The Sad Absurdity of Gender Neutrality

For the Christian the idea of gender is rather straight forward. The text of Genesis clearly delineates the origin of two genders:

Genesis 1:27
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

It is an understanding that is later reiterated by Jesus in Matthew 19 in his discussion on marriage. For most of history this has been perhaps the most mundane concept in the Bible; after all, the idea that humans fall into one of two genders on the face of it seems rather obvious, easily discernible at birth. Like many considerations though what was once mundane is now highly controversial.

Beginning in the latter part of the 20th century and continuing into the 21st, gender and its role in the organization of society has become the latest front in an ongoing war against tradition and faith in the West. Starting with the radical feminism in the ’60s through the gay marriage movement of today, there has been a sustained effort to reinvent our fundamental societal construct along egalitarian lines. This effort though is rapidly moving from equality of the sexes to elimination of gender distinctions.

Two recent stories highlight how such efforts fall out. The first story is out of Sweden where activists are pushing for an extreme form of gender-neutrality:

By most people’s standards, Sweden is a paradise for liberated women. It has the highest proportion of working women in the world, and women earn about two-thirds of all degrees. Standard parental leave runs at 480 days, and 60 of those days are reserved exclusively for dads, causing some to credit the country with forging the way for a new kind of nurturing masculinity. In 2010, the World Economic Forum designated Sweden as the most gender-equal country in the world.

But for many Swedes, gender equality is not enough. Many are pushing for the Nordic nation to be not simply gender-equal but gender-neutral. The idea is that the government and society should tolerate no distinctions at all between the sexes. This means on the narrow level that society should show sensitivity to people who don’t identify themselves as either male or female, including allowing any type of couple to marry. But that’s the least radical part of the project. What many gender-neutral activists are after is a society that entirely erases traditional gender roles and stereotypes at even the most mundane levels.

On this side of the pond, there is another gender battle occurring, namely the efforts of a young man to run for ‘Prom Queen’, a role typically reserved for females. He is doing so in an effort to expand awareness and presumably acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students:

An Arizona teen is crying foul after his high school barred him from running for prom queen.

As CBS 5 is reporting, McClintock High School student River Flanary, who says he is straight, claims he wants to run for queen in an effort to stand up “for those who maybe weren’t bold enough to stand up before and maybe putting that courage in their hearts a little.” By that, he says he means the school’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students.

When taken together one quickly sees the contradictions that develop in the arbitrary nature of the secular left’s view of gender in our society. When the desire is to expand acceptance of alternate gender identities, activists utilize traditional roles to push the boundaries of our understanding of equality. Once equality is achieved, then the idea of gender is dismissed with all together.

Another contradiction arises when biology comes into the picture. Society is sold on the notion of accepting gays and bisexuals based on the claim that gender is not chosen individuals or imposed by society, but rather is product of certain inherent biological tendencies. “We are born this way!” is the mantra of the alternate lifestyle movement. And yet we see in in Sweden an attempt to eliminate gender distinctions by eradicating society’s imposition of gender roles. If our gender is a product of biology, then gender specific pronouns would merely be recognition of biology not an attempt at inequality. We could no more eliminate gender distinctions by striking ‘he’ and ‘she’ from the language than we could eliminate facial hair by declaring ‘beard’ and ‘moustache’ to be hurtful words.

Such contradictory thinking is of course the result of a secular mindset. As secularists see humans as merely biological, any notions of equality must be advanced by diminishing or ignoring biological differences. This notion of equality is quite different than that imagined by the American founders. Their notion of equality, which was later to expand to encompass our racial and sexual diversity rather than attempt to eliminate it, was predicated on the notion that we all have inherent worth. As persons we are ‘endowed’ by our Creator with equality and rights that transcends our physical distinctions. Unlike the secular concept this notion of equality is anchored in objective and unchanging truth, not the vagaries of language and societal roles.

In the end of course the secularists will fail because they are fighting against our inherent design. Our language and roles merely recognizes gender distinctions it doesn’t create them. The only real question is how much damage the secular left will do before it’s folly is made obvious?

4 Responses to The Sad Absurdity of Gender Neutrality

  1. eMatters says:

    Here is one of my favorite quotes by the author, J. Budziszewski, that describes this situation well: “Though it always comes as a surprise to intellectuals, there are some forms of stupidity that you must be highly intelligent and educated to commit. God keeps them in His arsenal to pull down mulish pride, and I discovered them all.”

  2. Mike D says:

    This post is exceedingly confused. But I suppose that first, I can say where I agree. The movement in Sweden is indeed absurd (and fringe); many of our gender differences are rooted squarely in our biology, and attempts to eliminate them are futile – equality recognizes and celebrates differences; it doesn’t erase them.

    The rest of this post is a complete mess. First you take a fringe, extreme example of sociocultural controversy in one corner of the world, and imply that such things are an inevitable consequence of “secularism”. That’s a slippery slope fallacy if there ever was one.

    Secondly, you confuse secularism with materialism (which you have often conflated/confused with atheism). They’re not the same thing. A secularist may simply be someone who believes that matters of civil policy ought to be kept free of influence from religion – a subset which includes many religious people.

    Third, you confuse two completely unrelated events. While the movement in Sweden is indeed a push to radically reform ideas about gender, River Flanery’s actions were done simply as a protest of the discrimination against LGBT students.

    Fourth, you confuse gender identity with homosexuality: “Society is sold on the notion of accepting gays and bisexuals based on the claim that gender is not chosen individuals or imposed by society, but rather is product of certain inherent biological tendencies.” This is massively confused, and you’re conflating two distinct things. When gay people say they are “born this way,” they’re talking about their involuntary sexual attraction toward people of the same sex, not gender roles. Gender roles do have some biological basis, but they are also heavily influenced by shifting sociocultural norms. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that just a century ago it was virtually unheard of for a woman to be a university professor, a doctor, a small business owner, or a high-ranking corporate officer. A few more centuries back, and women were little more than property. Secular modernity has freed women from many such artificial constraints, and they now have more autonomy than ever before – even if many inequalities still exist.

    And there is absolutely nothing wrong with casting a critical eye toward traditional gender roles, many of which are nothing more than antiquated sociocultural norms with no basis in our biology nor any relevance to our modern society. Questioning them critically is vital to the continued efforts toward women’s equality, even as we want to be careful not to, as this group in Sweden apparently wants to do, throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  3. jackhudson says:

    The rest of this post is a complete mess. First you take a fringe, extreme example of sociocultural controversy in one corner of the world, and imply that such things are an inevitable consequence of “secularism”. That’s a slippery slope fallacy if there ever was one.

    Had you bothered to read the article linked, you would see the gender neutral movement in Sweden isn’t merely fringe – as the article notes, it strikes across a wide band of Swedish society from bowling leagues to bathrooms. While the actual pronoun modification may not currently widely supported, on the whole the concept can hardly be called ‘fringe’.

    Secondly, you confuse secularism with materialism (which you have often conflated/confused with atheism). They’re not the same thing. A secularist may simply be someone who believes that matters of civil policy ought to be kept free of influence from religion – a subset which includes many religious people.

    I am not sure how you think I confused the concepts – I only used the word secularism in this article, I made no reference to atheism or materialism. Secularism is the socio-political concept which rejects religion as a source for informing civil affairs. It is Sweden’s secularism (and increasingly, the US’s) that allows for these ideas of gender. You seem to be projecting your own confusion onto something I didn’t write.

    Third, you confuse two completely unrelated events. While the movement in Sweden is indeed a push to radically reform ideas about gender, River Flanery’s actions were done simply as a protest of the discrimination against LGBT students.

    Again, you seem not to be reading what was written. I didn’t say one event caused the other merely that they both result from the same mentality about gender. Once someone (or a society) rejects the idea that gender is something we recognize as being inherent in the sexes, then there is no basis for asserting particular roles at all. Both events result from this rejection of the traditional view of gender.

    Fourth, you confuse gender identity with homosexuality: “Society is sold on the notion of accepting gays and bisexuals based on the claim that gender is not chosen individuals or imposed by society, but rather is product of certain inherent biological tendencies.” This is massively confused, and you’re conflating two distinct things. When gay people say they are “born this way,” they’re talking about their involuntary sexual attraction toward people of the same sex, not gender roles. Gender roles do have some biological basis, but they are also heavily influenced by shifting sociocultural norms. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that just a century ago it was virtually unheard of for a woman to be a university professor, a doctor, a small business owner, or a high-ranking corporate officer. A few more centuries back, and women were little more than property. Secular modernity has freed women from many such artificial constraints, and they now have more autonomy than ever before – even if many inequalities still exist.

    There is no doubt that expressions of roles are determined in large part by society, but that really isn’t what this is about. Roles are merely the cultural acknowledgment of gender differences, and that recognition might vary based on the goals and priorities of the society. What we see in the examples I cited are rejection of gender distinctions all together – that no role is ever legitimately rooted in actual distinctions between the sexes.

    Part of why this is happening has to do with political goals of groups like those who advance the gay rights agenda because if gender matters, then family organization and parenting aren’t as interchangeable as they are portrayed by such groups. Part of it is a product of philosophies that suggest equality cannot be an inherent endowment, and so must be imposed from outside by removing any reference to distinction in Orwellian fashion. As it turns out such movements are stronger in some places like Sweden because they are more secular and the interests of such groups coincide.

    And there is absolutely nothing wrong with casting a critical eye toward traditional gender roles, many of which are nothing more than antiquated sociocultural norms with no basis in our biology nor any relevance to our modern society. Questioning them critically is vital to the continued efforts toward women’s equality, even as we want to be careful not to, as this group in Sweden apparently wants to do, throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    Current equality and gay rights movements act contrary to biology, not in accordance with it. The great irony of the difference between secularists and moral conservatives in this regard is that it is the conservatives who can appeal to biology while secularists act wholly based on ideology.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 66 other followers

%d bloggers like this: