LGBTQ+ May Seem New, but It Grew From an Old Ideology

Published June 6, 2023

National Catholic Register

The LGBTQ+ movement has made significant strides over the last decade. Few institutions and major corporations have withstood its aggressive pressure to embrace its agenda, fly its flags, and speak its pronouns.

The trans movement is the latest fiction being foisted upon us, as biological men steamroll biological women. We are supposed to ignore the farce and affirm that these men are “actually women.” “Transitioning” in the other direction is also being heavily encouraged, as young women embrace testosterone injections and “top” surgeries.

These huge cultural shifts away from anything resembling Christian morality feel as though they have burst onto the scene with little warning. Even Tucker Carlson has been left scratching his head for answers. Recently, the talk-show host pointed out that there used to be “rational debates about the way to get to mutually-agreed-upon outcomes,” such as prosperity and freedom. These debates have turned into something totally different, like castrating the next generation and sexually mutilating children. “I’m sorry, that’s not a debate,” said Carlson. “That has nothing to do with politics. What is the outcome we are desiring here? An androgynous population? Are we arguing for that?”

The reality is that the ideas underpinning our societal wreckage are much older than most of us realize. The blueprint for it was set centuries ago, going back to the earliest stages of the feminist movement.

Many feminist writers have claimed that, in the 1960s and ’70s, the movement made a significant break from an older brand of better feminism, but a closer look reveals a different story, the findings of which are in my forthcoming book, The End of Woman: How Smashing the Patriarchy Has Destroyed Us (Regnery, August 2023).

My research was startling because I saw many of the philosophical ideas that animate contemporary feminism already present in its earliest days. What happened in the 1960s and ’70s — and what is happening now — is merely the logical extension of early feminist philosophical thought.

Feminism, going back to even the late 1700s, started with the wrong question. It didn’t ask, “How do we help women as women?” but rather asked, “How do we help women become more like men?”

The feminist answer to this question involved a blend of three elements woven into the very fabric of the movement: the occult, free love and restructuring society — or what came to be called “smashing the patriarchy.” These elements, in varying degrees, were prevalent in early feminism, including the works of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.

As the movement progressed, these three ideas — the occult, free love and restructuring society — overlapped with the communist ideals of free love, restructuring society and atheism. This overlap made them natural allies, and feminism became a prime platform, even a Trojan horse, for the communist revolutionaries secretly agitating their way through U.S. institutions.

The knitting together of feminism and communism started in the 1940s. Specifically, it began with an organization called the Congress for American Women (CAW). The work (essentially Soviet propaganda) of CAW eventually came to the attention of the U.S. Congress and was investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Congress dissolved the CAW in 1950.

Before that dissolution, though, many highly influential women were involved, including the wife of a major department store owner and many academic women. Also among these women was a young Betty Friedan, whose influence on feminism can scarcely be overstated.

Friedan always claimed that she was just a simple housewife and knew nothing about communism. But this simple housewife went on to write the book The Feminine Mystique in 1963. It sold 3 million copies in its first few years. Its influence, particularly its claim that the home is a “comfortable concentration camp,” has affected nearly every woman in the civilized world.

Friedan, following Marx and Engels, held the deep conviction that women would only be free if we left home. Unwittingly, perhaps, she was held under the sway of the phrase made famous by Hitler at Auschwitz: Arbeit macht frei (“Work makes you free”).

Friedan, who studied psychology, was masterful at convincing women that the home was a terrible place. She appealed to our sense of victimhood. She taught us, in short, to think like Marxists.

The Marxist hold on women that started with Friedan intensified through the influence of a group of Marxist academics, the Frankfort Thinkers, at the prestigious Columbia University. One of them, Wilhelm Reich, wrote the deeply influential 1936 book The Sexual Revolution, which was a blueprint for what we know today to be the sexual revolution.

The revolutionary ideas of the Frankfort Thinkers fundamentally influenced radical feminists such as Kate Millett and Angela Davis, who proliferated their ideas deep into the academy and, perhaps most importantly, into popular culture in the 1960s and ’70s. From them, Marxist class warfare was twisted into a battle of the sexes. Men were broadly branded oppressors. Women defaulted into the oppressed. Sex determined everything.

With a war between the sexes declared, feminists saw the female form and female relationships to be superior to heterosexual relationships. Naturally, lesbianism didn’t involve getting pregnant, and it didn’t require women to ever serve men. One feminist explained in the book The Sisterhood Is Powerful, a lesbian “does not have to do menial chores for them (at least at home), nor cater to their egos, nor submit to hasty and inept sexual encounters. She is freed from fear of unwanted pregnancy and the pains of childbirth, and from the drudgery of child raising.”

Other feminists took further steps in the 1970s, with the recommendation that men should be eliminated altogether, like Valerie Solanas’ SCUM Manifesto, or the Society for Cutting Up Men, followed by the ideas of erasing gender altogether and gender fluidity. Men were no longer necessary because women had been sufficiently empowered to live without them; women had, through the feminist ideology, become better than them. Echoes of this were heard more recently by Huffington Post editor Emily McComb: “New Year’s resolutions: 1. Cultivate female friendships; 2. Band together to kill all men.”

Technological advances, such as the pill, furthered the fiction that women can be “just like men” by preventing pregnancy or eliminating unwanted pregnancies. Pregnancy and motherhood (even psychological and spiritual motherhood) became optional, like getting a driver’s license, instead of an essential attribute of womanhood. But it didn’t stop there. Technology eventually gained the capacity to make women into men (kind of). Testosterone injections, “top” surgeries and “bottom” surgeries are presented as options to correct the “wrong body,” despite not being able to completely erase the XX chromosomal elements found in nearly every bodily cell of a woman.

No one should be surprised that the feminist ideology is finally eating its own — as happens with all ideologies. A major rift has developed between the trans-affirming feminists and their rivals, the TERFs, the Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists, such as J.K. Rowling. It is a division at the very height of a movement that implicitly has longed for women to become the more coveted sex: men. Many radical feminists, holding the line of 200 years of ideological progress, seem to think that sex should be abolished, while others, seeing where the movement has taken them, aren’t keen on seeing women erased entirely. Meanwhile, many women today are no longer able to enumerate the defining characteristics of womanhood or what it means to be a woman.

Although many wonder what has happened, the answer is that elite women have been slowly and steadily serving up their ideology to very receptive women for some time in a parallel reality few have noticed until recently. On offer have been dreams of success, empowerment and ambition. These things, they have assured us, will make us happy. No longer will we need men, a home or the “drudgery” of children. All of these, woman are told, will only get in our way. And yet, the statistics tell a very different story: depression, divorce, sexually transmitted disease, abortions and suicides have become common biographical details for many women. Some women have been able to recover from feminism. This new damage, the sterilizing of young women and men, can, tragically, not be undone.

Perhaps the most disturbing detail about feminism is that, of all the bloody tyrants of the 20th century, the feminism ideology has killed more than all of them combined through the scourge of abortion. A 2022 Guttmacher study reported 73 million abortions annually worldwide, eliminating more than roughly the entire population of the U.K. (69 million). This isn’t solider killing solider, but a mother who has been convinced that killing her own child is for her own good.

As I state in my book:

“To move forward, women must recognize where our real power lies and understand how to use it well. We must also end the vilification of men and move to restore the family. If we do these things, the world will not come to an end — quite the contrary, like a barren garden, it will emerge slowly, coming back to life, to be reanimated with those elements that we have grasped at but missed.”

Until we come to recognize the terrible damage wrought upon our culture by feminism, we won’t be able to curtail the power of the LGBTQ+ movement. Pandora must be put back in her box. Our children and future generations depend upon it.

Women are incredibly powerful. Elizabeth Cady Stanton predicted that the women’s movement would unleash “the greatest revolution the world has ever seen,” and she was not mistaken, if one means size and influence rather than moral goodness. If we were not powerful, our culture would never have succumbed to the damage wrought by feminism and its “great revolution.” The problem is that we haven’t used our power properly.

Carrie Gress Carrie Gress, Ph.D., is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a scholar at the Institute for Human Ecology at The Catholic University of America. She is the editor at the online women’s magazine Theology of Home and co-author of its book series. Holding a doctorate from The Catholic University of America, she is the author of several books, including The End of Woman: How Smashing the Patriarchy Has Destroyed Us, The Marian Option: God’s Solution to a Civilization in Crisis and The Anti-Mary Exposed: Rescuing the Culture from Toxic Femininity. Carrie is the co-author with George Weigel of City of Saints: A Pilgrims Guide to John Paul II’s Krakow. A home-schooling mother of five, she and her family live in Virginia.

Carrie Gress, Ph.D., is a Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where she co-directs EPPC’s Theology of Home Project. She earned her doctorate in philosophy from the Catholic University of America and is the co-editor at the online women’s magazine Theology of Home.

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