by Paul and Phillip Collins

The 144th Congress of Correction, which was held between August 15 to August 20, 2014 in Salt Lake City, featured a workshop over the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) and its ramifications for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) populations in detention. The consensus of those presenting this workshop was that inmates of these particular orientations were at increased risk for sexual victimization. Never once during the course of this workshop was the possibility raised of LGBTI inmates actually perpetrating such victimization. This omission betrayed an implicit partiality for those who embrace unconventional sexual orientations. Perhaps this omission was, to some extent, attributable to the overall outlook of those who assembled the workshop. The chief speaker was Bernadette Brown, who, in addition to being a Senior Program Specialist for the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, is a self-avowed lesbian. During her presentation, Brown boldly declared, “Gender is a social construct” (Brown).

This radical claim, which hinges on a purported disjunction between sex and gender, is certainly nothing new. In recent years, it has been largely popularized by socially and politically active feminists. Recognizing the equally advantageous implications of the sex/gender dichotomy for their own social movement, various LGBTI rights organizations have adopted it as a central rationale for their platforms as well. Underpinning the claim is the tacit promotion of androgyny as normative. In turn, the promotion of androgyny can be traced further back to the most pervasive of ancient heresies: Gnosticism. The pseudepigraphical Gospel of Thomas exemplifies this normative view of androgyny. In Saying 22, the Gnostic revision of Christ portrays androgyny as a salvific union:

Jesus said to them, “When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the kingdom].”

As is the case with most revolutionary movements that populate modernity, feminism qualifies as what Eric Voegelin called a Gnostic political religion. Gnosticism taught that, in the beginning, there was a spiritual singularity (the “Pleroma”) within which divinity functioned at optimal potency. This pure unity was divided into a plurality by the error of an intermediate deific being known as Sophia (“Wisdom”). Emanating from Sophia’s own being was a defective consciousness that eventually assumed the Biblical appellation of Jehovah, who the Gnostics blasphemously caricatured as the “Archon of Arrogance.” This misotheism was attributable to the Gnostics’ assignment of an ontological status to evil. With evil no longer imputed to the will, corruption was projected upon all things external to the Gnostic. This projection encompassed the external world, which invariably became the recipient of either explicit or implicit contempt.

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