Scandinavian Reality Blindness

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Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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72 Responses

  1. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    same-sex fairytales

    No comment.Report

  2. Avatar Patrick
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    says:

    I find your usage of the word “nonplussed” confusing and offputting. You might go so far as to say I was nonplussed by it.Report

  3. Avatar North
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    says:

    It always is good to remember that the left has fruitcakes too; God(ess?) love em.
    Hey do you remember the dude in the US who was suing about God in the pledge of alleigance? As I recall he wanted gender neutral pronouns too… something like Re and Ris instead of He/Her and Her/His etc…Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to North
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      says:

      I’d sue about being required to ‘pledge allegiance’ to a flag.
      I’d think that Real True Christians would have idolatry bells going off in their consciences over that.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to North
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      Leaving aside the “god” part, we *need* gender-neutral pronouns, though. Heavens, do we need it. The entire debate over whether they or their is appropriate is merely papering over a failure in our language.Report

  4. Avatar Alex
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    says:

    You are confusing gender with sex. This nitpicking isn’t really a criticism of the heart of what I perceive to be your argument, but the fact that you’re doing so in the argument does point out that the landscape isn’t as clear as you make it out to be.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Alex
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      says:

      School me. What’s the difference?Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        Sex is about whether or not we have a penis or a vagina. (or XY or XX)

        Gender is about how people present themselves to society. There are many ways to express gender that dont fall into neat categories like male and female. There are those who are intermediate to one degree or another, and there are those who fall outside the whole conceptual framework.Report

        • Avatar BSK in reply to Murali
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          says:

          Another way of thinking about it is to say that sex is what is in your pants and gender is what is in your head. Someone can have a penis and be full XY but “feel” like they are female or somewhere in between or off the scale entirely. Again, to me, this screams for the reinforcement of the social construction of gender; why can’t we just say that no matter how you feel and choose to express yourself, you will be accepted as a man? Instead, the theory goes, that society has structured a certain definition of manhood or a certain definition of femalehood and, even using the broadest definitions possible, some people will have a gender that is outside the definition designed for their sex. To me, that says the definitions aren’t broad enough.

          I’m not an expert in the field, so it is entirely possible that there is more to it than I realize. I’m suggesting the field take a step forward, not a step back. However, I have seen it suggested that for many transgender folks (those who feel their gender/gender expression does not match their biological sex), there are some differences that can be detected in their brain functioning and/or hormonal levels. Their sex is not in question (as it might be for someone who falls outside the XX/XY dichotomy, which happens far more than people realize) but there is something measurable that has impacted the incongruity between their sex and gender, beyond just what some people dismiss as a personal preference.

          It is a very complicated subject. Dr. Jennifer Bryan is one of the leading experts in the field (http://www.jenniferbryanphd.com/) and I have had the pleasure of working with her a few times. She/her field proposes that we move away from viewing things as a dichotomy (man/woman; male/female; straight/gay) and onto spectra that are dynamic, not static. Very interesting stuff.Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Murali
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          says:

          This is a meaning of the word “gender” that I had not embraced and which I feel a little bit queasy confronting. To get at this concept, I have used the word “sexuality,” which breaks down into a blend of sexual preference, sexual desires and activities, and personal self-identification. That notion seems very close to what you (and BSK infra) describe as “gender.”

          I’ve used the word “gender” in the same sense that I would use it in a court, defending my client from an accusation of gender discrimination — functionally synonymous with “sex.”

          If I adopt this new (to me) definition of “gender” then that means there is a whole spectrum of genders out there, and more inconveniently, I would need to substantially rewrite the original post.Report

          • Avatar James Vonder Haar in reply to Burt Likko
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            says:

            I think conflating sexual orientation, gender identification, and gender non-conformity into a single subject will only lead to confusion. I know you chose to elide the issue in the original post, but I think the experience of the trans community- with members covering the whole gamut of orientations also possible to the cissexual population- proves the folly of lumping them together analytically. Trans and gay folk may be convenient if occasionally dysfunctional political allies, but in forming a clear framework to think about the issue, I think it’s best if we treat them separately.

            Perhaps I’m not understanding your argument correctly. What do you think you gain from lumping those things together?Report

            • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to James Vonder Haar
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              says:

              One thing I’ve gained is exposure to a lacuna in my education. Lots of people have busted in with the same objection and the same definition of “gender,” which I really really honestly had not encountered before reading comments to this post.

              Another thing that I hope commenters take away here is that it is not always clear when what is being discussed is sex, sexuality (my term), gender as defined by commenters herein, or questions of social constructs. I think TVD hit on a rather important point here — either gender is a social construct or it is not. If gender is a social construct, it is subject to change.

              But my experience with a wide variety of people is that what I have called “sexuality” and what most others here have insisted is more properly called “gender” because apparently they all took the same sociology class, is not particularly malleable. Gay men pretty much stay gay; even if they are subject to intense psychological conditioning, whether well-intentioned, cruel or both, they backslide and deep down, they don’t ever abandon their preferences. They may or may not be successful in modifying their behavior.

              If gender as defined herein is merely a social construct and therefore malleable, then there is some measure of tension or weakness in the concept of gender as sussed out in our discussion. The social engineering discussed in Norway and Sweden remains, whether we particularlize gender as defined or whether we amalgamate it with sex, based upon notions that appear to run counter to reality.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Burt Likko
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                says:

                It’s not a matter of either or with any social category. Gender roles, for example, are socially constructed, and gender is largely a role-governed category. But it is built on a biological foundation which, while not invariant, does admit overlapping but distinct distributions.

                Put differently, you and Tom are wrong — it’s not simply a matter of socially constructed or not — but so is anyone who treats gender as socially constructed ex nihilo.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Chris
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                says:

                Truly, Chris, and with respect: I have labored with your last sentence several times and I confess I still don’t understand your point. Is it possible for you to rephrase it?Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Burt Likko
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                says:

                Sure: it’s not an either or proposition, so you’re both wrong.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to Chris
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                says:

                Likko, you didn’t expect a straight or substantive answer did you, silly boy?

                [Silly person, I mean…]Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris
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                says:

                Tom, that was a straight rephrasing of my last sentence. If you don’t like it ‘ cause it says you’re wrong, tough. You almost always are.

                If he wanted a rephrasing of the last sentence in the previous paragraph, it would go something like: biological sexes are overlapping distributions of physical and mental traits. It is upon these distributions that gender is constructed.

                That, I should note, is not a speculative claim.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to Chris
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                says:

                Nothing in that emission to agree or disagree with, Chris. How that proves anyone “wrong” is solely in your quarrelsome mind.Report

              • Avatar James Vonder Haar in reply to Burt Likko
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                says:

                Taking the definition of gender as the socially constructed meaning of biological sex, how do the Scandinavian policies run counter to reality? They’re not even so much replacing one set of arbitrary social expectations for another as they are attempting to remove said social expectations. If you give us that definition, and admit to the validity of the distinction between sex and gener, I can’t see how you can persist in your argument.Report

  5. Avatar BSK
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    I have no problem with same sex fairy tales… but King and King is utter crap because the premise is that the two kings fall in love only because they didn’t dig any of the chicks. The only thing worse is King and King and Me (or whatever the sequel was called)… wherein the two kings, longing for a child, go in to the jungle and walk out with a small black baby. WHAT?Report

  6. Avatar BSK
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    says:

    “Allow me to posit that children should be taught that men and women are morally, legally, and socially equals to one another; that it’s okay for a man or a woman to fill any particular kind of social or professional role; that people should be judged based on the moral weight of their character and the excellence with which they pursue their endeavors. But they should not be taught that gender is a myth or an artificial social construct. It is not; gender roles both traditional and contemporary are a social response to an objective reality about what it is to be human. The kids are going to figure out that there are men and there are women and that they’re different from one another in some ways — and if teachers have been pretending that there is no such thing as gender, the lesson learned will be that authority figures like teachers are willfully ignorant of blindingly obvious facts.”

    I agree largely with the sentiment here, noting the caveat that Alex pointed out about the conflation of gender and sex. Noting this, I think it is important to note that, while there are biological/evolutionary reasons for gender expression and stereotypical gender roles in addition to the socialization, gender is still a construct. One disagreement I have with modern gender research is the notion that someone’s gender does not match their sex. This implies that there are limits on how a biological man (sex) can act that, when crossed, make him no longer male (gender). If gender was truly a non-construct, it would be one in the same with sex, no matter how it was expressed.

    At least, that is my two cents. I realize it is in direct opposition to most contemporary research on the subject and is NOT meant to imply that there is one way to act male and one way to act female and that what we term today as transgender does not exist under that definition. Rather, it is to challenge the notion that one can be transgender; if we accept that any expression of “gender” is normal or acceptable for any of the sexes, than there is no way for one’s gender to cross or “trans” his/her/its sex.Report

  7. Avatar Pierre Corneille
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    says:

    Mr. Likko,

    Like some of the other commentators here, I think I agree with much of what I perceive to be your argument, but question some aspects of the way you approach it. For example,

    But they should not be taught that gender is a myth or an artificial social construct. It is not; gender roles both traditional and contemporary are a social response to an objective reality about what it is to be human.

    To say that something is “an artificial social construct” (what social constructs are not “artificial” by virtue of being social?) does not mean that that something is somehow not real or unimportant or something that one ought not to notice.Report

    • Avatar BSK in reply to Pierre Corneille
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      says:

      Yea, if something is a social response, how is that not a social construct?Report

      • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to BSK
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        says:

        Likko is correct in that gender is not a social construct, although it is treated as a distinction without a difference by the text in question, a matter of taste, if you will. Messrs. Corneille & BSK are rhetorically correct: social constructs are by definition constructs and therefore artificial, as are all laws and mores.

        One can attempt to make the case that some mores are universal and therefore natural, but since there are almost always exceptions in some human society somewhere sometime, they argue against the very possibility of a rule.

        I find meself the demurral untenable: societies often go mad.Report

        • Avatar BSK in reply to tom van dyke
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          says:

          TVD-

          What makes you say that gender is not a social construct?Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BSK
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            says:

            Here is my problem with the phrase “social construct”.

            It tends to be used as if social constructs are things that can be casually shrugged off, as if they were hobbies that were likely to be grown out of.

            It seems to me far more likely that social constructs evolve over time because they are *USEFUL* for society and societies with less useful social constructs don’t keep up if, in fact, they don’t die out.

            Which is not to say that Social Constructs are how God wants us to act… but the attitude that such-and-such is just a social construct seems to dismiss a *LOT* of things that evolved over time. Certainly when the underlying attitude seems to be akin to “God wants us to cast off our Social Constructs!”Report

          • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to BSK
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            says:

            Social constructs can be changed.Report

        • Avatar James Vonder Haar in reply to tom van dyke
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          says:

          Useful for whom?

          Useful for when?

          I submit that the more egalitarian gender ethos that has come to characterize modern western society is not exogenous to the natural evolution of gender roles that produced the previous dichotomy, but a production of the same process, though modified by a few factors. The first is the moral improvement of mankind that stopped taking the benefit of the male sex as the only barometer of social weal. The second is economic advance that simply made keeping half of the population in menial labor infeasible.

          In brief, why is this change not part of that natural evolution?Report

          • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to James Vonder Haar
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            says:

            Or the shoe goes on the other foot, that “gender neutrality” is the social construct. [HT: Harvey Mansfield]Report

            • Avatar James Vonder Haar in reply to tom van dyke
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              says:

              Absolutely, gender neutrality is a social construct, like anything else involving gender.

              One social construct leads to freedom for those who don’t fit a narrow standard and to egalitarian outcomes. One results in misery for the. gender nonconforming and the domination of one sex over another.

              I do not deny that they are arbitrary in the sense that neither is teleologically selected by history or ordained by nature. But you shall know them by their fruits.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to James Vonder Haar
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                says:

                That gender is merely a social construct is not self-evident. At this point, without any a posteriori confirmation of its value or even possibility, “gender neutrality” certainly is, in Sweden there.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to tom van dyke
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                says:

                It’s entirely possible that the reason that gays are responsible for a proportion of human progress far exceeding their numbers (as their prominence in politics, the arts, and the more belligerently traditional religious denominations demonstrates) is the very fact of their persecution; certainly they have both in common with Jews. Perhaps Tim and Tom are concerned that fully accepting them will greatly lessen their contribution.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to Mike Schilling
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                says:

                Then by your asinine logic, Mr. Schilling, such persecution is good for humanity. Stay out of the deep end of the pool, sir. You’re not even good at innuendo.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to tom van dyke
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                says:

                Innuendo? Innuendo would have been speculating why you, Tim, and Koz hold each other in such warm regard.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to tom van dyke
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                says:

                Because we’re gay for Harvey Mansfield. You got a problem with that?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to tom van dyke
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                says:

                If you want to claim kinship with Bill Kristol and Alan Keyes, knock yourselves out.

                (I’d remark on how Mansfield’s infatuation with the untrammeled executive didn’t survive the election of 2008, if anyone would have doubted it for a second.)Report

              • Avatar James Vonder Haar in reply to tom van dyke
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                says:

                I think if you examine the conscious effort designed to force people into occupying one gender role or another, you would find that the effort expended by the Norwegians to erase them pales in comparison, no matter its institutional nature.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to James Vonder Haar
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                says:

                When the boys whack each other with their little toy frying pans, will that be the explanation?Report

              • Avatar James Vonder Haar in reply to tom van dyke
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                says:

                You have a talent for changing the subject in ways that appear to answer the post you’re responding to.

                Please explain how institutional measures designed to treat the sexes indistinguishably from each other prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that gender neutrality in Scandinavia is socially constructed, whereas the myriad ways in which peer groups punish gender nonconforming behavior is not evidence of the same.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to tom van dyke
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                says:

                Can’t defend what I didn’t say, sir. You need to defend this “gender neutrality” as somehow not a social construct. ‘Tis you who bear the burden of proof: you must argue this nonsense affirmatively, not just attack. Good luck, and I’ll stop back if you can make a go of it.Report

              • Avatar James Vonder Haar in reply to tom van dyke
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                says:

                I also can’t defend what I didn’t say. As above, I have never doubted that gender neutrality is a social construct. “Absolutely, gender neutrality is a social construct, like anything else involving gender.” (further on in the post, you will find my reasons for preferring one over the other despite both being social constructs)

                Meanwhile, you actually have made the claim that gender is not socially constructed, while asserting that gender neutrality certainly is. “That gender is merely a social construct is not self-evident. At this point, without any a posteriori confirmation of its value or even possibility, “gender neutrality” certainly is, in Sweden there.”

                I’m trying to get at a reason for thinking the institutional measures of Sweden certainly represent a social construct while the less institutional but no less coercive action of social approval and disapproval do not form a social construct, and so far, you haven’t been able to oblige me.Report

            • Avatar Chris in reply to tom van dyke
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              says:

              If gender is largely a social construct (which it is, which does not mean it’s entirely a social construct), then gender neutrality is, by definition, a social construct. It’s almost absurd to point that out. But perhaps you don’t understand what “social construct” means.Report

  8. Avatar Tim Kowal
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    says:

    Personally, I think tolerance should be taught; I approve of the values of teaching that hetero-, homo-, bi-, and a- are all again, simply attributes of a person and not good reasons to treat them differently. There are those with religious beliefs and teachings that differ from my way of looking at things, and briding the line between accomodating the freedom to teach one’s children what are believed to be the correct religious teachings and promoting tolerance is not going to be a zone in which clear lines can be drawn.

    Part of the problem with the narrative about gender “equality” (a fractured and muddled term) is represented in this passage. Despite the suggestion in the above lines, “tolerance” is not incompatible with teaching that hetero-, homo-, bi-, and a- are more than “simply attributes of a person.” “Tolerance” is not incompatible with teaching that man is a moral being and that what we do with our bodies has moral import; that consent does not neutralize moral quandaries. I was sent to religious schools—first Christian, then Catholic—all the way through high school. I have no recollection of homosexuality ever being mentioned in the context of any class or lesson. I certainly was never instructed to be intolerant of or act differently towards any person on the basis of sexuality. I was also never instructed that there were any invidious gender roles on the order of a-woman’s-place-is-in-the-home. Maybe things have changed since I graduated high school in ’94, but I cannot take at face value the assertion that there is some inherent tension between religious teachings and “promoting tolerance.”

    There is a significant amount of human investment in the social order. If you ask me if I’d be ok with sending my child to a school that taught fairy tales like “King and King,” I would object for precisely the same reason as if the school proposed to teach fairy tales based on the life and times of Barney Stinson. I accept that people may choose to engage in certain sexual activities of which I disapprove on moral grounds. I certainly have no problem “tolerating” such people—indeed, I am even friends with them. I also have friends who no doubt disapprove of my actions—consuming animal flesh, for instance—on moral grounds. Again, tolerance is not the same thing as whether certain acts are good to do. While we must tolerate deviation from the social order, we need not, and should not, forfeit our stake in the social order.

    Again, I tend to think our evolving and confused notion of “equality” retards our collective moral understanding and urges us to approach the social order as something merely descriptive rather than prescriptive. And yet, at the same time, it offers its own moral injunction. Racial and gender equality were and are enormously important legal issues. Because of the great success of those causes, the term “equality” amassed great symbolic and rhetorical force. As a result, it is now used in the advance of causes that are not principally legal but social in nature. Equality, then, is not merely a legal requirement but a social and moral one. Equality as a legal doctrine is misunderstood enough already as it is. As a social doctrine, for many of the reasons Burt explained, it is beyond all hope.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Tim Kowal
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      I went to Catholic high school and graduated in ’88. No doubt was in my mind then that the RCC thought homosexuality inherently morally bad; I was less certain about the people who engaged in such behavior.

      In the quote cited by Tim I intended merely to highlight that in this arena drawing the line between tolerance and deference is difficult.Report

      • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        Mr. Likko, I’m unfamiliar with the concept of a person being “inherently morally bad,” although I attended the same sort of churches and high schools you did.Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to tom van dyke
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          says:

          “Homosexuality” meaning the propensity to engage in sexual relations with someone of the same sex, rather than “homosexuals,” meaning people who engaged in that behavior. Love the sinner, hate the sin, that sort of thing. At least, that was what I took away from what was taught to me; I must allow for the possibility that I was instructed poorly or that my rememberance of the instruction is faulty.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Burt Likko
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            says:

            Homosexuality, we are told over and over, is an evil temptation waiting to ensnare us all. To preserve the social order, we must do everything possible to persuade boys to have sex with girls.

            This does not fully align with my experience.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Tim Kowal
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      says:

      There were and still are people for whom Loving vs. Virginia was a victory for immorality and a severe blow to the social order.[1]. They are entitled to their opinions, of course, and to express them both privately and publicly: it’s a free country. But when it comes to enforcing those opinions via the legal system, that’s when I have to stop and say “No. Not going to happen. Not on my watch.”

      1. I don’t for a moment mean to suggest that anyone here is one of them.Report

      • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to Mike Schilling
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        Mr. Schilling, Loving was decided unanimously back in 1967. Mebbe Spike Lee doesn’t like it. We’ve elected a biracial president, we got Tiger Woods and we got Clarence Fucking Thomas married to white woman. So give it a rest, brother, and find some other well to poison, because this riff is objectionable.

        There were and still are people for whom Loving vs. Virginia was a victory for immorality and a severe blow to the social order.Report

  9. Avatar James Vonder Haar
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    says:

    I think much of this post is based on an uncritical conflation of sex and gender.

    This dichotomy is somewhat played out by now, and I’m sure those more versed in gender theory will groan at its application, but it suffices for a first-level analysis: there’s a difference between sex and gender. Briefly, sex is what is between your legs and your chromosomal makeup; gender is the socially constructed meaning we attribute to those characteristics.

    Your sex is indeed part of who you are, and eliding trans issues as you have done in the above post, immutable. But the social construction of that is not immutable- and, to the extent that Scandanavian nations have made a conscious attempt to change the way they socially teach those roles, they are neither denying reality nor defying nature- merely changing what was already subjective and arbitrary in the way we think about sexes. To the extent that sex roles are inborn and immutable, they will arise on their own without any prompting from the outside culture or authority figures. To the extent that sex roles are fluid and diverse, the attempt to impose a single straitjacket of expectations will only cause misery to those who don’t fit the mold.

    As a postscript, what in the world is with the comment on beauty? It’s a complete non sequitur, albeit one that might shed light on our subconscious and unreasonable emotional reactions to those who muck with gender roles.Report

  10. Avatar Fnord
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    says:

    “[Gender] is an attribute, like the color of your eyes and your hair and your skin or whether you are right- or left-handed, tall or short — while it may be morally neutral and not reflective upon any of your abilities, it is nevertheless an attribute that exists. People are different from one another. It’s useless and counterproductive to pretend that these things don’t exist.”
    If we segregated bathrooms based on skin color, that would be shockingly bigoted to the modern eye. Gender is different from skin color, and maybe gender-segregated bathrooms make sense, but we’re a LONG way from treating gender as just another attribute.

    You’re setting up a false dichotomy: either we accept current gender roles more-or-less uncritically, or we deny gender has biological meaning. Skin color has biological meaning, but that hardly means we should treat people differently except when it comes to handing out the sunscreen.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Fnord
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      says:

      My point is that gender exists and we should make decisions based upon a clear-eyed understanding of it. What I read about happening in Scandinavia sounds like people are trying to eradicate something uneradicable.Report

      • Avatar Fnord in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        Your objection seems to center on the new, gender-neutral pronoun. But how could using a new pronoun be denying a biological reality?

        Even if not all aspects of gender is are “artificial social construct[s]”, gender in the linguistic sense is certainly socially constructed. It must be: language itself is socially constructed.Report

      • Avatar James Vonder Haar in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        If Scandinavia were attempting to eradicate gender differences, they would be consciously feminizing boys and masculinizing women. There would be a new gender role, a singular one, deviance from which would be punished.

        That’s not what’s happening. What they’re doing is consciously removing any effort to force boys to be masculine and women to be feminine, not replacing it with pressure in the opposite direction. This is not denying that gender (using the word, as you seem to above, in its non-technical sense as a synonym for sex) exists. It’s peeling away the social reinforcement of gender roles so that the real inclinations of the children, whatever they may be, will manifest. It would not surprise me, in truth, if on average the boys still acted more masculine ,so socially defined right now, and the girls acted more feminine. But I think we’d also see a more androgynous populace on the whole.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James Vonder Haar
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          My problem is that I don’t believe this.

          Here is what I see happening:

          A small group of boys goes up to the teacher.

          “So what you are saying is that you will not have input into how we play with each other?”

          “Right.”

          “So we can play what we want to play and you won’t judge us?”

          “Right.”

          “Seriously?”

          “Seriously.”

          “So if we want to play Barbies we can play Barbies and you won’t judge us?”

          “Right!” (the teacher beams)

          “And if we want to play something else, we can and you won’t judge us?”

          “Exactly.”

          “HEY GUYS WE CAN PLAY SMEAR THE QUEER AGAIN!!!!”

          And then, 10 minutes later, everybody is sitting in an office.Report

          • Avatar Fnord in reply to Jaybird
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            says:

            Well, the teacher’s answer to “So we can play what we want to play and you won’t judge us?” is perhaps deceptively oversimplified. But surely you recognize there are good educational and safety reasons to put a few limits on how children play.

            But there doesn’t seem to be anything in the stories that suggest that boys are judged for playing with trucks or girls with dolls. For that matter, there doesn’t even seem to be anything that suggests “violent” but safe games are discouraged, other than a critic speculating about what might be “next”.Report

          • Avatar James Vonder Haar in reply to Jaybird
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            says:

            Well, yes, Smear the Queer is problematic because of its tendency to reinforce bullying and homophobia. That’s incidental to its identification as masculine, which our hypothetical teacher would not have a problem with. I somehow doubt she’d discourage boys from playing with trucks or girls from playing with dolls.Report

        • Avatar Tim Kowal in reply to James Vonder Haar
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          says:

          Part of the gender role of men and women is to teach young boys and girls how to act like young men and women. If Scandinavian kids become androgynous, it’s more likely because their adults treated them as androgynoids than because of “natural inclination.”Report

          • Avatar James Vonder Haar in reply to Tim Kowal
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            says:

            It looks to me like you just conceded that gender roles are not inborn but require social reinforcement for their efficacy.Report

            • Avatar Tim Kowal in reply to James Vonder Haar
              Ignored
              says:

              They’re both, of course. Maleness and femaleness are noumenal. Their application to phenomenon, however, requires tutelage and refinement, at least to the extent we want gentlemen opening doors for ladies instead of brutes dragging them around by the hair. We’ve learned a great deal about humanity and the sexes over the course of history. No sense forcing our children to go tabula rasa.Report

              • Avatar Fnord in reply to Tim Kowal
                Ignored
                says:

                Is there anything in your argument that distinguishes it from someone saying the exact same words to preserve gender status quo in 1900?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Fnord
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t know if the cartoon cliche of cavemen clubbing woman and dragging them off by their hair was current in 1900.

                But certainly it was a common argument at the time that the fairer sex would only be coarsened by being granted the franchise.Report

  11. Avatar VinceP1974
    Ignored
    says:

    The long-term sucess of this bit of insanity can be measured by the answer of this question:

    What is the birth rate of the Non-Muslim population?Report

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