|(Image source: Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)|
What does it mean that this gender mania is permeating every corner of Western societies and culture? According to Camille Paglia, the contrarian feminist, it is a sign of the decline of Western civilization. In her new book, Free Women, Free Men, she writes:
“Civilizations have gone through recurrent cycles. Extravaganzas of gender experimentation sometimes precede cultural collapse, as they certainly did in Weimar Germany. Now as then, there are forces aligning outside the borders, scattered fanatical hordes where the cult of heroic masculinity still has tremendous force”.
She then asks:
“How has it happened that so many of today’s most daring and radical young people now define themselves by sexual identity alone? There has been a collapse of perspective here that will surely have mixed consequences for our art and culture and that may perhaps undermine the ability of Western societies to understand or react to the vehemently contrary beliefs of others who do not wish us well. Transgender phenomena multiply and spread in ‘late’ phases of culture, as religious, political, and family traditions weaken and civilizations begin to decline”.
It is not a coincidence that this obsession with gender grew out of Western culture during the 1990s, the decade of peace and prosperity before 9/11. The decade was free of any existential angst, consumed by the Monica Lewinski scandal and dominated by Francis Fukuyama’s “End of History”. According to Rusty Reno, editor of First Things, gender ideology is a symbol of our epoch of “weakening”, pointing to a globalized future “governed by the hearth gods of health, wealth, and pleasure”. The high priests of this ideology, however, did not take into account the rise of radical Islam.
Before the French cities of Paris, Nice and Rouen came under the assault of jihadist groups, the French Socialist government had just one cultural priority: the “ABC of gender equality”. The name came from a controversial program that France’s women’s rights minister, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, had launched in 500 schools.
After approving same-sex marriage, the French government apparently thought it also had to promote a cultural revolution. According to Education Minister Benoît Hamon, who failed miserably in the recent presidential elections, schools are “a battlefield”. Half the pupils boycotted “gender theory” lessons. Then French authorities imposed on students ridiculous books such as Daddy Wears a Dress. It would have been comical if the following years would not have been so tragic. What, in fact, wrecked these French illusions was Islamic terrorism.
The effect on Western culture of this gender ideology is the rejection of the critical spirit combined with a kitsch appeal to sentiment against reason. The same gender-obsessed culture refuses to see the burkini as an Islamist tool, and instead turns it into a symbol of human rights. The consequence is that the jihadist threat is perceived merely as an unacceptable disruption of Western lifestyles. Europe risks to losing all its historic gifts: human dignity, freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom of expression and its colossal culture.
The erotocratic French élites were not prepared for what turned out to be the most severe terror assault since 9/11. France, obsessed with the “ABC of equality”, was caught off-guard and ready to be disarmed when terrorists attacked it during the day that celebrates equality. In France, there was simply no public resistance to sharia law and jihadist ideology. Intoxicated with the obsolescence of identity, the only enemy these French élites knew were patriarchal privileges, since for them “domination” comes only from the white male Europeans.
The presidency of Emmanuel Macron has already been hailed by gender activists. “Macron is like a breath of fresh air in this country,” said Natacha Henry, a writer on gender issues, at the New York Times. “I think he won because he didn’t do any kind of macho performance, and that’s what we need.”
Anesthetization by an obsession with gender rights further seems to have become a fixture of countries after terror attacks. Soon after jihadists targeted Spain in 2004 and forced it to withdraw troops from Iraq, the Socialist government of Jorge Louis Zapatero embraced the titillation of gender ideology, including gay-friendly “diversity” training at elementary schools. The “Zapatero Project” was based on the “scorn of nature, reinvention of what is human, exaltation of desire”. Former U.S. President Barack Obama’s years were also marked by an “obsession” with transgender rights. Obsession with gender is a convenient distraction to avoid facing matters that are more difficult and less pleasant.
There is a saying that civilizations can be destroyed from within, rather than by armies from without. If the West will not commit itself to preserving Western societies and values, it will fall. And its extraordinary progress will be blanketed over by darkness, along with all those gender rights.
According to Camille Paglia, “a purely secular culture risks hollowness and, paradoxically, sets itself up for the rise of fundamentalist movements that ominously promise to purify and discipline”. Such as — name it — radical Islam.
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.