Monday, September 22, 2014

Who's Winning the Social Revolution? Not the Conservatives.

Same-sex marriage isn't the only item on the social-revolution agenda, but it's big because it's emblematic of how far we've come as a nation in terms of tolerance and acceptance, which precedes equality. I suppose we shouldn't declare victory just yet, as a Supreme Court test may be in the offing, though I can imagine, as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has, that the Supremes might only step in if the appellate level forced them to.

We've had a great churning in all things political and cultural in America in the last thirty to fifty years, with conflicts flaring up all over the place during the Obama years. Conservatives are at the "man the barricades" stage of the fight against anything not treasured by white Christian males and their submissive wives, but the fact is, much as they've made a decent stand in the political and economic arenas -- they may yet lose those issues come 2016 and beyond -- they may have already lost in the social areas. Let's take a look:
  • Marriage. Acceptance of same-sex marriage, while monumental, is only a facet of a larger upheaval. Don't forget cohabitation was a big deal and only began to be accepted in the 1970s. I still remember nervously greeting my parents at the front door of my home I shared with my girlfriend in those heady days of the early 70s when lots of social taboos were falling. Remember, it was only a few years earlier that I was still getting attacked on my college campus by football players for having long hair. Weird, huh? Anyway, mixed-race couples were rare, too. Now they're broadly accepted and acceptable.
  • Sex in general. It's still messy, and in places like Texas abstinence-only sex education still prevails and the HPV vaccine is still resisted in conservative states because it's feared girls will have sex earlier now that they won't die from it -- Michelle Bachmann, you absolute tool -- but, for better or worse, you only have to look at how stars like BeyoncĂ©, Jennifer Lopez, and, heaven help me, Miley Cyrus dress for battle to see how highly sexualized our society has become. Another way of putting it is sex is getting less icky all the time, in spite of all the conservative hair on fire. Sorry, we don't feel guilty anymore, and that's a blessing.
  • Might as well throw in don't-ask-don't-tell, forced on us by Sam Nunn back in the early Clinton years. By now it's a relic.
  • Birth control. This may look dicey, but Hobby Lobby is a demonstration of just how much the religious right has lost this battle. Obamacare placed it front and center, leading to the dismal and absurd Supreme Court ruling -- legacy-wise, they'll rue the day -- but I foresee this as a turning point. The anti-sex crowd will flail away, try this and that, but as Obamacare gets set in stone -- too much of it is good for people and they'll come to rely on it, the conservatives' greatest fear -- people will get used to the free-birth-control mandate and forget the bitter battles.
  • Abortion. This is not an outright victory, by any means. In the blue states, the battle is pretty much over, and in the red states, the legislatures and governors try different tacks, to greater or lesser success. The courts have helped the pro-choicers hold the line. At some point, though, conservatives might abandon this fight as they look to find a way to stop alienating women.
I'd like to jump out of this list to note that, yes, everything so far seems to be about coupling, sex, and childbirth. Some social revolution you got there, guy, some might say. But need I remind you that it's in these most intimate and private arenas that religion aims to interfere the most. To the extent that it can no longer control the narrative, religion loses and, yes, sex wins. Weird, huh? But true and central to liberty, you know, the kind the left likes. (Don't tell anyone, but the right, even the religious right, has just as much sex -- of any variety -- as the rest of us do. The problem with abstinence-only? That's right, hardly anybody abstains. Hah!)

I've gone on enough for now. Racism, women's rights, equal opportunity, income inequality will have to wait for another discussion. But in the core issues that shape our most intimate and familial relationships, the right is going to have to throw in the towel. The war is all but over. Don't tell Texas or Kansas. They probably don't want to hear it.

Sorry, religious right. As Dylan said, your sons and your daughters
are beyond your command. They're dancing to a different drum. 'Bout time.

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