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The sexes

Why they talk that way

Here are some quotations from well-known feminists that would be startling if we weren’t so used to the same sort of thing:

  • Katha Pollitt:

    It is important to remember just how barbarous and cruel the Taliban were. Yet it is also important not to use their example to obscure or deny the common thread of misogyny that connects them with Focus on the Family and the Christian Coalition…

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Cross-cutting gender agendas

More news from the Sex Front that for some reason I’ve been covering a lot lately:

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No sex please, we're Anglicans

It’s become routine to say that current Anglican disputes are really about scriptural authority or unity of doctrine within the Anglican communion rather than sex. To my mind that doesn’t wash. At bottom the basic issue is always truth, in this case the truth about sex. If the right answer is that its human meaning has no intrinsic connection to natural function, so that it becomes what we make of it, then that will also be the correct interpretation of scripture and ultimately the only acceptable basis for unity of doctrine.

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Social science, women and fashion statements

The social sciences obstinately insist on Pascal’s mathematical mind, while women are more likely to give play to his intuitive mind, so it seems the two aren’t a good match. Still, all’s grist for the mill, so here are a couple of (at least purportedly) scientific findings regarding women I thought of interest:

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Social science and the tender passion

Every reasonable person who’s curious about the world around him sometimes finds social science studies suggestive and illuminating. No sane person thinks they can be the basis of of human relations or the laws and institutions that regulate and codify them.

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The Woman Question

A quick review of Genevieve Kineke, The Authentic Catholic Woman (Servant Books, 2006):

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CEDAW rises from the crypt

Everyone who cares about humanity and freedom should sign this petition against CEDAW, The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

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What's it to you?

A standard jibe from proponents of “gay marriage” is that marriages don’t eat each other up, so John and Mary’s can’t be affected by Ron and Barry’s. As one blogger puts it, “I can’t help but feel sorry for people whose families are so fragile as to be destroyed by someone else’s decision to make a long-term commitment to another person.”

The jibe fits very nicely with current understandings of human conduct, which tell us that we are (and should be) independent individuals making up our own minds how we will act based on personal goals and the incentives and disincentives our environment offers. On that understanding, which people consider a matter of simple rationality, the jibe seems unanswerable.

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They say the darndest things

Lawrence Auster asks why so often it is women, more than men, who are unintimidated by liberals. His example is Jeane Kirkpatrick. Here are a couple more, one woman (Kathy Shaidle) quoting another (“andrea”): “Barack Obama? Look—Urkel’s running for president!”

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Well, duh!

The bizarre argument that getting rid of the specificity and implicit function of marriage would strengthen it has been refuted by experience: How Holland Destroyed Marriage. The piece (by Charles Colson) cites a series of pieces by Stanley Kurtz showing how the move toward “gay marriage” in northern Europe has gone with abandonment of marriage by couples with children.

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Yan and Ying

On the face of it, the expected decision of the New York City Board of Health to let people decide what sex they are and to have the decision reflected on their birth certificates seems a reductio ad absurdum of the “gender perspective,” in effect the view that sexual distinctions should be treated as pure social constructions to the extent physically possible.

The absurdity applies at many levels. Man is an animal, among other things, and sex, which has been around a billion years, probably has some importance in human life. If that’s so, it’s hard to see how it can be divorced from “gender” any more than say “nourishment” can be divorced from “food.” You can’t reasonably decide for yourself what food is. Similarly, it would seem, you can’t decide what gender you are, even though social views may play some part in specific understandings of what it all means.

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Thoughts on 'gay marriage'

Some thoughts provoked by the imposition of “gay marriage” on the people of New Jersey by the state supreme court, on the grounds that no substantial government purpose is served by limiting marriage to man and woman:

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What does it mean?

Here’s an image that appeared on a piece of junk mail I received from the U.S. Postal Service pushing their “premium forwarding service,” which lets your mail follow you when you go on vacation. Whatever happened to feminism?

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Sex and seminarians

So far as I can tell, the Catholic Church has always said officially that if you’re what’s called “gay” you shouldn’t become a priest. Also, at the highest levels the Church has always been independent enough to say, perhaps after hemming and hawing and various delays, what they think is so on important issues. That’s why you have a pope and he gets his own little country. So the bottom-line position in the recent Doomsday Document on same-sex inclined seminarians isn’t particularly surprising. For me, an aspect that’s more interesting, at least from the standpoint of theory, is the justification offered, that

The candidate to the ordained ministry … must reach affective maturity. Such maturity will allow him to relate correctly to both men and women, developing in him a true sense of spiritual fatherhood towards the Church community that will be entrusted to him … those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called “gay culture” … find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women.

So the basic point is that homosexuality undermines the sex-role and familial stereotypes that are part of what constitute the Church and good human relations within it, as demonstrated by the rule that only men can be ordained to the priesthood. For my own part, I favor those stereotypes, I think they’re part of what constitute every normal human being and every possible society. Still, all respectable people and mainstream authorities insist that the opposite position is part of basic rationality and human decency. I wonder how this aspect of the Instruction will play out?

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Weird sexual stuff

It’s hard to imagine how sex could be put into some kind of order without any reference at all to traditional taboos. How could you conceivably rationalize something so basic and powerful and hard to get a grip on and make it a matter of simple free choice? With that in mind, it seems obvious that sexual enlightenment will turn out in fact to be sexual obsession and insanity. That seems to be happening, or at any rate people’s ability to think about this stuff seems to be going downhill:

  • Parents whose daughters are doing high school wrestling are peeved because boys from some schools are forfeiting matches rather than joining the girls on the mat, so they’re initiating legal action. As one parent and sometime Episcopal Church functionary said, “[T]here’s a limit … If my religion says that once a year on a full moon, I had to get into a hit-and-run accident, I think the cops would take exception to that … My daughter’s rights [to compete rather than win by default] are not going to be bargained away for any reason.” The piece quotes a Miss Hogshead-Makar, who’s apparently an Olympic athlete who practices law in the area and believes the guy has a good legal position. Long live liberation and reason!
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The nature of rationality is the most practical of all issues

Canadians mostly oppose the same-sex revolution, but it appears that none of their official leaders are willing to stand up to it. In fact, recent events on Ontario, which involved pushing radical redefinition of marriage through the Legislative Assembly in three days, with all-party collusion and without a single recorded vote, suggest they’re all eager to make the issue go away through total mass surrender to gay activists.

Why is that? Part of the problem, I think, is a general unwillingness of people in responsible public positions to discuss basic issues. If you function by doing deals and getting to “yes,” you won’t like issues that can’t be compromised. Your inclination will always be to smudge things like the definition of the national community and the family as much as possible. So you’ll try to avoid taking a stand on issues like immigration and “gay marriage,” but if forced you’ll choose the alternative that fuzzes the definition. In the case of the family, that means “gay marriage.”

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New front in the eternal war on bigotry!

Building on a foundation laid by the Massachusetts “gay marriage” decision, and perhaps the Larry Summers smackdown, some students at Harvard are working with an official university body to do something about the problem of heteronormativity—the tendency some people still have of speaking as if male-female relations set some sort of sexual standard. The issue came to a head when a female singer came to campus to receive an award and made some inspirational feminist comments about relationships in the course of her talk:

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More on academic winter

Here’s a Harvey Mansfield piece about the Larry Summers situation that’s worth reading. Since the issues are controversial, I suppose I should say that I think it perfectly obvious that men and women differ naturally in talents and inclinations, and that current views on the topic are evidence that something’s gone radically wrong with intellectual and social life.

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Breaking the shackles of feminism

Boldly venturing into the belly of the beast, I went to Canada last week and gave a talk on “sexism” at a conference on Breaking the Shackles: The Global Burden of Oppression at Upper Canada College in Toronto (“college” means “high school” in this case). In the event the visit turned out perfectly pleasant. The lefties seemed to skip over points that if noted would create actual issues, but I found them more ideologically self-satisfied than ill-tempered. Also, Michael Levin was there, on another panel, and that gave me some moral support and steeled me to present my own thoughts and then face the talk my fellow-speaker gave on Little Red Riding Hood.

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Back in town

I’m back from a couple of weeks away, and mostly recovered from a mild but annoying virus, so I’ll be posting once again. To get things started, here are some comments I posted on Dawn Eden’s weblog on why I think there’s a problem with contraception.

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