“These days we hear about ‘climate change deniers.’ But the full-blown denial of something much more obvious—a reality that both science and our lived experience make plain—which started in the sixties has now reached a critical mass. At their best sex deniers sought to understand the complexities within the sexes. But they have completely overshot and now deny the very real differences that define us” — Ashley McGuire, Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female, p. 42
We have seen in our own day what St. Paul described in the Letter to the Romans: that when one rejects God and the natural light of reason, one’s mind becomes darkened and one’s thinking “futile” (Rom 1:21; cf. 1:28). When we turn away from God’s ways, we lose the ability to think straight.
Evidence of this is all around us, perhaps most of all in the latest “gender equity” trends. As just one example, when Facebook offered 71 gender options, the gender police angrily accused the social media giant of “not doing enough”. In the face of such a mindset and demands, it’s very tempting to just throw up one’s hands and walk away: how do you answer lunacy?
In Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female (published by Regnery in 2017), Ashley McGuire, a senior fellow at The Catholic Association, has given us a valuable tool to begin to restore sanity.
First, McGuire collects myriad examples of where this madness has taken root and shot up to extraordinary heights. Of course, we’ve all heard various accounts here and there, but not like this. She provides not only multiple instances in multiple places—from schools to college campuses to the military to first responders to Hollywood to family life to the workplace to public bathrooms—but often quite outrageous instances as well. Unless you happen to be an expert in this area, no matter how bad you may think it is out there, turns out it’s worse. This book is not for the faint of heart.
Secondly, the author questions many recent gender trends, demonstrating in the process how utterly lacking in logic gender activism is. For instance, gender theorists aver that differences between men and women are negligible or meaningless, yet McGuire shows that at the very same time, science is racking up more and more evidence of the significant differences between men and women: from how we think to how we parent to how our bodies respond (or don’t) to medication. McGuire also lets gender theorists speak for themselves and reveal their futile thinking, as when she quotes a British political philosophy professor who wrote:
Humans of both sexes would be liberated if we recognized that…there are more genders than just ‘woman or ‘man’ to choose from. And the next step on the path to liberation is the recognition of a new range of gender identities…. your gender can be frost or the Sun or music or the sea or Jupiter or pure darkness. Your gender can be pizza. (pp 32, 34)
McGuire aptly notes that “society has split away from science on the issue of sexual difference. Scientists are finding more and more reasons to incorporate innate sexual differences into their research, practice, and instruction, and more and more reasons to believe that sexual difference sheds a great deal of light on why people are the way they are. Anatomy may not be destiny, but it’s not nothing” (p 42). She stacks up such evidence against the wild claims of gender revolutionaries and demonstrates with logic how very wanting indeed are such claims.
Thirdly, McGuire points out that this attempt to “abolish male and female” negatively impacts women especially.
A gender-neutral society effectively stacks the deck in favor of men by blinding itself, in the name of political correctness and equality, to everything that makes women more vulnerable…. Denying the reality of sexual difference ensures that women will continue to be at a disadvantage. It makes it impossible even to talk about—let alone resolve—the very real injustices, vulnerabilities, and discrimination that women suffer on account of our sex. (pp 191, 175)
In the area of sports, for example, she recounts the development of women’s sports and the passing of Title IX particularly to facilitate girls having as many sports opportunities as boys, only to have it used against them in allowing boys to compete on girls’ teams. “As the evolution of girls’ sports makes clear,” McGuire concludes, “gender blindness is not gender fairness. It took a law that treated women and men differently in the athletic arena to empower female athletes. Policies and curricula that deny sexual difference threaten to undo those gains and rob girls and women of the chance to complete and flourish, in all tracks of life” (p 19).
The implementation of denying differences between the genders, McGuire effectively shows, is not only unfair to women, but often dangerous. It threatens the safety, health, welfare, and sometimes the very lives of girls and women in relationships, the hook-up culture, their private spaces, and even the battlefield. “The entire list of assumptions about sex needs to be re-written,” McGuire argues, “starting with the notion that women must overcome what makes us different in order to be equal with men. Rather, the starting point for authentic equality between the sexes must be recognition of what makes us different and the acceptance that some of those differences cannot be altered. Only then can society accept what we call vulnerabilities in women and begin to view them as strengths” (p 192).
Another asset of Sex Scandal is that while McGuire presents evidence of some negative consequences of contraception and abortion, thus indirectly upholding traditional sexual morality in congruence with the teachings of the Catholic Church, she didn’t make this a “religious” book. In fact, she never mentions God or religion, though she herself is a Catholic. She is evidently trying to reach a broader audience than her own co-religionists: specifically, an audience that would not bother to read it if she’d included religious arguments; meanwhile, many of the Catholic faithful will still read and benefit from her book. This approach not only allows her to reach more people; it also arms readers with arguments that in turn can be used with those who dismiss or reject the Church.
The one weakness some might see in this book is that it doesn’t provide solutions to the many problems of the gender agenda it reveals. But I do not think, however, this is a defect. First, McGuire states in her epilogue that she wrote this book while recovering from major surgery and as the mother of two small children. That testifies to what an incredible accomplishment this already well-documented and cogent book truly is. Instead of nit-picking, she deserves accolades. Secondly, she never claims that offering solutions is her goal in writing the book; it is meant to be descriptive and not prescriptive. And yet, thirdly, it inherently is the first solution to the problem—as no problem can be solved until it is understood, and McGuire has herein offered abundant evidence and arguments to help us understand and fight the problem. Finally, we already know what we need to do: we need to step up and use the information and argumentation she’s given here to combat the gender-denying agenda in the marketplace; in local, state, and federal government; in our schools; and with our friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers.
Everyone touched by gender-abolishing activism—and that describes a large and rapidly growing number of people—should read this well-written and well-researched book, which devastatingly articulates how illogical and dangerous this cultural trend is and likely will be for years to come.
Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female
by Ashley McGuire
Regnery Publishing, 2017
Hardcover, 256 pages
If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!