Thursday, June 11, 2015

“Don’t impose your values on me!” should be translated as “Stop trying to defend yourself as we impose our values on you!”

I think the whole Gender Fluidity Industry is for the most part a clown show 
writes Jonah Goldberg (whose latest column is Liberals Now Find Gender Identity Itself Oppressive) in his newsletter.
I’d call it a campus circle jerk, but that’s too base for this refined epistle, so let’s call it an oval of onanism. (Also, the word “jerk” is gender-loaded if you think about it). The idea that there are 56 different genders (and counting!) is the sort of thing only someone paid to talk about gender theory could take seriously.

What I find fascinating is how much magical thinking is involved in all of this. It’s true that gender is a social construction. It’s also true that it’s a social construction built on a natural foundation. If you have a problem with that statement, take it up with the archeological record and the evolutionary psychologists. In other words, gender is an intersubjective cultural term, but culture is also an expression of human nature. There are no cultural institutions designed to deal with people who have laser vision and 14 heads. Why? Because such people don’t exist. Gender roles came about because they are cultural expressions of biological facts rooted in human nature. There has never been a human society where the men all stay home to raise the kids and the women go fight wars. There are plenty of individual exceptions, I’m sure, but they are exceptions that prove the rule.

Personally, as the husband of a brilliant working woman and the father of a girl who wants to be a Navy SEAL, I am delighted that gender roles evolve. But you know what doesn’t evolve (at least not on a schedule that is of any use to “gender activists”)? Sexual categories. You can play lots of word games with gender identities, and that’s fine. But to even come close to changing sexes you need more than a sharp metaphor -- you need a really sharp knife. And even then you are only approximating a sex change. Yes, yes, there have been people born with mix-and-match plumbing. But while such examples might have incredible power in a Bryn Mawr seminar on Herculine Barbin, they amount to statistical noise for biologists -- and sociologists, historians, and gynecologists.

It is one thing to have a cultural argument about cultural institutions, including language. But you venture into a kind of totalitarianism when you insist that facts be bent to, or erased by, ideology as well. (The use of abracadabra words to change reality was hardly created by gender activists. Remember when the editors of Social Text believed that quantum physics was just a social construction? Remember when Arthur had Merlin change his appearance so he could lie with another man’s wife?)

That only biologically female humans can get pregnant and give birth to babies is true no matter how inconvenient it may be. If that fact hurts someone’s feelings, that’s unfortunate. But that’s no reason to change the language to fuzz-up the facts.

This points to one of the things that grates on me about all of this foofaraw. We are tearing down cultural institutions, rewriting language, and demonizing religion for the benefit of a remarkably small number of people. 

 … I’ll say it again: Liberals are the aggressors in the culture war. The only shocking thing about that statement is that it ever shocks liberals. On their own terms, they take pride in being “change agents” and “forces of progress.” But the moment anyone attempts to defend themselves against the social-justice warriors, they are treated as the aggressors in the culture war. “Don’t impose your values on me!” should be translated as, “Stop trying to defend yourself as we impose our values on you!”