There’s a phrase that gets tossed around a lot these days. “Traditional Family Values”. It’s guaranteed that you will here it said at least once in any speech by someone whose fighting against changes in the social order. Whether issues about sexuality, schooling, or even health and welfare are even relevant doesn’t seem to matter. It’s an emotional catch-all that can be used to pinpoint a speaker's place on the political map.
Three words that actually mean very little at all but that say a lot. Through inference they imply that what is being spoken against will somehow harm you and your children. Without even having to define how or what the damage will be, an emotional trigger is pulled to make people rally round the flag and pull up the drawbridge.
“Traditional Family Values” translates into, "The Barbarians are at the gate." Hide the women and children because they’re coming to rape, pillage, and burn. Visions of your teenage daughter being sold into white slavery, your son being ganged raped by rampaging homosexuals, and your wife and you being forced into acts of depravity dance through your head. You thank God for the N.R.A. and head for the bomb shelter out back with the Uzi and AK47.
What are traditional family values anyway? Just whose tradition are we talking about? Well, it's a safe assumption, given the gender, race, and class of most people who use the phrase, that we’re talking about white male protestant family values. Sure there are the occasional women who have been heard saying those words, but they’re usually the ones who mistook feminism for the right to act like a man instead of the freedom to be a woman.
I’m sure for most of those who hear those words and are philosophically allied with the speaker, they bring visions of Mom, Dad, two kids, a minivan, and a house in the suburbs to their head. Dad goes to work five days a week and on Saturday works around the house mowing the lawn and doing other Dad stuff. Son is older and plays football, has a steady girl who he holds hands with and takes out for a burger and Coke on Friday nights, while younger sister has giggly friends she talks too much with on the phone. Mom stays at home cooking and cleaning and whipping up meals from Campbell Soup labels.