I’ll begin this post with a relevant quotation from Wyndham Lewis (not to be confused with his much milder contemporary D.B. Wyndham Lewis), taken from his 1926 work of political analysis, The Art of Being Ruled. The passage speaks to the problems that Ontarians are facing as radical feminism, rekindled by gender theory and LGBTTIQQ2S (or whatever) activism, becomes more and more an essential element of Canadian public policy. Such activist theory has recently crept into Ontario’s new Health and Physical Education curriculum, which unfortunately must be followed in both public and Catholic elementary schools and high schools. (The curriculum is normally available here but the government site is down for some reason.)
Keep in mind that Lewis’s prophetic quote is from a book published almost ninety years ago.
“Now what really is happening today (and this will continue until the full circle of social revolution has been described) is that the opposite of the initiatory ceremonies of puberty, universal amongst primitive people, are performed. The puberty ceremony of primitive life was directed to separating the adolescent male from the women and children (with whom up to then he had lived) for ever. Simultaneously he became a ‘tribesman,’ and was initiated into the ceremonies over which the male leaders of the tribe presided. Today at the age of puberty, or indeed long before, the child receives, and is destined more and more to receive, an intensive ritualistic teaching opposite in its aim: namely, away from the traditions of the tribe and its traditional rulers. He, he is told, is henceforth the ruler. (This in effect would be the rule not by childhood, of course, but by the mentor or teacher, the dominy, and by the queen-mother, sitting upon an ideologic matriarchal throne.)” (Lewis 253-54)
Lewis is describing the development of our inversional culture; this development started long ago—it’s not even remotely new. Even in the Britain of 1926, traditional families and communities were already being turned inside out and transformed according to the logic of “social revolution.” Lewis saw the coming of the man-child, the teacher-ruler, and the ideological matriarch. Under such a system, the child (and especially the male child) is forced to remain a child indefinitely with a sexual drive that has been stunted and misdirected by what is indeed “an intensive ritualistic teaching.” This teaching is ritualistic in the sense that it demands participation and repetitive acts of affirmation. All of us are part of the ritual, in some sense, in that we are daily assaulted by the percussive messaging of feminism and gay rights; it commands us to conform, against every natural instinct.
Ontario’s ideological matriarch is Premier Kathleen Wynne, and her Ministry of Education is her hive of teacher-rulers. That being said, I don’t think she is the head of any conscious conspiracy to sow moral chaos. I doubt she thinks that what she’s doing is controversial at all. As you can tell from her grating smile and DeGenerestic spunk, her eyes are filled with rainbows and she genuinely believes she is on the side of the angels.
The problem with the new curriculum is not its explicitness. The problem is that it seeks to enshrine, within our school systems and within the minds of young Canadians, a warped sense of sexuality and gender. To show this, I’ll highlight several of the key elements of the ‘teaching’ contained in the curriculum. I’ll try to do this without hyperbole, so as to avoid the usual accusation that anyone who objects to the curriculum is a prudish bigot.
Element 1: the usual (for sex-ed) sterilization of the topic of sexuality
As in the past, the curriculum treats reproductive organs as if they are mere pleasure-organs that must be handled carefully so as to avoid disease or pregnancy. Never mind that the purpose of these organs is, first and foremost, the creation of new life. The idea of sex as consummation is ignored, as is any connection between sex and marriage. The new guidelines even discourage children from using the terms “husband” and “wife,” except in situations where those terms are approved as being appropriate.
Element 2: the separation of sex (as biology) and gender (as social construct)
The new curriculum confidently treats gender as a social construct when in fact the boundaries between nature and nurture in gender expression are not at all clear. (Indeed, the document contradicts itself when it describes “gender identity,” in a sample Grade 5 student response, as one of the “things I cannot control.” If gender identity is a social construct, it is not an unchangeable essence.) The stark sexuality/gender divide allows for a distinction between gender identities (“e.g., male, female, two-spirited, transgender, transsexual, intersex”) and sexual orientation (“e.g., heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual”). How is an elementary school student supposed to use this model of sexuality and gender as a guide when it is based on confused activist theory rather than fact? Why not simply explain that most people are either male or female in both sex and gender although there are many variations from the norm?
Element 3: quantitative relativization
In the lists of available options for gender identity quoted above, we see a technique characteristic of the Marxist intellectual habitus which we might refer to as quantitative relativization. A category of human identity—in this case gender—is identified, and the spectrum of possible sub-categories is mapped out. What is crucial is that the sub-categories be listed without any reference to their actual distribution in human societies. Anyone who doesn’t spend all their time on the Internet or on university campuses knows that the overwhelming majority of people on Earth identify as either male or female (and are also “cisgendered,” to borrow a noxious term from gender theory that applies to anyone whose mode of gender expression corresponds to their biological sex), while a very small minority identify as “two-spirited, transgender, transsexual, intersex,” and so on. Yet male, female, two-spirited, transgender, transsexual, and intersex are presented in the curriculum as simple categories stripped of any quantitative data that would show the distribution of each. They are all granted equal status.
One example may demonstrate the absurdity of this type of thinking. Imagine that you are a father whose daughter is a late teenager. You decide that it’s about time she learned how to drive a vehicle. You know that there are two main types of vehicles on the road: cars (and in this category I would include SUVs and four-wheeled trucks) and motorcycles. The overwhelming majority of people drive cars, while only a small fraction of people drive motorcycles, which are more dangerous and less versatile than cars. Would you tell your daughter, “It’s about time you learned to how to drive a car or motorcycle”? No—you would tell her it’s time she learned how to drive a car. In the unlikely case that she has always dreamed of driving a motorcycle and has no interest in driving a car, you can warn her of the dangers and limitations of motorcycles and negotiate the situation from there. The motorcycle option is a special case outside the norm. In the same way, “two-spirited, transgender, transsexual, [and] intersex” gender identities are outside the norm and should be treated as special cases. Do we need to present these gender identities to children, who are awkwardly discovering their sexuality, like options at a buffet? Are male and female gender identities just two possible options among many?
Element 4: the characterization of morality as “private”
The curriculum treats morality as something relative and private and replaces it with a resolutely liberal ethical framework. Ideas of right and wrong are ignored; what matters is whether the child is able to develop a unique “self concept” and gain emotional support from similarly-oriented role-models and allies. The child is left without any means of determining what might make one self-concept better than another, except for the golden rule that one’s self-concept must not lead to intolerance toward the self-concepts of others.
The curriculum says, “A moral consideration is what you believe is right or wrong. It is influenced by your personal, family, and religious values.” Ok, fine. But then it continues with the non-sequitur that “Every person in our society should treat other people fairly and with respect.” In other words, the ethics of fairness and respect trumps morality. This would only make sense if morality could be separated from ethics, which is impossible.
Element 5: the exclusion of references to Christian traditions or teachings, although other cultural/religious traditions are mentioned
Regarding religion, the document manages to incorporate references, in the context of puberty, to Jewish (bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah) and Aboriginal traditions (rites of passage), but none to Christian or Islamic traditions. Why?
Element 6: the representation of masturbation as harmless
The curriculum states, “Exploring one’s body by touching or masturbating is something that many people do and find pleasurable. It is common and is not harmful and is one way of learning about your body.” While even the Catholic Church is lenient regarding masturbation when it comes to teenagers, there is a big difference between saying “no, it won’t make you go blind” and “it is common and is not harmful.” Chronic masturbation can lead to all sorts of harm. It can make one turn away from healthier expressions of sexuality, and it can easily lead to the use of pornography. Our culture, in many ways, has become not only inversional but also masturbatory and voyeuristic.
There are fundamental flaws in this new curriculum that make it unsuitable for use in both public and Catholic schools. Many of the opponents of this new curriculum are religious people, but the curriculum also undermines traditional secular understandings of sexuality and gender and should be of concern to non-religious people as well. This curriculum should be rejected and replaced with one that would encourage tolerance of those with sexual orientations or gender identities outside the norm without obliterating traditional concepts of sexuality and gender.
Lewis work cited:
Lewis, Wyndham. The Art of Being Ruled. Ed. Reed Way Dasenbrock. Santa Rosa: Black Sparrow Press, 1989. First published 1926.