Thursday, September 15, 2005

Parents Believe in Sex Differences

One reader of the Gruntled Center replied offline with something that I often hear from parents:

“I don't see how you can seriously believe that there aren't innate sex differences. Having been raised in the "environment" outlook, and living though the 'achieving my potential in a male-dominated profession' and then getting into real living and important work, i.e., family and motherhood, including raising children of both sexes, I feel that I have solid empirical evidence to underpin my conclusion that of course there are basic differences between the sexes, and that IMHO, most of the propaganda I was fed is unscientific rubbish.”

My wife and I attended one of the great centers of egalitarian (men and women are really the same) feminism, Swarthmore College. At that time “politically incorrect” was still a joke that the Left told about itself. In fact, as I recall, most of the jokes about being politically incorrect turned on acting men acting masculine and women acting feminine (“I let him hold the door for me – and I liked it! Oh, no, politically incorrect!”). Along with most of our classmates, we were strongly committed to the view that gender differences were due to socialization, and that we were going to raise our children differently.

Well, after trying to interest the girls in trucks as much as dolls, and having to restrain the boy from pulling himself out of the stroller to chase a backhoe in preference to social play, we have come to the conclusion that most parents of my acquaintance have, as well: boys and girls are born different.

Having once been of the school that said gender differences were 1% nature and 99% nurture, I am now trying to hold the line at 50/50.


paul said...

I'm scared to get into this conversation. The feminists know where I live.

Gruntled said...

Feminists (secretly?) like tough men ...

Kathryn said...

If we constantly have to go to such trouble to define the ambiguous distinctions between "sex" and "gender," shouldn't we be seeking an entirely new vocabulary and rhetoric?

And in this era of "family values," I would certainly enjoy hearing a sermon on 1st Corinthians 7, where Paul urges singles to remain unmarried, in order to serve the Lord without distraction. Is this too radial and revolutionary today? Are the monastics in fact the ones with the right idea? :-)
All the best,

Gruntled said...

Paul does allow marriage for those who "burn." This, apparently, is most people. As long as the Lord tarries, I think it a good thing that many people keep having families.

What would this alternative rhetoric look like?

Kathryn said...

I'm fascinated by Jennifer Holberg's articles. She's a professor of English at Calvin College:

She makes several outstanding points:
"No, I’m not anti-marriage at all, but when was the last time anyone heard a sermon on the latter part of 1 Corinthians 7? This chapter clearly valorizes the single life, praising in particular the ability of single people to focus on the work of the church and encouraging them to remain unmarried. It is notable that in this text and related ones throughout scripture, Christianity assumes a respect for the single life, and in Pauline terms, one could argue almost a downright bias towards it. But one wouldn’t know it from contemporary Christian culture."

As for the tougher question of rhetoric...dear me, I don't know. But let's try something new, for Pete's sake (cf. Joseph Bristow's manifestos). How about gex or sender? :-)
All the best,

Gruntled said...

I think Christianity does have a bias toward the single life -- at least in full-time servants of the church (like Paul). This balances the huge emphasis on marriage and family in Judaism (and all world religions, really). I think this nets out to a balanced approach to marriage the single life.