which traditional tyrannies also threaten) but specifically from the attack on private life, especially family life (which traditional dictatorships usually left alone).  “Radical feminism is totalitarian because it denies the individual a private space; every private thought and action is public and, therefore, political,” writes Bork.  “The party or the movement claims the right to control every aspect of life.”[4]  Daphne Patai also perceives this hostility to privacy.  “Feminism today, in its erasure of the boundaries between public and private, is writing a new chapter in the dystopian tradition of surveillance and unfreedom,” she observes, “...whereby one’s every gesture, every thought, is exposed to the judgement of one’s fellow citizens.”[5]

This attack on privacy is especially dangerous, because today many conservatives — those otherwise most likely to challenge feminism — themselves do not value privacy and civil liberties.  By a destructive irony, feminists have already appropriated “privacy” as a rationale for abortion in legal cases like Roe v. Wade, leading conservatives (who at one time extolled the virtues of private life) to abandon the concept itself.  Many conservatives also dismiss civil liberties as a pretext for acquitting criminals.  This leaves the Left with a monopoly as guardians of the Bill of Rights.  The guilty do indeed go unpunished, but partly because the innocent are convicted in their place.  As we will see, the principal political force driving incarceration today — of both the innocent and the guilty — is politicized sexuality. 

“Revolutions are very hard indeed on privacy,” observes our leading sociologist of revolution.[6]  That the totalitarian governments of the twentieth century intruded themselves into the most intimate corners of personal life, politicized the private, and destroyed much of family life is well known.[7]  But even they did not usually make the destruction of private life their explicit aim.

Modern sexual politics, by contrast, specifically targets privacy, and especially family privacy.  Political theorist Carol Pateman insists that denying “the dichotomy between the public and the, ultimately, what the feminist movement is about,” and two prominent feminists sneer at “the ideology of the family as a bastion of privacy.”[8]  Feminism’s fundamental principle — that “the personal is political” — is so obviously totalitarian that historian Eugene Genovese (himself a former Marxist) has termed it “Stalinist.”[9]  Again, this potential is obvious theoretical.  What is seldom appreciated is how far the potential has been realized.  “Radical feminists must regard it as unfortunate that they lack the power and mechanisms of the state to enforce their control over thoughts as well as behavior,” muses Bork.  “However, the movement is gradually gaining that coercive power in both private and public institutions.”[10]  Actually, they have it now.

Feminist Victories  

Feminism’s triumph has not come through its most extreme ideologues.  Much as Stalinism inherited the methods and practices of czarist absolutism and Russian nationalism, the triumphal phase of the new feminist and gay politics comes by commandeering and politicizing the very institutions they once renounced: motherhood, marriage, the family, the church, the state.

The early feminist attack on marriage and the family is now largely forgotten or dismissed.  “We can’t destroy the inequities between men and women until we destroy marriage,” Ms. magazine editor Robin Morgan wrote in her 1970 book, Sisterhood is Powerful.[11]  Sheila Cronin, head of the National Organization for Women, said that “Freedom for women cannot be won without the abolition of marriage.”[12]  Linda Gordon elaborated in a famous 1969 article in WOMEN: A Journal of Liberation.  “The nuclear family must be destroyed,” she declared:

The break-up of families now is an objectively revolutionary process.…  Families have supported oppression by separating people into small, isolated units, unable to join together to fight for common interests.…  Families make possible the super-exploitation of women by training them to look upon their work outside the home as peripheral to their “true” role.…  No woman should have to deny herself any opportunities because of her special responsibilities to her children.…  Families will be finally destroyed only when a revolutionary social and economic organization permits people’s needs for love and security to be met in ways that do not impose divisions of labor, or any external roles, at all.[13]

While such statements are often dismissed as the ranting of extremists, a glance at the state of marriage and the family today reveals that this is precisely what feminists have achieved.  But they achieved it in ways much more subtle than these screeds indicate.  While Germaine Greer famously urged women to refuse to marry, that strategy could achieve nothing.[14]  It was by participating in marriage that feminists destroyed it.

Homosexual activists are now simply following the feminists’ lead.  The most extreme homosexual activists renounce marriage altogether and leave it in peace; it is the “moderates” who hope to transform marriage in their image and thereby undermine it.  Yet precisely because it is obvious, homosexual marriage is not the most dangerous threat to marriage today; it has provoked vocal opposition.

The really dangerous trends are more subtle and arouse little opposition; some have even been enabled and abetted by conservatives.  While feminism in its earliest, ideologically pure stage demanded “equality” and “rights,” today, even as the ideological purists are relegated to the margins, it is nonetheless wheedling its way into the mainstream and conservative culture by appropriating traditional morality, including the very feminine “stereotypes” against which it initially rebelled.

Feminism’s current campaign to appropriate motherhood, for example, cynically but superficially exploits the pieties of traditional morality and the sentimentalities of uninformed conservative people.  Feminists like Ann Crittenden have learned to extol motherhood, enabling them to pose as victims and gain sympathy from the general public and even from conservatives.  Waving the banner of motherhood, feminists leave the patriarchy little defense.

But feminists are not defending motherhood; they are politicizing it.  “The feminists...want to thoroughly politicize the last bastion of personal life in our society: families,” writes Wendy McElroy.  “They want to wrest motherhood from its traditional right-wing associations and make it a left/liberal issue, with ‘Mothers Are Victims’ writ-large on its banner.”  The deception is subtle but profound.  Motherhood is no longer a private relationship but a claim to political power and to marshal the coercive state apparatus against those depicted as the oppressors of mothers.  The feminization of a wide range of issues having no obvious connection with sexuality is now culminating in what one newspaper calls “the radicalization of America’s mothers”:  “Some commentators argue that the whole agenda in the US is shifting towards ‘the politics of maternity’.”[15]  Not only Code Pink, mobilized in opposition to the Iraq war, but more subtle are the Million Mom March (criminalizing gun ownership), Mothers Against Drunk Driving (criminalizing private, nonviolent acts), and more recently the militant Moms Rising, are variations on the theme.  “These ‘pro-family’ women wish to ‘harness’ what [Naomi] Wolf calls the ‘pissed-offedness’ of mothers in order to play ‘hardball politics,’” says McElroy.  Many are deceived into believing that feminists have become the champions of traditional motherhood and families, when their actual agenda is to make them dependants of the state.  “Crittenden indicts not feminism, but capitalism, and argues for government to ‘economically recognize’ motherhood so that women will not be dependent upon husbands.”[16]

The deception succeeds because motherhood is an easy claim to privilege and always has been.  Crittenden’s 2002 book title, The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World Is Still the Least Valued, is itself a revealing sleight-of-hand.  If anyone has devalued motherhood, of course, it is feminists.  Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels demonstrate with their own book title, registering precisely the opposite gripe:  The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined Women.  Apparently opposites, these authors all share the conviction that mothers are oppressed by something.  The two titles succinctly convey feminism’s determination to depict everything pertaining specifically to women as “oppression” and highlight feminist complaints as a strategy to, as they say, “have it all” without regard for consistency or logic.  This points to a trait feminism shares with all radical ideologies but carries much further: the capacity to expand its own power and that of the state by creating the very problems about which it complains.  “Mothers do not receive sufficient respect from society,” McElroy paraphrases Crittenden, “as if feminism weren’t largely to blame.”

This is potent because it politicizes the private and cynically exploits society’s natural sympathy for women.  The older battle cries of liberal feminism, opposing traditional gender roles or promoting equal pay, have given way to “victim feminism” which insists that women are by definition victims.  The shift was almost imperceptible but profound, for the victim posture exploits, rather than renounces, women’s traditional weaknesses, which are also and always have been claims to privilege: motherhood, children, domesticity, sex.  Feminists have turned these into claims to state intervention by posing as victims of not just an impersonal “society” but newly invented or redefined “crimes” of which only women can be victims and that only men can commit: rape, sexual harassment, domestic violence, child abuse, nonpayment of child support (plus lesser, more vague offenses like “aggressive driving”).  These new crimes politicize precisely the spheres of life that normally we are at pains to protect from politics and the competition for power: home, family, children — and the criminal justice system.  They succeed because they exploit the natural desire of both men and women to protect and provide for women.  (Though here too, homosexuals are following the feminists’ lead with demands for “hate crimes” laws that likewise politicize criminal justice.)

These are all appeals to female fear.  Ironically, they are also appeals to male chivalry, to rescue damsels in distress, to display masculinity (an emergent theme in conservative literature) by creating occasions for combat with other men.  But in contrast to traditional chivalry, this gallantry does not proceed from personal duty and requires no risk, courage, or self-sacrifice.  The chivalry feminists demand is bureaucratic, exercised by officials with a professional or pecuniary interest.  It is politicized chivalry, displayed not by individual men but by cadres wielding state power such as police and plainclothes quasi-police functionaries.

This is evident in the campaign for “victims’ rights.”  This began as an effort by conservatives to provide more effective recourse to crime victims, largely in response to liberal moves to weaken punishments.  President Reagan’s 1982 Task Force on Victims of Crime led to the creation of US Justice Department’s Office of Victims of Crime.  A glance at that agency’s website reveals that the campaign has been hijacked by feminists, and most of the “crimes” have been redefined in feminist terms:  the “victims” are mostly women, the “perpetrators” are mostly men, and the “crimes” are mostly political.[17]

The politicization of criminal justice is seen in the redefinition of rape and explosion of false rape accusations.  Legal theorists like Catherine MacKinnon, who asks “whether consent is a meaningful concept” and who has repeatedly suggested that virtually all heterosexual intercourse amounts to rape, have been highly influential at law schools throughout the United States and with the governments of individual states and Canada.  “Any honest veteran sex assault investigator will tell you that rape is one of the most falsely reported crimes,” says Craig Silverman, a former Colorado prosecutor known for his zealous pursuit of alleged rapists.[18]  Purdue University sociologist Eugene Kanin found that “41% of the total disposed rape cases were officially declared false” during a 9-year period, “that is, by the complainant’s admission that no rape had occurred and the charge, therefore, was false.”  Unrecanted accusations mean the actual percentage of false allegations is almost certainly higher.  Kanin concluded that “these false allegations appear to serve three major functions for the complainants: providing an alibi, seeking revenge, and obtaining sympathy and attention.”[19]   The Center for Military Readiness provides additional motivations:  “False rape accusations also have been filed to extort money from celebrities, to gain sole custody of children in divorce cases, and even to escape military deployments to war zones.”[20]

Almost daily we see men released after decades in prison because DNA testing proves they were wrongly convicted.  And they are the fortunate ones.  While DNA testing has righted some wrongs, the corruption of the rape industry is so systemic that, as last year’s Duke University case shows, hard evidence of innocence is no barrier to prosecution and conviction.  It is well documented that feminist crime lab technicians fabricate and doctor evidence to frame men they know to be innocent.[21]  Yet there has been no systematic investigation by the media or civil libertarians as to why so many innocent citizens are regularly incarcerated on fabricated allegations and evidence.  The exoneration of the Duke lacrosse players on an obviously trumped-up charge has resulted in few attempts to determine how widespread such rigged justice is against those not wealthy or fortunate enough to garner media attention.[22]  Even conservative critics studiously avoided acknowledging feminism’s role in the accusations at Duke but instead emphasized race — a minor feature of the case but a much safer one to criticize. 

There is little indication that white people are being systematically incarcerated on fabricated accusations of non-existent crimes against blacks.  This is precisely what is happening to men (and even some women), both white and black, accused of the kind of “gender” crimes that feminists have turned into a political agenda.

Oppression and Superiority   

“Power is the alpha and the omega of contemporary Communism,” wrote Milovan Djilas during the repression of the 1950s.  “Ideas, philosophical principles, and moral considerations...— all can be changed and sacrificed.  But not power.”[23]  Something similar can be said about today’s feminism, an ideology with no fixed principles, as evidenced by its capacity to spawn interminable discussions about its “true nature”:  At times all gender differences are social constructions; at other times women have special “needs.”  Women are oppressed by gender roles, but those same roles confer a claim to moral superiority because they make women more “caring” and “compassionate.”  Men and women must compete on equal terms, except when men must be excluded from certain competitions so that women can win.  Fathers should share equally in rearing children, but custody (and the power and money that accompany it) must always go to mothers.  Alison Jaggar, author of Living with Contradictions, proclaims unashamedly that feminists should insist on “having it both ways”:  “Feminists should embrace both horns of this dilemma,” she writes.  “They should use the rhetoric of equality in situations where women’s interests clearly are being damaged by being treated either differently from or identically with men.”[24]   Her words are revealing.  This “rhetoric of equality” is just that: rhetoric.  As with Humpty Dumpty, words like “equality” change meanings when convenient; “interests” alone endure.  As Jaggar admits, it proceeds from no principles other than power: to increase the power not so much of women, as of those who claim to speak on behalf of the rest.  This is revealed by the fashionable euphemism used to disguise it: “empowerment.”

The shift from liberal demands for unisex “equality” to claims of a positively superior politics characterized by greater “caring” and “sensitivity” than traditional masculine power politics carried far-reaching implications.  What might appear as a moderating compromise with traditional gender roles was in reality a modest sacrifice of ideological purity in exchange for power.

Political theorist Kathy Ferguson envisions a world where male-dominated power politics would be supplanted with this feminine politics of empowerment.  Male power brokers would be replaced by quasi-Platonic female “caretakers” whose claim to leadership would be their compassion.  In this feminist utopia the only remaining problem would be who would minister to the needs of these saintly souls.  “For a feminist community, then, Plato’s question ‘Who will guard the guardians?’ might be rephrased as, ‘Who will care for the caretakers?’”[25]

Professor Ferguson would have been less visionary but more perspicacious if she had asked, “Who will guard the caretakers?”  For her dream of a syndicalist rule by caretakers is now the reality, and the caretakers have run amok.  “Caretakers routinely drug foster children” runs a headline in the Los Angeles Times.  “Children under state protection in California group and foster homes are being drugged with potent, dangerous psychiatric medications, at times just to keep them obedient and docile for their overburdened caretakers.”[26]

This points to feminism’s most institutionalized and destructive legacy:  not eliminating gender roles, which it has not done and can never do, but politicizing the feminine.  While some among feminism’s elites moved into traditional male occupations, many more women entered the workforce at functions that extended the domestic roles with which they were comfortable.  Thus rather than caring for their own children within the family, women began working in new professions where they care for other people’s children as part of the public economy: daycare, early education, and “social services.”  This transformed child-rearing from a private familial into a public communal and taxable activity, expanding the tax base and with it the size and power of the state, while also driving down male wages.  Soon, a political class paid from those taxes began to take command position in control of vastly expanded public education and social services bureaucracies, where they supervise other women who look after other people’s children, further expanding the size and scope of the state into what had been private life. 

This trend renders the dream of a more caring public sphere through feminism not only naïve but dangerously utopian.  For as feminists correctly pointed out, the feminine functions were traditionally private.  Politicizing the feminine has therefore meant politicizing and bureaucratizing private life.  This is how the “totalitarian” potential which Bork and others perceive is already being realized in ways even they may have yet to grasp.

Though many overuse this term, one danger of loose usage is to immunize us from recognizing the real thing.  For long recognized as a defining feature of totalitarianism is that it is specifically bureaucratic dictatorship, which is precisely what the ideological politics of Marxism-feminism have produced.  Controversies over equal pay and affirmative action have diverted attention from the massive feminist breakthrough in the hidden realm of bureaucratic politics, where it encountered virtually no opposition or even notice.  With striking resemblance to Djilas’ “new class” of apparatchiks, what the institutional Left generally and feminism in particular are constructing today is not simply tyranny but bureaucratic tyranny, tyranny no individual consciously planned and no individual can stop. 

Far from softening the hard edges of power politics, feminism has merely inserted  calculations of power into the most private corners of life.  It has subjected family life to increasing political and bureaucratic control.  It has decimated families through twin processes whose direct connection with feminism have not been fully appreciated: the weakening of parents and the politicization of children.

The most obvious example, as Bork and others point out — and where, again, some opposition has arisen — is in the politics of schooling.  Public schools were the earliest triumph of socialism and of the state’s gradual usurpation of parental roles within the liberal democracies.  The ideological foundation of public education in weakening parental authority and transferring it to the state emerges in the words of a political scientist: 

Children are owed as a matter of justice the capacity to choose to lead lives — adopt values and beliefs, pursue an occupation, endorse new traditions — that are different from those of their parents. Because the child cannot him or herself ensure the acquisition of such capacities and the parents may be opposed to such acquisition, the state must ensure it for them.  The state must guarantee that children are educated for minimal autonomy.[27]

What has not been appreciated — again, even by critics such as private school and homeschool advocates — is that the schools were the first triumph of not simply the welfare state but the welfare state matriarchy

Connected to this matriarchy is another that has become even more powerful and authoritarian because it has grown up upon less resistant low-income communities and, until recently, was largely hidden from the middle class: the massive and constantly expanding political underworld of the “social services” bureaucracies.

Ironically, two leftist authors have perceived the danger more readily than most conservatives.  They even adopt Djilas’ term, describing “a new class of professionals — social workers, therapists, foster care providers, family court lawyers — who have a vested interest in taking over parental function.”  “If children are the clients, parents can quite easily become the adversaries,” write Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Cornel West, “— the people who threaten to take business away.”[28]  What Hewlett and West do not tell us is that this new class is driven — in addition to self-interest and bureaucratic aggrandizement — largely by feminist ideology.

The power of this bureaucratic underworld derives almost entirely from children.  It is the world of social work, child psychology, child and family counseling, child care, child protection, child support enforcement, and juvenile and family courts.  Overwhelmingly, it is feminist-dominated.  This is not always obvious, because its matriarchs are not necessarily Vassar women’s studies majors indulging in tedious dorm-room debates about whether feminists may wear lipstick.  But what it lacks in ideological purity it more than makes up for in coercive power.  Its operatives are quasi-police functionaries with an agenda, and they are concerned less with ideological consistency than with political power.

These feminists created and now control the vast and impenetrable social services industries that most journalists and scholars find too dreary to scrutinize.  They dominate the $47 billion federal Administration for Children and Families, itself part of the gargantuan $700 billion Department of Health and Human Services.  They are both dispensers and recipients of its $200 billion grant program (“larger than all other federal agencies combined,” according to HHS) among local “human services” or “social services” bureaucracies — probably the largest patronage machine ever created in the Western world, reaching virtually into every household in the land and one that makes the former Soviet nomenklatura look ramshackle.  They created and control the “family law sections” of the bar associations and the family courts, which they modified into their image from an earlier incarnation as juvenile courts (themselves created from “compassion”).  And they dominate the forensic psychotherapy industry, with its close ties to the courts, social work agencies, and public schools.  By no means are they all doctrinaire devotées of The Feminine Mystique or The Female Eunuch.  But when push comes to shove, they know their power comes from being female.  And again, their most potent source of power is children.

The growing political power of this bureaucratic underworld is manifested today in the rise of what amounts to a plainclothes feminist police force:  the dreaded, federally funded “Child Protective Services,” who seldom see a child that is not abused.

During the 1980s and 1990s, waves of child abuse hysteria swept America and other countries, resulting in torn-apart families, hideous injustices, and ruined lives.  Parents were unjustly separated from their children and incarcerated by setting aside constitutional safeguards while the media and civil libertarians looked the other way.[29]  Feminist prosecutors like Nancy Lamb in North Carolina whipped up public invective against parents they had jailed yet knew to be innocent.  “The press was transfixed” by Lamb, writes William Anderson, “with her flashing eyes and bobbed hair.  Lamb was speaking ‘for the children,’ you see, and the press adored her.  That she was making preposterous claims and attempting to destroy the lives of seven people despite all good evidence to the contrary was not even discussed.” 

As with false rape accusations, the politicization of child abuse reached its apogee in the Clinton administration Justice Department.  “From Janet Reno’s infamous prosecutions of Grant Snowden in the McMartin case in Los Angeles, to Wenatchee, Washington,” writes Anderson, “the Edenton case was part of a line of what only can be called witch hunts in which state social workers badgered very young children until they came up with lurid tales — after having denied that those things occurred.”[30] 

It was also during the Clinton years that child protection was elevated to a paramilitary operation, when Attorney General Reno used unsubstantiated child abuse rumors to justify a violent assault against American citizens in Waco, Texas, resulting in the deaths of 24 children whom she was ostensibly protecting.  This militarization of child protection was seen more recently in the largest seizure of children in American history, also in Texas, when almost five hundred children were seized from their polygamous mothers in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also without any evidence of abuse.  “A night-time raid with tanks, riot police, SWAT teams, snipers, and cars full of Texas Rangers and sheriff’s deputies — that is the new face of state child protection,” writes attorney Gregory Hession, “social workers backed up with automatic weapons.”  The role of feminist ideology was downplayed by the media but revealed by a spokeswoman for the state agency, who justified seizing the children because of  “a mindset that even the young girls report that they will marry at whatever age, and that it’s the highest blessing they can have to have children.”  As Hession comments, encouraging respect for motherhood is “abuse.”[31]

The witch hunts were carried into adulthood through “recovered memory therapy,” another feminist innovation whereby wild tales of childhood sex crimes were manufactured from a psychological theory.  In Victims of Memory, Mark Pendergrast shows how the recovered memory hoax destroyed families, ruined lives, and sent innocent parents to prison, though as the price of getting published Pendergrast bends over backward to insist, defensively and contrary to his own evidence, that this was not driven by feminism.[32]

Sexual Politics and the Welfare State  

Though child abuse officials now target middle-class families, bureaucratic child protection originated in welfare.  And indeed, the earliest institution of sexual politics was the welfare state. 

The welfare state has traditionally been regarded as the landmark triumph of class politics within the liberal democracies — the one successful achievement of “social democracy” that has grown and survived even in countries, like the United States, which avoided such terms.  Yet from today’s perspective, the welfare state stands as the first salvo of gender politics, the first social experiment of government growth following the enfranchisement of feminists.[33] 

Each stage of welfare state expansion has been justified not simply for the poor but specifically for poor children.  The interests of these children could also be gradually divorced from their parents, though in practice they tended to be identified with the mothers who claimed to be the guardians of those interests: increasingly, single mothers.  The proliferation of single-mother homes lent plausibility to the feminists’ new rallying cry, the “feminization of poverty,” that shifted poor relief from a socialist to a feminist crusade.[34] 

But the feminization of poverty was a deception from the start — a creation of ideology rather than of any objective social phenomena and another example of ideology creating its own grievance.  Originally justified to provide for the families of men who had been laid off during economic downturns or killed in war, the welfare state quickly became a subsidy of single-mother homes and fatherless children.  It had immediately set in, that is, to expand precisely the problem it claimed to be alleviating. 

To justify this sleight-of-hand, the architects of welfare state expansion needed a rationale, and they found it in one of the most potent and destructive falsehoods ever foisted on a well-meaning but gullible public, a falsehood that has served, directly or indirectly, to justify the exponential expansion of not only the welfare state but the scope and power of government in many other spheres.  This is the falsehood that government must provide for massive numbers of women and children whose men have abandoned them.[35]  With the abrupt reversal of an airbrushed Kremlin photograph, the welfare state’s rationalizing figure was demoted from a hero to a villain.  The same working men who had been valiantly dying in imperialism’s wars or laid off as innocent victims of heartless capitalism were suddenly and ignominiously absconding from the bastards they had sired.

The destructive force of this untruth is incalculable.  Accept it, and virtually every expansion of both social welfare spending and law-enforcement authority is readily justified and indeed, unanswerable.  Women and children are being abandoned by irresponsible men:  What politician could resist that appeal?

But the truth was very different.  No evidence indicates that the ongoing crisis of fatherless children is caused primarily by fathers abandoning their children.[36]  It is now very clear that it has been driven throughout by feminist policies and programs.  Single mothers were not being thrown into poverty by absconding men; they were choosing it because it offered precisely the “sexual freedom” that was feminism’s seminal urge, regardless of the consequences for their children.  Single motherhood is feminism’s most potent and most destructive accomplishment, and before the right audience feminists not only concede but boast about it.  Single Mothers By Choice expresses this boast organizationally, and when pressed, most single mothers will insist that that is precisely what they are.  While feminists readily pose as the champions of children when it comes to perpetuating welfare dependency, it is clear that, beneath the rhetorical fluff, the exhilarating power accruing to single mothers is more than adequate compensation for pulling their children into poverty.  In fact, the very feminist intellectuals who popularized the term “feminization of poverty” have acknowledged as much:  “Independence, even in straitened and penurious forms,” write Barbara Ehrenreich and her colleagues, “still offers more sexual freedom than affluence gained through marriage and dependence on one man.”[37]

The myth of the absconding father provided a means to leverage a massive expansion of state power through emotional blackmail.  It was also a declaration of bureaucratic war against what is after all the first and foremost feminist enemy, the literal embodiment of the hated “patriarchy”: fathers.

So long as the principal engine for creating single-mother homes was welfare, the abandonment myth was only implied.  Everyone knew that welfare was subsidizing and proliferating single-mother homes in the inner cities, but until money became contentious no one was greatly bothered with assigning blame.  Most welfare mothers producing fatherless children were never married, so no documentation attested to who was breaking up a “family” that had seldom really existed in intact form.

As the phenomenon spread to the middle class (today the fastest-growing sector of unwed childbearing), the engine driving single-mother homes was not so much welfare as divorce.  Here the implicit became explicit with an open assault on two closely connected institutions that had quietly ceased to exist in the welfare underclass but which were still thriving in the middle class: fatherhood and marriage.

New Matriarchy  

The matriarchal logic of the welfare state became apparent as it expanded, perhaps inexorably, into the middle class.  This was effected through what is by far the most subtle and potent weapon ever devised in the arsenal of sexual warfare, the one which brought underclass problems (and the state welfare machinery that had grown up to address them) to the middle class: divorce.

Divorce has never been analyzed politically.  Not generally perceived as a political issue or a gender battleground, and never one they wished to advertise (largely because they triumphed without opposition), divorce became the most devastating weapon in the arsenal of gender warriors, because it brought the gender war into every household in the Western world.  What media accounts facetiously laugh off as an amusing “battle of the sexes” is in reality an intrusive, lethal political apparat whose fallout is hate, poverty, violence, and incarceration.

Conservatives have seriously misunderstood the divorce revolution.  While they bemoan mass divorce, they also refuse to confront its political causes.  Maggie Gallagher once attributed this silence to “political cowardice”:  “Opposing gay marriage or gays in the military is for Republicans an easy, juicy, risk -free issue,” she complained.  “The message [is] that at all costs we should keep divorce off the political agenda.”  The first and foremost assault on marriage came not from gays but from feminists.  Michael McManus of Marriage Savers writes that “divorce is a far more grievous blow to marriage than today’s challenge by gays.”

No American politician of national stature has seriously challenged involuntary divorce.  “Democrats did not want to anger their large constituency among women who saw easy divorce as a hard-won freedom and prerogative,” writes Barbara Dafoe Whitehead.  “Republicans did not want to alienate their upscale constituents or their libertarian wing, both of whom tended to favor easy divorce, nor did they want to call attention to the divorces among their own leadership.”[38]  In his famous denunciation of single parenthood, Vice President Dan Quayle was careful to make clear, “I am not talking about a situation where there is a divorce.”[39]  The exception proves the rule.  When the late Pope John Paul II spoke out against divorce in January 2002, he was attacked from the right as well as the left.[40]  To the extent that conservatives have addressed divorce at all, they tend to parrot the feminist line that divorce is perpetrated by philandering men who inflict hardship on “women and children.” 

Yet feminists long ago recognized its political power.  As early as the American Revolution, divorce has represented female rebellion:  “The association of divorce with women’s freedom and prerogatives, established in those early days, remained an enduring and important feature of American divorce,” writes Whitehead.  Into the nineteenth century, “divorce became an increasingly important measure of women’s political freedom as well as an expression of feminine initiative and independence.”[41]

But it was in the twentieth century that feminists teamed up with trial lawyers and other legal entrepreneurs to institutionalize “no-fault” divorce — a measure that subtly but decisively amounted, no less, to “the abolition of marriage” as a legally enforceable contract, in Gallagher’s phrase.  The National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) claims credit for pioneering no-fault divorce as early as 1943, which it describes as “the greatest project NAWL has ever undertaken.”  By 1977, “the ideal of no-fault divorce became the guiding principle for reform of divorce laws in the majority of states.”[42] 

Today, divorce stands as the proudest celebration of feminine power.  “Exactly the thing that people tear their hair out about is exactly the thing I am very proud of,” says Germaine Greer.[43]  Contrary to popular belief, the overwhelming majority of divorces are filed by women.  Few involve grounds, such as desertion, adultery, or violence.  Nebulous justifications suffice:  “growing apart,” “not feeling loved or appreciated.”[44]  This includes divorces involving children.

Divorce demonstrates how the hoax of paternal abandonment is an optical illusion, for today it is not fathers who are abandoning both their marriages and their children en masse.  A glance at our social infrastructure reveals that, under feminist influence, it is mothers.  We have created a panoply of mechanisms and institutions allowing divorcing mothers to rid themselves, temporarily or permanently, of inconvenient children:  “safe havens” have legalized child abandonment by mothers; daycare is tailored to the needs of mothers, not children; foster care relieves single mothers who cannot provide basic care and protection; “CHINS” petitions allow single mothers to turn over unruly adolescents to the care and custody of social workers; “SIDS” and in some countries infanticide laws have even made the murder of children semi-legal.  And then of course there is abortion.

When one adds the extension and proliferation of institutions not normally associated with divorce but whose purpose is to relieve parents in general and mothers in particular of childrearing duties — public schools, organized after-school activities, convenience and fast food, psychotropic drugs to control unruly boys — we can begin to see how massively our society and economy have been gearing up for decades to cater to divorce, facilitate single motherhood, marginalize fathers, and generally render parents and families redundant.[45]

Divorce and “Same Sex” Marriage  

Divorce also demonstrates how sexual radicalism reproduces itself in new forms.  It has almost certainly led to same-sex marriage, which would not be an issue today if marriage had not already been devalued by divorce.  “Commentators miss the point when they oppose homosexual marriage on the grounds that it would undermine traditional understandings of marriage,” writes Bryce Christensen.  “It is only because traditional understandings of marriage have already been severely undermined that homosexuals are now laying claim to it.”[46]  Though gay activists cite their very desire to marry as evidence that their lifestyle is not inherently promiscuous, they also acknowledge that that desire arises only by the promiscuity permitted in modern marriage.  Stephanie Coontz notes that gays are attracted to marriage only in the form debased by heterosexual divorce:  “Gays and lesbians simply looked at the revolution heterosexuals had wrought and noticed that, with its new norms, marriage could work for them, too.”[47] 

Same-sex marriage is therefore only a symptom of the larger politicization of private and sexual life.  Further, just as the divorce revolution led to same-sex marriage, so through the child abuse industry it has extended this to parenting by same-sex couples. 

Most critiques of homosexual parenting have focused on the therapeutic question of whether it is developmentally healthy for children to be raised by two homosexuals.[48]  Few have stopped to ask the more momentous political question of where homosexual “parents” get children in the first place.  Here the discussion does not require esoteric child-development theory or psychological jargon from academic “experts.”  It can readily be understood by any parent who has been interrogated by Child Protective Services.  The answer is that homosexuals get other people’s children, and they get them from the same courts and social service bureaucracies that are operated by their feminist allies.  While attention has been focused on sperm donors and surrogate mothers, most of the children sought by potential homosexual parents are existing children whose ties to one or both of their natural parents have been severed.  Most often, this has happened through divorce.[49]

The question then arises whether the original parent or parents ever agreed to part with their children or did something to warrant losing them.  Current law governing divorce and child custody renders this question open.  The explosion of foster care and the assumed but unexamined need to find permanent homes for allegedly abused children provides perhaps the strongest argument in favor of gay marriage and gay parenting.[50]  Yet the politics of child abuse and divorce indicate that this assumption is not necessarily valid. 

The government-generated child abuse epidemic, and the mushrooming foster care business which it feeds, have allowed government agencies to operate what amounts to a traffic in children.  The San Diego Grand Jury reports “a widely held perception within the community and even within some areas of the Department [of Social Services] that the Department is in the ‘baby brokering’ business.”[51]  Introducing same-sex marriage and adoption into this political dynamic could dramatically increase the demand for children to adopt, thus intensifying pressure on social service agencies and biological parents to supply such children.  While sperm donors and surrogate mothers supply some children for gay parents, in practice most are already taken from their natural parents because of divorce, unwed parenting, child abuse accusations, or connected reasons.  Massachusetts Senator Therese Murray, claiming that 40% of adoptions have gone to gay and lesbian couples, urges sympathy for “children who have been neglected, abandoned, abused by their own families.”[52]  But false and exaggerated abuse accusations against not only fathers but mothers too make it far from self-evident that these children are in fact victims of their own parents.  What seems inescapable is that the very issue of gay parenting has arisen as the direct and perhaps inevitable consequence once government officials got into the business — which began largely with divorce — of distributing other people’s children.

The Personal and the Political  

The divorce machinery intertwines the personal and the political as nothing before, and its personal dimension is precisely what disguises the intrusiveness of its political power.  Divorce injects state power — including the penal apparatus with its police and prisons — directly into private households and private lives.  “The personal is political” is no longer a theoretical slogan but a codified reality institutionally enforced by new and correspondingly feminist tribunals: the “family” courts.  These bureaucratic pseudo-courts permit politicized wives to subject their husbands to criminal penalties for their personal conduct, without having to charge the men with any actionable offense for which they can be tried in a criminal court.  To enforce this, divorce vastly expanded the cadres of feminist police — child protective services plus domestic violence and child support enforcement agents — that target men almost exclusively and operate outside due process protections.

To justify its growth and funding, this government machinery in turn generated a series of hysterias against men and fathers so inflammatory and hideous that no one, left or right, dared question them or defend those accused: pedophilia, wife-beating, and nonpayment of “child support.”  While family law is ostensibly the province of state government, Congress heavily subsidizes family dissolution through child abuse, domestic violence, and child support enforcement programs.  It invariably approves these by near-unanimous majorities, fearing feminist accusations of being soft on “pedophiles,” “batterers,” and “deadbeat dads.”  Each of these hysterias originated in welfare, each is propagated largely by feminist social workers and feminist lawyers who receive the federal funding, and each is closely connected with divorce.

Child abuse hysteria targets both men and women, as we have seen.  Yet most accusations are leveled against fathers in divorce cases.  The irony is that it is easily demonstrable that child abuse is almost entirely a product of feminism itself and its welfare bureaucracies. 

The growth of child abuse coincides directly with the rise of single-mother homes which are the setting for almost all of it.  Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) figures demonstrate that children in single-parent households are at much higher risk for physical violence and sexual molestation than those living in two-parent homes.[53]  A British study found that children are up to thirty-three times more likely to be abused in single-mother homes than in intact families.[54] 

The principal impediment to child abuse is thus precisely the first person the feminist bureaucracies remove: the father.  “The presence of the father...placed the child at lesser risk for child sexual abuse,” concludes one study, defensively.  “The protective effect from the father’s presence in most households was sufficiently strong to offset the risk incurred by the few paternal perpetrators.”[55]  In fact, the risk of “paternal perpetrators” is miniscule, since it is well established that not married fathers but single mothers are most likely to injure and kill their children.[56]  Sexual abuse, much less common than severe physical abuse, is perpetrated mostly by boyfriends and stepfathers, though government figures often include them as “fathers” to disguise the fact that biological fathers are the least likely child abusers.[57]  A 2005 PBS documentary asserts without evidence that “Children are most often in danger from the father.”

Feminist child protection agents implement this propaganda as policy.  A San Diego grand jury found that false accusations during divorce were not only tolerated but encouraged.  “The system appears to reward a parent who initiates such a complaint,” it states, describing “allegations which are so incredible that authorities should have been deeply concerned for the protection of the child.”[58]

Seldom does public policy stand in such direct defiance of undisputed truths, to the point where the cause of the problem is presented as the solution, and vice-versa.  Judges are not unaware that the most dangerous environment for children is precisely the single-parent homes they create when they remove fathers in custody proceedings.  Yet they seldom hesitate to remove them, knowing they will never be held accountable for harm to the children.  On the contrary, if they do not they may be punished by feminist-dominated bar associations and social work bureaucracies whose business and funding depend on a constant supply of abused children.  Bureaucracies often expand by creating the very problem they exist to solve.  Appalling as it sounds, the conclusion is inescapable that we have created an army of officials with a vested interest in child abuse.

Child abuse is not the only “family violence” to be exacerbated and politicized by feminists.  The mammoth “domestic violence” industry arose largely as a means of evicting divorced fathers from their homes.  “It’s an easy way to kick somebody out,” says one family law specialist.[59]

Like child abuse, “domestic violence” has no precise definition.  It is adjudicated not as violent assault but as conflict among “intimate partners.”  It therefore obliterates the distinction between crime and disagreement and need not be violent or even physical.  Definitions from the US Justice Department include “jealousy and possessiveness,” “name calling and constant criticizing,” and “ignoring, dismissing, or ridiculing the victim’s needs.”[60]  For such “crimes” men are jailed without trial.

Such definitions circumvent due process protections.  “With child abuse and spouse abuse you don’t have to prove anything,” a seminar leader instructs divorcing mothers.  “You just have to accuse.”[61]  One scholar calls it “an area of law mired in intellectual dishonesty and injustice” and “a due process fiasco.”[62] 

Feminists portray domestic violence as a political crime to perpetuate male power.  Yet the scholarly literature has long established that men and women commit domestic violence in comparable numbers.[63]  More important than achieving gender balance, however, is to understand how the explosion in accusations is connected almost entirely with family dissolution.[64]

Practitioners and scholars now readily report that patently trumped-up accusations are routinely used, without punishment, in custody proceedings to separate children from fathers who have committed no actionable offense.[65]  Open perjury is readily acknowledged,[66] and bar associations and even courts actively counsel mothers on how to fabricate accusations.[67]  Domestic violence is “a backwater of tautological pseudo-theory,” write Donald Dutton and Kenneth Corvo.  “No other area of established social welfare, criminal justice, public health, or behavioral intervention has such weak evidence in support of mandated practice.”[68] 

Feminists acknowledge that most cases arise during custody battles.[69]  Yet they strenuously oppose divorce and custody reform,[70] and their literature is dominated by complaints not that violent convicts are walking the streets but that fathers convicted of no infraction retain access to their children after their wives divorce them.[71] 

Restraining orders separating fathers from their children are routinely issued during divorce proceedings without any evidence.[72]  Due process procedures are so routinely ignored that one judge told his colleagues “not to become concerned about the constitutional rights of the man that you’re violating....   We don’t have to worry about the rights.”[73]

Specialized “domestic violence courts” are mandated not to dispense impartial justice but, says New York’s openly feminist chief judge, to “make batterers and abusers take responsibility for their actions.”[74]  These courts may seize property, including homes, without the accused being convicted or even formally charged or present to defend themselves.  “This bill is classic police-state legislation,” one scholar concludes.[75]  Toronto lawyer Walter Fox calls them “pre-fascist”:  “Domestic violence courts...are designed to get around the protections of the criminal code.  The burden of proof is reduced or removed, and there’s no presumption of innocence.”[76] 

Forced confessions are also routine.  Fathers are summarily incarcerated unless they sign confessions stating, “I have physically and emotionally battered my partner.”  The father must then describe the violence, even if he insists he committed none.  “I am responsible for the violence I used,” reads one form.  “My behavior was not provoked.”[77] 

The “deadbeat dad” is another figure largely manufactured by the divorce machinery.  He is far less likely to have voluntarily abandoned the offspring he callously sired than to be an involuntarily divorced father who has been “forced to finance the filching of his own children.”[78] 

Child support was originally rationalized (and federalized) as a means of recovering welfare costs from allegedly absconding low-income fathers.  Feminists transformed it into a huge subsidy on middle-class divorce.  A child support schedule will tell a mother exactly how large a tax-free windfall she can force her husband to pay her simply by divorcing, regardless of any fault on her part (or absence of fault on his).  The amount is set by enforcement agents and collected at gunpoint if necessary.

Mothers are not the only ones who profit by creating fatherless children.  Governments also generate revenue from child support and therefore from breaking up families.  State governments receive federal funds for every child support dollar collected, incentivizing them to create as many single-mother households as possible.  Mothers are encouraged to divorce and governments simultaneously maximize revenue by setting support at levels that are generous for mothers and onerous for fathers.  While little government revenue is generated from the impecunious young unmarried fathers who hold most child support debt (and for whom the system was ostensibly created), middle-class divorced fathers offer deeper pockets to loot.  By including middle-class divorcees, the welfare machinery became a means not of distributing money but of collecting it, and governments began raising revenue — which they can add to their general funds and use to expand their overall operations — by promoting single motherhood among the affluent.[79]

This marked a new stage in the expansion and redefinition of the welfare state:  from distributing largesse to collecting it.  The result is a self-financing machine, generating government profits through expanded police actions by proliferating single-parent homes and fatherless children.  The welfare state has become a self-financing perpetual growth machine for destroying families, bribing mothers, rendering children fatherless, plundering family wealth, eroding due process, and criminalizing fathers.

The True Dysfunctional Homes  

More crimes than these may be attributable to sexualized public life.  It is well documented that virtually every social pathology today — including violent crime and the drug abuse driving much of it — is attributable to single-parent homes and fatherless children more than any other factor, far surpassing race and poverty.[80]  That toxic environment is usually and resignedly attributed to paternal abandonment, with the only available response being ever-more repressive but ineffective child-support “crackdowns.”  If instead we see single parenthood as the deliberate product of the feminist revolution, then the explosion of crime, addiction, and truancy — and with them the massive expansion of the penal system and state apparatus generally — takes on new significance.  It is then far from fanciful to suggest that sexual militancy also lies behind larger trends in actual violent crime and incarceration.  “Solid research links the nightmarish increases in crime and violence among young people between 1960 to 1990 to the entry of large numbers of mothers into the work force [and] the rise in single-parent households,” Bryce Christensen points out.[81]  Feminism may be driving not only the criminalization of the innocent but also the criminality of the guilty. 

We are thus fighting a losing battle against crime, incarceration, and expanding state power generally until we confront the role of sexual ideology in family breakdown and the social anomie that ensues.  While increased police and penal measures are usually associated with right-wing politics, it is becoming clear that the long-term force is sexual radicalism.  Marie Gottschalk describes how “women’s organizations played a central role” in the dramatic rise of the “carceral” state.[82]  Gottschalk laments that her fellow feminists who demand more incarceration of men have “entered into some unsavory coalitions” with conservative “law-and-order groups.”  But conservatives might ask if their own legitimate concern about crime has led them to serve inadvertently as the unwitting instruments of a repressive ideology.[83]  For ever-more-draconian police measures will only create a fortress state.  No free or civilized society can survive the mass criminalization of its male population. 

Indeed, the fortress state may be developing externally as well as internally.  Indications exist that recent Islamic militancy is fueled in large part from perceptions of Western sexual decadence.[84]  Conversely, while many feminists identify with the antiwar Left, the future may belong to hawks like Phyllis Chesler and Hillary Clinton, who push war as an instrument of worldwide women’s liberation and pressure governments to justify military policies in feminist terms.  Sexuality transforms military life in complex ways.  Bork criticizes feminism for weakening our military readiness, emphasizing the dangers of women in combat roles.[85]  Yet a  more far-reaching consequence may be how divorce debilitates military men.  Men are increasingly aware how easily they can be divorced unilaterally while serving their country, lose their children and everything else they possess, and even return home to face criminal penalties if they cannot pay child support imposed in their absence.[86] 

Immigration pressure may also be traced to sexualized government institutions.  Immigrant “families” attracted to welfare are increasingly single mothers or become single mothers soon after arriving.  In Europe, immigration is now creating a welfare underclass similar to that familiar in the United States, which is itself expanding through immigration.  The principal rationalization for relaxing immigration standards — low birth rates and the perceived need for younger workers and taxpayers — is another consequence of the sexual revolution, one threatening Western civilization itself.  The welfare state itself, with its offer of a universal retirement pension, certainly reduced the need for large families as an insurance policy for old age.  Yet even more direct is sexual liberation, including contraception and abortion — which shifted reproductive decisions from the family unit to the individual woman.[87]  Here too divorce may be the decisive factor (and again the most neglected) — not only breaking up families early but also generating fear of marriage and procreation among men.[88]

The latest manifestation may be the credit crisis.  As Star Parker points out, the housing bubble was the result of welfare-state agencies pushing home ownership as an entitlement on low-income “families.”  We do not know how many of these were single parents subsisting not on productive labor but on other entitlements, but for intact, two-parent families home ownership is not usually an impossibility at some point in life.  “As the institution of government grows, we sadly watch the collapse of the institutions that really sustain growth of home ownership: American marriage and families,” writes Parker, citing Census Bureau figures that homeownership overwhelmingly (86.3%) occurs among married-couple families.[89]

Decades before the family crisis became obvious, sociologist Carle Zimmerman demonstrated that family atomization preceded civilizational collapse.  Zimmerman showed how Greek and Roman decline was preceded by a renunciation of family life, first by educated elites and then others, and argued that our own civilization is on a similar trajectory.

Zimmerman was writing during the post-war baby boom — before “second wave” feminism, no-fault divorce, same-sex marriage, and “demographic winter” — when the family was generally assumed to be stable.  Yet he predicted these developments based on long-range trends — mostly elite intellectual fashions — whose significance few others grasped.  Indeed, Zimmerman emphasized how difficult the decline is to perceive while it is taking place:  “These changes came about slowly, over centuries, and almost imperceptibly.”[90]  Today, even as the family crisis becomes undeniable, there is still little awareness of its full ramifications and how close we are to the point of no return. 

Modern sexual ideologies are much more militant than anything in Greece or Rome and  more self-consciously hostile to the family.  The bureaucratic machinery they have constructed around the family is also much more vast and entrenched than any in those civilizations.  Indeed, it is the most intrusive and repressive government apparatus ever created in the United States.  Yet today’s most outspoken family advocates show little awareness of it, and few seem disposed to confront it or organizationally prepared to resist it.

The sexualization of public life stands behind every major threat to our civilization.  Unless we summon the courage to confront it directly, Western society will become increasingly emasculated and will not survive.  This is what Zimmerman warned in the halcyon days of 1947, and since then his warnings have only been vindicated.


1 Rene Denfeld, The New Victorians (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995), p.45.

2 Robert Bork, Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline (New York: ReganBooks, 1996), p. 193. 

3 Quoted in Arnold Beichman, “Undercurrents in the Conservative Tide,” Washington Times, 11 February 1997, p. A17.

4 Bork, Slouching, p. 201.

5 Daphne Patai, Heterophobia: Sexual Harassment and the Future of Feminism (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 1998), p. 199. 

6 Crane Brinton, Anatomy of Revolution (New York: Vintage, 1965), p. 181.

7 Allan Carlson, “Standing For Liberty: Marriage, Virtue, and the Political State,” lecture delivered at the Family Research Council, Washington, DC, 16 June 2004.  I am grateful to Dr. Carlson for a copy of this lecture.

8 Carol Pateman, “Feminist Critiques of the Public/Private Dichotomy,” in Stanley Benn and Gerald Gaus (eds.), Private and Public in Social Life (London: Croom Helm, 1983); Chow and Berheide, Women, the Family, and Policy, p. 18.

9 Interview in National Review, 24 February 1997, pp. 55(3).

10 Bork, Slouching, p. 201.

11 New York: Random House, 1970, p. 537.

12 Quoted in Patrick Buchanan, The Death of the West (New York: St. Martin’s Press), p. 41

13 “Functions of the Family,” WOMEN: A Journal of Liberation (Fall 1969).

14 The Female Eunuch (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1971), p. 317.

15 Viv Groskop, “The Mother of All Battles,” The Guardian, 7 March 2007 (,,2027979,00.html).

16 Wendy McElroy, “Feminists Claim Motherhood as Liberal Cause,, 21 May 2002 ( ifeminists/2002/0521.html).

17 A progressive scholar confirms this.  Marie Gottschalk, The Prison and the Gallows: The Politics of Mass Incarceration in America (Cambridge, 2006), chs. 5-6.

18 Quoted in Stuart Taylor and K.C. Johnson, Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shames Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case (New York: Thomas Dunne, 2007), p. 375.

19 Eugene J. Kanin, “False Rape Allegations,” Archives of Sexual Behavior, vol. 23, no. 1 (1994), pp. 1-2.

20 “Sex, Lies, and Rapes, internet site of the Center for Military Readiness (online:, accessed 5 August 2008).

21 The Innocent Project website,, includes rape cases but does not focus on them

22 An exception is Taylor and Johnson, Until Proven Innocent.

23 Milovan Djilas, The New Class (New York: Praeger, 1958), p. 170.

24 Alison Jaggar, “Sexual Difference and Sexual Equality,” in Theoretical Perspectives on Sexual Difference,” ed. Deborah L. Rhode (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990), pp. 239-254.

25 Kathy E. Ferguson, “Male-Ordered Politics: Feminism and Political Science,” in Terrence Ball, ed., Idioms of Inquiry (Albany: SUNY, 1987), p. 222.

26 Los Angeles Times, 17 May 1998.

27 Rob Reich, “Testing the Boundaries of Parental Authority over Education: The Case of Homeschooling,” paper prepared for delivery at the 2001 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, San Francisco,  30 August - 2 September 2001, p. 33.

28 Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Cornel West, The War Against Parents: What We Can Do for America’s Beleaguered Moms and Dads (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1998), p. 109 (emphasis added).

29 When Child Protection Investigations Harm Children: The Wenatchee Sexual Abuse Cases, American Civil Liberties Union of Washington (October 1997).  See also Dorothy Rabinowitz, No Crueler Tyrannies: Accusation, False Witness, and other Terrors of our Times (New York: Wall Street Journal Books, 2003).

30 William Anderson, “The Earl of Dook, or the Continuing State of State Justice in North Carolina,”, 1 June 2006.

31 Gregory A. Hession, “Whose Children Are They Anyway?” New American (online:, 23 June 2008).

32 Hinesburg, Vermont: Upper Access Books, 1995.

33 John Lott and Larry Kenny, “How Dramatically Did Women’s Suffrage Change the Size and Scope of Government?” University of Chicago Law School, John M. Olin Law and Economics Working Paper No. 60, pp. 5-6 (emphasis added). 

34 Barbara Ehrenreich and Frances Fox Piven, “The Persistence of Poverty. 1: The Feminization of Poverty When the ‘Family-Wage System’ Breaks Down,” Dissent, vol. 31, no. 2 (1984), pp. 162-170.

35 David Blankenhorn, Fatherless America (New York: Basic Books, 1995), pp. 1, 22-23.

36 Stephen Baskerville, Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family (Nashville, Tennessee: Cumberland House, 2007), ch. 1.

37 Barbara Ehrenreich, Elizabeth Hess, and Gloria Jacobs, Re-Making Love: The Feminization of Sex (Garden City and New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1986), p. 197.

38 Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, The Divorce Culture (New York: Vintage, 1998), p. 7.

39 Maggie Gallagher, The Abolition of Marriage (Washington: Regnery, 1996), p. 245.

40 Tunku Varadarajan, “Clash With the Titans,” Wall Street Journal online edition, 30 January 2002,   (

41 Whitehead, Divorce Culture, pp. 15-16, 26.

42 National Association of Women Lawyers internet site: nawl/about/history.html, accessed 6 November 2004.  I am grateful to Judy Parejko for this reference. 

43 Amanda Banks, “Greer Cheers Divorcing Women,” The Australian, 8 September 2004.

44 Sanford Braver with Diane O’Connell, Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths (New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 1998), ch. 7. 

45 Carle Zimmerman noticed this trend decades ago.  Family and Civilization, ed. James Kurth (Wilmington, Delaware: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2008), p. 192.

46 “Why Homosexuals Want What Marriage Has Now Become,” The Family in America, vol. 18, no. 4 (April 2004).

47 “The Heterosexual Revolution,” New York Times, 5 July 2005 (emphasis added).

48 Eric Zorn and Allan Carlson, “A Primer on the ‘Gay Marriage’ Debate,” The Family in America, vol. 17, no. 8 (August 2003).

49 Stephen Baskerville, “The Real Danger of Same-Sex Marriage,” The Family in America, vol. 20, nos. 5-6 (May-June 2006).

50, ACLU Lesbian & Gay Rights Project bigpicture_numbers.html, accessed 27 October 2005).

51 Families in Crisis, report by the 1991-92 San Diego County Grand Jury ( reports/report2.html), p. 9.

52 “The Debate on Gay Marriage, Pro and Con,” Boston Globe online edition, 12 March 2004 ( news/specials/gay_marriage/articles/2004/ 03/12/the_debate_on_gay_marriage_pro_ and_con/).

53 Andrea Sedlak and Diane Broadhurst, Executive Summary of the Third National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services, National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, September 1996), p. 8.

54 Robert Whelan, Broken Homes and Battered Children: A Study of the Relationship between Child Abuse and Family Type (London: Family Education Trust, 1993), p. 29. 

55 David Rowland, Laurie Zabin, and Mark Emerson, “Household Risk and Child Sexual Abuse in a Low Income, Urban Sample of Women,” Adolescent and Family Health, vol. 1, no. 1 (Winter 2000), pp. 29-39.

56 Patrick Fagan and Dorothy Hanks, The Child Abuse Crisis: The Disintegration of Marriage, Family, and the American Community (Washington, DC: Heritage Foundation “Backgrounder,” 3 June 1997), p. 16; Murder in Families (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, July 1994; Bureau of Justice Statistics Publications Catalog 1994-95, NCJ 143498), pp. 5-6.

57 Child Maltreatment in the United Kingdom: A Study of the Prevalence of Child Abuse and Neglect (London, 2000); Leslie Margolin and John L. Craft, “Child Sexual Abuse by Caretakers,” Family Relations 38 (1989); Martin Daly and Margo Wilson, “Child Abuse and Other Risks of Not Living with Both Parents,” Journal of Ethnology and Sociobiology 6 (1985).

58 “Families in Crisis,” p. 10.

59 Donna Laframboise, “Oh Dad, Poor Dad,” Toronto Globe and Mail, 12 April 1997, D1-2.

60 Grace Coleman, et al., (eds.), 1999 National Victim Assistance Academy, chap. 8, “Domestic Violence.”  (; “last updated on Sunday, January 16, 2000.”).

61 Eric Zorn, “A Seminar in Divorce, Down-And-Dirty Style,” Chicago Tribune, 4 November 1988, p. 1.

62 David Heleniak, “The New Star Chamber,” Rutgers Law Review, vol. 57, no. 3 (Spring 2005), p. 1009, 1036-1037, 1042.

63 Philip W. Cook, Abused Men: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence (Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 1997); John Archer, “Sex Differences in Aggression Between Heterosexual Partners: A Meta-Analytic Review,” Psychological Bulletin, vol. 26, no. 5 (September 2000), 651-680; Murray A. Straus, “The Controversy over Domestic Violence by Women: A Methodological, Theoretical, and Sociology of Science Analysis, in X. B. Arriaga, and S. Oskamp, Violence in Intimate Relationships (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, forthcoming), accessed 24 October 2004 at straus21.htm.  See also Martin S. Fiebert, “References Examining Assaults by Women on Their Spouses or Male Partners: An Annotated Bibliography,” Sexuality and Culture, vol. 8, no. 3-4 (2004), 140-177.

64 Anne McMurray, “Violence Against Ex-Wives: Anger and Advocacy,” Health Care for Women International, vol. 18, no. 6 (November-December 1997); Callie Marie Rennison and Sarah Welchans, Intimate Partner Violence (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, May 2000, NCJ 178247), p. 5.

65 Thomas Kasper, “Obtaining and Defending Against an Order of Protection,” Illinois Bar Journal, vol. 93, no. 6 (June 2005); Elaine Epstein, “Speaking the Unspeakable,” Massachusetts Bar Association Newsletter, vol. 33, no. 7 (June-July 1993), p. 1; David Dunlap, “The Adult Abuse Act: Theory vs. Practice,” UMKC Law Review, vol. 64 (1996), p. 686; Jeannie Suk, “Criminal Law Comes Home,” Yale Law Review, vol. 116, no. 2 (2006), p. 10.

66 Dave Brown, “Gender-Bias Issue Raises ‘Optics’ Problem in Domestic Court,” Ottawa Citizen, 21 February 2002.

67 New Jersey Law Journal, 21 April 1988, letters to the editor section, p. 6.

68 “Transforming A Flawed Policy: A Call To Revive Psychology and Science in Domestic Violence Research and Practice,” Aggression and Violent Behavior 11 (2006), p. 478. 

69 Callie Marie Rennison and Sarah Welchans, Intimate Partner Violence (Washington: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, May 2000, NCJ 178247), p. 5. 

70 “Leave No-Fault Divorce Alone,” Daily Herald, 26 December 2004.

71 Sara Catania, “Taking Away Battered Women’s Kids,” Mother Jones, 1 July 2005.

72 Epstein, “Speaking the Unspeakable,” p. 1.

73 Russ Bleemer, “N.J. Judges Told to Ignore Rights in Abuse TROs,” New Jersey Law Journal 140, 24 April 1995.

74 Frank Donnelly, “Domestic Violence Court to Debut,” Staten Island Advance, 14 December 2003.

75 Robert Martin, “Train AGs in Rudimentary Law,” Law Times (13 November 2001), p. 8.

76 Quoted in Dave Brown, “Skirmish Fails to Scratch the Formidable Feminist War Machine,” Ottawa Citizen, 9 April 2002.

77 Documents in the author’s possession.

78 Jed Abraham, From Courtship to Courtroom (New York: Bloch, 1999), p. 151.

79 Stephen Baskerville, “From Welfare State to Police State,” The Independent Review, vol. 12, no 3 (Winter 2008).

80 Attempts to attribute these behaviors to poverty or racial discrimination have been refuted by studies that control for these variables: Urie Bronfenbrenner, “Discovering What Families Do,” in David Blankenhorn, et al. (eds.), Rebuilding the Nest: A New Commitment to the American Family (Milwaukee: Family Service America, 1990), p. 34; Ronald Angel and Jacqueline Angel, Painful Inheritance: Health and the New Generation of Fatherless Children (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1993), p. 188. 

81 Bryce Christensen, “Hearth or Hangman?  The Family Politics of Lethal Force,” The Family in America vol. 21, no 11/12 (November/December 2007), pp. 6-7.

82 Marie Gottschalk, The Prison and the Gallows: The Politics of Mass Incarceration in America (Cambridge:  2006), p. 11.

83 Christensen, “Hearth or Hangman?” p. 6.

84 Dinesh D’Sousa, The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11 (New York: Doubleday, 2007), ch. 6.

85 Bork, Slouching, pp. 218-223.

86 Stephen Baskerville, “The Fathers’ War,” The American Conservative, vol. 4, no. 20 (24 October 2005).

87 Lionel Tiger, The Decline of Males (New York: Golden Books, 1999).

88 Glenn Sacks and Dianna Thompson, “Have Anti-Father Family Court Policies Led to a Men’s Marriage Strike?”  Philadelphia Inquirer, 5 July 2002.

89 “Welfare-State Policies Caused the Financial Crisis,” WorldNetDaily, 4 October 2008.

90 Zimmerman, Family and Civilization, p. 146.


SOURCE: The Howard Center: The Family In America


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