The first time I read Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, I was thrown by the references to children as young as seven engaging in ‘erotic play’. Even in a work of dystopian fiction, I thought, that seemed a little much.
Unfortunately, I was wrong. Because now it’s starting to happen in the real new world we live in.
Last week, the Daily Wire reported that second graders at a Wisconsin public school have access to an online educational database that contains sexually explicit material. How explicit? One book accessible through the database contains ‘in-depth analysis of anal sex, oral sex, one-night stands’, as well as the use of dildos. Another teaches kids how to use Grindr and other ‘sex apps’.
Just two days earlier, in London, a public library hired a performer dressed in a rainbow monkey suit with exposed genitals and buttocks to dance around in front of children. To encourage them to read more.
Two weeks before that, the Washington Post ran an op-ed advocating for the open display of sexual fetish behavior at all-ages LGBT+ Pride parades. It bore the headline ‘Yes, kink belongs at Pride. And I want my kids to see it.’ That’s right. We had a serious cultural debate over whether it’s good for kids to witness sex-bondage displays in public. Don’t be so prudish!
A few months before that ‘sex-positive educator’ Justine Ang Fonte left her job at a swanky NYC private school after the New York Post revealed she had taught ‘pornography literacy’ classes to high school juniors and seniors. Fonte also created her own sex-ed curriculum, which includes a video explaining to first graders that it’s ‘OK’ for them to masturbate as long as they ‘do it in private’. She claimed she quit because her bosses were insufficiently supportive.
These are just a few examples. According to lots of educators and journalists, absolute sexual freedom is not enough. The gospel of the hassle-free orgasm must also be proclaimed in public squares and public schools using public funds, and children must be indoctrinated into it as early as possible.
Brave New World not only predicted that this would happen. It also explained why.
Huxley’s decadent dystopia is founded on consumerism. Its gods are Henry Ford and Sigmund Freud, the inventors, respectively, of mass production and of the notion that sexual repression is the root of all evil. Any form of self-denial is, according to the World State, mere folly. The only sin is to be unsatiated.
The ‘sex-positive’ approach to sex-ed in schools, libraries, and op-ed pages presents itself as an escape from the constraints of the past. Instead of forcing ideology on children, it purports to offer a value-neutral perspective, free of shame: ‘Here’s what these body parts do and here are all the things people do with them. Anyone who has a negative opinion about any of it is a bigot. Now go have fun!’ This supposed objectivity is a lie.
Even as she exhorts six-year-olds to masturbate and 16-year-olds to watch porn, Justine Ang Fonte is downright puritanical when it comes to consent. Parents, she teaches, should not even hug their kids without the kids’ permission. But behind her supposedly neutral curriculum lurks what G.K. Chesterton called ‘the doctrine of the divine authority of will.’
Sex-positive sex ed, far from liberating children, actually indoctrinates them into the religion of narcissistic consumerism. This religion has so thoroughly pervaded sexual ethics that even the supposedly Christian columnist Elizabeth Bruenig can’t conceive of an alternative.
Bruenig, who may be something of a troll, leapt to Fonte’s defense, arguing that porn literacy classes could help turn kids into ‘ethical consumers of pornography’ (this despite her acknowledgement that abuse and exploitation are rampant behind the scenes of the porn industry but aren’t always apparent in the videos themselves). A seminar that urged teens to avoid porn because of the damage it does to performers and viewers alike would be a valuable public service, but that’s not what Fonte offers. The goal is not for kids to watch no porn, but for them to watch different porn (and try not to get addicted).
In the 21st-century sexual smorgasbord, selective consumption is permissible, as are usually futile self-driven attempts to ‘cut back’. But to abstain entirely is considered unrealistic, unhealthy, and undesirable. As in Huxley’s novel, it’s those who refuse to consume are a threat to the system.
The system is there to empower you, especially sexually. Like Amazon Prime, you can have everything you want, all off the time. Swipe left on anything that doesn’t spark joy. Like any number of dopamine-hacking smartphone games, instant sexual gratification starts off as harmless frivolity, but quickly snares you with sunk costs and diminishing returns.
So go ahead. Sleep with a stranger. Get divorced and remarried (again). Try out polyamory. Start an OnlyFans account. Mutilate your genitals. It doesn’t matter what you choose, only that you choose it.
Human sexuality was not made for pair-bonding or for procreation. It was not made for anything. It is the product of the same random processes that produced everything else on this lonely rock in space, and we can use it as we please. Experiencing sexual release as many times, in as many ways, with as many partners, and with as much intensity as you want is a small act of cosmic rebellion against the epiphenomenal illusion of consciousness with which evolution has cursed us. We can hope for nothing better in life.
This is the philosophy currently being taught to elementary schoolers. What could possibly go wrong?
Grayson Quay is a Young Voices associate contributor based in Arlington, Virginia.