In the last months, interest has peaked on the issue of sexual harassment, thanks to revelations coming from supposed and ascertained molestations by big names in the entertainment and media industries. Not a few people see the danger in condemning, labeling everything as sexual harassment, almost assuming that men are all per se defective and guilty and women are all victims and without any dark spot. We know this is not the case, but the way these issues are manipulated by politically correct media is very dangerous and we should be able to make important distinctions.
On November 16 2017 by Professor Stephen K Baskerville wrote in his article “The Sexual Revolution Turns Ugly” about these issues from a completely different perspective. He makes a more careful and detailed examination of what is at stake and why the story that people are telling us may be more complex than what we think.
Stephen K Baskerville is an American scholar, professor of government studies in the Patrick Henry College, he hold a PhD in Government, London School of Economics & Political Science and a BA in International Studies & Political Science, American University School of International Service. Among his publications are Not Peace but a Sword: The Political Theology of the English Revolution (Routledge 1993; expanded edition, Wipf & Stock, forthcoming); Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family (Cumberland House, 2007). One of his new books is The New Politics of Sex. The Sexual Revolution, Civil Liberties, and the Growth of Governmental Power (2017 Angelico Press), a book reaching almost 400 pages explains what is really at stake when today we speak, as citizens and as Catholics, about sex.
Can you give us a framework of what you mean by “sexual revolution”?
I think of it as the period of sexual liberation that began during the 1960s but also lagged somewhat behind the movements for civil rights and against Vietnam and for university reform. It had two phases: First, the period of adolescent sexual release with the Woodstock morality of “free love,” where an incipient feminism also originated. But then the feminist ideology became aggressive and authoritarian, and later the radical homosexualists joined in. Of course, one could trace antecedents much earlier, to similar movements that accompanied the Progressive era at the turn of the century for example. Also, an early, apolitical stage was emerging in the 1950s, when Playboy magazine was founded, so in this respect men cannot accept some responsibility. Ironically but significantly, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner thought the early feminists were his allies and was perplexed when they later turned against him.
In your article in Crisis magazine you have said that the Sexual revolution has gone out of control. Why?
As in most revolutions, the most radical elements have discovered they can achieve political supremacy by accusing their opponents and other people of crimes and quasi-crimes and demand that they be punished. These may include ordinary crimes, but they are mixed with crimes of ideological heterodoxy and group “oppression.” Once this starts it is difficult to control or stop. An inescapable competition is created where everyone must prove their ideological purity and moral superiority, in order to survive. Accusations become the weapons in power competitions, vendettas, personal animosities. One must accuse others before they accuse you, and defending the accused places one among the accused. This happened during the Terror of the French Revolution, the party purges in the USSR, the Cultural Revolution in Mao’s China, and many more”.
Let me quote you here: “Those whom one expects to impose some order on all this—conservative politicians, religious leaders, civil libertarians, journalists, scholars—are either hiding under the table or signaling their virtue by themselves fanning the flames of a hysteria that they show no interest in trying to understand.” I feel that in my country, Italy, there are some people reacting to this terrible politically correct culture. But they have to face the reaction of the mainstream media. How is possible to react without having to lose too much?
Like all witch hunts, it will eventually fizzle, and in many ways it is a house of cards. Like Communism, it can ruin a lot of lives, but it can also crumble when people start to stand up against it. When the US Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, recently took decisive action against the corrupt rules instituted by the radicals during the Obama administration, prominent people who had been silent for years began coming out of the woodwork to support her. The power of the media needs to be confronted directly. This is starting to happen in Poland, in Britain with Brexit, and here in the US with Trump. But most of those we expect to criticize government policy are still silent.
Still your quote: “To begin with, there is not, and never has been, any epidemic of ‘sexual harassment,’ ‘sexual assault,’ ‘domestic violence,’ or the rest. It is not that deeds associated with these terms do not happen; the terms themselves are ideological constructions designed to create hysteria and mean nothing.” Are you sure of this?
Absolutely. There are and have always been rules against physical violence and workplace fraternization. There is no evidence whatsoever that laws against rape and physical assault were not enforced. On the contrary, as I show in my new book and in my previous one (and I draw upon the research of other qualified scholars), these laws are enforced much more harshly than others. In fact, their adjudication involves very serious violations of the due process protections and other civil liberties of the accused, and this is attributable entirely to feminist pressure. If the rules against workplace fraternization were not always enforced, the solution is simply to start enforcing them. There is no need to invoke a political ideology or launch a vendetta. All the radicals have done is to impose a political ideology on this by using specially formulated jargon that no one fully understands or can understand because the meaning of the terms keeps changing.
What you think of Hollywood? Is it, as some people seems to imply, a new Sodom and Gomorrah?
I think it always has been, like much of the entertainment industry, though it seems to be getting worse. If you are allow people to mix business and sex, then it is predictable that it will degenerate into a system of semi-prostitution, and you are asking for trouble. Christianity (from which traditional ethical codes are derived) placed blame on all parties. The feminists have simply spun this into a narrative where only the man is guilty.
You speak of a “highly sexualized culture.” Why this is relevant for what is happening these weeks?
This laid the groundwork for the accusations that followed. Everyone was having so much fun in their Pinocchio world of perpetual adolescence and sex without responsibility, since they were “not hurting anyone.” But the rules were made for a reason. There had to be a reckoning.
I like what you say here: “Now, after decades of serving as the intellectual apologists for this crass culture, those same radical ideologues have found that they can further increase their influence and power from the chaos they helped create by turning the resulting unpleasantness into newfangled quasi-crimes that no one fully understands and which permit no defense. Having ridiculed not only the Christians themselves into silence but also their annoying, old-fashioned vocabulary of ‘sin,’ ‘immorality,’ ‘fornication,’ and ‘adultery,’ the radicals have substituted jargon that instead condemns ideological unorthodoxy (‘sexism,’ ‘misogyny’) and implies criminality: ‘sexual harassment,’ ‘sexual abuse,’ ‘sexual misconduct,’ ‘sexual assault,’ sexual this and sexual that.” Can you expand on this?
Radicals and revolutionaries always promise us a new world of freedom where we do not have to obey the rules that mankind has had to accept in order to build a stable civilization. (And the basic rules are universal, though how they are administered vary significantly, usually according to religion, which can make a huge difference in the nature of the civilization.) But the rules they throw out the front door always re-enter through the back door, often in a grotesque form that is more authoritarian and terrifying. We found this with Stalinism and Maoism, and now we see it with sexual radicalism.
You speak of a “new political theology.” What is that?
The radicals began by ridiculing the churches and Christianity and promised us release from the stigma of sexual repression. But in the end, all they have done is to substitute their own stigmas and their own politically defined sins, which are actually far more repressive because they involve criminalization. The traditional sins as defined by the Church were enforced apolitically, but the new crimes are enforced by the state gendarmerie. Radical ideologies are always just secularized and politicized religions, though often in hideous form.
Don’t you think that one of the main points of what is happening is an orchestrated campaign against men in their essence, crushing them and reducing them to silence by attacking their virility?
Essentially, the common denominator throughout the later stages of Sexual Revolution is the rejection of masculinity, which is discouraged, shamed, punished, and often criminalized. This is also true of its latest phase of “homosexualism.” The psychologists used to tell us (before it became politically unacceptable) that homosexual attraction originates in a troubled relationship with the father and masculinity. Homosexualist politics certainly does. At the same time, I must say that men are their own worst enemies when they indulge in casual sex, father children out-of-wedlock, and otherwise take the bait that the radicals offer. Older men especially are traditionally the guardians of our traditions and norms, and more need to start assuming that responsibility.
Is there a way out of this situation?
We are certainly not going to get out of it the way were are trying now. There is a war going on now, and only one side has shown up. Their airwaves are covered with one story after another on “sexual harassment,” without any challenge or opposition, while the accused on both the left and right flagellate themselves with ignominious self-denunciations reminiscent of Maoist China. Conservative groups are now destroying themselves with the poison supplied by the radicals with endless and pointless debates about whether this or that figure is “guilty” or “innocent.” What needs to be asked is “guilty of what precisely?” We need to know precisely what the sin is, rather than accept it from the radicals in their terms.
So, what is the role of Christians?
Conservative and Christian groups need to stand up and speak out for Christian morality. Christian leaders in particular should be crowing over this and shouting about how all this vindicates traditional biblical sexual morality. Instead they are keeping their heads down, and avoiding any controversy, as if they are ashamed of their faith.
How this can be done?
We need to hear the voices of those we consider the gadflies of our society, whose job it is to think critically about ideas and act as a check on the power of the state: journalists, scholars, educators, and again the churches and clergy above all. Sexual morality is supposed to be the churches’ turf, after all. Likewise, the university professors, on whose campuses much of this ideology originates and many of these battles are acted out. The watchdogs have become lapdogs. The males among these professions and men generally could also start showing a little more courage. Once they start speaking they will find they have enormous power and potential to rectify it.