Sex, Gender, and Gravity

Sex, Gender, and Gravity September 2, 2011








One afternoon in Ithaca, N.Y., my kids were playing on the swing sets in the park when a little tike wearing a football jersey ran into my daughter’s path. I lunged for the swing — I jerked the chain so abruptly that I feared whiplash — and shared a “wow, that was close” exchange with the kid’s mom.

“How old is he?” I asked. The lady looked at me with no trace of irony as she placed her kid on the swing and said, “His name is Jill, and she’s three.”

As I tried to match the pronouns and antecedents, she explained that she belonged to a group of parents who rebelled against gender stereotypes, allowing their children to decide their genders after they’d been exposed to both options. I’d learned of this in a philosophy class at NYU. My professor argued that children are born with “sex” but taught “gender.” They claimed children unwittingly learn certain gender signifiers that dictate their behavior. Little boys, they claim, don’t naturally want to play with trucks, and little girls aren’t naturally drawn to dolls, if unsullied by eager parents who try to indoctrinate their children with heterosexist ideas about “gender.” According to my professor, gender roles cause people to live according to the very limited ideas of others. The ultimate goal, of course, is androgyny, where no differences between males and females exist.

“I’m going to raise her as gender-neutrally as possible and let him decide which gender she prefers at the age of eight.”  (Oh, eight . . . that’s when my son dug up our yard one square foot at a time, because he was convinced he’d find buried treasure.)

Read the rest here, if you can stomach it.

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  • “Sex, Lies and Gender” is a fascinating National Geographic documentary about transsexuality and intersexuality, featuring Dr. Tiger Howard Devore, the Indian celebrity Rose Venkatesan and biologist Joan (ex-John) Roughgarden, author of “Evolution’s rainbow”.

    Interestingly, the documentary isn’t constructivist, and actually attacks John Money, the psychologist who attempted to turn a boy child into a girl, with tragic consequences. While distancing itself from the idea that gender is a purely social construct, “Sex, Lies and Gender” believes that the male-female binary *is* such a construct. In reality, humans have more than two genders, with transsexuals and intersex people representing additional “genders” along a continuum. People are born with their gender identities, but there are more than two of them!

    In the documentary, we meet a former U.S. soldier who didn’t realize he was hermaphroditic until rather late in life (he now lives as a female), a child who is physically a boy but who is utterly convinced of being a girl and Indian transsexuals known as hijras. The latter, for long an oppressed caste in Indian society, has finally gotten an able spokesman (or spokeswoman!) in Rose Venkatesan. “Sex, Lies and Gender” also features an interview with pro-intersex psychologist Devore and the previously mentioned Roughgarden, whose book “Evolution’s rainbow” I’ve reviewed elsewhere here on Amazon.

    All in all, a very interesting and well done documentary, taped by National Geographic, which I always assumed was something of a mainstay of dead White colonial male-ism. It seems National Geographic have finally been “queered”!

    Five stars.