Article response (re: men, women, and gender essentialism)
Tonight, a friend sent me a link to an article. This article rather upset me, and thus I've written a post as a response. Said response, though defiantly opposed to several points of the article, also contains much which opposes current political, cultural, moral, and social trends.
Original article link
Original article link
My response, written as I read it:
I take minor issue with the dismissal of hemaphrodites - an issue which the church has not addressed in any serious way that I've seen, and I think deserves a lot more thought than "oh, that's not a normal thing, let all us normal people be normal together." Yes, they are a tiny, tiny minority - but they exist, and are in the image of God (even though a broken image, just like the rest of us).
Sorry, been something I've been upset about for some time. All people deserve our love as they have the undeserved love of God, regardless of their particular instantiation of the fallenness of the world.
Running, jokes, guns, abandon - they are all learned behaviors. If there is a point to be made about the essential difference in born nature, it is made exceptionally poorly here. Also, I really hate the way activities like "helping mothers" and "baking" are clearly regarded as "less masculine."
I agree that a boy means future man. That's an excellent point - all boys need to be taught to fill the role of man - father, husband - things that women can never be.
I also absolutely agree that being a man means you are a begetter, that the bond between father's and children is not the same as that with the mother.
I also agree that a mother, if she loves and respects her husband (or if she's single, for whatever reason, other male figures in her and her son's lives), she will encourage her son to pattern his behavior after theirs.
I do reject the implication that girls should be kept in diapers.
I currently (I'm still willing to be convinced, but the more people try, the less I see it) absolutely reject the notion of chivalry as the Biblical way men should relate to women. Men and women should try to serve each other, and let each other serve themselves. I do not see anything in the Bible that says "men should be the ones to do physically hard things, and women should be the ones who do the nice things that don't matter and don't require muscles."
I do agree that in a romantic and spiritual relationship of marriage, the man should lead. There are many nuances in how that works, and I cannot stress enough how I think there are many ways of leading - some men lead bluffly, confidently, some men lead introspectively, quietly - and I do think that a failure to lead is a sin in a husband. But I do not think there is one way to lead, and I tend to reject ideas of leadership as a monolithic concept rather violently.
I think that while friends of the same sex share the same biological and social expectations, I think the gap between upbringing, desires, personalities, etc, are generally as large as any between men and women. I do not think I share a stronger bond with my brothers because of my sex (though I obviously share roughly the same experience of puberty as opposed to my sisters - but that is a physical one, not a mental or spiritual one).
I do not see why a wife is not a playmate. I do not see how separation is honor. Every time I have come across separation of essence arguments about gender, it inevitably leads to implied of outright contempt for one of the sexes. As here, where girls should be kept in diapers (and more on that later).
I think that indiscriminate mingling does not breed indifference, but understanding. Separation breeds contempt and confusion., at least it has in my experience.
I do not generally experience naturalness and ease with other men, especially not of those my own age. While I don't experience it naturally with women my own age either, I more commonly do form connections of a friendly (philia) nature with women than men. I strongly reject the idea that this tendency on my part make me less "masculine" or less of a man.
Here we get to more of the denigration of women. Women do not have integrity. Women do not stand by their words. Women make excuses. Women don't know the difference between bravery and recklessness.
If this is not the case, why make these things essential (in the very nature of) to being a man? What is a woman's relationship to integrity, keeping their word, responsibility, and bravery?
I absolutely agree about the mechanics of sex - and admire the way my parents were forthright about sex, never waffling about awkwardness or hiding things from me. They wanted to protect me from sin, and give me hope for a happy, blessed, glorious married life.
Ah, yes, because television and the internet are naturally evil. Yes, there is horrible evil for a Christian in the media - but there is also great good. Additionally, parents have the duty to teach their children discernment (not too soon, though different children are ready for it at different ages) - not cultural avoidance. How will we have artist who proclaim the beauty of God and the pain of living in a broken world if they do not know the skills of telling those stories in whatever medium they are gifted in?
I do think there's an attitude of "the good old days" to this piece that is not really appropriate for a Biblical perspective of history. Yes, there were good things about the old days. There were also bad things - the racism and sexism (which are not completely eradicated today) were not, and were pernicious things that good Christians should have (and did, sometimes) stood strongly against. There are good things about today - the connections we can make with people all over the world, the increased knowledge of the way the world works (it's difficult to see the good in the middle of the bad). But a narrative of increasing evil and a golden age in the past is just as destructive as the progressive narrative of great darkness and evil in the past and increasingly golden utopic society now.
I agree fairly completely with the final paragraph: Christians are called to reject selfishness, those who are called to marriage are to be faithful to God and their spouse without exception, and to raise men and women to do the same.