Sasha of the Secret Gender

A few days ago I posted about the movement to make toy stores gender neutral. I wish I could say that gender neutrality is limited to toy stores like London’s Hamleys. Alas, no. Earlier this year the UK newsletters were full of stories about the case of little Sasha Laxton. Before the child was born, the parents had determined that their child would be called Sasha regardless of whether “it” turned out to be a boy or a girl. And just to prove to themselves the unimportance of gender, after labor was over the parents waited 30 minutes before asking midwives what gender their child was.

For five years Sasha’s gender was a carefully guarded secret. The parents referred to their child as simply “the infant”, scrupulously avoided gender-loaded pronouns like “he” or “she.” They were also careful about dress. One day Sasha’s parents would dress him in striped trousers, the next in a sparkly pink tutu with fairy wings and ballet shoes. Moreover, the Laxton’s home became a gender neutral zone as the parents desperately attempted to shield their child from society’s prejudices and preconceptions.

Sasha was eventually ‘outed’ as a male just before beginning school.

Just to show that their experiment in gender neutrality had achieved the desired result, the parents posted a 90-second Youtube clip where Sasha and his mother can be seen walking along a road near their home in Cambridgeshire. Sasha’s mother, Beck, asks her son if he thinks there are any differences between boys and girls. “No,” Sasha replies. The mother presses her son with a barrage of other questions, like “do girls like pink and boys like blue?” In each cases Sasha gives the only correct answer for someone who has been indoctrinated with the stereotype of gender neutrality: no, no, no.

The Laxton parents are not alone. In 2011 Kathy Witterick and David Stocker from Canada announced that they would not be revealing the gender of their third child, Storm. Only Storm’s siblings would know. Similarly, in Sweden a couple recently announced that the gender of their baby Pop would be a carefully guarded secret.

Sex Between Consenting Adults is Expensive

You’ve probably heard it a dozen times: “sex between consenting adults is nobody else’s business.” You may (and should) object to this statement on moral grounds. But recent evidence suggests that you should also object to this statement on economic grounds.

Last year Mr Brandon, author of the book Just Sex: is it Ever Just Sex?, used quantitative cost-analysis to disprove the mantra that “sex between consenting adults is no one else’s business.”

By using the category of ‘moral hazard’, he showed that British society has created a system that incentivizes promiscuity. Much of his research applies equally to American society.

“‘Moral Hazard’, he explains, “occurs when a contract or financial arrangement creates incentives for the parties involved to behave against the interest of others’ – typically because one party is insulated from risk.”

One of the ways British society does this is through a system in which the financial consequences of promiscuity are not carried by the people directly involved but diffused throughout society collectively.

The British Government has also created a moral hazard when it began to allow the welfare safety net to be exploited in ways which incentivise family breakdown. “At present,” Brandon writes, “the tax and benefits system makes it economically more favourable for some parents to live apart – the so-called couple penalty. Ending this must be a priority.”

Why Free Sex is Never Free

The Jubilee Centre article, titled ‘Free sex: Who pays?: Moral hazard and sexual ethics’, suggests that while “the costs of sexual freedom and relationship breakdown to the taxpayer and wider economy are complex and difficult to calculate… £100 billion annually is probably a reasonable starting point: about twice as much as alcohol abuse, smoking and obesity combined.”

The following are some the areas where the costs of sexual licence are felt the strongest in our economy:

  • Promiscuity often leads to STI’s, which cost the British taxpayer more than £1 billion per year.
  • Promiscuity often leads to HIV. The estimated 83,000 cases of HIV in the UK at the end of 2008 represent a total lifetime cost of £26 billion.
  • Promiscuity leads to teenage pregnancy which cost the NHS £63 million per year, and a further £29 million for infertility and other complications arising from chlamydia alone.
  • Promiscuity often leads to abortions, and 96% of abortions are carried out on the NHS at a cost of £650 each, or £118 million.
  • Promiscuity often contributes to separation from marriage and cohabiting relationships (including promiscuity prior to entering such relationships), which entails huge increases in tax credit payments, lone parent benefits, housing benefits, in addition to the health, crime and educational impact of relationship breakdown. Altogether this totals about £42 billion a year.
  • In contributing to relationship breakdown, promiscuity leads to Absenteeism. The loss of working hours following relationship breakdown costs the economy at least £20 billion a year.
  • In contributing to relationship breakdown, promiscuity can lead to domestic violence which costs the British taxpayer around £3.4 billion a year, and around £21 billion today in ‘human and emotional costs.’
  • The effect of relationship breakdown on children leads to educational underachievement which results in an estimated £40,000 for each child, reducing GDP by £6 billion. Much of this cost can be directly attributable to the promiscuous activity which contributed to the relationship breakdown.

These facts, all of which Brandon meticulously documents, help to undermine the common narrative that sex is a choice made only by the couple most directly involved with only limited consequences beyond the two of them. This narrative has found expression in phrases such as ‘recreational sex’ and ‘casual sex’, which obscure the reality that the entire society picks up the bill for promiscuity.

Some of the material for this post was originally published by Christian Voice, a UK ministry whose website is The article is published here with permission of Christian Voice.

Schools Encourage Cross-dressing and Gender Confusion

One of the things we find here at Salvo is that our Fake Ads, designed to parody aspects of contemporary foolishness, sometimes come incredibly close to depicting the reality. The same thing happened with my feature in Salvo 11, ‘Gender Benders: Is My Sexual Identity an Accident Just Waiting to Happen?‘ and the add (below) which accompanied it.

In the article I quoted various scholars who have argued for a more fluid concept of gender, and then I suggested (in jest, of course) that I worried I might wake up one morning to find I had slipped into a state of womanhood.

I didn’t know it at the time I wrote the article, but the children’s book Bill’s New Frock had already explored the concept of a male waking up to discover he was female. According to an LGBT organization that uses the book in schools, the story is about a boy who “wakes up one day as a girl and is horrified to be sent to school in a frilly pink frock with fiddly shell buttons.” It doesn’t take Bill long for his gender stereotypes to be undermined, not least because boys begin flirting with him (who is now called ‘her’) instead of bullying him. As the day progresses he finds that being a girl isn’t so bad after all.

Bill's New Frock was made into a children's movie in 1998.

It would be nice to say that cross-dressing is limited to fictional school children like Bill. However, in a Stonewall teacher training DVD, teachers have shared their experiences encouraging boys to dress up as girls. A class teacher for St. Matthew’s Primary School in Cambridgeshire boasted that “I had a group of boys last year and every day they came into school they wanted to wear the dressing up dresses. And they really loved wearing dressing up dresses and it went on for several weeks, and within the culture of the classroom I wanted to say that that was ok.” The teacher went on to explain how she reprimanded other boys who criticized the cross-dressers. Tony Davies, the head teacher of the same school, explained how the school had a cheer-leading club in which boys dressed themselves in pom-poms and put in “I think that is absolutely wonderful.”


Nudist Colonies Seek to Demystify the Body

“Many churches tell the congregation, ‘Come as you are’” we read in a News Report from last year. “For a chapel in Ivor, VA, that’s especially true. People come without even bothering to get dressed. It’s a church at a nudist colony. Members say it’s nice to worship in a place where there is total freedom and where everyone is equal.” (See also the ABC news report ‘Church welcomes nude parishioners’)

Reading about that got me thinking about nudist colonies in general.  We need to someday do a fake add for a nudist camp that is “guaranteed to desexualize the human body” after only two weeks. Because that is exactly what public nudity does, and when we look into it we find a very good pragmatic argument for being modest.

In 2003 the New York Times ran an article about one of the many youth nudist camps that are becoming increasingly popular in the United States. A 15-year old camper was quoted as saying, “It makes me a bit freaked out that people would think of nudity as a sexual thing.”

These words are significant since frequent exposure to nudity does tend to trivialize the human body, emptying it of its implicit eroticism and making public nakedness seem merely common and non-sexual.

At least, that is what I argued in an article I wrote earlier this year for the Colson Center, titled ‘Nudity and the Christian Worldview.’ I quoted from Vern and Bonnie Bullough book Sexual Attitudes, Myths and Realities, in which the authors testify to the desexualisation process that occurred among the early advocates of nudism. “Early advocates of nudism put high on their list of goals the demystifying of the human body and the reintegration of the sex organs with the rest of the body. The emphasis, however, lay not so much on sexuality as on desexualization. Nudists of the time never tired of pointing out that the complete and unabashed practice of nudism was not an erotic experience…”

In fact we do not need to travel to nudist colonies to see this process of demystification at work. All we need to do is to listen to some of the common defenses some women give for wearing skimpy swimwear or who go about in public only minimally covered. We often hear come-backs like, “It’s ok because they’re not trying to be provocative. There is nothing sexual in this. This is just what women wear these days, and so you shouldn’t import sexual connotations onto it.” Commenting on this line of argument in ‘Nudity and the Christian Worldview’, I wrote

Although I think this is often naive and wishful thinking, my response is to take the young people at their word and to assume, for the sake of argument, that there really is nothing sexual in the minds of those women who strip down to a bikini, or those men who defend the practice as “not having anything sexual about it.” I then point out that if the female body can be almost entirely revealed without the presence of erotic overtones than this only shows how desexualized we have become. Indeed, if a woman can strip down to a bikini in the presence of men without having any thought of the sexual overtones, then this only shows that she has let her body become demystified, that her God-given barriers have been lowered, and that her bare flesh has been evacuated of its inherent eroticism. And this is exactly what early advocates of nudism hoped would happen.

I suggest that we are drifting towards being neuter when the signals of our sexuality are treated as anything less. If we reach the point where attire which conceals less than underwear (e.g. contemporary beachwear) is anything short of utterly erotic, disarmingly sexual and totally provocative, then we have actually repressed an important part of our sexuality. Being in a condition of undress has been unnaturally disengaged from the sexual connotations that ought to accompany it. It follows that the line “there’s nothing sexual about this” is as much an indictment against immodesty as it is a defense of it.

Perhaps God never intended for the naked body to be demystified like this. Perhaps seeing someone of the opposite sex in a state of undress (whether on the beach or on television), was never meant to be disengaged from its sexual connotations and to become merely ‘ordinary’ so that we can say ‘Oh, that doesn’t affect me.’ Perhaps we were never meant to become so detached that seeing someone’s genitals becomes like looking at their elbow. Perhaps it is for this very reason that we are supposed to protect our eyes, to make responsible decisions about how we dress and what we watch on television.

If we reach the point where nothing fazes us, where we can enjoy a beach party with virtually unclad men and women, or think that we can watch various stages of nudity in movies without it affecting us, then we are the losers. What have we lost? We have lost the ability to be naturally sexual as God originally designed. We have in effect let ourselves become functionally neutered in one crucially important area.

Further Reading

Normalizing Sex

Nudity and the Christian Worldview

Save the Males!

Forget about saving the whales: it’s the males we are in danger of losing.

At least, that is what Kathleen Parker argues in her book Save the Males: Why Men Matter Why Women Should Care.

Combining humorous anecdotes with scholarly research, Parker makes a convincing case that the men of our society are in danger, not so much of becoming extinct, but of ceasing to be men in the fullest sense.

Here is what Publisher Weekly had to say about the book:

According to columnist Parker, men are an endangered species struggling against everything from mere hostility to literal emasculation. Starting in elementary school, where a teacher most likely a feminist will demand that boys sit still and listen and continuing through college, where freshmen must endure rape awareness workshops, men are besieged by disrespect. Belittled by bumbling portrayals in sitcoms, their importance as fathers is so devalued that they are perceived as little more than sperm and a wallet. Parker trots out the usual suspects—mass culture, unspecified feminists, The Vagina Monologues, Murphy Brown, metrosexuals and girlymen—to propose that a feminist campaign is afoot and eager to effeminize, denigrate and destroy American men.

I think Parker is onto something, not least because the feminization of men is something that we have covered here at Salvo. (See S. T. Karnick’s article ‘Girly Men: The Media’s Attack on Masculinity’ for starters.)

Further Resources:

Aristophanes and Gay Marriage

In a post last week I commented on the subtle sophistry involved in the homosexual lobby’s recent attempts to portray the fight for gay marriage as a fight for civil rights. In today’s post I thought it might be worth mentioning that this is not the first time that the gay community has indulged in sophistry to twist the truth.

But what do I mean by sophistry? In an article I wrote last year for the Chuck Colson Center, titled ‘Sophistry in Ancient Athens,’ I explained how the sophists were teachers that arose as a result of Athens not having a police force.

The ancient city of Athens didn’t have a police force. Thus, if somebody committed a crime against you – if, for example, they embezzled your money or stole your property – the only way you could achieve justice was by taking them to court.
Ancient Athens also didn’t have any lawyers. Thus, anyone who found himself in court had to be prepared to argue the case himself.

One thing that ancient Athens did possess was plenty of unscrupulous characters. Many of these less-than principled folk discovered that if you were clever enough you could persuade the court to agree with you even if you were in the wrong (especially if your opponent was not very bright).

In the latter half of the fifth century BC, a group of teachers arose in Athens called Sophists. The Sophists claimed to be able to teach students how to prove impossible propositions, such as that nothing exists or that motion is impossible.

The Greek playwright, Aristophanes, poked fun at the Sophists in his comedy The Clouds. In his play, an elderly farmer named Strepsiades goes to a special school called “The Thinkery” where Socrates (caricatured here as a Sophist) promises to teach him how to use persuasive rhetoric to prove that right is wrong and wrong is right. Overjoyed at the power he will wield once Socrates has taught him the secret to proving anything, the unscrupulous Strepsiades breaks forth into this refrain (taken from Alan H. Sommerstein’s wonderful Penguin Classics translation)

“So I give myself entirely to the school – I’ll let it beat me,
It can starve me, freeze me, parch me, it can generally ill-treat me,
If it teaches me to dodge my debts and get the reputation
Of the cleverest, slyest fox that ever baffled litigation.
Let men hate me, let men call me names, and over and above it
Let them chase me through each court, and I assure you that I’ll love it.
Yes, if Socrates can make of me a real forensic winner,
I don’t mind if he takes out my guts and has them for his dinner.”

Although The Clouds was a work of dramatic fiction, it isn’t far off from the truth of what actually went on in Athens. Though it is unlikely that the historical Socrates was anything like Aristophanes’ portrayal, the Sophists were just as unscrupulous. Many of the youth flocked to them to learn how to be clever enough to persuade courts and other audiences, even if what they were saying was false.

The chorus of clouds in Aristophanes' comedy

What does any of this have to do with homosexuality? Quite simply that the homosexual lobby uses tactics of sophistry similar to the characters in Aristophanes’ play to get us to think that ‘gay marriage’ is something it is not.

I don’t refer to the fact that it is not really marriage, though that is perhaps the most obvious example. Rather, I’m thinking of the way we keep hearing that laws to allow gay marriage will simply extend to same-sex couples the rights that the government already gives to married couples. President Obama’s own comments show he has bought into this reasoning. Yet there is a fatal flaw to this utterly-simplistic and naive narrative. At least that is what I argued in another piece I did for the Colson Center, titled ‘Sophistry in America‘. This is what I wrote:

If we accept that the principle of equal protection under the law means that same-sex couples should be entitled to the same rights as married couples (including the right to call their union a “marriage”), then in order to be logically consistent we would have to say that a definition of marriage that includes both heterosexual and same-sex unions, yet excludes unions with animals or multiple partners, is also failing to provide equal protection under the law. Indeed…if someone is bisexual, then in order for their sexuality to be fully expressed, their “marriage” must include a minimum of at least one person from each sex. At least, that is where the argument against “discrimination based on sexual orientation” could go…. [The reality is that] any new definition of marriage that [we] may wish to proffer opens the door to an endless series of redefinition in the years to come. This is because what is true of the word marriage is true of any noun: to define a word as one thing is necessarily to exclude that word as being some other thing. A noun that can mean anything is a noun that can mean nothing.

Consequently, if we say that it is unconstitutional for the word “marriage” to exclude anyone or anything, then we are beginning a process whereby the word must necessarily be eventually emptied of all content.

Suffice to say, if [the laws restricting marriage to one-woman and one-man] were set aside, then not only would a union between one man and one woman no longer have a monopoly on the term “marriage,” but in principle any definition of marriage (even one broadened to encompass homosexual unions) could eventually be challenged as unconstitutional by an extension of the same logic.

In short, the word “marriage” must finally come to cover anything we could possibly imagine. However, to do that would render the term incoherent, and that is something that not even the homosexuality community wishes to see happen.

Further Reading

Sophistry in Ancient Athens

Sophistry in America

Gay marriage: A Civil Right?

The Tyranny of the Minority: How the Forced Recognition of Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Undermines a Free Society.