MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

No Families, No Children, No Future

Posted by M. C. on October 23, 2020

Rod Dreher

October 22, 2020|

Rod Dreher

Here’s a fascinating article from New York magazine on the massive gender gap between Trump and Biden supporters. It contains this eye-popping claim, buried deep down:

Neither the societal shift away from traditional gender roles nor the downstream cultural consequences of that shift are anywhere near complete. As Rebecca Traister has incisively argued, the growing prevalence of singledom among America’s rising generation of women is one of the most potent forces in contemporary politics. In 2009, for the first time in history, there were more unmarried women in the United States than married ones. And today, young women in the U.S. aren’t just unprecedentedly single; they also appear to be unprecedentedly uninterested in heterosexuality: According to private polling shared with Intelligencer by Democratic data scientist David Shor, roughly 30 percent of American women under 25 identify as LGBT; for women over 60, that figure is less than 5 percent.

David Shor is one of the best data people the Democratic Party people has. Take this seriously.

Has anything like this ever happened to any society, ever? Three out of ten women under the age of 25 consider themselves to be gay or transgender. Five percent, sure. Maybe even eight percent. But thirty? Will they always think that? Maybe not, but these are their prime childbearing years.  The US fertility rate is at a 35-year low, and there’s no reason to think it will rise. Some critics blame structural difficulties in the US economy that make it harder for women to choose to have children, but European nations make it vastly easier for mothers, and still cannot get their fertility rates above replacement.

What’s behind this is primarily cultural. We have become an anti-natalist society. And further, we have become a society that no longer values the natural family. We see everywhere disintegration. Yesterday, on the Al Mohler podcast, I talked about going to a conservative Evangelical college a few years back, and hearing from professors there that they feared most of their students would never be able to form stable families, because so many of them had never seen what that’s like.

And now we have 30 percent of Gen Z women claiming to be sexually uninterested in men. There is nothing remotely normal about that number. It is a sign of a deeply decadent culture — that is, a culture that lacks the wherewithal to survive. The most important thing that a generation can do is produce the next generation. No families, no children, no future.

In 1947, Carle C. Zimmerman, then the head of Harvard’s sociology department, wrote a book called Family And Civilization. He was not a religious man; he was only interested in the cultural values that allowed civilizations to thrive, and those that caused civilizations to collapse. His general thesis is that family systems determine the strength and resilience of a civilization. Zimmerman wrote:

There is little left now within the family or the moral code to hold this family together. Mankind has consumed not only the crop, but the seed for the next planting as well. Whatever may be our Pollyanna inclination, this fact cannot be avoided. Under any assumptions, the implications will be far reaching for the future not only of the family but of our civilization as well. The question is no longer a moral one; it is social. It is no longer familistic; it is cultural. The very continuation of our culture seems to be inextricably associated with this nihilism in family behavior.

And:

The only thing that seems certain is that we are again in one of those periods of family decay in which civilization is suffering internally from the lack of a basic belief in the forces which make it work. The problem has existed before. The basic nature of this illness has been diagnosed before. After some centuries, the necessary remedy has been applied. What will be done now is a matter of conjecture. We may do a better job than was done before; we may do a worse one.

He wrote this in 1947. Zimmerman missed the Baby Boom coming, but otherwise, he was right on target.

Earlier this year, David Brooks wrote a big piece for The Atlantic in which he observed that we are living through the most rapid change in the structure of the family in human history. In the piece, Brooks writes:

Eli Finkel, a psychologist and marriage scholar at Northwestern University, has argued that since the 1960s, the dominant family culture has been the “self-expressive marriage.” “Americans,” he has written, “now look to marriage increasingly for self-discovery, self-esteem and personal growth.” Marriage, according to the sociologists Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas, “is no longer primarily about childbearing and childrearing. Now marriage is primarily about adult fulfillment.”

Sex is also primarily about individual fulfillment — and maybe solely about individual fulfillment. Young people today see no connection between sex, family, and a greater purpose. I wrote about this more or less in a 2013 essay, “Sex After Christianity,” that remains one of the most read pieces I’ve ever published here at TAC. In his book, the sociologist Zimmerman, in listing the signs of a dying civilization, mentions a decline in family formation and a rise in homosexuality. Again, he was not a religious man, but his social science convictions led him to conclude that from studying the historical records of ancient Greece and Rome.

It’s far too simplistic to say “homosexuality brought down Rome.” Homosexuality didn’t mean the same thing in those societies that it means in ours. More importantly, the idea is that the greater tolerance for and acceptance of homosexuality was an indicator of the collapse of the shared belief that forming families to produce the next generation was the most important purpose of the civilization, and that a culture’s structures and norms should be constructed to support that mission.

We are going to have to endure a civilizational collapse before we begin the Great Relearning. I am beginning to see now why a sociologist I heard speak a few years ago said that losing awareness of the gender binary is going to mean the end of us. He meant that we will lose cultural memory of the basic fact needed to ensure the future of our civilization. We are living through the fall right now. This is why I wrote The Benedict Option. The newer book, Live Not By Lies, is about enduring acute marginalization and persecution; the older book is about constructing a strongly countercultural community capable of surviving in the ruins of our civilization.

Thirty percent of women aged 25 and under have no interest in sex with men. If that does not alarm you as a religious traditionalist or conservative, then you might actually be dead. We absolutely must form right now — not tomorrow, right now — communities that socialize our children into the goodness of marriage and family. The broader culture knows what it believes, and it preaches this confidently. The churches are barely pushing back. And it shows.

UPDATE: A number of readers have pointed out that the “B” in “LGBT” — bisexual — is probably doing a hell of a lot of work in that 30 percent number. This is probably true, but it doesn’t really change much. I’m not sure how many men would want to partner with a woman whose sexual desires are so unstable. I would never have wanted to date a woman who identified as bisexual. How many women would want to date men who identified as bisexual? So, I will withdraw my “not interested in sex with men” claim, because “bisexual” could cover “open to sex with both sexes,” but I maintain my point about this being a decadent and deeply destabilizing finding.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

Be seeing you

6 Responses to “No Families, No Children, No Future”

  1. Thankfully much of this isn’t true. Women love men and will still have families. This is scare mongering. It was also fashionable to say one was bisexual in the 1980s I doubt much has changed. If the birth rate has decreased in America, then I would look to cleaning the water of hormones rather than just ignoring the pollution. However, seeing as the abortion rate has increased I’d suggest working on giving single parent benefits to ensure a parent can afford to carry a child full term.

    • SH, I do believe we already pay for single parent benefits in the U.S. Not sure where you reside, but social services here and in many countries have WIC and similar services totally centered on unwed mothers and low-income new families.

      • I live in the UK, England. There is token support here. Lots of competition for a small amount of resources. As I was a single mum who struggled with two children through no fault of my own I can say there was room for improvement.

      • SH, I do feel for you as a single mum! Of course, mum’s struggle, single or otherwise, but to be without resources must’ve been seriously scary. By ‘room for improvement’ what did you have in mind? My own mum was never able to get child support from my dad, but luckily she was able to turn to family and community for support instead of the government, which was actually making the problem worse by supporting the law profession rather than the mothers!

  2. “Thirty percent of women aged 25 and under have no interest in sex with men.“. Interesting stat! Where does pornography play into this, I wonder, and what about men not interested in ‘live’ sex with ‘real’ women play in? Are 25 and under women really the best age to target in such a study? In Thai culture, as one example, the “catoy” serves male clients exclusively and this is a very old tradition. In order to create a balance to this shift in available partners, Thai ‘progressive’ women in university maintain same-sex affections until the end of their school days when finding a man wanting a family becomes much more likely.

  3. Too many things!!!

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