Ep. 17 – “Sex Scandal” and the erasure of sexual difference
Conversations with Consequences

 
 
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What does “sex” mean? What about “gender?” There’s a lot of competing information out there about the ways in which men and women are different, and why it matters. Your host, Dr. Grazie Christie, sits down with the Catholic Association’s Ashley McGuire and Andrea Picciotti-Bayer to talk about about Ashley’s 2017 book, “Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female.” We talk about what the breakdown of sexual differences means for women in sports, sex selective abortions, the #Metoo movement and more.

TCA clips:

www.washingtonpost.com/politics/admi…14_story.html

catholicherald.co.uk/news/2019/08/0…t-of-our-time/

www.ncregister.com/daily-news/fost…-the-gift-of-fa

Ashley’s book:


Ep. 17 – “Sex Scandal” and the Erasure of Sexual Difference Transcript

Dr. Grazie Christie: Welcome friends. You’re listening to Conversations with Consequences, the weekly podcast/radio show of the Catholic Association, where you get witty and charming conversation about the topics that matter to you, with the leading thinkers of our time.
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Today, I’m Dr. Grazie Christie. I didn’t introduce myself and I’m in my studio closet in Miami, I’m joined from the studio in D.C. by my colleague, the legal eagle from the Catholic Association, Andrea Picciotti-Bayer. Hello, Andrea.

Andrea Picciotti-Bayer: Hey, Grazie. It’s great to be here again.

Grazie: You’re going to tease me and tell me that you can see the Capitol.

Andrea: I actually can see the Capitol.

Grazie: Can you see the Capitol?

Andrea: It’s a beautiful day here in Washington. It’s like a thousand degrees and the humidity.

Grazie: The back joke behind that is our first three podcast episodes, all I could talk about was how I could see the Capitol.

Andrea: It’s really awe inspiring so I wouldn’t blame you for that.

Grazie: Okay, well thank you. So stop teasing me about it, okay?

Andrea: Okay.

Grazie: All right, good. So we move on.

Andrea: On to more teasing of Grazie.

Grazie: Yes, enough teasing of Grazie who just cut her finger taking the dishes out of the dishwasher. I’ve had enough trauma today, okay?

Andrea: You know, it’s great. We were we were talking earlier about the wonderful life of being a mother and juggling all the obligations of parenting, domestic work and professional work.

Grazie: And still being witty conversationalists in the closet.

Andrea: Exactly.

Grazie: Not everybody can do this.

Andrea: I’m really not sure you should say that you’re in the closet, but in your studio in Miami, a really amazing experience and one of the things that we’re going to be talking about today is the group that we work with.
One of our wonderful colleagues and I’ve got to say, after being a stay at home mom for many years and is returning back to the world of work two years ago, I am so amazed and thankful and every day I wake up and think, “I get to do this again. I get to work with these wonderful people.”
Grazie, maybe you can tell us a little bit about what you have in store.

Grazie: We do have spectacular colleagues that we work with and we are very fortunate that we have these wonderful people in our lives who wouldn’t be there if we were just taking dishes out of the dishwasher, of course. It’s all good. Dishes are good. Our friends are much better than dishes.
So today we’re waiting right now, actually, because Ashley is going to be joining us in the studio. She’ll be with Andrea and she’s about to arrive, but we thought we’d go through her bio behind her back because we don’t want her to feel embarrassed when we’re singing her praises.
Ashley McGuire is the author of a book called Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female. She’s a senior fellow with the Catholic Association, which is our association that we all work for. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Time, USA Today and many others. She publishes all the time.
She’s also appeared on most major television and radio outlets. She’s testified before the United Nations. Also she speaks in academic settings. She comments on religious freedom. She talks a lot about feminism and politics, and she’s also an editor of the Institute for Family Studies blog. Let’s see what else.
A 2011 recipient of the Phillips Foundation, Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship, and a recipient of the Susan B. Anthony List Young Pro-Life Leader Award. And she happens to live in D.C. with her husband and three very little children. She’s a very busy woman. She gets a lot done and she did write this book, which is amazing, called Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female.

Andrea: You know, it’s amazing, Grazie. I’m just hearing all of Ashley’s accomplishments at her age and with all of the responsibilities that she’s taken on for her family as well. It’s a great reminder for me that even though I’m working with people in our generation, they’re fantastic. Ashley’s another example of what’s yet to come.
Women are doing wonderful things, especially Catholic women in the U.S. and Ashley is a great example. I’m really looking forward to talking to her about what she’s accomplished in this book.

Grazie: With this book, she tackled a very difficult subject that is on all our minds. It’s the new gender ideology and she talks about it in her book from a very interesting perspective, which is the way that it abolishes these differences, the natural sex differences between men and women and how that affects women.
I mean, it’s not just about who’s in the bathroom with your child at school, which that’s a very important thing, but this gender ideology really attacks. It strikes at the root of the way that women exist in society, that the safe spaces that exist for women, the way we’ve organized society to give women certain places where they can live more equitably. We go back to the term of, the same theories of feminism.
So let’s take a short break and when we come back, we’ll be talking to Ashley. Ashley joins us in studio.
So Ashley is joining us in the studio. Hello, Ashley. We’ve been talking about you behind your back. I think your ears must’ve been burning.

Ashley McGuire: I hope you were nice.

Grazie: We were going on and on about all your accomplishments.

Andrea: I think we didn’t say enough praise, honestly.

Grazie: Yes, you think?

Andrea: Yes.

Grazie: We didn’t say how pretty she is.

Andrea: You’re beautiful, yes.

Grazie: What we really want to talk to you about today, Ashley, although we could talk to you about all sorts of things, we want to talk to you about your book. Your book is called Sex Scandal and it came out in 2017. You just told us a little while ago that, I didn’t know this, it came on a Valentine’s Day in 2017, which I think is very interesting. Why did you want the book to come out or was that a coincidence on Valentine’s Day?

Ashley: That was my publishers. They chose that date, but I think they were being purposeful because they know that if there’s any day of the year, that best sort of brings to the forefront the differences between men and women and how those differences come together in sort of a beautiful way, it’s Valentine’s Day.
For me, it was actually also a little bit providential because the first piece that I ever wrote for my college newspaper, which started me on my path of writing, was also about Valentine’s Day. It was about Tufts, which is where I went in Boston and their annual sex fair.

Grazie: Was that on Valentine’s Day?

Ashley: It was on Valentine’s Day and I walked into the campus center and I was just getting a cup of coffee and basically stumbled across this thing. It was cosponsored by the women’s center and I’ll spare you the gory details, because there really are R-rated, but it was a really sort of upsetting thing to encounter. I write about it in the book actually, in the chapter about what’s happening on college campuses and how degrading so much of all of this is for women.

Grazie: I’ve been rereading your book this week. I reread it because I read it when it came out and I enjoyed it very much. I was reading, you mentioned your time at Tufts several times and I kept wondering when I was reading, did I go to a much saner school? Or is it that I graduated from college in 1991? I think I’m like 20 years older than you Ashley, but I don’t know. Do you think that things in general are as horrible as you talk about at Tufts?

Ashley: I really do, and I think they’ve gotten worse. I think Tufts was maybe a little bit ahead of the curve in terms of horribleness. The statistics are pretty terrifying. I think I talk about how something like 80% of sexual assaults in colleges happen in the dorms, and colleges instead of working to try to make their environments safer for women, which starts with separating the sexes, a lot of them are sort of rushing full speed ahead to integrate them as much as possible.
I talked about the book, how there’s this sort of growing push for letting men and women share dorm rooms.

Grazie: I’m sorry, Andrea, I know you want to say something. My 19-year-old is going back as a sophomore to University of Pennsylvania and he just got his dorm assignment two weeks ago. He’s been assigned a two-bedroom double. Two bedrooms, sharing a bathroom with a girl. He immediately wrote back and said, “Put me back in the lottery. I want a guy.” Anyway, I’m agreeing with you. Yes, I’m watching it happen to my own child.
What were you going to say, Andrea?

Andrea: I was going to say Grazie, your instincts to kind of go back in time and think about when we were in college and then look forward and look at where our kids, whether they’re in college or heading to college soon, is a really important insight in something that a lot of us are kind of seeing. You know, wow, things weren’t like that in my day. Oh, my gosh, what are the things going to be like for my kids?
I wanted to, when I was reading the book, Ashley, when I first got it and again in preparation, I was remembering that I didn’t understand terminology and I still really don’t. But your book is very helpful to explain a little bit about the terminology around sex and gender, as we understand as it’s being discussed as far as describing the human person.

Grazie: Yes, because that’s very confusing. Everyone’s very confused about what is sex, what is gender. So tell us, Ashley. Explain to us.

Ashley: Well, it’s very true and I think was George Orwell who said you control language, you control the debate, so getting the language right is essential to helping us win this debate.
I was surprised my own mother, who has a law degree and practiced law, when she heard I was writing this book and we were talking about the terminology, she was like, “Oh, you know, gender is your biological, whether you’re male or female. Sex is sort of the social components of things.” I was like, “No, it’s actually the opposite.” I was surprised that even she didn’t know that.
I stopped keeping track after the seventy-fifth radio interview, so I got asked this question a lot, a lot of times with very little time to answer the question. I finally honed down the definition to this: Sex means something. Gender means nothing.

Grazie: Oh, perfect.

Ashley: Sex means whether you are a male or a female and there’s really two things that go into that: your genitalia and your chromosomes. Full stop, the end. Any medical textbook will spell this out. You know, this Grazie. You went to medical school. There’s no dispute over the medical definition of sex.

Grazie: No scientific label on this.

Ashley: Right. Gender is who knows? I mean, gender theorists can’t even agree amongst themselves what it means. Is it fluid? Is it not? Is it a spectrum? Is it not? Is it polar? Is it not?
Facebook tried putting out like fifty genders and they got hammered because it wasn’t enough and they eventually had to just abandon the whole experiment and say, “Okay, just here’s a blank line.”

Grazie: I think you wrote in your book, I don’t know if it was a quote. I can’t remember if it was a quote. “There are 7 billion people in the planet than there are 7 billion genders.”

Ashley: Right. Yes.

Grazie: Was that a quote from you?

Ashley: No, that was from a sort of a social theorist who is on the extreme end of gender is pretty much a meaningless construct. It’s very relevant because the whole idea first of all, it’s essential to understanding what’s happening right now, which is there is a concerted legal push to replace the word sex in the law with gender. That is what sort of started with the Obama administration when they sent out a letter to colleges saying that if you discriminate on the basis of gender, you can be stripped of your funding, etc, etc.
It started back sort of a second wave feminists who started to try to make the argument that our maleness and femaleness are basically socialized constructs. Certainly there is an aspect to each culture where maleness and femaleness differs, but 95% of it is scientific.

Grazie: Ashley, the feminist, is the reason they were trying to do that is because they were fighting against the stereotypes that kept women from, for instance, I don’t know, being a doctor or a lawyer.

Ashley: Sure.

Grazie: There were stereotypes and they were like, whether you’re a male or female is just something that’s imposed upon you by society.

Ashley: Those types of stereotypes are still there today. You know, my daughter, I took her to Target yesterday to buy a birthday present and she wanted to buy Barbies. I was like, “Sorry, we’re not buying Barbies,” because I don’t like the stereotype portrayed in a Barbie.
That doesn’t mean that you completely throw the baby out with the bathwater and say there’s no such thing as male or female just because you don’t like the way the female body is portrayed in a Barbie doll to a little girl.

Andrea: Ashley, you touch upon something about the importance of kind of equal opportunities when properly understood and equal treatment but recognizing the differences between men and women and one of the things I most enjoyed about your book was your appreciation of the uniqueness of woman and the special qualities that we have.
There is this great line just in the very introduction where you say that sex should be a source of potential and the starting point for true equality. I think that that’s it. Going back to this starting place, all of this should be to recognize our potential, but not to confuse it and also put women in an inferior position, which it seems like the push for gender replacing sex is a dangerous thing for.

Grazie: Andrea, I think what you’re trying to get at, and I also read that line in it and it caught my attention. Just last night I read it. We talk about erasing the sex differences to make people equal, to make men and women equal, but I think what we’re doing is we’re making women to be more like men and to abandon all the things that make us distinctively feminine that bring us joy and where we are naturally ourselves.

Ashley: Yes, absolutely. I think we’re so stuck in this mindset of the litmus test as male.

Grazie: That that’s the standard.

Ashley: You know, physical strength, financial success, these things that we associate with men. Sexual freedom and even this whole debate about why aren’t more women doctors and so many women are nurses and women gravitate towards these professions like teaching and nursing.
That’s only a problem if your underlying assumption is that there’s something inherently less of a contribution or less equal to those sorts of qualities or the qualities that characterize those professions.
To me, what I think we need to do is liberate ourselves from this idea that we need, just as you said, to hold women to a male standard because that ultimately undermines women. A lot of feminists, leftwing feminists, are talking about this as erasure, like the erasure of women.

Andrea: Speaking about giving women space, space to show their abilities and their potential. One of the things that happened most recently, which I thought was awesome, was the U.S. women’s soccer team winning the World Cup and how that really brought a lot of Americans together, even people who aren’t big soccer fans or women’s soccer fans.

Grazie: I think those women wrecked it.

Andrea: Before we get to that, what I do want to talk about though, is the opportunities that were opened up for women in Title 9. That really gave women a space to develop their athletic potential.

Grazie: That’s a big topic and we really want to get into that with Ashley, but I think we have to take our very short commercial break, okay? Don’t let me forget. We’re going to come back and talk about that.
Welcome back to Conversations with Consequences. I’m Dr. Grazie Christie and this is the podcast and radio show of the Catholic Association.
I am with my two colleagues today, Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, she’s our legal adviser and also with Ashley McGuire, who is talking to us about her book, Sex Scandal. This book out in 2017 and I feel like every day that goes by, the book is more timely and more necessary because it explains in a way anybody can understand. What I like about the book is it has a lot of pop cultural references and a lot of references to things that are actually happening. It’s not all about philosophy and the big background ideas. It’s full of real time issues that are confronting everybody today as we go out into the world.
So before our break, Andrea, was just asking a question. Maybe you could you could re-ask it, Andrea, because I think we really need to spend a little time on this issue.

Andrea: There are a lot of areas in life in which recognizing the differences between men and women and boys and girls plays out in a beautiful way and allows boys to really flourish, and girls to flourish and men and women to flourish. One area that I think is great is giving women and girls equal opportunities, especially when as it plays out in academics and in sports.
I was wondering, Ashley, we had spoken before about how some of the recent trends may undermine the gains that women have realized in opening up those spaces.

Ashley: Yes. I agree with both of you on the women’s soccer. I agree that the women ruined it with their sort of lack of gratitude for their country.

Grazie: Yes, with their potty mouths.

Ashley. Yes, but their triumph was a good example of how women’s sports has been very empowering to women. Moments like that, little girls see that and think, “I can do that.” In general, the opportunities of sports that were opened up to women in the past several decades have created a lot of financial opportunities, scholarships.
The woman who is considered sort of the author of Title 9 said that what it did for women’s sports was one of the biggest gains that Title 9 did. The purpose was to create opportunities for women where they weren’t, not to create a sex blind culture.
If a college had money, they had to show that they were putting equal resources, if they had a swim team, towards a men’s swim team and a girls’ swim team. What’s happening now, and I was shocked when I did the research for my book, I felt like I had to read and reread it because I couldn’t believe this was happening, was that men were taking advantage of Title 9 and saying, “You actually can’t discriminate on the basis of sex under the law.” By that, they meant actually make a distinction between male and female, therefore, “I get to compete on your team.” These men, these boys, were competing against girls in their own sports, breaking their records, taking their scholarships, taking their titles and it’s happening.
I feel like every day now I read a different story about this happening. I just read today in The Wall Street Journal, a runner speaking out. She said she was one of the only ones who was willing to speak out because the other girls are so afraid of retaliation which Title 9 is also supposed to protect them against.
I was a track runner in high school and that was a great outlet for me. It wasn’t something that turned into a professional career, but it was a great way for me to develop leadership skills, for me to better myself.

Grazie: Sports, for many people who come from underprivileged backgrounds, this is the way that they get to college.

Ashley: It’s their ticket.

Grazie: This is how you get to college. Otherwise you’re not going to get to college, possibly because there’s just no way unless you want to take on that huge debt that maybe somebody’ll pay up.

Ashley: Right. It’s just incredible to see Title 9, which was designed to create and expand opportunities for women, now being twisted in such a way that if women protest against their rightful opportunities being taken from them by men, they are the discriminators. That, again, goes back to the sex and the gender distinction where as soon as you replace sex with gender, suddenly women find the legal floor gets ripped out from underneath them.

Grazie: Erasure. Erasure, as you were saying. When these men, these boys, go and they compete on the girls’ team, do you think most of them or all of them—I’ve always wondered about this and you’ve done a lot of research on this—do you think that these males really believe that they’re women trapped in a man’s body? Or do you think many of them or some of them are taking advantage of a situation so they can dominate the field?

Ashley: My research was almost entirely on just men who self-identify as men, boys who self-identify as boys. There was a boy who wanted to swim during the winter season. There was no boys’ swim offered during the winter season so he swam on the girls’ team and he broke the girl’s state records with a time that wouldn’t have even qualified him for the men’s.

Andrea: Ashley, one of the things that I was interested in, is your thoughts since your book was published, the “me too” movement kind of roared its head. In many ways it had a lot of good things, right? Identifying horrible people for the abuse that they inflicted on many women, but it also brought a lot of confusion to the conversation about sex differences and particular vulnerability that women have when confronted with men in kind of highly charged sexual environments.
Since the book came out, what additional thoughts do you have in light of “me too”, as how this came about and what blurring sex differences did to make women more and more vulnerable to these kinds of horrific abuse?

Ashley: In my book, I write about Harvey Weinstein and at the time I just wrote about him as this unnamed Hollywood bigwig producer that apparently everybody knew about but it was sort of unnamed. When the story broke, I was like, “Why is this news? I thought everybody knew this?” Oh, right. They didn’t know who, or his name wasn’t out there.
I think “me too” has pushed the conversation forward in terms of is this a sort of reckoning for the sexual revolution?
I’ve been a little disappointed, to be honest, at how little good has come out of that. I’ll give an example. I just saw the governor of I can’t remember which state it is. They’re writing all these negative stories about him because he doesn’t want to have a meeting alone with a female reporter in a room and it brought back up the Mike Pence thing. You don’t have to subscribe to the Mike Pence philosophy to at least recognize that we live in a culture that’s very extreme on this and he’s trying to do something that acknowledges the fact that men and women who are not married should not be alone in private settings.
You look at the Harvey Weinstein stuff and these women were going into his hotel room at 12, 1 in the morning. This is the sort of stuff that women are told that they should be doing, that their careers will suffer if they don’t do. Then somebody like Mike Pence goes around and tries to respect the boundaries of women and he gets hammered for it too.

Grazie: Ashley, the erasing of sex differences, how does that play into the “me too” movement? What’s the connection there? How do they overlap?

Ashley: The connection is that it’d be one thing for two men to be meeting alone, to talk, quote unquote, “business”, at ten thirty at night over drinks in hotel room. The idea, I think that got us into the Harvey Weinstein “me too” thing, is that it’s no different for women or men. Except it is different because women can be raped.
It’s the same thing that happens on college campuses. Why does it matter if men and women are sleeping under the same dorms and under the same roof and in the same rooms and using the same bathrooms? It doesn’t matter if they’re no different, if just our bodies look different. But it does matter if we take into account the fact that women are uniquely vulnerable, and women don’t like that because you think it’s paternalistic. It’s just reality.

Grazie: We build a society that’s erasing sex differences and that results in women being exposed to situations where they can be pressured, right? They can be pressured.

Ashley: Absolutely.

Grazie: They can be pressured and pushed into sexual relationships that they don’t want. That creates the “me too” of movement but then you see the “me too” movement and what you’re seeing is women saying, “No! I want to be out there, naked and sexual and have men respect me.” It’s all very confusing and I don’t see that it goes anywhere positive.

Andrea: There’s a great line in your book, Ashley, saying that the sexual revolution billed as progress for women is actually just a Ponzi scheme for the patriarchy. I thought that was classic. It’s a really interesting thing to think when we don’t recognize our uniqueness as women and we throw ourselves out into the den of wolves, we’re likely to get devoured.

Ashley: Right and liberal feminists would respond and say, “Well, men need to behave themselves.” Well, of course, but you can’t build your society based on the assumed perfect behavior of all the humans.

Grazie: That’s right.

Ashley: You need to build your society based on the fallen nature of humans and do what needs to be done to protect the most vulnerable, and women are vulnerable in a way that men are not.
What’s so terrifying to me about the denial of sex differences is that it’s tearing down all the barriers that are in place to protect women and their vulnerabilities, whether it’s their privacy in dorms or bathrooms.

Grazie: Also when we race those sex differences, aren’t we also asking men to act like women?
Aren’t we saying, man, you are easily titillated, you’re easily overpowered by your sexual desire? You easily become a bully to get what you want. Right? Sorry, Mike. Mike, the producer is listening.
You’re a male and you have these proclivities. We women don’t have them in general. We’re also saying to men, no, you’re going to behave like a lamb, even though you’re sort of like a wolf and you need to be in your own space. That’s a little strong, maybe. Do you think I’m being too strong, Andrea?

Andrea: I always think you’re being too strong but that’s what I really most admire about you. One of the interesting, when things go crazy, crazy is, and Ashley you point this out in your book, now prostitution and the calls to make prostitution decriminalize it—

Grazie: I hate that.

Andrea: —and think that that’s good for women, that it’s a good thing for us to be able to sell ourselves to somebody who really doesn’t care for us.

Grazie: I find that I find that one of the creepiest things in in modern life right now is the push to talk about prostitution as sex work. That is so disgusting.

Ashley: Right, and it’s again, I think it goes back to the sort of holding women to the male standard like, “Oh, let’s make this work,” when it’s actually the systematic objectification for profit of the female body. It’s interesting to see how some of these things are dividing feminists.

Grazie: It is interesting.

Ashley: That’s a big one. Even “me too”, I think, has divided feminists in many ways. I think it shows that there’s sort of an interesting moment in time right now. I don’t think I wrote about this in the book, and I loved when we interviewed Mona Charen, but I love thinking about the different waves of feminism. I think it’s important to remember that they have been waves and that what each wave did was take the good from the last wave and try to move forward.
I think a lot of what I try to do in the book is think about where are we now? What do we need to do to move the cause of women’s equality forward? In the book, I argued that the starting point has to be, not just recognizing, but celebrating that women are different from men.

Andrea: I really am looking forward to riding the wave of authentic feminism as St. John Paul II brought that that term out there to really think about. Women are awesome. We have particular unique traits and abilities that men don’t have. We’re complimentary to men and now we’re in this world where our contributions fortunately are legally recognized and encouraged and protected. At the same time, our uniqueness needs to be preserved.
I would love, what would it be, the fifth wave? Are we in the fifth already?

Ashley: I think this would be fourth.

Grazie: When I moved to this country from Latin America, I was very shocked at the way that women weren’t protected, that girls were not protected. For me, it was absolutely bizarre that girls weren’t kept in cotton wool the way we were in Latin America. It doesn’t make sense to me. Women need more protection and more care.
In a society that treats women with tremendous respect and respects that they have a vulnerability that men don’t have is a better society. Now, of course, where I came from in Latin America, there were also a lot of stereotypes that kept women from doing things like playing soccer. I mean, in school, when we had phys. ed or for recreation time, we the girls sewed, and the boys played soccer. That’s how we were separated like that. It’s not that I believe girls shouldn’t play soccer, but we do need to have a society that that protects women more than it does now.

Andrea: I was wondering, Ashley, you mentioned before some of the work that was done during the prior administration, the “Dear Colleague” letters and the current administration has pulled those.
Shouldn’t that be enough? Can’t we just go back to all being normal and not worrying about this or what’s really going on?

Grazie: Maybe Ashley can explain to our listeners about that, about the what the “Dear Colleague” letters are just because they might not be so clear.

Ashley: Yes, the big one related to education, they sent out a letter saying if you don’t enforce anti-discrimination on the basis of gender, we’ll take away your funding. What that meant is, it was very legally complicated, but it was basically trying to flip sex and gender.
But no, I don’t think the work is done at all. In fact, I think some of the most concerning stuff is happening in schools now. I know the last podcast episode was about getting kids out of schools. We took our daughter out of public school out of concern for what is being taught related to gender in the public schools. I looked at some of the curriculums that are being taught in various public schools across the country and they start this stuff at like kindergarten.
I think there’s still a very entrenched and growing, even more entrenched belief in America, especially among the ideological elite who shape culture, who are in the institutions that are the most influential, that the sexes are the same, and that gender is what we should be focusing on, gender identity.

Grazie: Ashley, recently the Vatican released a document denouncing gender theory or asking Catholics to look at it carefully and understand exactly where it was taking us. Do you think this is a document that could help American Catholics was somehow when it filters down to them through the parish, through the priest?

Ashley: Absolutely. I think American Catholics really need to educate themselves on this. It was Pope Francis I quotes in the book as saying that gender ideology is a war on the family. Those are sort of fighting words, but they’re true because why form a family, if men and women are the same?
This whole debate gets at the heart of some of the most important and essential aspects of civil society starting with the family, because we live in a society that’s praising the fact that four out of ten households are run by single moms. This only makes sense if women don’t need men because there’s no complementarity and children don’t need a mother and a father.

Grazie: Sex differences. Go ahead.

Andrea: I think Ashley had a really important point and that’s the importance to educate ourselves. I really think that the document out of the Vatican, especially because it was directed to Catholic educators, not just a letter to the bishops. Now we’ve got to get our boots on the ground. We all need to start understanding more, not just to fight something that’s confusing, but to really understand truth.

Grazie: Okay but before our listeners read the Vatican document, they have to read Ashley’s book. The Vatican’s document is complicated. I think Ashley’s book really frames the whole thing in ways that we can understand, and we can see its effect in so many different branches of social life and how it’s affecting so many people.

Andrea: Absolutely.

Grazie: All of our listeners need to go out and get Sex Scandal. And how can they get that book, Ashley?

Ashley: They can find it on Amazon.

Grazie: Of course.

Ashley: I think Barnes and Noble still has it. If you’ve got a bookstore, it was in the bookstores.

Grazie: Well, okay. There you have it. Thank you so much, Ashley, for coming and talking to us about Sex Scandal, your wonderful book.

Ashley: Thank you.

Andrea: Every morning, the Catholic Association reviews all the latest news and sends us subscribers a carefully curated collection of the most important news of the day. Items are specifically selected for a smart Catholic audience. Don’t let the world take you by surprise. Subscribe to our daily media roundup at thecatholicassociation.org.
This week, Maureen and I have picked out three articles from this week’s clip that we thought you might find interesting.
First article comes from The Washington Post and it’s titled “Trump Administration Moves to Enforce Abortion Restriction”. Maureen, perhaps you could tell our listeners a little bit about what’s going on in this important move from the Trump administration, in Title X family planning program grants.

Maureen Ferguson: Sure. The Washington Post ran a story on August 9th talking about the Title X regulations. The new Trump administration rules on Title X clinics, and just a little history on that. The Title X program is a federal family planning program, but the abortion giant Planned Parenthood has weaseled their way in over the years and gets millions of dollars in taxpayer funding through the Title X program.
The Trump administration has said abortion is not an appropriate method of family planning and if you’re providing abortions, you cannot use our family planning money because the difference between contraception and abortion is kind of like the difference, as Mark Twain used to say, “is like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” Title X is a family planning program and the Trump administration has said if you’re a Title X recipient, you cannot be providing abortions.
This is sort of a big donnybrook over millions of dollars in taxpayer funding. This news story is basically saying, “Okay, Title X clinics. You have another week or so to tell us how you’re planning on complying with these new rules and you have another month or so to start implementing these new rules,” and all the while in the background this is being fought out in federal court.
It remains to be seen how it will all play out but it’s a pretty interesting story about all of this back and forth in The Washington Post.

Andrea: It’s great, Maureen, that we’re highlighting this comes a couple of weeks after we were talking about Obria, which is kind of a natural family planning support group getting Title X family planning grants as well, and really seeing that this program is there to serve women and it’s not there to serve entities like Planned Parenthood and fill their coffers, but really to help women be open to life and to better understand the role of life and the importance of children in their own families, and space things out according to both their convictions and what’s good for them.

Maureen: That’s right and it’s fantastic that this Title X program has been opened up to providers of natural family planning as well. That’s super exciting.

Andrea: Our next article kind of continues that same theme of openness to life and development. And it comes from the Catholic Herald and it’s written by Jessica Able. That was from August 9th and the title is “Archbishop Naumann: Fighting abortion is ‘most important human rights efforts of our time’”.
This article speaks about a gathering of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Pro-Life Leadership Conference for Dioceses, and a really beautiful speech that Archbishop Naumann, the chairman of the pro-life activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, gave.
He speaks again about kind of encouraging all Catholics and encouraging Catholic leaders in the pro-life community and within this dioceses to really continue to be liked and to know that their leadership in inspiring pro-life advocacy all along the way, not only from the moment of conception until natural death is something that the church has a special calling to, and that the world has a special need to hear.

Maureen: That’s right. I thought this was a very inspiring summary of Archbishop Neumann Keynote Address to this annual gathering of parish pro-life leaders from around the country, talking about the title of “The Talk of Life Will Be Victorious”. It was very hopeful about how we can better build a culture of life, starting on the parish level.

Andrea: Our last article just comes from the National Catholic Register and it’s written by Joan Frawley Desmond and it’s titled “Foster to Adopt: Parents Share Their Life-Changing Stories of the Gift of Family”.
We don’t have much time to speak about it, but I encourage everyone to look at this really beautiful story about pro-life advocacy in our own families and a number of the families that are highlighted. One particular Lisa Wheeler and her husband, Timothy. They’ve welcomed in so many children from foster care and adopted a number of the children, and it really shows that being pro-life really is a benefit to your own family and your family grows through welcoming children, either in a foster care setting or through adoption.
Highly, highly encourage you to read these beautiful stories. I think we need more of these examples of light to keep us going in these times of great challenge.
So thank you, Maureen, for joining us. You can find the links to these articles on our podcast show notes. To subscribe to the podcast and the media clips, go to thecatholicassociation.org.
This week, as is customary, Father Roger Landry did this sort of brilliant homily on this coming Sunday’s gospel. Please stay tuned for Father Landry and do look at the Daily Homily on his website www.catholicpreaching.com.

Father Roger Landry: This is Father Landry and it’s good once more to have a chance to enter with you into the conversation with consequences Jesus wants to have with each of us this Sunday.
Sunday, Jesus emphatically will tell us why he left heaven, became man, lived, preach, suffered, was crucified, rose and ascended, something each of us has to ponder deeply, prayerfully and frequently.
“I have come to set the earth on fire,” Jesus says, “and how I wish it were already blazing, just like the Holy Spirit was sent down as tongues of fire to ignite the memories of the early church, with the passion to live and preach the gospel until the ends of the Earth.”
Jesus came down with the same holy ardor, with the same white-hot love, to make us his torch bearers, to set the world ablaze with the light of his truth and the fire of his mercy.
The great third century theologian Origen once commented on Jesus words about igniting the world with fervent faith and avid love. Jesus was essentially saying, he said, “Whoever is near me is near the fire.”
Just like Jesus after the resurrection warmed the hearts of the disciples in the road to a mass, he wants to kindle our hearts to such a degree that we will be able to warm others with his burning love.
Pope Benedict once said, “Faith must become in us a flame of love. A flame that really fires up our being. That becomes the great passion of our life and so fires up our neighbor too.”
Why is fire so important? Because one of the greatest dangers that can afflict us in the Christian life, is what spiritual authors call lukewarmness. Rather than being fired up for the faith, the lukewarm often draw near to God, His word, His presence, the sacraments, His image and others. But with spiritual asbestos around their hearts, they might say their prayers, but they rush through them without passion. They may come to mass but leave their enthusiasm at home.
Catholics ought to be more passionate about God speaking to us and feeding us at mass than the greatest sports fans are for their teams to win the championship. Tepid Christians are somewhat like fair weather fans. Very few of us, let’s face it, are lukewarm in the day of our first communion, just like very few priests are tepid on the day of their ordination.
Something happens to us. We lose the fire we once had. We lose the ardor. Begin to spend more of our time adoring what’s playing on our high def TV’s than adoring Jesus. We spend more time reading newspapers, magazines and social media pages than we do God’s word.
Jesus wants to give us the love we had at first. He came into the world to light the earth on fire, and Jesus continues to come each Sunday. In fact, each day to light us on fire so that we transformed can change the world. When we’re ignited, it doesn’t mean that there won’t on occasion be some suffering. The fire of God’s love always burns in the form of a cross.
When we begin to get fired up with the love of God, some won’t be happy. That’s why Jesus, right after having told us that he has come to light us and the whole world on fire, says that because of him, families will be divided, two against three in various ways. This isn’t because Jesus came to bring division. It’s because when some members of the family really put him first others who want to be first simply get jealous.
The division ensues not because of the fire, but because of the other’s ice cold, stubborn heart. But the greatest gift we can give to others is the gift of God and God is not tepid, but on fire, out of love for them when our fire translates into compassion, patience, reverence, encouragement and forgiveness.
Over the course of time, we’ll see what so many Christians have rejoiced to see before us that God’s fire in us can and will, not only set alight our lukewarm family members and friends but can melt even the most stony of heart.
The greatest way of all God is established to inflame us is mass. Whoever draws near Christ draws near the fire, Origen told us. We draw near to Christ in the Holy Eucharist, sent out from rote that whenever we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, we ingest fire.
That’s why I can’t wait for Sunday. And I hope you’re ignited too, for what Jesus wants to do in you. God bless you.

Grazie: Thank you so much, Father Landry, for our weekly treat. Unfortunately, it’s time to say goodbye to all our listeners. You’ve been listening to Conversations with Consequences, which is a service of the Catholic Association. I’m your host, Dr. Grazie Christie, and I was joined today by my dear colleague, Ashley McGuire.
We were really glad to have you. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast of our show where ever you get your podcasts. You can go to thecatholicassociation,org/podcasts. Tell all your friends about it and/or join us next week on our radio show, 11:00 a.m. on the Guadalupe Radio Network. Goodbye my friends.