I have been following the news and the trend generally relating to gender identity and gender modeling. Recently I watched an interview of a female college student who in an English class was deducted an entire grade because she used the word “mankind” when referring to “humanity.” In a dance class this morning the instructor of little boys and girls ranging in ages probably from seven to ten years, explained to the girls to “keep their legs together” when taking their steps because, among other things, it is ladylike. She taught the little boys in the class how to escort their partners on and off the dance floor and pointed out that it is the “gentlemanly way to treat a lady.” When I heard her, I was instantly stricken by the obvious – she was gender specific advocating traditional gender roles while many, including academia are teaching neutrality.
In full disclosure, I agree with the dance instructor on all counts. With that being said, and in keeping with my theme of having civil discussion on all matters whether we agree or disagree, this is a subject matter of great heated debate in our country today, and an underlying division among many liberal and conservative thinkers in our nation. The conversation I believe has many tentacles including gender identity, feminism, equality, labeling, stereotyping, and probably more. Gender identity is a whole separate issue in and of itself and not sometime I want to focus on here, the rest I believe are relevant for discussion.
I recently heard it said in defense of gender specificity, “it should be insulting to women to have to be like men in order to be valuable, important or deemed equal.” I agree with this statement. Not long ago there was a whole day for woman to walk off their jobs to prove their importance and contribution to society. I disagreed with the walkout and agreed with the observation that anyone, male or female, who is important, valuable, and a contributor to society should not walk off their jobs out just to make a political or social statement. A lot of children were not taught that day, a lot of parents were forced to stay home or hire last minute and very expensive babysitters. What exactly was proven that day, presumably that “women are as important as men.” I agree with that statement wholeheartedly and believe most people do. I emphasize the point being made however, that women were clearly distinguishing themselves from men. So what exactly is the college professor’s agenda? Why is she, and many like her, wanting to blur the lines? What is the purpose of eliminating gender differences? Biblical genders are two, men and women. There is no confusion, ambiguity or uncertainty from God’s perspective, He make mankind men and women. There is no in between. Science clearly distinguishes male from female by anatomical differences and multiple studies have shown that male and female brains are biologically wired differently.
With theology and science undisputedly in agreement that male and female are not the same physically, mentally or emotionally, what exactly is the underlying argument for gender neutrality? My opinion is that it is purely a cultural attempt to dismember traditional roles by conflating male/female with men/women. There are two possible purposes I can discern: First, that in order to achieve equality between the sexes, they must be the same. This presupposes that one is inferior to the other and that different cannot be equal. My second conclusion is that the movement is a covert attempt to undermine biblical morality. The first proposition makes little sense to me as an offering to see equality unless the one making such a point is oblivious to the contradiction. The second possibility supports decades long endeavors by some to remove God from society. We have seen the removal of prayer from school, the removal of monuments from public lands, the obliteration of “Merry Christmas” and the Christmas tree, each being replaced with “Happy Holidays” and a holiday tree. There is an ongoing drive to remove In God We Trust from our currency and under God from our pledge of alliance.
While academia and activists are advocating a gender neutral society, there is a greater segment of the population trying to raise their children biblically or just in traditional roles. The debate that rages is that the latter segment of society, is indoctrinating their children and denying them their individual identity. For what it is worth, it is working. There are large segments of our young population adopting the notion that they are being lied to and cheated out of their true identities. I believe this is the greatest persuasion for transgenderism. I do not discount other reasons for one experiencing gender conflict within themselves, but I believe other possible reasons are small by percentage and not the greater norm. I believe the predominant reason is the institutionalized teaching for the reasons I state earlier.
The notion that we no longer have genders for the sake of “equality”tries to parallel equality with sameness. As society stands today, half of us are threatened by an unacceptable destruction of traditional values, while half of us are scared by indoctrinated dogmatism and the stifling of individual expression. I believe our support for either is determined by our moral definitions which are molded by our belief system.
In the military we are taught there are no “male” officers, or “female” officers, there are only “officers.” We are taught there are no “white” soldiers or “black” soldiers in the military, that there are only “green” soldiers. Obviously these are not true statements in the literal sense. These are offered to make the point that regardless of one’s gender or color, officers are officers and soldiers are soldiers; equal in their roles, responsibilities, authority, due respect, etc., and are not to be rendered differently because we distinguish differences in physical appearance. There is a meaningful purpose in this teaching as it is proffered for something other than the statement it presupposes to prove. Beyond speaking metaphorically, justification for there being no difference between the sexes is only concocted conjecture absent any direct or intrinsic evidence which has yet to be proffered by anyone.
I believe my theory that the attack on gender specificity is a cultural one being sold by a handful of agenda driven activists as can be witnessed by the interview of the college student referred to above. The term “mankind” has traditionally been used and recognized to mean “all humankind” since the thirteenth century. To deny this is intellectually dishonest. I have never researched or Goolged it, but I imagine mankind has been used hundreds of thousands if not millions of times to mean exactly how the college student used it, to mean all humankind. Biblically, mankind refers to men and women. Webster’s dictionary defines mankind in reference to both men and women. So why did an educated college professor deduct a full grade for using mankind in referring to all humanity? It was a social statement right? It was a point of view that we not distinguish between male and female let alone their traditional roles in society.
Should academia have the right to promote their belief system, and have the right to penalize those who fail to adopt it? Who in society gets to model others? Who has the absolute right to model our children? When our children grow and go off to middle school, high school and college, do the teachers and professors there have some inalienable right to reprogram them?
The word gender refers to a given sex. If there are no differences between the sexes, e.g., male and female, is the word gender rendered completely moot, irrelevant and without meaning? If there is no black or white and only grey, shouldn’t we delete black and white from our vocabulary, preface these words in all dictionaries as archaic? That is pretty silly right? I think so, but that is exactly what some are soliciting for with these gender destruction agendas.
Being a Christian man I adopt God’s word. Throughout the bible, from the Old Testament to the New, male and female, man and woman are used throughout. They are emphasized to distinguish one from the other and specific differences, roles and responsibilities are clearly spelled out, delineated and described. As men or women of the bible, we are charged with specific obligations. In order to fulfill these obligations and remain obedient to these charges and edicts we must be able to distinguish male from female and men from women. For those who do not choose to accept the teaching of the bible they have the right and free will to reject it. They do not however have the right to force others to reject it which is what they do when they penalize those who do. Not only was this college student wrongfully denied the grade she earned because of her professor’s ideological protest, she was also denied her freedom of speech (speech without penalty) and her freedom of religion (the right to refer to men and women as all mankind just as they are referred to in the bible.)
We have often taught alternative thinking, it is not a new concept – creation versus evolution, gender specific or gender neutral, these arise out of different belief systems, concepts and ideologies. Religious or conservative people typically adopt and live by traditional teachings, progressives and liberals the opposite. I believe each side has the right to believe whatever they want to believe, God thinks so too; that is the definition of free will. What we are witnessing today however with academia having the ability to penalize students for thinking, believing or acting differently than the professor or institution’s chosen belief systemis a form of persecution. The power to levy penalty to force different thinking or behavior is coercion. Punishment as a deterrent or training mechanism such as in the case of raising children or rehabilitating criminals is one thing, but to use it to compel, force or intimidate grown people into adopting a personal ideology is plain wrong.
In the movie Inherit the Wind, there is great colloquy by Spencer Tracy who plays Henry Drummond, the defense attorney for Bertram Cates, a school teacher accused of violating the law for teaching evolution in a public classroom. Addressing the court and the jury, Drummond declares:
“Can’t you understand? That if you take a law like evolution and you make it a crime to teach it in the public schools, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools? And tomorrow you may make it a crime to read about it. And soon you may ban books and newspapers. And then you may turn Catholic against Protestant, and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the mind of man. If you can do one, you can do the other. Because fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding. And soon, your Honor, with banners flying and with drums beating we’ll be marching backward, BACKWARD, through the glorious ages of that Sixteenth Century when bigots burned the man who dared bring enlightenment and intelligence to the human mind!”
While the circumstances have been reversed today, the argument is the same that to teach only one single belief as opposed to alternatives, and thereafter enforce that belief by power over grades, recommendations, privileges, etc. Is the professor in this article not guilty of denying this college student the ability to exercise freedom through speech and religion? Are not many colleges and universities guilty of exactly the same? What if it was reversed? What if we taught only biblical teachings in schools and forced students to adopt these beliefs or be deducted grades, would that be okay?
That college student was wronged and that professor should be sanctioned. If the professor wants to teach the concept of gender neutrality then she probably has the right to do that, but only as cultural movement or alternative, but she has no right to force her ideologies on her students. If I choose to go to Liberty University I should expect a biblically based education, conservative and predominantly one sided. When I go to a secular university or college I should expect freedom of thought and expression, not the opposite of the purposed religious institution. If I join a dance class where dance protocol, etiquette, and gender roles are part of the dance experience, I should expect it and either be accepting, not take these classes, or find classes specific to their needs. Dancing is an art and a sport with predefined rules and expectations; it is not secular school where freedoms are essential tenets.
In keeping with my purpose and agenda, which is to foster conversation and civility regardless of agreement or topic, I hope the foregoing discussion illustrates how we can focus on a factual exchange of ideas and beliefs without vitriol, nastiness or hatred. I am of the opinion that there are several issues in society today that are completely irreconcilable, but just the same, they need not tear us apart either. We can choose to be always at odds with one another or we can find acceptance in our disagreement. The choice is ours, right now we are the former – we are acting like kids who never learned discipline. I have my convictions and I am mostly never afraid to express them. I do my level best to defend them but not force them on others. Those who disagree with me often do the same; when they do I engender to always give them the same respect that I expect from them. I enjoy conversation and debate, I enjoy learning from those likeminded and those who think differently. What I am pretty certain of is that unless we can actually engage one another we will never find compromise or agreement, and we are not going to find comfort in engaging one another if we continue to be judgmental and unyielding.
Differences in society exist and they are not going away. We are going to continue to always have liberals and conservatives, believers and nonbelievers, those who want tradition and those who want change. These are constants, these are absolutes – this is our reality. The answer is not to hide, but to gather and discuss. Do it always however with an honest objective, willingness to mutually disagree if that is all we can achieve, and always come from a place of love and from kindness.
These are my thoughts . . .