Tag: mark regnerus

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Musings of a Third-Generation Wagon Circler

 

Writing here at Ricochet last week, @KateBraestrup expressed her opinion that “even without the sixfold imprimatur of the FBI, it would be virtually impossible to make a circle of wagons tight enough to conceal the kind of lurid behavior that Kavanaugh has been accused of.” She continued: “It’s not that it doesn’t exist; rather, when it exists, people know about it. Louche, lascivious or predatory men (alcoholic or otherwise) over time become well-known for being so.” While I’m relieved Kavanaugh has been confirmed, and I dreaded the precedent that would have been set if he had not have been, I can’t agree that men’s wagon circles are virtually never this tight. I know because I’m part of more than one man’s wagon circle, as was my mother, and her mother before her. Three generations of conservative American women, all three with little inclination to laugh off predatory behavior as just “boys being boys” — and all three with just as little inclination to name and shame men for having stories like those alleged about Kavanaugh in their past.

Men become notorious for sexual predation by persisting in it for long periods of time, especially if they become shameless about it. One reason we caution youth to postpone sex is because immature sexual misadventures are often exploitative. As Mark Regnerus has documented in his books Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying and Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers, boys usually find it considerably easier than girls do to self-servingly and callously rationalize their “conquests,” even when they’ve had the moral formation to know better. Thank God that boys who should know better and don’t often mature into men who know better and do! Thank God that not everyone who has committed a sexual wrong in his past persists in that sort of misbehavior.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Beauty, Power, Babbling, and Tocquevillian Sex Ed

 

“He drinks because of you.” Even knowing now what I didn’t know then, the claim stinks of false blame, though youth and beauty are said to have great power over those who admire them. Young I was. But beautiful? Not really, I thought. A great many budding young women are kept far too busy frantically scrambling to keep the less-beautiful parts of puberty from turning their bodies into an embarrassment to take the extra step of deliberately using their bodies to gain power over others. Some girls absolutely are Machiavellian little minxes equipped to use “sexiness” to manipulate others before they’re even old enough to drive. Other girls are as absolutely not: these latter are innocents in a society that still claims (however implausibly) to value innocence. And of course, gals come in all stages in between.

Toddlers are innocent. Toddlers are hilarious – and destructive – because they haven’t yet figured out their own agency. Our own toddler likes nothing better than to make something “happen” – but he has little idea what, or why. He’s more powerful than he knows, which adds to the havoc. Much innocence comes from simply not knowing yet what the hell you’re doing. While babies’ innocence of basic motor coordination, language, literacy, and social skills is cute, it’s not inherently valuable. Indeed, the quicker children outgrow that kind of innocence, the better. But we do value youngsters’ sexual innocence. We also value young adults’ sexual agency. Puberty is sexual toddlerhood, only we’d really rather not have our teens exploring the world with their genitals the way toddlers do with their mouths. Fortunately, children are, at least in theory, quite grown up in other ways by the time puberty hits; in theory, able to apply lessons they’ve learned about their agency in other spheres to sexual agency; in theory, able to use reason to assert their sexual agency while maintaining their sexual innocence. In practice, though, developing sexual agency while maintaining innocence is tricky, especially absent wise counsel.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Lonesome Purple Hearts and Angry Red Ones: Love and Contempt in a Divided Red Tribe

 

Red America, blue America. It’s a crude categorization, but useful. According to Rachel Lu, the red tribe is the tribe of traditional, transcendent bourgeois values, while the blue tribe is the tribe of neo-Epicureanism, which by its nature is shallow and tepid. According to Charles Murray, the red tribe professes traditional values while struggling to practice them, while the blue tribe, for the most part, lives out these values while failing to profess them. According to Mark Regnerus, when it comes to the specific traditional values of chastity and stable family formation, while both tribes are far from paragons, on average the red tribe fails a lot harder than the blue tribe does, even though it’s the red tribe, not the blue, which promulgates language like “chastity” and “family values”. If you stop looking at averages though, something interesting happens: the red tribe splits. Red-tribe children who inherit exceptional amounts of social capital (which arises from networks of shared social norms, including trust and reciprocity) are more sexually virtuous than their blue peers, while red-tribe children with low social capital are so much less sexually virtuous than their blue peers that it drags the whole red average down below that of the blue.

This sexual split points to a more general split among conservatives: the red tribe can be crudely divided into two tribes, both of whom profess a zeal for cultural capital, but only one of which has secure access to cultural capital. (There’s not complete agreement on what social and cultural capital are, but for this essay, cultural capital includes social capital, along with other accumulated cultural riches.) As much as blue-tribe language tends to denigrate the value of the West’s cultural capital, blue-tribe children enjoy better access to that capital than many red-tribe children do. However, there’s a class of purple children – typically red-tribe children raised in blue milieus – who achieve cultural-capital royalty: whatever struggles they face, access to cultural goods, whether moral, intellectual, or aesthetic, isn’t really one of them. They inherit not just the red-tribe zeal for cultural capital, but blue-tribe access to it, an access which differs not only in quantity (more of it) from average red access, but also in kind (probably less NASCAR and more Shakespeare – brows a little higher rather than lower).

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Fake Realism on Sex

 

The other day I read our own @rachellu‘s review of the new book by Mark Regnerus, provocatively and moralistically called Cheap Sex. The review is a balm upon the heart, so go read it. The book itself is receiving more praise then I can catalog here — it’s science and it’s reassuring for conservatives. The facts are in and they’re what you’d expect: liberated America is a sexual marketplace, and that’s a wasteland.

I’ll skip the topographical survey of the wasteland. Writer and reviewer both agree with most among us that we’re long on problems and short on solutions; and most — but not all — our predictions are grim. We’re shamelessly theoretical about our catalogs of facts — no prudes we! And then we’re hopelessly impractical about doing anything about all this stuff we think we know. Am I the only one to find this hilarious, that we’re hard at work, most earnestly and morally, to prove that knowledge is a source of impotence? This is not to say anything against either author. They didn’t cause this mismatch between the power of our science and the impotence of our politics.

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