The Sexual Deep State
The Sexual Revolution was never about freedom. It was always about control.
Welcome, and thanks for subscribing to the Roundup, where you'll receive our summary of The American Mind every week in your inbox. We're looking forward to bringing you the best writing and commentary on the ideas that drive the debate in this pivotal time for our nation.
America is no longer governed by the Constitution in the sense the Founders understood. Instead, we are governed by a collection of unelected, unaccountable administrative agencies. Readers of this site are likely familiar with the concept of the Administrative State.
Readers of this site are also familiar with the concept of the Deep State. The Deep State goes beyond this bureaucracy to include other structures of society that are not strictly part of the government, but which support and promote and protect it in various ways. Media, academia, entertainment, corporations, charitable foundations, and even professional sports have become part of the interlocking structures that constrain people’s behavior and thinking. The “Deep State” is deep in the sense of being pervasive, powerful, and largely hidden.
In this article, I build on these concepts and propose the additional concept of the Sexual State. The sexual regime under which we all live shares key features of the Deep State and relies on and supports the Administrative State. This claim has vast political and personal ramifications.
The Sexual State
Despite appearances, the Sexual Revolution has nothing to do with enhancing individual freedom. On the contrary, cultural elites commandeered the power of the State to implement their utopian social-sexual vision. The Sexual Revolution serves the interests of this elite ruling class. The Sexual Revolution did not arise from a spontaneous upwelling of “cultural change” or the inexorable “March of History.”
To illustrate this point, consider the sexual revolutionary issue du jour: inventing and securing rights for the so-called transgender person. Boys who say they are girls must be allowed to participate in girls’ athletic competitions. Public libraries must host drag queens reading to toddlers. Men who say they’re women must be admitted to domestic violence shelters and incarcerated in women’s prisons. No serious person can maintain that ordinary people are organically demanding these policies, each more bizarre and aggressive than the next.
Although some are True Believers and are motivated by their abstract ideological commitments, for the most part the elites are foisting these ideas on the public to serve a combination of their ideological, financial, and personal interests—to satisfy their raw desire for power.
Pharmaceutical companies, for instance, have a financial interest in the transgender ideology. People who attempt to live as the opposite sex will require a lifetime of medical care, including expensive drugs and hormone replacements.
The enforcers of “politically correct” pronoun usage will need ever-increasing amounts of legal, as well as cultural power. These enforcers include but are not limited to functionaries of the State. The arbiters of taste and public opinion will have their status enhanced. They can announce new standards of behavior, invent new offenses (called “micro-aggressions”), and form twitter mobs to attack violators. No doubt many of them enjoy the rush of power that arises from the socially sanctioned ability to inflict harm on others.
Like the Bolsheviks, the True Believers in the Sexual Revolution have given their lives to an irrational ideology that has no chance of actually working, if by “working” we mean implementation without the continued destruction of what remains of our civilization. But the irrationality of their fantasy does not deter them. They convince themselves that the nobility of their objectives justifies everything and anything. They think they only require more raw State power, and the manipulative power of propaganda, in order to succeed.
The Sexual Revolution Defined
The ideology of the Sexual Revolution includes three elements.
1. The first marker of a “good” and “decent” and “progressive” society is the separation of sex from babies.
Contraception must not only be legally available, but also subsidized and actively promoted. Of course, abortion on demand is a requirement too, as a back-up plan in the event of contraceptive failure. I call this the Contraceptive Ideology.
2. The second idea is that a “good” society should separate both sex and babies from marriage.
A person doesn’t have to be married before having sex or having a baby. Behind this is the deeper idea that kids don’t really need both parents. Kids are resilient. They can survive despite multiple changes in their parents’ choice of sexual partners and living arrangements. In fact, the kids might even benefit, because the kids will be happy as long as their parents are happy. I call this the Divorce Ideology.
3. The third idea is that a “good” society tries to eradicate the significance of differences between men and women.
Certain types of feminism blazed the trail for this ideology. In its early form, it asserted that differences between men and women were socially constructed and almost certain evidence of injustice. The ideology has morphed into transgenderism, which asserts that technology and social engineering can overwrite the sex of the body. In both versions, the sex of the body is insubstantial and can be changed at will. I call this the Gender Ideology.
In fact, we might say that this is the defining feature of the entire Sexual Revolution: human will can override physical realities of sex and reproduction.
This ideology asserts: not only can we obliterate the sex of the body, but we can also build an entire society in which sexual activity is sterile—a society in which child-free sex is the default setting. Reproduction occurs only at the will of the individual parents, and on their terms. The Divorce Ideology insists that we can override the most basic human attachments, that between a child and his or her mother and father. We attempt to convince our children and ourselves that the biological bonds between us are unimportant.
This assertion of human will over nature is the first significant overlap between the Administrative State and the Sexual Revolution.
As Claremont Institute Senior Fellow John Marini, one of the most important theorists of the Administrative State, argues, this shift from reason and natural law to the raw will of the political class is one of the hallmarks of the move away from constitutional governance and toward the current regime of rule by administrative agencies. Marini argues that rule by the elite technocratic class began with Woodrow Wilson in the original “Progressive Era.” It came to full fruition with Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. Congress announces a vision, and tasks the bureaucracy with its implementation.
The natural feedback loops that might correct wildly unreasonable objectives do not operate. Ordinary folk who are subjected to the Administrative State cannot vote it out of office, as they might under a constitutional regime. Nor can they take their money elsewhere, as they might in a market setting. Whether the government’s vision be reasonable or not, whether it be chosen by the people or not, the bureaucracy chugs along.
Let us look at a few recent examples of the Sexual State in action, to see how it fits in with Marini’s analysis.
The Sexual Deep State at Work
#SaveJames: James Younger and the lawlessness of the family courts
A divorced father in Texas wishes to raise his twin sons both as boys. Their mother treats one of the boys as a girl, calls him by a girl’s name, dresses him in girl’s clothing and sends him to school as a girl. The family court had given full decision-making rights to the mother, excluding the father’s input into decision-making about medical and psychological care. Due to a public outcry over the case, the judge backed away from the original decision and is now giving the father shared rights.
Most of the discussion has centered on the transgender aspect of the case. I wish to call attention to the power of the family court in regulating the life of a law-abiding father.
In court documents from this case, we see the mother’s “wish list.” She asks that the father be enjoined from cutting his son’s hair, using the “wrong” pronoun, or calling him by the “wrong” name. At one point, the mother requested that the father be prevented from going within 500 ft of the children’s school. The mother complained that the father might attend a parents’ event at the school, and “out” the boy as a boy to people who had only known him as a girl.
The transgender aspects of this case are built upon existing divorce law. The courts have had this kind of authority over the lives of law-abiding parents for a long time. Family courts regulate the minutiae of family life, including their finances, how they spend their time, where the children go to school, and yes, even the children’s haircuts.
Family courts are an example of the Administrative State on steroids. They are accountable to no one. Often, their proceedings take place in secret. The judge in the Younger case placed a gag order on both parents, preventing them from talking to the media until the boys turn 18. In fact, the documents alluded to above are posted on a website called www.gagthis.org created by friends of the father.
Marini observes that the Administrative State robs citizens of the power of self-government and lodges it in the hands of experts. Family courts and the administrative apparatus around them will say that they decide issues “in the best interests of the child.” The truth is that “the best interests of the child” is for them to live with both parents in a lifelong union of love and fidelity.
Many well-meaning people suppose that “no-fault” divorce means mutual consent divorce. This is not the case. Our divorce regime is a unilateral divorce regime. Anyone who wants a divorce gets to have one: The State always takes sides with the party who wants the marriage the least. The State incentivizes disloyalty and infidelity between spouses. And when things go wrong, the State empowers itself to clean up the mess.
The injustices of the unilateral divorce regime have been known for a long time. The Deep State could, at any time, enact divorce by mutual consent. Yet, they do not. The most reasonable explanation is that they like the system exactly the way it is.
David Daleiden: The Deep State circles the wagons around abortion
Undercover journalists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt recorded Planned Parenthood employees discussing the sale of body parts from aborted babies. These journalists believed they were “investigating violent felonies committed against children born alive in Planned Parenthood facilities.”
Planned Parenthood filed a civil suit, alleging that Daleiden and his team committed illegal wiretapping, trespassing, breaches of confidentiality, and more. As one analyst put it, Planned Parenthood attorneys must walk a fine line “to make the case that Daleiden and his team illegally recorded private conversations, without admitting what exactly those conversations were about.”
Planned Parenthood won their civil suit with the help of a cooperative judge. U.S. District Judge William Orrick III has ties to Planned Parenthood: he served as secretary and counsel to one of their affiliates, and his wife made inflammatory public statements against the defendants. He did not recuse himself, nor did the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals compel Orrick to recuse himself.
Orrick steered the case away from First-Amendment freedom of speech and freedom of the press issues that would normally be at play in a case involving investigative journalism. He cut off testimony and evidence that called attention to “exactly what the conversations were about.” He refused to let the jury see most of the videos in question. He instructed the jury to find the defendants guilty of trespass. The only question for the jury in his courtroom was the amount of the damages to be awarded.
This case illustrates the elements of the Deep State working together. Abortion being legal is not enough for the Deep State. The Abortion Industry must be beyond criticism. And why is that? Because, despite their continual claims to the contrary, abortion is not “just another medical procedure.” If it were, the Abortion Industry and its cheerleaders would not object to health and safety regulations. Nor would the Ruling Elites object to the Abortion Industry being investigated for potential felonies.
Abortion must be protected because it is the ultimate guarantor of the position that sex is a sterile activity. Every person old enough to give meaningful consent is entitled to unlimited, child-free, problem-free, guilt-free sex. If abortion has serious side effects, even if only for some people, publicizing that fact undermines the “right” to sex. If the Abortion Industry is out for its own financial gain and should not be trusted, that too undermines the belief that inconvenient conceptions can always be undone.
That is why keeping abortion “safe, legal, and rare” has never been enough.
This brings us to the personal interests of many in the Elite classes. Delaying childbearing has become the cost of entering the professions. That means many of our most successful and visible and influential people have used contraception or abortion. They literally cannot imagine what their lives would be without it. Journalists, lawyers, foundation officers, business executives, and politicians all join hands to protect the Abortion Industry from skeptics like David Daleiden.
Incidentally, the Abortion Industry makes a lot of money, including millions from tax-payers.
Jeffrey Epstein: tying it all together.
The recent arrest and “suicide” of Jeffrey Epstein brings together all the key features of the Sexual Deep State.
As everyone now knows, Jeffrey Epstein was guilty of a lifetime of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable young “adult” women. He provided these young girls and women to powerful men in the top echelons of society, including government and academia. We can be fairly sure that top media executives covered for him. Epstein blackmailed the men while he was exploiting the victims. Elites from multiple sectors conspired against the weak. What made it possible, beyond the use of raw power?
Reports from the victims tell us that he preyed upon fatherless girls and girls from foster homes. This is a revealing fact. The fatherless girl is a sitting duck for predators. Fathers are natural authority figures. The ideology of “feminism”—which now holds that all men are potential rapists and not to be trusted—delegitimized fathers in this very role: as authority figures. Between that psychological reframing, and terrible public policies, fathers have been systematically removed from the home—and particularly from the homes of the poorest and most vulnerable. The functions they used to perform are now performed by the State and its functionaries, or not performed at all.
This dynamic has parallels throughout our society.
Law enforcement is now constantly undermined; police officers are ceaselessly delegitimized. Sowing distrust of lawfully constituted law enforcement creates a void in public safety. A paid rent-a-mob steps into the void, with the tacit approval of elected officials. The likes of Antifa are answerable to no lawful authority, only to whoever is paying them and whoever is permitting them to operate with impunity. But as Angelo Codevilla has observed, Antifa violence is only a problem in places where the city fathers allow it to be a problem. Without the protection of local elected officials, “Antifa’s numbers and their capacity for mayhem are no match for ordinary police forces—nor for armed citizens.”
The Sexual Revolution also creates and promotes the Ideology of self-indulgence, conveying the unmistakable message that everyone is entitled to do whatever they can get away with. Prosecutors said Epstein had three active US passports and owned multiple jets and houses around the world, including his own private island. Witnesses and victims feared Epstein’s retaliation and blackmail. This is the sort of man who can get away with a lot.
But the ideology of the Sexual Deep State relieves people of nagging consciences. Epstein’s conscience is malformed, to put it mildly. In 2011, he told the New York Post, “I’m not a sexual predator, I’m an ‘offender.’ It’s the difference between a murderer and a person who steals a bagel.” He once allegedly received three 12-year-old girls as a birthday present. No ideology should justify the actions of a man like that. But the Sexual Revolution provides just such excuses.
I cite many other examples in my book, The Sexual State.
The Sexual Revolution has been a power grab. This is why I capitalize the term “Sexual Revolution.” No matter what one’s opinion of it may be, I think we must give it the historical dignity it deserves. The Sexual Revolution has been every bit as significant in reshaping society as the French Revolution, or the Bolshevik Revolution.
The “social conservatives” are not the ones trying to “impose their morality” on an unwitting society. The Sexual Revolutionaries are enforcing their morality upon our citizenry with impunity. The “social issues” are not just soft, fluffy issues, unworthy of the attention of serious thinkers. Undermining and replacing the regime of the natural family is serious business, with the capacity to undermine everything else traditional America and conservatism claims to hold dear, including fiscal responsibility, the limits of government power, and the primacy of reason itself.
That is why relegating “social issues” to the margins is a big mistake for the future of a free society. The Sexual Deep State needs to be seen for what it is: an essential part of the ruling ideology of the political class and its tyrannical administrative state.