“If you really want to get to know someone,” notes the mother, “you don’t ask what’s between their legs.” This startling statement was made by the female half of a Canadian couple who are raising their third child to be “gender neutral.” No doubt you’ve heard the story of how the parents of 4-month-old Storm are keeping the baby’s gender a closely guarded secret.
With most children, of course, it’s unnecessary to “ask what’s between their legs.” A child’s gender is usually reflected by his name, clothing and, most importantly, behavior.
But for these parents, that’s unacceptable. They have refused to divulge if they have a son or a daughter in order for the baby to decide for him/herself how he/she wants to behave, free from the “tyranny” of stereotypes.
When this story hit the news, many people had a good chuckle tinged with outrage. What a stupid idea, that poor baby, he/she is gonna need counseling later on, yadda yadda yadda. But it got me thinking: Why are some people so hostile to gender differences?
The parents say they’re trying to raise their children free from societal norms. OK, fine, whatever. I think they’re whack-jobs, but that’s their business.
However, whether or not the parents want to accept it, little Storm has a gender. He or she will someday either father a child or give birth to a child. Why deny the beauty inherent in gender? Why deny the wonders of masculinity or the glories of femininity? So I’ll ask again, why is there so much durned hostility toward gender differences in modern society?
As usual, I’m using this particular situation to illustrate a larger and more important point, namely the role gender has (or should have) in our culture.
People are forever trying to reinvent the wheel. If something has worked since the dawn of time, there’s always someone who wants to tweak it to see what happens. With the rise of feminism 40 years ago, which attempted to destroy traditional gender roles, this “tweaking” has resulted in millions of people being raised without a biological code to live by.
There are those who believe gender stereotypes are bad. Men shouldn’t embrace their roles as protectors. Women shouldn’t embrace their roles as nurturers. But how does this affect society as a whole?
It screws people up, that’s how.
A friend and I were recently discussing the issue of marriageable men, or the lack thereof. This woman has two sisters in their 20s who are interested in finding a nice fellow and settling down to raise a family. But the women are unable to find a man interested in anything except the most superficial of relationships because the men don’t have the maturity to take on their traditional roles. This is not an uncommon complaint amongst unmarried women. To be fair, there are far too many young women who also lack the maturity to take on their traditional roles. These problems, I believe, can be laid firmly at the feet of an increasingly genderless society.
So what, you may ask, is the big deal if we blur the distinction between genders? The “big deal” is that by doing so, we raise young people unequipped and unprepared to step into their hard-wired biological roles when they reach adulthood. We have men unable or unwilling to support a wife and children, but who have no problem procreating indiscriminately. We have women unable or unwilling to marry a dependable, responsible man, but who also have no problem procreating indiscriminately.
The issue is much larger and more important than some New Age family bleating about gender roles. Biological traits are there for a reason. Conforming to our innate roles insures that our society and its base unit – the family – will continue to raise stable, well-adjusted children who (let’s admit it) aren’t likely to have confusion issues about their genders or their roles.
The thing about children is their instincts must be guided. Any parent knows boys and girls are different. Boys are physical. They roughhouse, tease girls, play pranks and revel in their scrapes and injuries. Girls are verbal. They form close friendships, play with dolls and pretend to keep house. (Remember, I’m talking generalities. There will always be quiet, studious boys and rough-and-tumble girls.)
But those instinctive behaviors must be guided appropriately. That’s why role models (usually in the form of parents) are so necessary. Traditionally, men taught their sons to channel their energies in acceptable ways. This included learning a trade, being protective of women and children, and preparing to take on their adult roles as husbands and fathers. Women taught their daughters to nurture children and keep the home. Husbands and wives balanced each others’ strengths and weaknesses.
What’s in vogue today is to teach children that their gender-specific instincts are wrong. Boys are punished for being rambunctious and restless in school. Girls are ridiculed for wanting to embrace the home. Children become confused when their instincts conflict with what they’re being taught, either at school, at home, or in society.
Role modeling has changed. Parents are no longer able or willing to teach their children the appropriate behaviors for their genders. Indeed, many parents are not even there; absent fathers and working mothers have wreaked havoc with the family structure, leaving children bewildered and cut adrift. The result is generations of angry young men and women who carry out their destructive behavior into the next generation.
Referring back to the opening statement – that if you really want to get to know someone, you don’t ask what’s between their legs – I strongly disagree. What’s between everyone’s legs is wildly important. It defines God’s purpose for you. Did He make you male or female? I’m grateful – not hostile – that He made me the latter.
Reinventing the wheel doesn’t change the innate perfection of that wheel, no matter how progressively you redefine it. A square wheel doesn’t roll, and gender-confused children will never be able to reach their full potential by denying God’s plan.