How did the West become a breeding ground for LGBTQ movements? When did an extremist ideology emerge from feminism? Is there a proper form of gender theory? We spoke with journalist Gergely Szilvay about his book A Critique of Gender Theory (A genderelmélet kritikája) published by the Center for Fundamental Rights.
Your last book, On Gay Marriage (A melegházasságról), was published in 2016. What inspired you to write your latest book?
It was always in the back of my mind that we need a book like this, but when I published my book On Gay Marriage, I thought I wasn’t going to write any more books on the topic; even if it was deemed necessary, they could just translate some English-language literature. But I couldn’t find a book like this on the market. Though international literature does deal with the issue, they often treat it as just part of the problem like in Douglas Murray’s Madness of Crowds or Charles Murray’s Human Diversity. I couldn’t find any literature that comprehensively and monographically analyzed this topic critically, and in addition, I had plenty of material to prepare the book. The final push came from an article on a news portal that I read sometime during the second half of 2019 in which, regarding a transgender case, the author exclaimed as if some cry for help: when will somebody finally dismantle all of this? That’s when I decided to try and gather the most important aspects of the topic in an understandable, educational way for those who are not at home in the topic, but would like to clearly understand what they are dealing with.
So, it seems this literature fills a certain gap.
For several years now I have had the feeling that, although conservatives and right-wingers all know that what we believe is right, we are still uncertain when facing the opposite side’s arguments. These seem convincing at first, but they had to be collected and thoroughly refuted. In addition to this, it’s worth considering the concrete data and scientific results from adoption to transgenderism, or even the “nature vs nurture” debate – because these are good bases for arguments as well. Back then, I started dealing with the topic with a bit of outrage: I didn’t understand why we couldn’t properly articulate what was wrong with gender ideology, and I felt we really needed to plug this gap. Of course, the fact is that the “gender researchers” often attack the basic evidence of life, and normally we, ordinary people, don’t have to think about defending such evidence. I want to respond to such evidence-related and sometimes disorienting arguments in my book as well.
A recent survey by the Center for Fundamental Rights shows that 66 percent of Hungarians say that only the female and male genders exist. What do you think may be the reason why various LGBTQ movements and lobby organizations are gaining more and more ground from East to West?
In the words of Márton Békés, we still have the “advantage of lagging behind”. The question is, are we on a different path than the West, or are we on the same path, just lagging behind? I’m a little skeptical: I believe if the right doesn’t do their work well enough, or in other words, doesn’t strengthen society’s immune system, and if Western “prosperity” seeps into Hungary over time, then these ideologies popular in the West, will become stronger in Hungary. The extended version of The Critique of Gender Theory will soon be published which includes a separate chapter on why this ideology is so convincing. I would be pleased if Central Europe, tossed around a bit by old Western history, remained a quiet corner of Europe, and wouldn’t join the self-loathing, self-destructive progressive West.
Do you think societies in the West have been most susceptible to the extremes of gender ideology?
On the one hand, the West enjoys a great deal of prosperity now, but this comes with indifference, that is, members of society have become indifferent. On the other hand, the prevailing self-image these days is that we must fulfill our inner self. Of course, this can be good too, but it pushes everything else aside. And the inner self – which has become more and more dominant since Rousseau – is now not only contradictory to our social norms, but our biological norms as well. Since the beginning of the XX. century, since Freud, gender and sexuality are increasingly important for personal identity. Of course, sexuality and gender are an important part of our human nature, but today this has become an absolute – as if nothing else matters. In the Middle Ages, honor was the most important aspect of self-image; it was a societal recognition and could be lost. This has been replaced by human dignity, which, according to our interpretation today, must be automatically recognized by society, because if we do not automatically recognize an individual’s human dignity, then they may be denied their humanity. While everything is seen as a social construct, human rights and human dignity are mysteriously exceptions to this. Our personality, our gender is a social construct they claim – but our rights and dignity are given at birth. Nobody understands this. The Marxist-esque view of history can be applied to this: history is the struggle of the oppressors and the oppressed.
It seems that we Hungarians are doing pretty well with this 66 percent mentioned.
This 66 percent is not so bad, it’s a two-thirds majority, and compared to the West we are doing well. We can still win this thing at this rate by turning it around. However, the LGBTQ movement is growing strongly and forcefully, and those who could take a stand against it are afraid. They fear for their jobs, their prestige, they fear years of their Tweets will be deleted. Members of the LGBTQ movement always present themselves as accepting, nice, tolerant – but in reality, they intimidate a large part of society. They proclaim themselves as rational, but in fact they are irrational: they proclaim tautologies like “family is family”, yet this slogan means the exact opposite of what they suggest. It’s like saying “a table is a table” when you mean that a table with a broken leg is the same as an intact table or that a chair can believe itself to be a table as well. This is on an emotional plane, a manipulative communication that is conscious, learned, and thought through. It has little to do with rationality.
How did we get this far from the initiatives that were initially feminist?
The fact that the LGBTQ acronym has become a common term in public life in itself shows the grotesque nature of the thing. The convoluted and contrived terms evoke convoluted and contrived ideas. Gender theory can be tied to the second wave of feminism in the XX. century. Its essence is to ignore and deny the significance and consequences of biology. This is the main argument, because gender roles can be separated from biology if you consider our bodily being to just be a pile of matter. Yet each and every cell we have is either male or female, our bone structure is male or female, just as the male and female brains work differently. The separation of soul and body, or feminism’s human depiction, came in handy for the gay movement – and when flipped upside-down, the trans movement also benefited from it. You can say: the trans movement flipped feminism upside-down, just as Marx did with Hegel.
How did we get to the point where we have to take a stand for normalcy today?
I think all modernity has a mistaken basic concept that considers the basic categories of the world to be deconstruct able for our own freedom and comfort. The whole of gender ideology as a phenomenon works in a very visceral, intuitive way; it’s quite irrational and because of this it’s difficult for anyone to argue thoughtfully. Representatives of gender ideology have this idea that if a certain normality is not valid everywhere, all the time, then it is not valid at all. They look for very rigid definitions of everything, including gender roles, and if they don’t find the same gender role across time and space, it’s immediately classified as a cultural relativity. For them, any small exception upends the rule. Therefore, normality is also a cultural product that serves the interest of a certain class, mainly hetero men, so in other words, it must be transformed.
Can you give a practical example of these efforts?
The other day the news was reporting on someone in America who wanted to get married to their own child. Due to this, voices intensified that the taboos surrounding “consensual incest” should be lifted. You can argue against incest the same way you argue against gay marriage: throughout history, when and what was considered incest has changed. What’s the matter, if they love each other? Why does this bother those who are not in an incestual relationship? Do they fear their privilege? Would they be better off if incest were banned? Why can’t I marry my own mother if I want to? This isn’t just theoretical – there are actual efforts for this in America. And this is the same line of argument for supporters of pedophilia as well.
What are the long-term consequences of the spread of gender ideology?
Several health problems can result from not acknowledging the consequences of our biology. If we don’t use our household appliances or cars as intended, they will be destroyed. If we ignore the laws of physics when building a house, claiming they are arbitrary inventions, the house will collapse. If we don’t realize the reason for this, we’ll be left with no idea what to do. The same goes for ourselves.
The goal of gender theory proponents, as you say, is to create a society without gender roles. Is such a society viable?
Proponents of gender ideology are looking for complete freedom where no norms exist throughout the world to restrict you. They believe that it’s not enough to have a mainstream normalcy, alongside which everyone can live their life, because those who deviate from the norm may feel uncomfortable. In other words, there should be no norms, just one basic norm: that there are no norms and everyone should accept this. This however would lead to the further atomization and eventual disintegration of society.
So then, we can consider families the foundation of society.
Carle C. Zimmerman wrote a book titled Family and Civilization, where he examined how important the strength of families is to the stability of society. He noticed that where the strength of the family is weakened, society falls apart. We are currently in the final stages of his outlined theory. Zimmerman predicted exactly what would happen at the end of the XX. century. The LGBTQ movement’s society will eventually cease to exist, and with it the rights we fought for.
You mentioned the construction of a “correct” gender theory and the need for an anthropological counter revolution. What do you mean exactly by correct gender theory?
In principle, gender theory is a theory about gender roles. In other words, there should be no logical reason for gender theory to deny biology, but it has evolved throughout history to become what it is today. The anthropological counter revolution is the recognition of our own corporeality and bodily being, the reunification of body and soul. Interestingly, while the traditional human image is accused of anti-eroticism, it is this image that actually professes the unity of body and soul, thus it does not deny the body. What’s going on in American universities – signing consent papers and creating apps – is by no means liberating in terms of sexuality. This entirely bureaucratizes one’s social and intimate relationships, alienating them to the extent that it could be a scene from Monty Python.