Posted on | June 28, 2014 | 54 Comments
Sherry Wolf (@SherryTalksBack) has described herself as a “a lesbian Marxist who came of age in the neo-Cold War, AIDS-ravaged 1980s,” and has been praised by a fan as a “fire-breathing, Marxist dyke.” The real mystery is why she doesn’t have a Cabinet position in the Obama administration. We don’t have video or a transcript of the speech she gave Friday at the Socialism 2014 conference in Chicago, but we can quote Sherry Wolf at length, from her 2009 book, Sexuality and Socialism: History, Politics and Theory of LGBT Liberation:
Obviously, there are some physical differences between men and women, but it is our culture and not biology that gives them their meaning. . . .
It is society, not biology, that imposes the capacity for nuturing uniquely on women as a result of child-bearing, however. Even differences in female and male muscularity have been shaped over thousands of years by our gender roles, diet, and shifting cultural preferences. . . . Contemporary American men and women are more likely to be muscular if they have either manual labor jobs or leisure time to enjoy physical activity, both of which are shaped by class, not biology. . . .
Even when it comes to hormones we have been misled. Scientific investigation into the hormonal secretions of testes and ovaries, beginning in the nineteenth century, presumed inherent differences and female inferiority. . . . Despite the fact that these hormones affect bones, blood, liver, kidneys, and heart, testosterone and estrogen took on properties that were entirely social, not biological. . . . There is a correlation between amounts of testosterone and estrogen and one’s physical sex. . . . But the popular concept that they are exclusively sex hormones does not correspond to science. . . .
The fact that conventional gender roles today prevail throughout much of the world is not proof of their biological link but a testament to the globalization of capitalism and its social prerogatives. Class society’s need for the nuclear family and its attendant gender roles have allowed gender to acquire the status of human nature — as have greed, competition and militarism.
Under capitalism, the ongoing oppression of sexual minorities serves the interests of the ruling class — those who own and control production, the dissemination of ideas through media and education, and other resources. The ruling class needs the nuclear family and divisions among workers to continue making profits and to maintain its control over the majority. . . . If any and every sexual and gender arrangement were permissible, the wage gap between men and women and the privatized burdens of family life would be placed into question.
It is not necessary to argue with any particular detail of Ms. Wolf’s analysis to see the point I wish to make: She insists that everything most people consider normal and natural differences between the sexes are basically an illusion created by society and culture. Ms. Wolf further insists that the influences of our society and culture reflect the interests of a parasitical “ruling class” under capitalism.
Once you decide that capitalism must be destroyed, viewing “society” as an oppressive system of artificial control imposed upon the downtrodden masses, every aspect of normal human life becomes a target for this kind of critical analysis. And the logic of the Marxist worldview has no stopping point short of revolution — or insanity.
We may imagine what could happen if you gave Ms. Wolf’s book to a suburban soccer mom who started reading it out of idle curiosity and, taking it seriously, suddenly developed a revolutionary consciousness: “Why are these children calling me ‘mother’? Maternity is a social construct, a concept imposed on women by the ruling class in order to maintain control of the means of production!”
Of course, revolutionary consciousness seldom arrives in adulthood. Young people with intellectual aspirations are attracted to radical ideas and, having no experience of the practical responsibilities of adulthood, become so enamored of “critical theory” that they are permanently prejudiced to view the world from that perspective. No factual reality they encounter in their adult life can dissuade them of their radical beliefs. Where facts seem to contradict the leftist dogmas they learned at college, the facts will be ignored or interpreted (“theorized”) to mean something other than what common sense suggests.
These people become intellectuals, and they wouldn’t be harmful to anyone but themselves, except for the fact that they are in charge of academia, the major news media, the entertainment industry and, whenever Democrats are in office, they run the government, too.
Yet all the Hope and Change in the world can never satisfy the totalitarian vision of the radical intellectual, which explains why Sherry Wolf isn’t in the Obama administration: She hates them, for not doing enough to destroy America’s capitalist society.
Patience, ma’am — they’re wrecking the country as fast as they can.