When model and actress Raquel Welch graced Time’s cover in 1969 it drew 900 complaints. Today, Glamour UK portrays a pregnant man. My, how things have changed. Photo from Wikipedia

New meaning to having it all

  • July 13, 2023

In 1969 Time magazine featured supermodel Raquel Welch, the iconic model and actress, on the cover. A bikini-clad Welch stares the reader down with intensity. Whether driven of a sense of religiosity or simple desire not to have an almost naked stranger on the coffee table, Time received 900 letters, the overwhelming majority in protest.

Fast forward to 2023. Glamour UK features trans man Logan Brown on its cover. Brown sits shirtless, double mastectomy, short hair, holding a pregnant belly.

Two very different covers. Two very different issues. Yet they are linked. Then as now, this is the sexual revolution unfolding in real time. Understanding this can be helpful insofar as much of what appears to come out of left field is actually part of a much longer historical trajectory.

The sexual revolution is the defining feature of modern life and yet because there are no tanks rolling it tends to go more or less unremarked in many circles. Our grandparents lived with very different expectations of social order and family life.

This is certainly not to deride everything of the present age and celebrate everything in the past. Rather, it is to speak to the trade-offs. In all change, something may be lost as much as something may be gained. The progressive view tends to lean into the notion of unceasing gains, like waves rolling in the ocean.

Raquel Welch symbolized sexual revolution of an earlier vintage. In the 1960s, with the birth control pill just newly legalized, the idea that sex and children are unrelated and marriage irrelevant was a new celebration.

Academic feminists taught, not without success, that marriage is a patriarchal force that hurts women. They also taught that women are no different from men, adopting ironically the male standard as that to which women must conform. Having established that women are the same as men ran parallel to the idea that gender is a construct. Under these influences and others, we arrive at women becoming men but getting pregnant while off testosterone momentarily, as in the case of Logan Brown. 

Now, a man who must take daily testosterone over a lifetime lest he become pregnant is not one. And women who must control fertility via abortion are likewise not functioning as men — they must experience a consequence — abortion — having become pregnant after sexual intimacy. (This natural consequence is something scholar Erika Bachiochi calls a “sexual asymmetry,” and there is a movement afoot demanding we consider this in modern relationship). Other tradeoffs include sexual freedom for dwindling marriage rates and fewer children, an ability to choose an individual path for increased isolation, and so on.

Many view the Logan Brown cover as fringe, an edge, a political wedge — good for increasing eyeballs on a dying media industry and not representative of much more. That is true, but only in part. “You can have it all” takes on new meaning — and some girls, plagued as they are by anxiety, body image struggles and exposure to violent pornography at young ages will be attracted to the idea that they can apparently become a man and still have children.

There are repercussions for boys growing into men as well. Attempting to figure out what masculinity means in this culture that has long cast scorn and derision on the concept is not getting any easier, and won’t when everyone from journalists and educators to politicians and pastors claim men can be women and vice versa.

The Glamour cover certainly won’t advance the revolution as much as the years of gender theory taught to young people out of academic institutions. That trend continues apace. A University of Saskatchewan academic recently advertised working to “queerify math” in order to “integrate gender and sexual diversity into the mathematics classroom.”

“Marriage is the cornerstone of civilization, provides a sanctuary for children and saves us from anarchy.” If we were to name the author of that quote, not many would guess Raquel Welch, and yet these are her words. We never quite know our part in life’s show, and we certainly don’t know that in due course Logan Brown won’t be preaching about the immutable nature of biological sex.

Until then, note the continuity. The sexual revolution offers trade-offs and has been in action for decades, if not centuries. There is nothing new under the sun, and no social trend hitting us today emerges from a vacuum.

(Mrozek is Senior Fellow at Cardus Family.)

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.