Home/Rod Dreher/No Families, No Children, No Future

No Families, No Children, No Future

nd3000/GettyImagesPlus

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.

UPDATE.2: A Gen Z female reader writes:

First off, I agree with some of your viewers who say the statistic you shared in your recent article (title above) is probably in part skewed by the increasing number of young women who identify as Bisexual. But I feel that they fail to grasp the entirety of the situation by dismissing that statistic. It is, as you said, alarming, for a variety of reasons. I spend a lot of time on social media interacting with other young women my own age, and many of them, even in the Catholic circles I follow (I am also Catholic) increasingly identify as either bisexual of some degree or at least “a little bit queer” (their words- not mine). Wiser heads around me have proposed that this is in part due to female sensibilities naturally being more capable of at least considering romantic attraction to the same sex (as opposed to a straight male) but even that is only, in my opinion, part of the reality.

In truth, there is a kind of increasing self-aggrandizement that surrounds this idea of identifying as any type of LGBTQ. It’s a social marker that puts you in the ‘in’ crowd. It makes you cool, it makes you one of the crowd. It also makes you ‘safe’. Let’s dive more into that last one.

First off, I see this happening more and more the farther back we step from the #MeToo movement. I want to reiterate, I am female- so my thoughts here are not coming from any kind of male perspective or male-influenced perspective. But I have seen an increasing number of women swear off dating, swear off marriage, swear off kids, and especially, swear off men, in the last several years. (I’ve also seen the other side, where many women are decrying the lack of decent men to date, or decent men to marry, but that’s a whole other discussion) The Anti-Men crowd, in my honest opinion, is a new wave of Neo-Feminism that not only wants to ‘crush the patriarchy’ but also wants to be able to move in a circle where men are not just optional, they’re completely unnecessary. These New Feminists are also increasingly gender-fluid, and welcome (with open arms) male-to-female Trans Rights Activists into their ranks.

Being Female doesn’t mean the same thing to them as it does to you or I- it means living a life of glitter and thunder, where all the worst female stereotypes marry an anti-child, anti-family worldview and deliver to the world a crowd of superficial, sexless persons who carry the banner of “Woman” without knowing what it might mean. They’re Pro-Abortion, Pro-Sex (but the kind that ‘counts’) and Pro-Trans Rights (because “Woman” is a tag-line, not a biological reality). In this reality any Man who isn’t an ‘Ally’ is the enemy, and men in general are very optional, can be easily replaced, and should support them and their increasingly hard-to-pin-down perspectives/interests in every way possible. A man looking for a wife (or children) isn’t going to find any prospects in the Neo-Feminist crowd, because these women don’t care about those things, they care about progressing an agenda that they’ve created. Ever wonder why so many people thought Hillary Clinton was the be-end-all of women’s rights in the U.S.? I know you probably know, but that sentiment wasn’t coming from conservative women.

Those are the extremists. They control the narrative. For conservative girls (even Catholic ones) trying to make it in a world being controlled by these groups is a dangerous prospect. You either have to be rigidly anti-culture and know when to keep your mouth shut (I adhere to this sentiment) or you have to have some cards to play that will let you weave through the lines. The “Bisexuality” card is one of those cards, in my opinion. The second you prescribe to any LGBTQ identity you become “safe” in the Neo-Feminist lens. Even if you are religious or conservative and won’t ever act on same-sex attraction, ‘being Bi’ is enough to allow you to participate in the show without getting dragged for being an ‘old-fashioned female’ or ‘being controlled by the patriarchy’ (I sometimes wonder, as an aside, what some of these people think patriarchy means). It’s a convenient truth, and as others around me have mentioned, almost any woman with an imagination can be a ‘little bit Bi’ without too much effort.

Those that do this are mostly unaware that they are tacitly living lies. Most are entirely convinced of their LGBTQ status, but it is telling that they are dabbling at best in same-sex relationships, and that many cast off that status as they get older. But in the moment, it is such a marker of “Pride” that they celebrate it and act like it’s everything to them. I have a Catholic friend who recently ‘came out as Bi’ and her social media announcement about it was all about ’embracing’ this incredibly important part of her identity. I can’t help but wonder how much of that is just a filler for something deeply broken inside, with some of these women. They’ve been hurt too many times, by secular men, by the culture, and by increasing pressure from a narrative they never asked for, and so they cling to these ‘identities’ as a way of replacing something that is broken. But as all who live by lies know, eventually those rotten cores will crumble, and there will be an emptiness left that almost nothing can fill. I have another friend who is going ‘Non-Binary’ after years of only identifying as female. She has hopped full on the Trans-Rights Train, and likely won’t be getting off anytime soon. But she’s not a stereotypical female, and somehow, deeply, it feels to her as though she can’t be ‘fully woman’ if she doesn’t fit those check-boxes. Again, the Neo-Feminist narrative says that being a woman is all about High Heels and Bloodlust against the ‘patriarchy’ (i.e., conservative society, marriage, and traditional family structures), and if you can’t be both of those things, then you’re just not a woman anymore.

I saw a line in a TV show last night that made me think about how this narrative is really shifting. (I was a little hesitant to say what show it was from, for fear of revealing my ‘nerd’ card- but then I remembered that this another of one those areas where I don’t need to fear for my own identity. I’m very proud to be both anti-cultural and anti-female stereotypes.) The line came from Naruto Shippuden, Episode 337-

“You gain nothing when you attach your self-value to something external that’s admirable and praiseworthy to you.”

(Itachi Uchiha, the character who says this line, was speaking quite literally to a series villain who had, through experimentation, literally attached other beings abilities and powers to his own self (and self-value)- Japanese anime is incredibly surreal sometimes) But what a line for our times. This is literally what is happening in so many circles of our society. Otherwise normal and rational people are attaching their self-value to externals- and they gain: absolutely nothing.

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.

leave a comment

Latest Articles