Sameness versus Equality

I see that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has decided to allow girls to become members. This, I submit, is a momentous development in the great American culture war, as was the BSA decision a year or two ago to allow openly gay men to be scoutmasters. I have no inside information regarding the BSA decision-making process, but I think it’s not hard to figure out for anybody who (like me) has been paying attention to the culture war for the past thirty years or so. Here’s what I think happened.

        (1) There has been a decline in BSA membership in recent years.

(2) This decline is partly the result of the introduction of openly gay scoutmasters, for this led many parents, especially Christian parents, to be skeptical of the moral soundness of the BSA.

(3) The BSA decided that this decline in numbers could be stopped and even reversed by allowing girls to become members.

(4) The executive leadership of the BSA was pressured to move in this direction by many of its big corporate sponsors, who earlier pressured the BSA to admit gay scoutmasters.

I don’t know what the top executives at the BSA get paid, but I’m willing to place a wager on two things: first, that they get paid pretty well; and second, that their pay is heavily dependent on contributions from big corporate sponsors. Therefore they don’t like to displease their big corporate sponsors, and they are pretty good convincing themselves that what the big sponsors want is, when you really think about it, good for the BSA. Most of us are pretty good at this kind of thing – convincing ourselves that what is for our personal advantage is also good for the world.

(5) These big corporate sponsors in turn are responding to pressure from the LGBT lobby.

Many big corporations, as has become perfectly obvious in recent years, are very supportive of the LGBT agenda. Think of the corporations that threatened to boycott the state of Indiana a couple of years ago when Indiana was on the verge of enacting a religious freedom law that would protect the conscience right of bakers, photographers, etc. not to participate in a same-sex weddings. And think of the corporations that boycotted the state of Tennessee for its legislation that was unfriendly to transgender bathrooms.

(6) This support given to the LGBT agenda by big corporations is the result of two factors. First, many high-ranking corporate executives are personally sympathetic to this agenda. Second, many corporations fear the bad publicity that might follow from a refusal to co-operate with the LGBT lobby, which has many philosophical sympathizers in the news industry.

(7) Admission of girls to the Boy Scouts is an incident in a broader cultural movement to narrow the differences between the two sexes, a movement to de-masculinize men and de-feminize women – a movement led by the radical wing of feminism and by the LGBT lobby, and supported by almost all persons of liberal political views.

(8) A society that believes there are hardly any legitimate differences between men and women and between boys and girls will be a society that is friendly, indeed super-friendly, to gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender persons.

If I’m correct in the above account, this latest move on the part of the BSA has to do with much more than the Boy Scouts. For one thing, it has to do with the Girl Scouts. Just as the admission of Jackie Robinson to major league baseball entailed the demise of the Negro League baseball, so the admission of girls to the BSA probably entails the demise of the Girl Scouts. And as a very sad corollary of this demise, it means that Girl Scout cookies will probably be gone ten years from now. (The thought of that pains me, for I have been a great eater of these cookies over the years.)

More significantly, it means we have taken one more step in the direction of one of the great goals of “progressivism,” the abolition of the differences between human males and females.

Most Catholics, especially devout and orthodox Catholics, are, I think, skeptical about this ideal of non-differentiation. They have a feeling that there is something “fishy” about this ideal. I have that feeling myself. I don’t mind female doctors and lawyers and scientists and engineers – though I do object (I confess this at the risk of qualifying myself as a misogynist) to female prizefighters and combat infantrymen.

Why do I have this skeptical feeling? For one, there is what Jesus said (Matthew 19:4): “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning made them male and female?” And then there is the verse that Jesus was quoting (Genesis 5:2): “Male and female he created them.”

For another, if men and women are not truly and profoundly different from one another, marriage makes far less sense than the human race has always believed. Marriage is a solemn reunion of the two great halves of the human race. If men and women are not two different kinds of thing, how will male-female marriage be different from same-sex “marriage”? And since same-sex marriage is an absurdity, won’t male-female marriage also be an absurdity?

“But,” somebody might object, “even if we say that there are no significant differences between men and women, and even this means that male-female marriage becomes an absurdity, won’t men and women still desire one another sexually?” Probably so, and these pesky desires can be taken care of in short-term sexual partnerships of one night, one month, one year, etc.

The equality of men and women is one thing. The sameness of men and women is something else. I suspect we have along way to go before we’ll understand the proper relationship between the sexes. The womanhood of women is a mysterious thing. And so is the manhood of men.

David Carlin

David Carlin

David Carlin is professor of sociology and philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island, and the author of The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America.

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