A Response to the Editorial “America Needs a New Sexual Revolution” by Melissa Mackenzie
I guess Ms. Mackenzie drank from the Gender Complementarian Kool-Aid, or something like it.
The complementarian world is a world in which one is taught there are only two options concerning women (I know this because (Link): I used to be one myself for many years):
-either be and live as a traditional values person who believes all women are, or should be, passive, dainty, and delicate and should marry young and have children,
-be and live as a bra-burning, man-hating, liberal feminist.
I present a third option, which is hated by some liberals (when I bring it to their attention), and it’s an option that is never even considered by other conservatives, which is as follows:
I am a right wing woman who rejects sexism, and finds fault in both the left and right wing on some women’s issues, but who also sees some merit to some arguments on either side, depending on the topic.
In this blog post, I am commenting upon this editorial on The American Spectator:
(Link): America Needs a New Sexual Revolution by Melissa Mackenzie
A foundation of the opening of this editorial rests upon a presupposition that, and to paraphrase my understanding of the author’s perspective:
“Everything that is wrong today in regards to culture, sex, marriage, dating, and women, is liberal, secular, FEMINISM, and feminism is EVIL! One can directly trace the downfall of American sexual morality to the feminism of the 1960s!!”
Such thinking is a common trope in about every right wing publication I’ve ever read on these subjects.
To that point, about feminism supposedly being to blame for all of society’s marital or sexual problems, I would ask you to read this off-site post, which is by a Christian (not by a left wing, secular feminist):
What I will do here is provide excerpts by MacKenzie then, under her comments, offer my thoughts.
MacKenzie writes (source again):
There’s a coarsening of relationships between men and women, parents and children, and people with each other.
// end MacKenzie quotes ///
I don’t think secular, left wing feminism was the start of the “coarsening of relationships between men and women” but is a response to it.
One can read the Old Testament of the Bible, which dates back several thousand years, to see men raping their own sisters, owning harems of women (in some cases, women having no choice but to be in a harem, or to be a concubine), and men committing adultery. There was no 1960s, American- style feminism around in Biblical days.
Sexual sin and abuse of women have existed in about all cultures and nations long before secular, American 1960s feminism and the advent of the birth control pill.
Some men have always been, and will always, choose to sexually objectify women and to abuse or exploit women (which God warned about in the book of Genesis, when he foretold that women would turn to men, and men would exploit this female tendency and use it to rule over women).
If there is coarsening of relationships between men and women, it would be due to sin and the sin nature – that some people are selfish, lewd, abusive, controlling or perverse.
Secular, left wing feminism actually sought to over-turn some of those abuses by men against women.
It’s a pity that so many other conservatives (I myself am a conservative) continue to vilify all of secular feminism for some of its excesses, weirdness, or mistakes, when, at its core, it’s trying to fight against sin against girls and women.
Further, even men who are conservative, who are Republicans, who claim to be Christian, who claim to believe in “family values” and “biblical values” sometimes fondle children, rape women, or abuse their wives. (I have some examples of such “God fearing, Christian” men in (List): this post on my blog.)
Claiming to believe in Jesus Christ, or being someone who votes Republican, does not make a man immune or above sexually exploiting or abusing girls and women.
So please, let’s not behave as though conservatism, the Republican Party, or believing in traditional values, is a moral purity guarantee, or that liberal, secular feminism is all to blame for what ails the culture.
CONSERVATIVES STILL DELUDING THEMSELVES THAT A PRE- 1960 AMERICA WAS GODLY OR A MECCA FOR WOMEN
MacKenzie does at least acknowledge this much in her editorial:
It’s not women’s fault, though. The women’s movement was a reaction to the oppressive and abusive behavior of men.
MacKenzie writes (source again):
Women didn’t help themselves here. Deluded into believing that the pill and legalized abortion spared women the consequences of sexual license, women equated freedom with acting like the hound doggiest of men. Who were men to complain?
A generation later, women are bewildered and unhappy. Suffering with STDs resulting in infertility and deciding alone whether to keep or murder a baby is liberation? Women, the gatekeepers of sex, opened the gates indiscriminately. They wrongly equated male predatory behavior with liberty. They devalued sex and, by extension, devalued themselves.
// end MacKenzie quotes ///
I don’t believe most or all secular, liberal feminists were thinking in the same terms that MacKenzie is assuming here.
She even later says in the editorial, as I just quoted above, “It’s not women’s fault, though. The women’s movement was a reaction to the oppressive and abusive behavior of men.”
MOTIVES BEHIND USING THE PILL
I don’t think most feminists of the 1960s wanted to have access to the pill because they simply wanted empty, brazen sex divorced from love.
Nor do I think that feminists of the 1960s necessarily wanted to be harlots and sleep around with as many men as possible (though yes, I concede that some third wave feminists tend to promote this kind of garbage over the last two decades or so).
I’d dare say most women who choose to have sex prior to marriage would prefer to have sex with a man they care about, who they believe cares about them in return, but they don’t want to risk the chance of becoming pregnant. Hence, birth control. There’s nothing sinister or unreasonable about that.
It’s interesting to me to see how some conservatives automatically assume that all sexually active women who want to use birth control have the motive of behaving like reckless dogs in heat, with the goal to bed as many men per week as they can. I seriously doubt that is the case for most women.
It is possible for there to exist a category of women who are fornicating but choosing to do so with men they care about – rather than fornicate with every single man they come across.
With a lot of conservatives, in other words, there is way too much black and white thinking in this area: the Madonna Vs. Whore complex, where either a woman is a either a virginal good girl, or else is a slutty little minx who beds 45 men a night.
There is no “in between” these two extremes with most conservatives.
But in reality, there is a third group of women: women who are sexually active, and using birth control, but they are choosy about whom they are sleeping with.
CONSERVATIVE ANSWERS TO THESE ISSUES NOT ANY BETTER THAN LIBERAL, FEMINIST ONES
If women are currently bewildered and unhappy (with the state of marriage, dating, and sex) as Mackenzie was saying, I don’t think the solution is to revert back to 1950s values and culture, where men were more in control, sexual harassment was swept under the rug, and so on.
“The [feminist] answer to the oppression shouldn’t have been to abuse themselves [women] and others.”
But the answer is not, as Mackenzie and other conservatives so often revert to, to prescribe old-timey sexism once more, to get nostalgic for 1950s America, which was very patriarchal, and to insist women learn to love and accept men having control over them, to suggest the only way any and every women will be happy is (Link): if they all marry young and become stay at home mothers.
Women should be allowed to chart their own course in life, whether that means marrying or staying single, having children or not having children, or getting a college education or having a career, or not.
A lot of women were apparently (Link): miserable and unfulfilled under that 1950s “June Cleaver” scenario as well, and conditions such as wife abuse, or female exploitation by males, still existed under that state of 1950s life that so many conservatives still pine away for. Porn, date rape, and stag movies also existed in the 1950s.
Sexual sin and exploitation did not suddenly, magically appear in the year 1960s or due to liberal, feminist activity.
There was (Link): nothing intrinsically safe, moral, or noble about pre-1960s U.S. culture.
There may be some flaws with culture today, and there are flaws with liberal feminism, but I also see the flaws in how some conservatives view dating, sex, marriage, and women.
Further, many of the conservative solutions to issues contain sexist ideals – and also include shaming women, or removing women’s agency and choice. (I am pro life regarding abortion, so when I say “choice” here I am not referring to abortion.)
YOUR SOLUTIONS FOR SOCIETAL ILLS SHOULD NOT INVOLVE SEXIST PRACTICES OR BELIEFS
To the other conservatives out there who may be reading this:
If you’re wanting to “fix” sexual sin in America or decrease it, may I ask that you do so in such a way, and argue for it in such a way, that does not unnecessarily limit women, make women accountable for men’s poor behavior, or shame women for very reasonably wanting equal opportunity in life, at work, and in marriage?
If you’re wanting to decrease sexual sin in America, don’t rely on sexist assumptions, sexist arguments, or sexist rules to accomplish your goals.
If you wish to decrease sexual sin in American culture, find some other alternative that does not involve the typical right wing fall back arguments or thought processes, which may include things such as:
“How sad the day when American women were given the right to vote, a right to drive, to (Link): have their own credit cards, to go to college; we should shame them if they remain single, and pressure women to marry, or (Link): frighten them to marry.
If only we endlessly day-dream about what a total Nirvana and Paradise the United State was, before Feminism and The Pill arrived in 1960s, surely that will bring about cultural change for the better!”
You’d sound way less sexist, unrealistic, ridiculous, and out- of- date if you dropped such reasoning or argumentation.
PLEASE ACCEPT THAT WE ARE LIVING IN A POST – 1950s AMERICA
“Can this cultural rot of promiscuity, pornography, adultery, perversion, and pedophilia be turned around? … It can be but there will have to be a wholesale cultural change.”
// end MacKenzie quotes ///
And that’s not going to happen. The horse is out of the barn and has been for decades.
My fellow conservatives spend too much time looking fondly back to the past (which they perceive as being “the good old days”), when they should be accepting culture as it is now, and meeting people where they are – not what they hope them to be.
CHRISTIANS AND CONSERVATIVES DO NOT SUPPORT ADULT CELIBACY BUT HYPOCRITICALLY COMPLAIN and MOAN ABOUT SEXUAL SIN
MacKenzie also writes,
First, the spiritual aspect of sex needs to be taught, remembered, and reinforced. The sacred needs to be elevated and reintroduced to relationships. How does that happen, though, when people are nowhere near a place where that idea might be taught?
// end MacKenzie quotes ///
Ms. MacKenzie goes on like that for another paragraph or two. I’m not disagreeing with what she says there on the face of it, but (Link): not even most churches and Christians teach those beliefs any more, let alone (Link): bother to live by them.
As I’ve outlined on my own blog here the last few years:
I made a choice to stay a virgin until marriage, in part because I was taught from the time I was a child if I trusted in God, prayed, and waited, that in due time, God would send me a “Christian Mr. Right” (so the waiting would be worth it), but my “Mr. Right” never materialized. I never did marry.
As a virgin over the age of 45, I have not found Christians to be supportive of adult virginity or celibacy.
On the contrary, I have numerous examples on my blog of even famous Christians besmirching or down-playing virginity and celibacy (such as, but not limited to, (Link): this example).
Most Christians these days act as though they EXPECT any and all persons age 18 and older to have sex prior to marriage; (Link): Christians have no expectation that singles remain virgins until marriage.
Ms. MacKenzie, if even Christians, who are supposed to support and defend virginity, are no longer supporting it, or supporting adults who are virgins or celibates (and some Christians are (Link): even attacking women who remain virgins until marriage), what on earth gives you pause to think that our culture, which contains Non-Christians, is going to go back to supporting traditional sexual values?
Ms. MacKenzie then goes on to discuss pedophilia, and how victims of pedophilia suffer ramifications for many years. I agree that this is often the case.
But I fail to see how left wing, secular feminism is to blame for pedophilia, as she seems to suggest in the opening of her piece, where she tries to pin women’s unhappiness upon easy access to the birth control pill and so forth. Or maybe she’s basing this on her point that too many people divorce the spiritual from the sexual.
A bit later, MacKenzie writes (source again) this:
A person who acknowledges the spirit of the person he’s engaging with sexually cannot look at pornography in the same way. He sees the corrosion to his own soul and to the objectification of the people he’s watching.
He can’t go to a strip club. He can’t cheat on his wife. He can’t masturbate on a coworker. He can’t abuse a child. He can’t do it without the knowledge that he’s harming himself and harming the spirit of those he claims to care about.
// end quote
I don’t disagree with that rhetoric, either.
MACKENZIE’S BELIEFS HAVE ALSO FAILED TO BE SUCCESSFUL
The problem is, the same view MacKenzie is promoting is the same stuff widely taught in many traditional values churches that promote Christian patriarchy or Christian complementarianism-
All of whom purport to have godly lives, and if shucky darn, if only everyone else would also just follow their godly, biblical teaching about sex, dating, women, and marriage, all societal problems would vanish-
-and yet, such churches still produce, or provide cover for, men who fondle children, rape women, and abuse their wives (again, some examples listed (Link): here).
Complementarian Christians will always insist they value girls and women, but often, they promote the very teachings that imply girls and women are not as worthy or valuable as men, nor do such Christians or churches provide help or protection for abused wives (see (Link): this blog for many examples of that).
Some of these traditional values Christian churches, who believe in traditional gender roles for girls and women, (Link): accept or promote adult men dating or having sex with teen-aged girls.
Traditional Values Christians or Complementarians say one thing but practice another, in other words. Their actions or consequences of their doctrines don’t match their beliefs.
Your liberal, secular feminists may have some wrong ideas about women or sex, but some of your right wingers and conservative Christians aren’t faring too well in those departments, either – please stop acting as though your way is “better” when it clearly has problems too.
MacKenzie offers up a list of “some common-sense principles” in order to reduce sexual assault or harassment in our country.
I skimmed her list over and from what I saw, I don’t disagree with any of her suggestions, a few which include the following:
- No sending of dick pics.
- And no masturbating in front of people. That this even needs to be said demonstrates the moral degradation and blurred lines of common decency.
She then proceeds to discuss the Hollywood sex scandals of late, mentioning Harvey Weinstein, and so on.
GATE KEEPERS OF SEX vs PERSONAL RESPONSBILLITY
Conservatives are supposed to believe in the concept of Personal Responsibility, but interestingly, this concept flies out the window for men the moment 99% of conservatives write editorials blaming women and feminism for the rampant sexual sin in today’s American landscape.
By the way, men do not necessarily have higher sex drives than women. That is a cultural assumption. See:
At one point in her editorial, MacKenzie declares (a la Christian sociologist (Link): Mark Regnerus, who is a gross joke), that “women are the gate keepers of sex,” a view which I disagree with.
Men should be able to control themselves and hold and practice high values, and all of us should expect this of men.
I, a woman, do not want the burden of making men behave. I did not ask for that assignment, I am not up to it, it’s exhausting to even contemplate, and I don’t want to do it.
I am not responsible for the thought lives or actions of men. I am only responsible for my OWN thought life and actions.
In the comment I left below the article on The American Spectator site, I said this:
I was raised in a traditional, Christian home, went to church regularly, read the entire Bible, but there is not a single teaching in the Bible that denotes that God designed women or intended for women to be “the gatekeepers of sex.”
If anything, the Bible teaches that all people, both men and women, are each responsible for their choices and behavior in life, and both sexes have self-control. This means that men are responsible for behaving in a responsible manner – it’s not up to women to cajole, coax, or convince men to behave properly.
// end quote
Please, conservatives, stop telling society that “women are the gatekeepers of sex.” Women are not the gatekeepers of sex.
May I say, that whole “gatekeepers of sex” rhetoric is somewhat similar to what sexist Islamic nations teach about women – they also make women responsible for the male gaze and fault women for the sexual failings of men.
Some Muslim nations make women wear burkas to cover their entire bodies so that men will not leer at them. There is absolutely no expectation under such thinking that men should control themselves: all the onus is put on women.
When your Christian or secular conservative teaching on sexuality and women starts to sound like that of Muslims, that ought to give you strong pause to reconsider your position.
Later, MacKenzie says this:
Absent a moral revolution and return to seeing sex in the spiritual way it was intended, people will flail about, without bounds, unsure how to act. Rather than accept constraints, a younger generation may give up totally. (Link): Japan is already there.
With sex robots on the way, the objectification of humans will be complete and the men using them will have sex with a clean conscience because she’s not real, anyway.
Regarding her comment “Japan is already there,” (she refers to Japanese youth remaining single and celibate in larger numbers these days) I take this as an allusion where by she is faulting anyone who does not marry and therefore have marital sexual relations – she is impugning adult celibates.
Lady, if you are unhappy with the amount of sexual sin in culture, the solution to the problem is not to shame adults for practicing celibacy.
You should be applauding and celebrating any adult, who, while single, is celibate.
MacKenzie, the simple fact of the matter is that the Bible commands all singles to be celibate until they marry (see 1 Corinthians 7 for a start), and even single adults who had hoped and planned on marrying, such as myself, are still single.
I am in my 40s and have never married, (Link): due to circumstance, not by choice.
See also this post on my blog for more on that theme:
Also relevant regarding single conservative religious women who’d like to marry but who cannot:
(Link): What Two Religions Tell Us About the Modern Dating Crisis (from TIME) (ie, Why Are Conservative Religious Women Not Marrying Even Though They Want to Be Married. Hint: It’s a Demographics Issue)
And instead of supporting me or other adults for remaining celibate while single, you, MacKenzie, denigrate us and our celibate lifestyle.
Would you prefer all the singles who are now celibate run out and start fornicating all the place? Or order sex robots?
She concludes by saying,
“America needs a new sexual revolution, but it’s unlikely to get one. “
Very true. Which is why I’ve been saying on this blog for years that conservatives need to start addressing people and culture the way it is rather than try to yell at people for not living as though it’s still 1954.
Secondly, if you’re a Christian, your Bible tells you that a person accepting Jesus as Lord, should, if the person cooperates, make that individual a better person – the person’s problem is a sin nature that needs repaired by God.
A person’s problem, the Bible says, is sin – not feminism, not the 1960s, and not liberalism, or the availability of the birth control pill.
I did find myself agreeing with some of the content in Mackenzie’s post (which I did not bother to copy too much of in my post), but I did find portions of it objectionable (which I dealt with on my blog here).
(Link): ‘Why Are You Single’ Lists That Do Not Pathologize Singles by B. DePaulo
(Link): Why Do Churches Treat Singleness Like a Problem?via Relevant Magazine