Published October 11, 2022
Mermaids, the UK activist charity pressing for transgender treatment for minors, has been in the headlines recently. First, the group has been trying to reverse the charitable status of the LGB Alliance. The Alliance is an organization that lobbies for the rights of LGB people has yet fallen foul of Mermaids because of its opposition to trans ideology. All is not well in the world of the rainbow coalition.
Second, a Mermaids board member was forced to resign last week after it emerged that he is an apologist for pedophilia. In an article at Unherd, Julia Bindel (herself a lesbian) outlines in gruesome detail the views of the board member concerned, Dr. Jacob Breslow. In fact, let us call them “perversions” not mere “views” because that is what they are, as her quotations from his work makes graphically obvious.
Breslow, is (inevitably) a professor of “gender studies” at the London School of Economics where his profile on the school’s website is most instructive and raises two obvious questions.
The first is this: to what extent are the current iterations of gender studies, particularly in the manner in which they address transgenderism, really just a means by which adults are able to indulge their pedophile fantasies? It is interesting that Breslow is interested in “the queer life of children’s desires.” By that, he does not mean that he is interested in the typically unformed and often confused sexual desires of young children as they enter puberty and settle into sexual adulthood. Gender theory denies any norms for sexual desires and can therefore grant normative authority to any and all sexual desires it chooses.
It is very interesting that this is tilting towards pedophilia, something that even Wilhelm Reich, early theorist of the sexual revolution, considered to be crossing an important line. No doubt Reich, a Marxist, would be deeply suspicious of the way capitalism, in the form of the medical industry, is conveniently supporting the ideology of the trans movement. But today’s progressives worry less about capitalism and the poor than about the abolition of any categories that interfere with human desire.
The second question arises out of the fact that Breslow’s interests include not simply gender theory but also critical race theory. This should shock no one. Anyone who has a basic understanding of the origins of critical theory in the Frankfurt School, along with its later connection to the thought of post-structuralists such as Michel Foucault, knows that the middle term—whether race, gender, or whatever—is of far less importance than the “critical” and the “theory.” It is therefore no surprise whatsoever to find a queer theorist who advocates for pedophilia also being interested in critical race theory.
The basic assumptions about the social construction of categories, whether racial, gender, or generational, are the same, as is the conviction that power and manipulation lie at the heart of existence. To his credit, Breslow seems to understand this. The second question therefore is why so many Christians do not understand it? Further, why is it that a question I first asked in print nearly two years ago—Can a commitment to CRT still allow one to object to queer theory?—remains (as far as I can see) unanswered in any substantial or compelling way?
Dismissing the question itself with laughable accusations that it is “racist” even to ask such a thing or offering lazy pieties about eating the meat of CRT and leaving aside the bones simply do not get to the heart of the theoretical issue. Are not the basic assumptions of CRT inextricably connected to those of queer theory? Queer theorists clearly think so—so what makes Christian advocates of CRT so confident that they are wrong on this point?
To return to the question of gender theory, it is now well known that the patron saint of modern theorists of sex and gender, Michel Foucault, obtained his pleasure by paying to rape impoverished North African boys on gravestones. Nobody—least of all Foucault himself—would make the case that his philosophy and his desires were unconnected. We need to see gender theory as it parlays into trans activism in the same light—a pseudo-scholarly justification for destroying parental rights and exposing children to sexual perverts and medical profiteers.
Carl R. Trueman is a fellow in EPPC’s Evangelicals in Civic Life Program, where his work focuses on helping civic leaders and policy makers better understand the deep roots of our current cultural malaise. In addition to his scholarship on the intellectual foundations of expressive individualism and the sexual revolution, Trueman is also interested in the origins, rise, and current use of critical theory by progressives. He serves as a professor at Grove City College.
Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash