Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Gender ender?

I consider myself a pragmatist.  I like formulas.  I loved calculus in high school because integrating and differentiating are really simple proccesses once the concept clicks.   I like examining all aspects of a question to find the best possible solution.  When making big decisions (hmmmm this tends to take a while for me) i try to explore the long term consequences and implications of different options to help guide my choice.

Now let's examine what has been in the news this past month.  There has been much discussion regarding Sheryl Sandberg's new book Lean In.  I can't even count the number of articles I have read both extolling and villifying her book.  One such article encouraged women to "lean out " of family/home responsibilities, to not feel guilty about missing milestones in children's life due to work because they aren't really that big of a deal afterall.  And of course people can rarely discuss Sheryl without also discussing Marissa Meyer of Yahoo who famously or infamously depending on how you see things only took off 2 weeks for maternity leave after having a baby.  She then also said of her 6 month forray into motherhood that it wasn't as hard as everyone said it would be.

And of course one cannot open their facebook page or turn on the radio without being assailed with all kinds of opinions about the supreme court's hearing of california's proposition 8 and the federal Defens of Marriage Act.

And so I have thought and thought and thought about these issues.  I have examined both sides of the coin and tried to see the legitimate arguments of each side.    My purpose is not to emotionally argue any side.  Too often we appeal to strong emotions when arguing a point.  However, strong  emotions can interefere with reason and rationality.  Like i initially stated I like to be pragmatic when approaching things so I have to ask myself what the long term consequences are of encouraging women to lean into work, take shortened maternity leaves because it really isn't that big of a deal to be a mother, and then the other issue of the long term implication of changing the definition of marriage to include same sex unions.  I believe that these two seemingly non related topics actually have the same long term implications.   The implication of both is that gender should be a non-issue.  Gender doesn't really matter.  Women should not feel compelled because of their inherent gender towards family life.  Marriage should be a genderless institution made up of two consenting adults who love each other.  In the grand scheme of things is this really about working women or same sex marriage or is the real question whether or not to value gender?   Would it be better to live in a world where gender is not our defining characteristic?  Should gender matter?  Is this what we want, a genderless society?  Because if we are honest with ourselves this is the real issue here.
If indeed we as a society want this then my "modest proposal" is that we end gender.  Each time a baby is born we send them to a place to have their inherent gender removed. We take away all genitalia.  We refer to no one by he or she.  When these babies grow up and decide to have children they may choose one specially designed at a laboratory.
Now i realize my modest proposal is ridiculous but in my mind so is the idea of living without gender.  I believe that gender matters.  And because I believe that gender matters I support the concept of marriage as it has been defined since the beginning of time, mainly the union of a man and a woman.  There is no way around the science that a baby is conceived from the sperm of a man and an egg from a woman.  Every child has a right to have both of those parents in his/her life.

17 comments:

Becky said...

I agree, people speak too often to emotion. Perfectly spoken.

Tiffany said...

I agree completely that it is best for a child to have both a mother and a father who are married. I too have concerns on what this all means in the long term for our Society. As a side note I haven't heard anything about the book Lean In so I can't comment on that. That being said I don't know that the issues of marriage currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court is an issue of gender. What is the purpose of marriage? Is the sole purpose of marriage procreation? If that is the case than I have the same question that one of the justices asked, does that mean as a Society we should not allow a man and a woman both 55 years of age not to marry? Because those two people together more than likely can't have children. So what is the purpose of marriage? In asking these questions I am not seeking a specific answer because I am still seeking to answer them for myself. I think it's a really complex issue especially when you try to impose historical purposes of marriage because in large part they don't apply today. As a woman I can provide fully for myself, I can receive family inheritance, I can even have a child without ever physically being with a man, I can marry a man and never have children. When you take all those reasons away what's left? Two people choosing to legally tie themselves because of an emotional bond. I am not convinced that as a Society we have the right to deny people who are gay the opportunity to choose to legally tie themselves to another.

Monique said...

Well said Amy! And then something that ties in with this subject too is people who choose to physically change their gender. I believe that there is no way in heck that it's even possible for us to be born the "wrong" gender. Mainly because our spirits are either male or female, and thats what really makes us either a man, or a woman.

Emily said...

I always love reading your posts Amy. You are very articulate and passionate about a lot of different things!

Christina Chase said...

Great point. I just happened upon your blog and love this entry. Following a decision through to see its inevitable consequences is, I believe, a very important and logical way to make decisions. And, yes, I agree that "female empowerment" and same-sex marriage have to do with the desire to have a genderless society. The question before the Supreme Court on marriage is not simply about the purpose of marriage. (I disagree with Tiffany's comment here.) If it was only about people tying themselves together because of an emotional bond, then we would have to include elderly siblings who spend the last 40 years of their lives together, sharing resources and taking care of one another. Why can't they receive Social Security survivor's benefits? And we would certainly have to include people in "plural marriages" or polygamy. The Defense of Marriage Act stated that marriage was between "one man and one woman". Why are we only picking on the gender aspect of that definition? I believe you answer that question very well with your post, Amy. Thank you!

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Brent Nicholson said...

Jonathon Smith's modest proposal was to eat babies to solve the worlds hunger issues. In order for this to work we would need people making babies.
I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I believe society benefits from a well adjusted cohesive family unit. All other opinions are simply opinions. Man and women as in every other species have a primary role of procreation. This does not open the door for judgement of those who can't or choose not to, but they cannot deny nature and its design.

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Suzie Petunia said...

I like that you've given me a new and interesting way to look at these issues. You've been blessed with a beautiful (female) brain!

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Anonymous said...

I strongly disagree with your view. Marriage and the ability to have children with your partner have absolutely no connection whatsoever. You can have children if you're married, you may also decide not to have children if you're married and you can have children even if you're not married. Therefore marriage and parenting have nothing in common. Oh, and if you only approve family as the union of a man and a woman, then i assume you're also against widows, widowers, singel-parent families and so on.