jasonbwatson

July 30, 2014

How do you feel?

Several posts ago, in an entry titled “The biggest obstacle”, I made several statements and assertions that I said I would come back to and elaborate on later. I will do that now. One of the statements I made in that post was that special rights based on gender identity is ridiculous. The reason that it is ridiculous is that there is no other area in life that I can think of where anyone is able to obtain any kind of rights based solely on how they identify themselves. The only possible exception that comes to mind would be religious affiliation, as there are sometimes rights that are associated with religious affiliation and practice. That is necessary, though, because there are no genetic connections to religion, to physical identifiers upon which anyone can be associated with a particular religion. That is because religion is necessarily a choice. That certain rights have been granted on the basis of religion is a testament to the importance that humankind as historically placed on religion and the very personal nature of religious belief. Gender is not that way, however–or at least never has been until now.

As I stated before, from the beginning of time it has been possible to determine the gender of a child within moments of birth. Indeed, for the past several decades it has been possible, thanks to advances in medical technology, to identify the gender of a child in utero. Can you imagine the way conversations may go in the future once all of this transgender mumbo jumbo takes hold? Someone will ask their pregnant acquaintance, “So are you having a boy or a girl?” “Well, the sonogram shows the baby’s sex will be female, so I am sure that is the gender that will be assigned on the birth certificate. But, of course, we will have a to wait a little while to see how she acts, what she prefers, and how she wants to identify herself before we will really know. After all, sex is purely biological but gender is really a choice.”

Since the transgender movement insists that gender is in fact the product of cultural influences and behaviors learned through human interaction the conversation above could even be more along these lines: “Well, the sonogram shows the baby’s sex will be female, so I am sure that is the gender that will be assigned on the birth certificate. But my husband and I really want a boy, so we are going to raise this child as a boy. We will give the baby a male name, decorate the room with a masculine theme, dress the baby in boy’s clothing and raise the baby to be a male. As soon as ‘he’ is old enough we will jump through all of the hoops to have ‘his’ real gender identified accordingly.”

The one opponent of the transgender movement that was actually given any print in Katy Steinmetz’s TIME article was Frank Schubert, a political organizer from California. Steinmetz quoted Schubert saying, “We introduce this concept called gender identity, and I don’t have any idea what that is. Can you claim a racial identity based on how you feel or the community that you’re growing up in? Can I claim to be African American if I feel African American?” That is a legitimate question, silly though it may sound. Just as gender has always been consist with one’s anatomy, so race has always been consist with one’s genetic make up (often visible through skin tone). If an individual wants to, for whatever reason, “identify” as a race other than that which he or she is how can we stop that from occurring if we are saying that gender is so fluid? If gender is the product of cultural influences and learned behaviors, could not race be, too?

Now, I know I am taking this to an extreme, but I think it is necessary in order to make a point. Once we begin allowing people to claim or identify anything based solely on feelings we are obliterating any possibility of maintaining boundaries of any kind based on facts. Just as the redefinition of marriage to include male-male and female-female unions necessarily flings open the door to allow any combination to be defined as marriage, so the allowance of gender to be based solely on feelings means that, necessarily, we will have to allow anyone who feels anything to claim that they are that thing. If someone feels rich can they take items they cannot really afford from the store by writing checks that will never clear because they “feel like” they have money? That’s ridiculous, you say. Whether or not someone has money is easy to determine, easily verifiable. Well, guess what? So is whether or not someone was born male or female.

This gets to the heart of what I was getting at when I wrote in “The biggest obstacle” that transgender individuals do not really want an equal place but instead want a special place based on their personal choices. Someone using the name “Eyeontheuniverse” was kind enough to comment on that post and ask me to provide an example of such a special place or unique and privileged treatment that I am asserting transgender individuals want. Sure; I’d be happy to. The right to compete on an athletic team based on one’s chosen gender, the right to use a restroom based on one’s chosen gender, or any other example of insisting on treatment based on how one feels or identifies rather than what one is is a pursuit of special and privileged treatment. If someone wants to engage in homosexual sex, that’s fine, that is his or her choice. Demanding that marriage be redefined to include homosexual unions is insisting on special and privileged treatment. If a male wants to dress and act like a female, even assume a female name or identity, then I suppose he can do that, that is his choice. But to insist that “she” be allowed to play sports based on that choice, or use a restroom based on that choice, or be referred to using pronouns based on that choice, is to demand special and privileged treatment. If transgender individuals can make up their own pronouns like “xyr” why cannot I make up my own pronouns? Henceforth, I do not wish to be referred to as “he” but rather as “ilb.” That is my choice, and I am demanding that everyone else refer to me accordingly. Those who do not shall be sued so that courts will order them to refer to me as such. And while I’m at it, I’m tired of the title “Mr.” too, so from now on it will be “Great.” Yes…instead of Mr. Watson, I shall be Great Watson. I like that much better…I think I will feel much better when addressed that way.

Pretty stupid, huh? My point exactly….

Whoever “Eyeontheuniverse” is, their comment on “The biggest obstacle” included this statement: “In all we are probably looking at 2-6% of the population who in some way have a conflict between some combination of genes, body and brain. There’s not very much you are going to do to alter this (at least historically) after a person is born. The goal is to make life for people who are outside the simple binary system as easy as possible.” Again, I do not know who this person is, but he or she apparently has greater knowledge of this situation that any other study I have been able to find, since all reports seem to indicate that 0.2% to 0.5% of the population fits into the transgender category. “Eyeontheuniverse” apparently believes it to be ten times that number. Notice the end of the comment, though. The goal is to make life for those individuals as easy as possible. Never mind the fact that in so doing we will be making life as uncomfortable and difficult as possible for the majority of the population!

Katy Steinmetz wrote in her article, “No matter their anatomy, transgender people want to live–and be identified–according to how they feel: to be able to dress and be treated like a woman or a man regardless of what their parents or delivering nurses may have assumed at birth.” This is really what is comes down to–demanding rights and treatment based solely on how one feels. I explained above what the problems are associated with that approach, but I do have to appreciate the candor of Steinmetz. At the end of the day, the homosexual movement, the transgender movement, and many other movements now in existence and yet to come, want all notions of right and wrong, black and white, left and right–in other words, any concept of absolute truth–to be eliminated and everything to be based on feelings.

Watch out anarchy…here we come.

January 21, 2014

Too broad a brush

Christina Hoff Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. According to WORLD Magazine Editor-in-Chief she is “best known for her notable–and controversial–books about feminism and American culture.” The December 28, 2013 issue of WORLD includes excerpts of Olasky’s interview with Sommers on the topic of education and, specifically, the impact of today’s classrooms on the academic performance of boys.

Sommers makes a few debatable assertions in the interview, including the statement that boys are building “critical social skills” with their running around and mock fighting accompanied by sound effects. Now I do not have a problem with boys playing army or cops and robbers or superheroes or whatever else they may play; I did plenty of that as a youngster and my son does plenty of it now. Try as you might, there simply is an innate tendency among boys to enjoy shooting things, even in play! I am not quite sure that is a critical social skill, though.

What really bugs me about Sommers’ assertion though is that she goes on to suggest that schools have, in some instances, gone way overboard in suspending or otherwise disciplining boys for such activities, even, sometimes, drawings of such activities. I would tend to agree with her there. But then she states, “If the earliest experience a little boy has is disapproval, we threaten his social development and make him unhappy with school. This may be in part an explanation of why boys are so far behind in reading and writing.” To that, I would say, baloney! This sounds far too much like the position of those who advocate letting children do whatever they want and argue that the self esteem of young children is as fragile as an egg shell. “We must not discipline them!” these folks tell us. “If we tell them they are wrong, we will destroy them. An entire life of trauma and antisocial behavior will result!” Far from threatening his social development, parents and teachers alike will go a long way in helping to appropriately shape his social development in a healthy way when they do indeed express disapproval when appropriate. I am not suggesting that should be every time boys run around or pretend to be shooting each other, mind you, but Sommers is using much too broad a brush in her approach.

Sommers goes on to say that schools would be much different than they are today if teachers recognized these differences between boys and girls and were prepared to handle them differently. Specifically, she says, “teachers would learn in teachers’ colleges what they’re not learning today, that girls are readier for school.” I do not agree with this assertion, either. Sommers suggests that five-year-old girls are more mature than five-year-old boys and it is very difficult for a young boy to sit still. Difficult? Maybe. Impossible? Not even close. The problem is not in the gender of the child, in most instances, though, but in the parenting that child has received. Parents who teach their children how to behave–which includes how to sit still when necessary, to listen, to–dare I say it–obey, will have children, whether boys or girls, who are ready for school. And the fact that boys are “so far behind in reading and writing,” I might add, has very little to do with boys being told to stop running around. It, again, has far more to do with whether or not a love for and habit of reading is taught and modeled by the child’s parents. I have seen plenty of boys who love to read and plenty of girls who do not.

Sommers suggests that if teachers were aware of these gender differences and took them into consideration in their classrooms the result would be, “Lots of recess. Different classroom settings, not just one style that is sedentary, competition-free and risk-averse.” I would agree that different classroom styles are appropriate for any age group, and I am all for healthy competition and risk. Let’s not get too carried away with the “lots of recess” thing, though. Recess is indeed important, especially for younger children and perhaps most especially for boys, but when taken too far “lots of recess” looks a lot more like daycare than school.

Toward the end of the interview Sommers begins talking about the fact that more women than men go to college and that graduate degrees are awarded almost 2-to-1 to females. She uses that to support her assertion that high schools should be offering career and technical training course options, that high schools “should be partly career training that offers pathways into good jobs.” She will get no qualm from me there, either, but I do not see the correlation between boys running around as young children and the need for career and technical education courses in high school. First, it suggests that boys are incapable of pursuing more academic paths of study and careers, and that is simply false. Second, it suggests that the little boys who cannot sit still in kindergarten never grow out of that and therefore need a high school version of “lots of recess.” That’s false, too. The fact that high schools need to offer as diverse a selection of courses as possible, including traditional academic courses as well as fine arts, industrial arts, agriculture, home economics and more has far more to do with offering a well-rounded education and the opportunity for students to pursue areas of interest and skill (not to mention the opportunity to be exposed to new areas and skills) than it does with innate gender differences.

Sommers makes some good and points, but I am afraid too many people will swallow her whole approach because of the legitimately good points she makes. Be careful that you do not, though, because there are justifiable and legitimate reasons to tell little boys “no.”

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