Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Deny thy father

I was reading Time magazine this morning and came across an editarticle? artitorial? (It's hard to distinguish sometimes if it's an article or an editorial) by James C. Dobson talking about how he really hopes Mary Cheney and her partner having a baby doesn't catch on as a trend. As a self-proclaimed "social conservative" he has a problem with the mother/mother and father/father households replacing the more traditional mother/father parental units. His concern is that a child in those families won't get enough of the masculine or feminine whatevermabob because they are missing a role model of a certain gender.

Let's ignore for the moment the children of single parents, extended families, and crappy rolemodels of either gender because lord knows I could go on about that. But I won't.

In truth, the underlying premise of Mr. Dobson's article is his fear that boys being brought up in a single gender (female) household will not grow up to be boys.

I quote Dobson's article: "According to educational psychologist Carol Gilligan, mothers tend to stress sympathy, grace and care to their children, while fathers accent justice, fairness and duty. Moms give a child a sense of hopefulness; dads provide a sense of right and wrong and its consequences. Other researchers have determined that boys are not born with an understanding of 'maleness.' They have to learn it, ideally from their fathers."

Now, I don't know what the heck "grace" is, or whether or not I got any from my mother, but I am intrigued by the notion that boys aren't born with an understanding of "maleness". What that means to me is that what we consider masculine is in fact a social construct, more so than what we consider feminine. Unfortunately, our society is so afraid of males being "feminine" that we perpetuate the fascade of the masculine which, according to Dobson and his references, includes justice, fairness, duty, right vs. wrong, and consequences. Is it just me or does that not sound like a commercial for the armed forces?

Perhaps if we thought of sympathy, grace (wtf?), and hopefulness not as "feminine" but as human we wouldn't be so angry and violent all the time. Sympathy and empathy (which I'm sure is also considered a feminine trait) are what lead to an understanding of right and wrong, justice and fairness. Maybe if boys weren't taught that the world is black and white and instead could think of it as more gray (the way those who are "feminine" apparently see it) the world would be a nicer place. The guys I've known who were the most stereotypically masculine were also the ones who hurt me in some way - verbal abuse, meanspiritedness, sexual assault. Perhaps if they hadn't been taught "maleness", I wouldn't have had my status as a female, and therefore a lesser human, shoved in my face.

It's not about mankind or womankind, it's about humankind. And I'd like to stress the word "kind."

Mr. Dobson, don't be afraid of your feminine side. It's what makes you human.


Shell said...

Dobson is a bigoted, self-righteous lunatic. Ugh.

Josh Shear said...

well said, shell. i submit, as proof, the focus on the family web site, and it's leading quote: "Men and women are wired differently. God authored these differences, and we should celebrate them."

Celebrate Woo-Woo said...

All those supposedly "feminine" and "masculine" qualities seem like qualities some people have and some don't regardless of whether or not their parents are just one or two, same sex or different. Children can have positive role models of both genders even if they don't have two opposite-sex parents. Good post;>

Dr.Nik said...

You should check out the Natural History of Peace.