Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Dangerous Rise of Sexual Politics

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People should also read this book!

This is very long, but very much worth the reading, IMO.

2008

By Stephen Baskerville, Ph.D.

Islamic radicalism may be creating a “clash of civilizations,” but sexual radicalism is undermining the social foundation of all civilization.

“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.’” 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.”

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.”

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.” 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.”

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. 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. 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 private...is, ultimately, what the feminist movement is about,” and two prominent feminists sneer at “the ideology of the family as a bastion of privacy.” 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.” 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.” 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. Sheila Cronin, head of the National Organization for Women, said that “Freedom for women cannot be won without the abolition of marriage.” 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.

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. 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’.” 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.”

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.

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. 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.” 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.”

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. 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. 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.” 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.” 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?’”

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.”

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.

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.” 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. 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 Florida...to 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.”

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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. 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. 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.”

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.” 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.” 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. 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.”

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.”

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. 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.” 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.

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.” 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.”

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. 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.

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. 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.” 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.” 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. 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.

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.” 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. 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. 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.”

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.

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.” 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.” One scholar calls it “an area of law mired in intellectual dishonesty and injustice” and “a due process fiasco.”

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. More important than achieving gender balance, however, is to understand how the explosion in accusations is connected almost entirely with family dissolution.

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. Open perjury is readily acknowledged, and bar associations and even courts actively counsel mothers on how to fabricate accusations. 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.”

Feminists acknowledge that most cases arise during custody battles. Yet they strenuously oppose divorce and custody reform, 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.

Restraining orders separating fathers from their children are routinely issued during divorce proceedings without any evidence. 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.”

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.” 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. 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.”

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.”

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.”

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.

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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

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. 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.

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.

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.” 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.

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)


Sex offender list: Too close to home

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02/15/2009

By ONEITA JACKSON

I was reading an article about sex offenders when I decided to go where I had never gone before: to the Michigan Public Sex Offender Registry.
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A few moments of pause, a few questions ("Do you really want to do this, Oneita?") and a few mouse clicks later, I am staring at a face I know.

Oh, my.

That made me very uncomfortable -- too much information.

The idea of a sex offender registry has always made me uncomfortable. It's public information, yes, but do I need it?

I am responsible for my child and for me, and I am not convinced that knowing a person is on a list -- or not -- will make me feel safer or empowered. It shouldn't change my behavior or how I respond to people, should it? "Hey, I saw you on the registry yesterday! You stayin' outta trouble?"

The New York Times article, "Effort to track sex offenders draws resistance," addressed an issue I have with the registry: It is too broad. "There are also concerns that the law does not take into account the individual circumstances of each sex offender, including the likelihood of committing more crimes," the article said.

"Instead, it lumps all offenders into broad levels of dangerousness based on the crime for which they were convicted, allowing, the law's critics say, the worst offenders to blend in with less threatening ones."

Even the State of Michigan Web site addresses the conflict in a question about offenders who visit libraries. "It is clear that not every person that appears on the PSOR database is a sexual predator," it reads. "Indeed, the people whose names appear on the PSOR list have the same rights and freedoms as everyone else for the most part, subject to any terms of their probation or parole."

After reading the article and checking to see if I knew any more people -- there are so many offenders! -- Oneita the Conflicted asked around for more opinions.

"Kill them all," an older friend said.
- This is the general advice from the public, who are ignorant and uneducated.  I guess they would be ok with killing a 4 year old child?  There are kids from 4 years old and up, labeled a sex offender.  So be careful what you ask for.

"Your issue is that it's at your doorstep now," said my brother, who has no children and no strong feelings about the registry. "Think about it. The information has always been available, but who was going into their downtowns to get it?"
- Correct, even when the registry was offline and used by police only, before it became a vigilante hit-list, anybody could go down to the courts and look up the information.  But, they were too lazy to do this, so the politicians made it easier, and now it's become a hit-list.

If he had children, my brother said, he would check the registry often.

The fellas at the barbershop agreed: "Yeah, we need to know!"

I told them I was conflicted.

One of the fellas said it didn't matter to me because I have a son. "Oh, yes, it does!" I said. "I have to focus on the other side, so he won't end up on the registry!"

I stopped by a hair salon to ask a girlfriend.

"Oneita, you only know that person casually," she said of the face I recognized. "But what if he was trying to be friendly with you or to date you and you pulled up that info and saw him there?"

"Now that," Oneita the Still Conflicted told her, "would be different."

ONEITA JACKSON is a copy editor who writes the O Street blog at www.freep.com/ostreet. Reach her at 313-223-4520 or ojackson@freepress.com.


Number of juvenile sex offenders is on the rise

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03/28/2005

By Molly Ball

The accused rapist was unruly. He banged on the window of his holding cell and yelled.

To placate him, detention staffers gave him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a half-pint carton of milk.

The alleged sex offender was just 8 years old. Detained earlier this month, he was the youngest child in 30 years to be held at Clark County's juvenile detention center.

While the child's case is an extraordinary one, officials say it highlights the troubling problem of juvenile sex offenders, whose numbers, they say, are growing.

"I think the general public would be very, very surprised at the number of juvenile sex offenders we have, and also shocked and dismayed at the nature of the sex offenses," said Chief Deputy District Attorney Teresa Lowry, the county's lead prosecutor for cases in which defendants are juveniles.

When Lowry, a former investigator of child abuse and neglect cases, began prosecuting juveniles, she assumed most of the sex offenses would be teenagers accused of date rape, "but that is the smallest percentage of cases," she said.

"A very large percentage is teenage boys -- 13, 14, 15, 16 -- abusing much younger children -- 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8," Lowry said.

And the accusations, Lowry said, typically are not mere inappropriate touching or I'll-show-you-mine-you-show-me-yours.

"Think of every sex act you can think of -- kids do all of those," she said.

The 8-year-old boy was unusually young, but in other ways, his case was typical. Like many juvenile sex offenders, the child was himself a victim of sexual abuse. And like most such offenders, his alleged sexual assault victim was a younger family member, authorities said.

The numbers of juvenile sex offenders have been increasing, according to the county's Department of Juvenile Justice Services.

In 1999, there were 169 juvenile sex offenders in the department's probation caseload; as of Monday, there were 336, a near-doubling.

These youths are not monsters, said John Pacult, a licensed clinical social worker who treats many Clark County juvenile sex offenders in his Las Vegas private practice.

Very few are pathological sexual abusers along the lines of adult pedophiles, who have an incurable condition, Pacult said. Juvenile sexual misbehavior may stem from mere sexual curiosity and naivete, from power and control issues, from anger or from any number of other sources -- as opposed to a deviant predilection for molesting children.
- There is not a "cure" for anything, but you can give them tools to change their behavior, if you just give up on them, then yes, there will be more victims.

The juvenile offenders can be treated, and once they are treated and understand their behavior, most will not do it again, Pacult said.
- Adult offenders can be treated as well!

According to the juvenile probation unit, only 2 percent of juvenile sex offenders in the program will reoffend, versus an estimated 30 to 40 percent of non-sexual offenders.

The offenders typically do not have other types of juvenile delinquency charges on their records, Lowry said. They typically are confused about sexuality and have trouble with social situations -- "but that's the definition of being a teenager, isn't it?" she said.

"Some of these kids come from really good families," she said. "I've seen Eagle Scouts. I've seen kids who were responsible and got good grades."

The cases are complicated and difficult to handle. They involve tangled, troubled families and require intensive treatment and supervision. Often, to protect the victim, the offender must be taken out of the home and placed in foster care, splitting up the family.

In addition, the law requires juvenile sex offenders to be monitored by probation officers for longer periods of time than other delinquent youth -- at least three years and sometimes, depending on the severity of the offense, until age 21. Juveniles who commit non-sexual offenses are not supervised by juvenile probation past age 18.

That's a headache for the overburdened juvenile parole and probation department, whose caseloads are almost twice the national average.

The average time of supervision for a juvenile sex offender is three years, as opposed to six months to a year for other types of offenses, Juvenile Probation Manager Beth Marek said.

"That has a huge impact on our caseload," she said.

Sex offenders make up about 15 percent of the juvenile probation caseload, Marek estimated.

Prosecutors declined to pursue a criminal case against the 8-year-old accused of rape, who was instead sent to the Desert Willow Treatment Center, a juvenile psychiatric facility, for treatment.

Under state law, 8 is the minimum age of criminal culpability. Nevada and Arizona are the only states in which children younger than 10 can be guilty of crimes.

To juvenile public defender Susan Roske, prosecutors too readily treat juvenile sex offenders as criminals rather than troubled youth in need of healing. Roske said she has seen the district attorney's office pursue cases unnecessarily against youths who were getting therapy and family support to change their behavior.
- The same can be said for prosecutors of adults.  Many just want a conviction, period, regardless of if the person is innocent or guilty, and regardless of any evidence.

"Definitely a lot of these behaviors are harmful and need to be addressed," Roske said. "But do they need to be addressed in the court system? If the family is dealing with it and taking the child to therapy, what's the purpose of prosecution?"
- Because the US loves to punish and torture people, instead of prevention and helping people.

Roske blamed mandatory reporting laws that require a variety of authority figures -- including therapists, teachers, attorneys and parole officers -- to report child abuse, including sexual abuse, to police. While the requirement is well-intentioned, she said, it leads to charges being filed against youths who need help, not handcuffs.

"Rather than delinquent behavior, it's an emotional and psychological problem that needs to be addressed," Roske said.

Prosecutors say perpetrators of sex crimes must be held accountable.

But Pacult, the social worker, agreed with the public defender that the mandatory reporting laws are misguided.

The laws discourage people from coming forward to seek help, and sexual abuse is most traumatic when it is covered up and hidden, causing shame and a lack of understanding for both perpetrator and victim, Pacult said.

"The authorities need to be involved, don't get me wrong," he said. But a graduated system, or one in which sex abuse cases that occur within the family aren't prosecuted until therapy fails, would allow people to seek help without incriminating themselves or their children, he suggested.

Therapists, prosecutors and defenders alike blame the continuing increase in juvenile sex offenders partly on unsupervised children with practically unlimited access to pornography thanks to the Internet.
- What about all the sex on TV?  Sex if everywhere!  And anyone who says it doesn't affect people, then why do you see sex everywhere?  It's because it DOES affect people.

"Ten or 15 years ago, the most that kids would see was Playboy or Penthouse," Pacult said. "Now they can click on the Internet and see bestiality or bondage -- really deviant stuff."

Lowry, the prosecutor, advised parents not to allow children to have computers in their bedrooms and to carefully monitor children's online activities.

Those involved with the issue also point to what they say is a hypocritical culture that simultaneously sexualizes youth and makes talk about sex taboo, increasing children's confusion as they traverse the jungle of puberty.

Pacult pointed specifically to the Clark County School District's "abstinence-based" sex education philosophy, which limits discussion of condoms and birth control.

Those who work with juveniles also said an increasing awareness of sexual misbehavior and the traumas it can cause probably have led to more reporting of incidents that a decade or two ago might have been hidden within the family, swept under the rug out of shame, embarrassment, or ignorance.

Any increase in reporting of sex offenses is a positive development, because therapy can prevent both perpetrator and victim from carrying lifelong scars, Pacult said. "If you talk to a sexual abuse survivor of 20 years ago, when it wasn't discussed, it affected them the rest of their lives," he said.

But while more such offenses are being disclosed today, Pacult said he believes they are still vastly underreported, as are all sex crimes.

"They say one in 10 rapes are reported," he said. "It's probably similar for this (juvenile sex offenses) -- or less."




NV - Sex offender act might not be worth its cost to Nevada

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02/15/2009

By Abigail Goldman

The Adam Walsh Act was an instant controversy in Nevada. As soon as state lawmakers adopted the federal sex offender legislation in 2007, lawyers drew up lawsuits that have kept it tied up in court to this day.

But all the debate between advocates and attorneys over whether the Walsh Act is legal or logical now seems for naught. In this economy, the real question is not whether the Walsh Act is constitutional, but whether it’s too expensive. By many calculations, it is.

Sex offender management boards in California and Colorado have recommended their states reject the Adam Walsh Act — which changes the way states track and monitor sex offenders — in part because of the crippling cost. Other states, including Florida, Iowa, Virginia and Texas, are also doing the math and finding that the federal standard seems more expensive to adopt than to ignore, no matter the penalty.

And there are penalties. States have until July 27 to become compliant with Walsh sex offender regulations or risk losing federal finding. In Nevada, meeting the deadline could safeguard hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But carrying out the provisions of the Walsh Act could cost millions. In a state where the budget is beyond tight, we don’t know what the Walsh Act would cost. While states around us scramble do to the math, nobody in Nevada is crunching the numbers. So with the deadline for compliance looming, no one knows whether Nevada going to spend millions to save thousands.

Part of the reason Nevada doesn’t know how much Walsh will cost may lie in the state’s speedy adoption of the federal act. Nevada is one of eight states that passed Walsh regulations after Congress approved them in 2006. The vast remainder of states instead chose to evaluate the Walsh Act, considering its constitutionality first and then its cost.

Concerns now coming to light in these states were barely discussed in Nevada. Instead, issues with Walsh are being worked out in Nevada courts as a result of those lawsuits levied against the act.

One was filed by the Clark County Public Defender’s Office on the grounds that Walsh unfairly affects juveniles and the other by the Nevada ACLU on the grounds that the law violates due process rights and protection from retroactive punishment. Until these cases are resolved, the state has been barred from enforcing Walsh.

And with the future of Nevada sex offender laws in limbo, government agencies aren’t using their calculators. Why compute the cost of a program that may never come to be?

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, whose office introduced the Walsh Act to Nevada’s Legislature in 2007 and has been defending it in court ever since, said it’s up to the agencies that would be affected to figure out the costs. But representatives of these agencies said nobody is running numbers while the law is stalled in court.

To understand what kind of money Nevada might end up spending — if the law weathers court challenges — we can only look to the calculations of other states. In California, the Sex Offender Management Board came up with an initial assessment of $38 million. Missing the deadline, by comparison, would cost $210,000.

“This is an unfunded mandate,” the board’s chairwoman, Suzanne Brown-McBride said. “There are massive expectations of changes from federal legislation but really no attempt to significantly fund it.”

This complaint has come up before, most notably when the National Conference of State Legislators released a statement last year objecting to elements of the Walsh Act and complaining that it was “crafted without state input or consideration.”

California, though, has a much higher population of sex offenders than Nevada. So perhaps a more apt comparison for Nevada is Virginia, where officials figured it would cost $12.4 million to carry out the Walsh regulations, or $400,000 not to. Or consider Florida: about $3.2 million for Walsh, versus a $2.1 million to $2.8 million penalty for missing the deadline, if not rejecting the sex offender legislation outright. Each state used its own formula, and each came up with the same answer: It would cost more to adopt than to ignore.

So why is the Walsh Act so expensive? Because it would drastically change the way states manage sex offenders. The risk of each to re-offend has to be reconsidered and reclassified. Nevada sex offenders are classified by tiers — the higher the tier, the higher the risk to re-offend. The higher the risk, the closer a sex offender is supposed to be monitored by parole and probation officials. The closer the monitoring, the greater the cost to taxpayers.

Tier is determined by a psychological evaluation of the offender, an assessment of his crime, history and mind. Walsh would replace this system with a tier calculation based solely on the nature of the crime. This new system would turn many sex offenders who have been deemed low-risk into high-risk offenders overnight. Estimates vary, but Clark County parole and probation officials have said the number of Tier 3 offenders, those posing the highest risk, could jump from fewer than 200 to more than 2,000.

There are other provisions in the act, all designed to create a national, uniform system of monitoring and tracking sex offenders. Proponents of the law say it allows for more protection of children from molesters. Critics say the provisions are aren’t just or effective. But both sides of the debate, it appears, can agree Walsh will cost money.

Even John Walsh, the host of America’s Most Wanted, after whose abducted son the law is named, told The New York Times the price tag has become a problem. Walsh, the Times reported, “suggested Congress postpone the compliance deadline. Mr. Walsh said the many obstacles — most recently the recession, which has made it tough for some states to pay for the law’s provisions — need more time to be worked out.”

Not a single state — including the eight that adopted Walsh regulations — has been deemed “compliant” with the law. And noncompliance means a reduction in funding once the deadline passes.

So how much does Nevada stand to lose? It’s another question that nobody, frankly, has an answer for. When the Walsh Act was passed, the penalty for missing the deadline was 10 percent of a federal grant called the Byrne/JAG fund. In 2007, Nevada got about $2.9 million in Byrne funding. In 2008, that number was cut to just over $1.14 million.

On Thursday, the latest draft of the federal stimulus package included $2 billion for Byrne grants nationwide, which meant Nevada could be awarded an estimated $4 million to $8 million in Byrne money, according to Michelle Hamilton, chief of Nevada’s Office of Criminal Justice Assistance. This would mean Nevada risks from $400,000 to $800,000 for failing to adopt Walsh in time — a bigger carrot to chase, but maybe not big enough.

Nevada Corrections Department Director Howard Skolnik told the Associated Press in 2008 he would need at least $500,000 in emergency federal funding to comply with just one element of the Walsh Act: getting DNA samples from every incarcerated sex offender before release from prison.

The Justice Policy Institute calculated that putting the Walsh Act into place would cost Nevada more than $4 million.

But there are myriad additional costs that cannot be estimated. Because the Walsh Act comes with stiffer penalties for sex offenders, a Florida study of Walsh costs noted that “there may be an impact on the court system and county jails. There may be more trials and less pleas ... there may be an increase in failure-to-register cases.”

And then there is the cost Nevada has paid, not to adopt Walsh, but to defend it.

Cortez Masto’s office has spent months fighting Walsh challenges in court. The Clark County Public Defender has spent months fighting Cortez Masto. No matter who wins, the state has spent considerable amounts just arguing over it. This does not include the case filed by the Nevada ACLU, or the fact that the civil liberties organization won $145,000 in attorney fees from the state last month.

Cortez Masto’s office has been working with the ACLU and other stakeholders to introduce legislation changing certain elements of the Walsh Act during the 2009 legislative session. But this effort to appease all sides presents its own problems. Any changes made to the law probably won’t satisfy the Justice Department, whose understanding of Walsh compliance appears to be nothing short of strict, absolute adoption of the federal act as written.

States still working out the complications of Walsh can file for two one-year deadline extensions. Cortez Masto said her office was planning to request a one-year extension, though a representative of the Justice Department said Friday it had not received the extension application. Extra time to work on Walsh should prevent Nevada from being immediately penalized, though it doesn’t resolve the central question, which is how much it would cost to adopt Walsh, and whether it’s worth the price.

Walsh could be complicated and costly enough to prompt politicians in the states where the act has not yet been voted on to simply decide they aren’t interested. And if this happens, the entire purpose of the Walsh Act, which was to create a national, unified system for dealing with sex offenders in every state, could be undermined — leaving Nevada, as an early adopter, with its hands tied.


IN - Town divided over convicted sex offender

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02/15/2009

Brooklyn - A convicted child molester is taking sanctuary in a Morgan County church. But his presence is breaking the law, dividing a town and some say, crippling the town council.

_____ is required to have his picture and address listed on the sex offender's registry for the rest of his life. He admitted to Eyewitness News that he committed the crime, but the persecution his family is going through is what he'd like to see stopped.

_____ came to live with his sister and her husband in Brooklyn last fall. He registered with the Morgan County Sheriff's Office as required by his probation.

"Nevertheless, it just doesn't smell right to me," said resident Ray Young.

The problem is, _____ lives too close to an elementary school - 858 feet to be exact. That is 150 feet short of the 1,000 feet required by Indiana law. His sister's family home is the parsonage of the Brooklyn Church of the Nazarene. His brother-in-law is Reverend Frank Sams and the Brooklyn town council's president.

"My brother-in-law is a convicted sex offender. It happened over 11 years ago since the time he pled guilty and he served no jail time. He was placed on probation and placed into my custody," said Reverend Sams.

"But we have so many people that are concerned they feel like this is very inappropriate to have something like this in a church, housing him in a parsonage," said Young.

_____, 55, spends most of his day on his back, broken by diabetes and heart disease - and a criminal history.

"A Class D felony child molesting," he said.

The reverend and his family say they are doing the right thing, caring for an ill relative.

"Their excuse is he is weak, he is feeble, he's sick, he needs cared for. I have children that are weak and innocent and need cared for and they are my job to protect and I'm protecting them from people like him," said Janie Rains with the Brooklyn Elementary PTO.

The family says they are threatened daily.

"Yes, we have had our house threatened to be burned down. We've had people go by the house and shake their fists at us," said _____'s sister, Janice Sams.

_____ has been ordered to move from the parsonage, but he and his family plan to fight the order.