Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Race, class and gender…less

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When Complicated Life alerted me to the following story, I first felt sick to my stomach:


Then, I just felt profoundly sad for the children. It is heartbreaking, and I can barely write about it.

However, it did not surprise me that the father of these "genderless" children teaches in a small school "whose lessons are framed by social-justice issues around race, class and gender" (emphasis mine). I've talked extensively about my disdain for the "race, class and gender" paradigm which is the lens through which the secular Left sees the world. I have also heard from readers who do not see any essential difference between men and women, or between motherhood and fatherhood.

Lately, I sometimes feel like Alice down the rabbit hole.

Then, sweet relief! Balm for the soul in the form of a post by Sarah at Sarah's Journal. She takes on the issue of the "genderless" baby better than I ever could. Run, don't walk, to her latest offering, which includes truthful gems like this:
From a Catholic perspective, the body isn't just a shell in which our "true selves" are trapped. Our bodies don't conceal our identities but are in fact an integral part of our unique selves. 
And this:
When a person asks if a baby is a boy or girl, they aren't really asking about details of their genitalia. Instead, they are hinting at a deeper truth: the reality that our bodies, including our sex, are an integral part of our identities as whole, complete human beings and that a person's femininity or masculinity will be expressed in a myriad of ways.
Sarah reminds us that the antidote to the confused, misguided, and even tragic push for a "genderless" society can be found in Blessed John Paul II's seminal work, Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body. (Or, for beginners, an easier treatment of TOB, here).

I've spoken before about the need to frame things in terms of ordered vs. disordered. There is nothing ordered about a "genderless child". Please Lord, open our eyes and our hearts to see the truth, goodness, and beauty of Your design for our bodies. 
___ 





49 comments:

  1. Gender is either male or female, and refers to the cultural and social differences between men and women, but not the biological differences.

    A man can have female gender, and a woman can have male gender. Gender can be a spectrum. Eddie Izzard is a comedian. He is a transvestite; he enjoys wearing women's clothing. But he is straight and conforms in most other ways to the male gender.

    It is impossible to be genderless. It is possible to have a gender that is different than one's sex.

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  2. Democat, the concepts of "gender fluidity" and "gender spectrum" is a construct of the liberal sexual agenda. People are either male or female. I don't even like using the word "gender" when the proper word is "sex".

    A transvestite is a man who dresses up like a woman. It's really not that difficult.

    And to put that kind of confusion on poor, innocent children is a horrendous burden. As a parent, I think it's unconscionable.

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  3. If the child is a boy, but wishes to dress as a woman, and wear dresses, and kiss other boys and wear his hair as a boy, what then?

    Should we not let him? If we are his parents, how much should we do to stop him? If we are not his parents, but friends, what should we do?

    What of these things is wrong? Is it wrong for a man to dress as a woman?

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  4. I would get that child into therapy. What if a child thought he was an eagle? I would not raise him as an eagle. I would first try to get him as much help for his confusion as possible. Then, if nothing worked, I would love him dearly, but I would be heartbroken at the disorder of it. But to encourage it and say, "Good boy!" ? No, I would not encourage it.

    Just as I would not encourage any confusion in my child, nor any disordered behavior. I have a child who likes to bite and hit. I have another who used to eat dirt and chalk. I didn't encourage it. I tried to redirect, and got therapy when needed, for the eating disorder.

    And let's get back to this particular story: The baby has a sex! He or she is an infant, and has no "confusion". It is the parents who are making this horrible mess for this child and their other children. Answer this: Are you okay with what these parents are doing? They are not reacting, they are molding and encouraging the ambiguity and confusion. Do you approve of what they are doing to the child?

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  5. The child is a boy or a girl, or sometimes no one knows because the genetalia or the genes it is difficult to say.

    But a boy may wish to dress as a girl. What is wrong with this? He knows he has a penis. This is no secret. He would not deny it.

    What if a boy wanted to wear feathers? What if he wanted to fly and built a glider, and liked to eat raw fish? Is this wrong? He knows he is not an eagle, but he does things some would consider strange and like a bird. Will you drive him to the asylum?

    If a man wants to wear a dress, what of it? Do you think this is wrong?

    For the story, the baby has genitals, and the parents agree. They have told some but not others. What of it?

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  6. We are not talking about hermaphrodites. This baby is fine.

    I don't think encouraging sexual confusion is healthy for a child. You don't seem to think it matters. That is fine, at least you are honest about it. I am guessing you think it's good for the baby that the parents are pretending he/she is a neuter? I am a parent, and I think it's unconscionable. I hope you read what they are doing to their other children.

    Do you have children? If your child thought he was an eagle, would you raise him as an eagle or get him help? Play acting is one thing, but believing you are something that you are not…. that is called delusion or disorder.

    Again, this baby is not sexually ambiguous. But I can bet that the poor thing will be. Let's check out the situation in about ten years. Very sad.

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  7. democat: You wouldn't happen to know a Paul/Sam, would you? ;)

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  8. I found this whole thing to be very odd. These parents are disregarding reality because they don't like it. Well, people come in two varieties: male and female. It would be like if I decided to raise my child as a head of broccoli because I think it should be an option for children to be broccoli, not because it has any basis in reality.
    These poor children.

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  9. Democrat-- the primary issue here is not the concept that some men like to dress like women and some women like to dress like men. And it's not about how children, in all their innocence, sometimes want to dress in ways that differ from what we expect from gender constructs or play with toys that are typically identified with the opposite sex. The issue here is how an innocent child has become a pawn for postmodern parents to make a statement about gender fluidity. Storm is being robbed of an essential part of his/her identity. We relate to people differently based on perceived gender and it forms us in important ways. If you try to say that it doesn't matter, then why did Chastity Bono feel she needed to present herself to the world as a man? Why the double standard?

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  10. Sarah and Lisa, great points!

    And just FYI, looks like Paul/Sam is back, this time pretending to be a Frenchy by the name of Democat. You are all forewarned.

    Paul, I am beginning to think you are a tad bit obsessed with me. I don't know if I should be flattered or alarmed? Hmmmm…..

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  11. Sigh. This is ridiculous. :( These parents are handicapping their children.

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  12. Gender is a grammatical construct (masculine, feminine, neutral or he, she, it) - as anyone who has studied foreign languages should understand. It was hijacked in just the past few decades to also include sociological identities. As a biologist and teacher, this is the first I have heard of the "race,class, and gender" paradigm and I have to say that it sounds totally illogical. Why would any parent deliberately create any kind of confusion for their children? It reminds me of the parents who are at a loss on how to tell their children no. I'm with Leila on this one!

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  13. When I started to read the article, I thought, this baby must be a hermaphrodite and the parents are just trying to protect their child...but then I read on and this is how they raise their children?! Children want/NEED defined rules and boundaries!!! This is sooo important! They want a schedule and they want/need to be reassured of certain things and I cannot for the life of me IMAGINE what it would feel like as a child, thinking my parents don't CARE ENOUGH ABOUT ME to set these limits and tell me how it is!

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  14. What I found most interesting about this is that in the parents' attempt to "hide" the sex of their baby so that he or she can grow and develop absent of societally constructed gender roles, what they are really doing is acknowledging that there IS a difference between male and female, girl and boy.

    And to Democat, yes, if my children suddenly decide to start gluing feathers to their body and eating raw fish straight from the lake, and are legitimately behaving in a manner contrary to WHO THEY ARE (which may or may not be different from who they want to be), then yes, to the counselor we go. Of course children will dress up and explore their world in various forms of role playing, that included my then 2 year old boy wearing a purple tutu and yellow butterfly wings and a fairy wand in preschool (we're saving the picture for an appropriate time). But asserting that this type of play should be acceptable as a form of identifying and defining a human being is absurd. My now 6 year old used to want to grow up to be Thomas the Tank Engine, and while I didn't stifle his creative bent, I didn't encourage him to become something he physically cannot be.

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  15. The other thing that bothers me about the Storm situation is that the parents have roped their other 2 children into hiding Storm's gender. Do they (the parents) think this a game? Their kids are likely too young to understand what their parents are doing, and I'm sure that they can't quite comprehend the rationale the parents are using. They've essentially been coerced into a public lie. My 3 year old tells everyone at the grocery store what she ate for breakfast and what the Easter Bunny brought. I'm wondering how difficult it is for these kids. And before democrat (or someone of his ilk) brings up how the Easter Bunny is also a lie we ask older siblings to perpetuate, the Easter Bunny and Santa are things that inspire joy and wonder in children, not confusion. And, we don't ask that our older children try to deceive adults or those old enough to have outgrown the wonder.

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  16. Democat, you asked, "If we are his parents, how much should we do to stop him?"

    That's not where the outrage is for this story but yes, why wouldn't they (unless it's just the usual innocent play of kids who tend to like sparkly things of all kinds)? Part of being a parent is guiding your children, setting rules and boundaries, and loving them *for who they truly are*. Parents say "no" all the time for the good of their kids. By claiming this child Storm will just "choose" his/her own preference years later, they're placing a burden on this child to create his or her own reality (I wouldn't want that job, and I have a pretty creative personality). And they're confusing their other kids and/or teaching them to conceal/lie (loved the part where they flipped a coin on vacation and told their kids to tell people the baby was a boy based on the random coin toss). Heartwarming.

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  17. Lisa,
    I think you hit the nail on the head. The most disturbing thing is that the parents are involving their other two (very young) children into this charade about keeping the gender hidden. Also, the fact that this article was written at all makes me think these people are exhibitionists.

    But...I used to work in a school where we had a fifth grade boy who was very flamboyant. He loved "show tunes", wore pink, and loved to paint his nails. He was hilarious, smart and loved by everyone, most by his slightly bewildered parents. They had an entirely "normal" older boy child. What were they to do? Force him to not be so feminine? Insist that he wear brown and play with trains? That seems so harsh, and fruitless.

    The older boy, Jazz, in this story seems to enjoy feminine things. Should they correct him and say that those things are for girls? That also seems rather harsh at his age.

    My three boys are pretty typical, but they LOVE Beatrix Potter books and some other "girly" type stories. I think early childhood is a magical time when you are able to develop some beautiful aspects of yourself that probably go dormant when your sex hormones kick in.

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  18. Actually, Lisa...I find the Easter Bunny to be rather bizarre. My boys are terrified of him. We play him down here! Even Santa sometimes seems creepy to them. Sometimes I do wonder if the whole Easter Bunny Santa thing does more harm than good when it comes to belief in God.

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  19. Mary,

    There is nothing girly about Beatrix Potter books, Peter Rabbit's always come across as a typical boy.

    For a boy to want to paint his nails, he'd have to have seen that activity somewhere else first. Maybe he's picking it up from his mother? Or TV media.

    If my son ever had the inclination to do that, you can be sure it would be dealt with tactfully, lovingly, and uncompromisingly. Painting your finger nails is for girls, simply put.

    In regard to show tunes and wearing pink? I doubt a 5th grader goes out and buys his own clothes. I can remember being forced to own and wear clothes that I didn't initially want or like. Jeans for instance, or shorts that stop above the knee. Giving into your child's whim in everything, particularly style, is hardly the way to raise a child.

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  20. What surprised me the most, was the line "Witterick and Stocker believe they are giving their children the freedom to choose who they want to be". When I read that article, all I could think was: they don't let their child be who (s)he is, they don't give the baby the chance to be a boy or to be a girl, they decide for the child that everyone will keep talking about their gender (at least for a few years), denying the baby of a normal childhood.
    Also, no matter how you turn it around, it's not a choice to be boy or girl, it's how you are born. Even though they say "we will let the choice to the child", the choice has already been made, their child was born either boy or girl.

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  21. call me silly, but it seems like the parent(s) of these innocent children have some serious hang ups about gender and "what is between" their legs!!!
    trying to post as Theresaeh but google is not cooperating(?)

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  22. I understand what everyone is saying here but I also understand what these parents are trying to do

    I have taken gender studies classes and felt that tearing down the notion of gender is harmful to society; I have also lived in the same world as all of you and seen how people trying to live up to their perception of how their sex is supposed to act can be harmful to society.


    I Cannot tell you how many boys I have talked to who said they would like to talk about their feelings but "boys don't do that" who have slept around because "that’s what boys do." There is a real fear among many of the men in our culture that they will be perceived as being feminine or gay. There are a lot of people trying to act like how men should act and how women should act.

    Now I understand that you think that sleeping around is not fundamental to being a man, nor is washing dishes fundamental in being a woman. Merely that these things are perceived as being fundamental--let us not pretend that enforcing the rigid gender dichotomy is without harm, that teaching men to tough and women to be tender is not without its consequences. It does deprive people of self-determination. What of women who don’t like babies or makeup? Or men who don’t like masturbating or sports, what is wrong with them how much should they try to be people they are not and take on characteristics artificially prescribed to their gender, how much should they just accept who they are, how much should they change? To stamp order and disorder on certain attributes as you see fit is a little arbitrary.



    Now what is the inverse? Lets also not pretend that that isn’t very harmful as well. To live in a society where there is no difference between men and women—well it’s hard on heterosexual relationships, it’s hard on families. Men aren’t raised to provide, women aren’t made to nurture and accept their roles as mothers, there are great virtues to this system, but great vices as well…whatever we choose there are consequences

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  23. Anonymous,
    As I posted one before, I was a tomboy in every sense of the word. I hated dresses and loathed wearing them. I was forced to do this for several occasions, but thankfully, my parents let me wear overalls, Toughskins and baseball caps the rest of the time. I still remember the magical affection I had for my Red Sox baseball cap I had when I was 8.

    I did not learn this behavior, I believe it was totally innate. (My sister was totally different. She was like a soft, feminine doll right out of the womb. It did not mean I was gay, but it does mean that I am more on the masculine end of feminine. I think my parents would have done serious harm to me by forcing me into being more "girly".

    I also think we have a total double standard today that is worse for males. Girls can get away with anything in terms of gender bending, and still be perceived as within the realm of "normal", but boys really cannot. Girls can wear pants and t-shirts, cut their hair super short, not wear fragrance, etc. If a boy wears a skirt, everyone would look at him strange. Why is this? Even in name choice. Reece, Dylan and Cameron are all OK for girls, but would Kayla or Emma be OK for a boy?

    I think boys are actually more constrained than girls in today's world.

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  24. Just quickly as I have a field trip this morning….

    I never said that things like "women who don't like makeup" are disordered, or "men who don't like sports" are disordered. If you are a longtime reader, you know that my husband cooks and cleans, and I work the electronic equipment! So, I am not sure why that sort of thing always comes up. We know that some girls like more traditionally masculine things/hobbies, and some boys are drawn more to the feminine (if you can call things like "talking about feelings" a feminine act).

    (Oh, and masturbation and sleeping around are simply sins, so I wouldn't include them in any list of male or female traits. I know you alluded to that, but I wanted to emphasize it.)

    You've even used the term "men" and "women", "boys" and "girls" because that's how we identify folks. You are not denying that our sex is part of who we are! These parents, and those who would say there is no difference in essence between boys and girls -- they are taking the ordered world (we are born either male or female) and trying to deny reality. There is no such thing as a "genderless" child, and it's heartbreaking to watch them impose their social experiment on these poor kids. That is extreme and twisted.

    I have girlfriends who are somewhat "masculine". But that doesn't mean they are men! And Chastity Bono lopping off her breasts does not make her a man. It makes her a woman who had her breasts removed.

    (college student, I agree with much of your last paragraph!)

    More later in the day, but bottom line, an androgynous society is a disordered society.

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  25. Maybe this is a simpler way to say it: We all know masculine women and feminine men. But we know that the former are women and the latter are men! We don't say that a masculine women is "genderless". We say she is a woman who has masculine qualities.

    I hope that makes sense.

    Mary, would you want to name your son Emma or Kayla?

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  26. Paul/Sam/Democat, might I suggest you seek professional help for your problems? This level of obsession and identity-switching is not healthy.

    Re: the OP, those parents are committing child abuse. They are purposefully and deliberately setting up their child to be mocked and ostracized once he or she is older, as well as ensuring that their poor child will have a lifetime of confusion and pain. That is cold and cruel.

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  27. Makes me sick to my stomach...

    And man, so do some of these comments from democrat/paul/sam....

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  28. I don't get this gender repression stuff. As a girl, I played sports with my older brother and father which only benefited me to be when it came to playing in a girl's league. I was trained by men to throw a spiral w/ a football, shoot a slapshot w/ a hockey stick, compete harder and embrace the physical gifts I'd been given.

    On the other hand, I also loved makeup, dresses and feeling pretty. I was encouraged no matter what I did or wanted to do, whether it meant hooking a worm on a fishing line, or wanting to wear lipgloss at 13.

    I was never discouraged from any of it, and it helped to give me well rounded experiences. It also helped me socially adapt to both men and women. That's always a plus.

    I want the same for my clan.

    I don't get the whole gender repression - seems both sides of us (masculine and fem traits) should be embraced.

    -Nubby

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  29. It is so sad that more people are not informed of the beauty and truth found in "The Theology of the Body" by JPII.

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  30. This is absolutely ridiculous. I did a double take when I first saw this article in the news...shocking and disturbing in my book!

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  31. I also know that it is true that a person (unless they are born with indeterminate genitalia as sometimes happens--there are no true Hermaphrodites in the human race, using the biological definition) has a definite gender, and raising them as if they do not is bizarre, and probably fruitless. I am not so concerned about Storm...he/she will be fine, but the family dynamic of keeping up a charade to the outside world is very strange to me.

    But...I do think that people over-stereotype and use gender as way to put people in boxes quite often.

    My question, (and it is a question, as I don't know the answer), is why does it seem totally socially normal for girls to gender-bend a little as Nubby alluded, but boys are not allowed the same freedom (socially speaking)?

    If this story had been written about Storm and then Storm had an older sister named Cameron who wore pants, loved brown, had a short haircut and played with Thomas the Train sometimes, people would not think that was so odd. Boys have much narrower expectations of gender behavior. Just think of the term "male nurse". My own father uses it as a disparaging term. At the childcare we sent our oldest to there was a male teacher there, and more than one parent commented to me that they thought it strange that he would be attracted to that type of work. They were suspicious of his motives for no other reason.

    Growing up, my friend was an amazing figure skater. He was mocked terribly. It helped him get into a top college, but people were just too ready to call him "fruity", and he suffered. On the other hand,our state-winning girls soccer team, complete with their very butch goalie, were boasted about for years as if they were the pinnacle of all excellence. How about a man who wears eyeliner, or two earrings? Why not? Just thinking.

    PS I would not have named my son Kayla or Emma, but did find it very difficult to find three boy names that were nice, but not overly common as we have a very regular last name. It seemed like you were much more constrained with boys names.
    Anybody else get what I am saying?

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  32. My brother-in-law was a male nurse, and he was terrific. I saw a male midwife when I was pregnant with my son, as well (in fact, my niece was recently delivered by the same male midwife.)

    I think that a woman who has masculine qualities is seen as "strong" whereas a man who has feminine qualities is seen as "weak." I think that's a shame. My son has two sisters and he plays with their dolls and princess regalia as often as he plays with his own trucks and dinosaurs.

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  33. Mary,
    I guess because it's more acceptable for women to be stronger (or perceived that way) then for men to be effeminate.

    I guess it's because men by nature will beat up on the ones who are easy pickins and if you're a figure skater, you'll take heat from the guys for that.

    Just as some women get tagged as butch, as you mentioned.

    There's a natural tendency within men to pick on the weak. It's a rite of passage. I know from being surrounded by guys they all say the same thing about growing up: at some point they're physically tested. They're made to take a physical stand. If the guy does anything that isn't full of testosterone, he's gonna be the target for a lot of bully types.

    From what the guys in my life have told me, they either fight the guy and shut him up, or they suffer the humiliation. The Catholic perspective would be that we value the human person and would not encourage our boys to fight, but if it meant self defense, then it's a must.

    Culturally, I guess it's more accepted that women rise to be strong.
    Speaking as a Catholic, we are to excel with whatever gifts we've been given in their proper context.

    If a guy excels at figure skating, by all means, it's a God given gift but he will be picked on for it by other men. That's just reality.

    -Nubby

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  34. So JoAnna,
    Just curious....Anonymous said, "If my son ever had the inclination to do that, you can be sure it would be dealt with tactfully, lovingly, and uncompromisingly. Painting your finger nails is for girls, simply put."
    I can see your son wanting to paint his nails someday. Would you let him?

    Mary

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  35. BTW...I think you are on to something there JoAnna with the "strong" vs. "weak" perception.

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  36. That's funny, because I can't see him wanting his nails painted, unless they were painted booger green as part of a zombie Halloween costume. I could see him being all about that. :)

    The last time my kids got their hair cut, the stylist put pink streaks in my older daughter's hair (the temp kind that wash out easily), and my son asked for streaks in his hair, too. He wanted red and blue, though.

    I guess it would depend on the circumstances. He's a very masculine little boy despite the fact that I've never encouraged him to be so. When he plays "princess" with his sisters, he's usually the handsome prince fighting the dragon!

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  37. Mary, I think I get what you are saying.

    I do believe that in general, men are the protectors, the strong ones in society (physically). When we see too many traits that seem "weak" or feminine in a boy/man, I think there is a natural reaction that something is wrong. Some people might think it's culturally conditioned for us to be shocked or unhappy with hyper-feminine men, but I think the opposite is true. I think that it's natural for us to be uncomfortable with very feminine men, and that the Left is trying very hard to get us to go against our instinctive reaction and think that a society with hyper-feminine men would be totally healthy.

    Just my opinion. I don't study anthropology and race/class/gender of course. ;)

    I have six boys who have done the whole gamut of things in their lives. One recently asked if he could pain his nails when I was doing so. I told him that was for girls (kindly) and he shrugged and drew a tattoo on his arm instead.

    But remember, even hyper-feminine boys are still boys.

    It is harder for a boy to have a strange or "creative" name, because we do tend to want boys to have names that reflect "strength" and not be "whimsical". It's not so nice to give a boy a feminine name. Not fair to the boy, who will generally want to be seen as strong and masculine (still trying to figure out why it's bad that most boys like to be manly)?

    But all of that is really not even the issue. The issue with this poor kid Storm is that they deny that s/he has a gender! Oy, vey. That is sick.

    If you read Sarah's piece, I like how she ties it in with the masked "Bachelor".

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  38. think comment's stuck in spam, leila. ?

    -Nubby

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  39. Thanks!

    Just an odd observation, but the more effeminate men I know (not gay, just really in tune to females) have a dynamic in their son-mother relationship that is either highly emotional or at some point was very emotionally manipulative on the part of the mom.

    These guys are always really in tune with women. An armchair observation anyway.

    One might say the same thing about women who relate to men in a not so feminine way, in terms of how they communicate (less words, more side by side interaction) and the importance of feeling accepted as one of the gang vs. the princess in the tower.

    Anyhoo -- stuffing a child's gender isn't going to help pave the way for anything to unfold that doesn't include feeling waaaay manipulated.

    -Nubby

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  40. Sigh….

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/05/25/gender-diversity-lesson-california-school-riles-critics/

    And the gender-bending agenda continues. Homeschooling is a good option! (Although in California, they not only push the left's agenda, but then they try to outlaw homeschooling.)

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  41. It bothers me most of all that these parents are trying to raise their three children independent of culture entirely, and I'm using the word "culture" very loosely. Every higher animal that has a social structure has some form of cultural expectations for each member of their group, and they're usually based on biological sex and age (e.g. female lions hunt game, male lions protect the female lions, young ones learn the skills they need for being adults). The idea that someone can be raised entirely independent of a culture is just not compatible with being alive and having a spine.

    I'm currently very concerned with the older children. These very young people have been given complete responsibility for their identity and future, and at their age, that's not supposed to be their job. That's supposed to be their parents' job, to guide them to be people who can live in this imperfect world. When the younger boy started getting upset that people thought he was a girl, his parents literally did nothing--no explanations, no establishing of guidelines, nada. It was his job alone to make it clear to complete adult strangers that he is a boy, and he's at an age in which the biggest decision he should make on his own is whether to have green or red grapes with lunch. I could also rant forever about the "unschooling" system the parents are using (which makes the entire homeschooled community look bad), but suffice to say that any system in which a child only learns about the things in which he or she is interested is a highly flawed system. In fact, their entire parental philosophy reminds me eerily of Scientology and Scientologist education as they both believe that children of all ages are just as capable of responsiblity and competency as full-grown adults (one of the craziest parts of all theories that use reincarnation).

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  42. Ru - great points.

    Also, regarding men being more "constrained." I agree and disagree. More than ever, men are encouraged to express "traditional" female traits like expressing their feelings and doing housework alongside their wives. And many have risen to the occasion. Studies show fathers are more involved with child-rearing, emoting, and cleaning than ever before in recent history.

    So I guess it just depends on what you're talking about. :) Also my little sister is very much a tomboy and let me tell you this very strong, 6ft-tall, athletic, assertive woman got a lot of flack for it growing up. The worst was when she cut her hair short. She was teased. She was called a lesbian. She was ostracized. Another sister and I encouraged her to make some changes after a lot of tears, and she now goes out of her way to wear long hair and feminine clothes (which has resolved most of the social torment). I don't condone how people treated my sister (who is now happily married to the one kind of man tougher than her: A US Marine), but I can say that either sex can find themselves in this situation.

    Regarding naming.. my hubby has a unisex name and he gets visibly agitated when people point that out lol or when he meets a woman with his name. It's not just society imposing standards... he really doesn't like it on his own accord (and I doubt the female feels as agitated as he does). I think part of this points to the reality that men and women do innately approach things differently sometimes.

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  43. Anon 11:11 here :)

    If my parents raised me as sex-less/gender-less, it would make me think there is something HORRIBLE about being a girl. What an awful thing to do to a kid.

    I do paint my son's nails if he wants them. I don't think it's a huge deal, and I really think denying it would make it a bigger deal than it is. Maybe he'll grow out of wanting them painted (he's only 3.5 years old right now), maybe he won't. He is very much aware, and proud, that he is a boy, and I really don't see something this superficial as being a big deal. JMO :)

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  44. Since my husband has been gone for the past 7 months of my 20-month-old's life, the "only" adult he's had around is me. What has happened? Some interesting things.

    When I brush my hair, he wants to brush his hair. When I put on lotion, he wants to put on lotion. When I wear chapstick/lip gloss, he wants some, too. Problem? Nope.

    When I make dinosaur noises, he makes them. When I throw a ball, he throws one, too. When I walk around the house on the phone, gesticulating with my hands and stopping mid-stride to look up at the ceiling in thought, he does it, too. Children pattern what they see--period. I don't have an issue with any of the things he sees and copies from me.

    Especially since he's at a very interested, curious, imitative stage, there are tons of things that I only do when he's out of sight. For example? I don't want him to pitch a fit because he won't paint his nails. So I don't do that around him--he's too little to understand my explanations about why I wouldn't include him. I also don't sharpen knives around him, eat candy bars around him, assemble mouse traps around him, or dozens of other things that either (a) he's too young to do safely, or (b) he's too young to understand why it's not an appropriate activity for him.

    In the meantime, we brush our hair and put lotion on. :)

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  45. I haven't read all of these comments, but the article made me feel a little sick. Instead of being the open-minded people they are claiming to be they are forcing a belief on these children that they can't actually make for themselves.

    The extremes that these parents are taking are spelling out to their children that they have to be different. Would these parents truly love their son no matter what if he wanted to play with GI Joe and join the army when he grows up? I don't think they would be supportive of that decision.

    In order to support free thinking their children need to be introduced to dance and sports, to dolls and trucks, to outdoors and baking. But the experiences they are having seem limited to non-traditional activities. I don't even want to discuss the whole concept of unschooling and the fact that the children are not being exposed to rational thought.

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  46. Melly Sue, great point! Would the parents be happy if the boys turned out to be extremely masculine following traditional norms? Interesting….

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