I was just six years old when it happened. I showed up for the first grade, fresh-faced and ready to learn, only to have my innocence shattered by a monster from the swamps of expressive individualism. In the dark recesses of my memory, he has remained nameless through all these decades. Some Google searches enabled me to find him: inventive spelling.
Apparently, “inventive spelling” has been controversial for some time as a component of “natural child” educational curricula. I’m not sure how I, a young Idahoan, came to be subjected to it, but I clearly remember being encouraged to decide whether I was a “girl,” “gurl,” or “grrrrrl.” Hooray for creativity! Why shackle yourself to the tyrannical dictates of conventional spelling?
This theory seems to have fizzled in most schools, possibly because it’s idiotic. Words have conventional spellings for a reason: their purpose is to communicate. If we encourage kids to form bad habits, it will be that much harder for them to become capable writers later. This theory’s heyday was evidently brief, but still, it left its mark. My classmates and I can thank our lucky stars that by the time we got to college, spell checkers had come along to cover our shame.
Bad ideas do die, eventually. At their peak this can be hard to believe. Whether it’s Malthusian population controls, global temperature freak-outs, low-fat diets, or disco, it often seems that idiocy seems unassailable until suddenly it isn’t. A page turns, and the emperor has no clothes, as his folly becomes a cautionary tale for future generations.
Here is my prediction. Within my lifetime, the LGBT movement will die. It will be remembered not as a Selma moment, but as a Salem moment: a period of collective insanity.
Eventually, Nature Comes Roaring Back
Whether the memory of this period evokes mild derision or deep shame will likely depend on these next few years. It’s still possible that the madness might recede and leave gays, lesbians, and religious conservatives all free to live peaceful and productive lives, knowing their fundamental rights will be respected even where their beliefs and lifestyle choices aren’t. Less optimistically, the early twenty-first century could be remembered as a time when any or all of those groups were harshly persecuted, potentially leaving deep scars in our social memory.
Either way, the movement will die. How do we know? Predicting the demise of the LGBT movement may seem rash in the present moment, as North Carolina prepares to battle the U.S. Department of Justice and Washington issues edicts demanding submission from every public school in America. But gender ideology is too incoherent and too inimical to real human good. It cannot outlast the moral indignation of the present hour.
On some level, even its most ardent advocates may intuit this. Their desperation to push the boundaries as far as possible, as quickly as possible, may evidence the zeal of the terminally ill. Everything must be done today, because there is no tomorrow.
This is not an invitation to relax. Foolish ideas do eventually self-destruct, but they can do a lot of damage along the way. We also should not assume that the eventual collapse will precipitate a widespread resurgence of common sense. The evil fruits of the Sexual Revolution will likely plague us for the foreseeable future, potentially assuming a whole range of dystopian forms.
Still, we can worry more productively about the next chapter when we recognize that this one will pass. The gender ideologies of the present moment just don’t have what it takes to stand the test of time.
Powerful Parents Reject Harmful Ideas
If this seems implausible, consider that the past half-century really has not been a tale of near-unbroken moral decline. Some changes (like the introduction of artificial contraceptives and the embrace of no-fault divorce) seem here to stay. Other bad ideas, like open marriage, proved so unworkable that they were largely rejected. We have also seen particular problems mitigated through a concerted social response, as when Americans overwhelmingly agreed they didn’t want unmarried teenagers getting pregnant.
Historical trends would suggest that society’s wealthier and better-educated tend to reject life patterns quickly when it becomes clear they beget widespread misery and dysfunction. That’s one reason marriage took a hit in the ’70s and early ’80s, but then started to recover among more educated Americans. Once it was obvious that promiscuity and chaotic family structures were harmful to all concerned, people with resources took steps to correct the problem for their own and their offspring’s sakes.
For all its legal victories, gender warriors have little to show for themselves with respect to the most significant of milestones. They have yet to demonstrate that their ideology can provide a foundation for stable, thriving sub-cultures of the sort that can endure. Enormous energy has been poured into preventing skeptics from asking the relevant questions, but that kind of subterfuge can only last for so long.
The evidence we have looks bad. A few years after Facebook gave us our 50 genders, young people flounder to explain why a short white man isn’t a tall Asian woman. We can only imagine how much worse this will be ten years from now if children nationwide are aggressively drafted into the transgendered social engineering experiment.
Same-sex coupling has been socially acceptable in mainstream society for a number of years now, but insofar as it is normalized, it’s the sort of normalization that involves coming to acknowledge that it’s really very different from traditional marriage. (That, of course, is problematic insofar as social research still resoundingly affirms that stable two-parent households are the healthiest place for kids.) Victims keep emerging from the wreckage of libertine sub-cultures. It becomes increasingly obvious, as well, that children are at far greater risk in a culture that is unwilling to encourage almost any kind of sexual restraint.
Ideas have consequences, and gender ideologues are only beginning to grapple with the fruits of theirs. Political correctness can be powerful, but people are not endlessly willing to sacrifice themselves and their loved ones to its more ruinous offerings. Lacking the wherewithal to create a healthy culture, the LGBT movement will dwindle and die.
What to Do in the Meantime
What shall we do in the meantime? My suggestions are threefold.
First, we need to take steps to protect our own children. Engaging the broader culture is important, but that task belongs to grown-ups, not six-year-olds. We must build and preserve communities in which morally important truths can be instilled at least in our own offspring. Within our communities and homes, we must shield our kids from the blight of pornography and a hyper-sexualized media, and more literally, from the sexual predators that predictably emerge when a society celebrates sexuality as a primary form of creative self-expression. Sexual appetite, once unleashed, will not consistently check itself at precisely the point when pious liberals become offended. Children will continue to be victimized. Protect yours.
Next, we must continue to engage our compatriots in civil discourse concerning the body, sex, marriage, and parenting. Encourage responsible sociological research on the dynamics of non-traditional relationships and families. Keep explaining again and again that traditional sexual morality is not a rejection of persons but of behaviors that are inimical to real human good. As the dysfunction of various alternative lifestyles becomes more evident, that argument may become more plausible. In the meanwhile, we should do what we can to hold up our sub-cultures as beacons for those who are looking for alternatives to libertinism.
As the LGBT fervor starts to ebb, we should be particularly solicitous to the needs of America’s poor. We’ve seen already that privileged liberals tend to adapt their lifestyles to new data while continuing to mouth the politically correct pieties of yester-year. No one likes to be seen as the stodgy moralist, but this hypocrisy shouldn’t be allowed to stand. Poor children deserve stability just as much as wealthy ones, and we should stand ready to object if our cultural elites start adjusting their habits without changing their memes.
Perhaps the most important thing is to avoid despair. It’s difficult when our culture seems to keep finding new lows on almost a daily basis. Still, when the wheels start coming off completely, it’s worth remembering that a wheel-less vehicle is no longer able to drive. That might factor into our calculations if the vehicle in question is a critical part of our opponents’ vanguard.
Future generations are sure to ask: how could the gender revolution ever have reached such absurdities? I intend to see that day.