Miley Cyrus and the Post-Gender Generation
Solomon was meant to be taken generally, not literally. And when he says there is nothing new under the sun, we are almost led to believe him entirely – if it hadn't been for automobiles and the internet and America. About the rest of it he was right. You can always expect the best and worst out of humanity, because the loves and hates of human nature have always remained the same, which leads us to do the same kinds of things we've always been doing. And if he was right about anything in particular, it was about the recurring existence of Miley Cyrus.
Some people think that Miley Cyrus is something new, and they think it only because they've forgotten about David Bowie and Johnny Rotten. We've already had someone who dressed like a transsexual space alien and threw his middle finger at masculinity, and we've already had a movement of people who were completely averse to good manners and taste. Miley Cyrus isn't for our children, but for our parents. The difference is that our parents had the better music.
Glam and punk were the expressions of a '70s too intoxicated to remain sensible, and too tired of hippie sermonizing to even pretend morality. And before them the Indians had their cross-dressers named berdaches, and before them the Canaanites had their gay temple prostitutes whom the Israelites called qedeshim. Gay marriage disgusted Tacitus when it was performed by Nero, and pederasty was openly performed by the Athenians to the disgust of the Spartans, who confused everyone with their unhusbandly approach to marriage.
The point of the matter is that bucking sexual norms can be novel only to someone unfamiliar with history. And people are always bucking, because the norms are eternal. Nearly every great and ancient nation's had a generation of people who were terrible at being men and women – or perhaps too bored with being spiritually great in general. It usually happens after a period of safety and luxury, before they're conquered by a nation that takes manhood very seriously – who are usually referred to as barbarians. The major difference between the last time this happened and the present is that today's invading "barbarians" call masculinity machismo, and our deviants are considered by our intelligentsia not as deviants, but as moralists.
And perhaps this is why Miley's so shocking: not because what she's doing is actually anything new, but because she's backed by an army of militant pantsuits who say that what she's doing is right. The New York Times has gone so far as to call her the avatar of the post-gender generation – as if the overwhelming majority of youngsters these days had already been polled and said they were tired of seeing pretty girls. Of course, there are some of them who are sick of seeing pretty girls – and they are probably all ugly girls. They're the minority of our children who've been so terribly cursed with terrible taste and minimal talents that they want to be themselves without anyone left to criticize them. And they are getting what they want – almost. They're getting it from the authorities, from their professors, and from the president. Whom they are not getting it from (if they are straight) is everyone they really want to have sex with, because the people they want to have sex with are having sex with people who are sexually attractive.
The reason that the "post-gender generation" is temporary (and hopefully only a generation) is because the one thing they never should have bucked is the one thing they did, and it happens to be beauty. There's nothing attractive about Miley Cyrus, nothing that makes you say I want this woman living in my house with me forever. She's already ruined her looks with androgyny and bad fashion. She's unsuitable for any pursuit of tranquility (which every single one of us eventually needs), useless for any kind of actual production (which most of us are forced by circumstances into doing), and even worse for the raising of children (which is the biological purpose and statistically unavoidable result of having sex). And if children aren't ready to begin searching for these qualities intently, they'll feel themselves drawn magically to them by their guts – which are eternal, unlike the tastes of our intelligentsia.
The irony of the post-gender generation is that it claims to be getting a minority out of the closet, while forcing the majority back into another. It demands that the majority of people celebrate things they don't really feel like celebrating – unless they have to celebrate it for the purpose of fitting in. And this is because a person who's post-gender or transsexual has never really left his sex. He's just terrible at being it. He straddles the infinite chasm between two ideals, and he cheapens both of them while getting neither. Children instinctively know this, and teachers know that they know it – and we know this because teachers are spending a lot of time telling children to say that they don't know it.
The post-gender movement is against the things all generations of healthy people have recognized as masculine and feminine, which means that in a universal sense, it's profoundly anti-democratic. It's about pretending the forces of nature never existed, and that all the healthy people in fiction and in history, from the Nephilim to Lord Byron, were wrong about their feelings. The movement isn't about the minority who wants to wear makeup and still be respected as manly; it's about the people who know he isn't manly and are forced to celebrate him because he isn't. It asks people whether they would rather be "individuals" or be beautiful – and it not only asks them to pick the option they'd rather not, but chastises them when they refuse to conform to the celebrations of tasteless individuality. Everyone is beautiful, they say – especially when they're responsible for making themselves ugly.
While it's worth mentioning that almost every valuable sermon is a calling to either fight or employ your instincts usefully, sometimes our most timely sermons are about telling us our sermonizing has gone horribly wrong (which is why Jesus was hated by the Pharisees). In our case, it has gone wrong because we tried to protect the outcasts and in the process buried our winners. And now we know that we can be post-gender only by mass indoctrination and thought control and persecution. We can avoid gender only by keeping children away from romance, and if the men and women of our day aren't good enough to rebel against our intelligentsia as they should and fight them with every ounce of our sexual vitality, we will have to wait – for our children to do it for us.
And their protests will be unlike any protests the left has ever imagined. They might be made in dirty looks and angry comments at priggish individualists in ugly costumes. But they will more likely be silent. They will more likely be accidental. They'll be a return to good art and good fashion and pictures of beautiful women posted on bedroom walls of adolescent boys. They'll be an unspoken evasion of all the post-gender possibilities for the beautiful maidens and muscular champions we always wanted. It's our desire for good lovers that will make us into men and women – and there is nobody in the world who can keep us from doing it. And this is because romance is bigger than bad social constructions.