I was thinking yesterday about the politics of gender, and specifically about how many liberals and conservatives seem to simultaneously hold two opposing viewpoints regarding gender behavior programming.
Many liberals simultaneously believe the following:
- Society is what makes boys act boyish, and girls act girlish. This social influence, more than natural tendencies or anything else, is why there are such strong gender types in modern society, and we should assume foul play when a woman says she wants to do things that society accepts to be feminine.
- Many gay people, despite being raised (and pushed) 100% as their anatomical gender, have always known that they were NOT that thing. They received overwhelming programming to become what was expected, yet it had no chance of working because it went against their fundamental nature.
Many on the extreme left hold both of these views at different times, depending on the conversation, and fail to realize how contradictory they are. The first makes one claim:
Gender behavior is trained by society, and is not innate.
But then there’s another liberal narrative that says:
Gender behavior is innate, and it’s immoral to try to force people to be what they’re not.
Those are opposites, yet most gender-focused liberals hold both in their minds, and argue them ferociously, without exploding. It’s cognitive dissonance at peak form.
The conservative version
Conservatives tend to have the exact opposite problem, which is just as ridiculous (but arguably more harmful).
They think girls act girly because it’s innate, and gender programming has little or nothing to do with it. This allows them to push the narrative that most women have an overwhelming desire to be feminine, attract a man, stay at home, do “feminine” things, etc. They say that most women DO naturally want those things, and that it’s ok and should not be discouraged.
Yet when someone says they’re gay, and always have been, they say there’s no such thing and that it must be some weird liberal programming that made them like that. So on one side they’re all about natural instincts and nature, but when it comes to homosexuality they suddenly don’t believe in that anymore.
Both sides are committing violent crimes against logic and common sense.
The obvious answer is obvious:
- Natural tendencies are real and extremely powerful. This means something bad for both political sides. For liberals it means that, yes, many women actually do naturally feel most happy when embracing the roles seen on every women’s magazine cover. Look beautiful. Attract men. Be a good homemaker. Etc.
For conservatives, it means that, yes, many gay people didn’t just decide to be gay. They were programmed since day one by family, friends, society, and everyone around them to be “normal”, but it simply wasn’t possible because their NATURE was to be the opposite.
- Gender behavior programming does exist, and when it goes against one’s nature it can be negative. This also brings bad news for both liberals and conservatives. The bad news for conservatives is that, yes, there is often too much emphasis on making girls into princesses and beauty queens, and the like. While tendencies toward this may be natural in many or most girls, there are also tendencies towards astronomy or mathematics or politics that can get snuffed out by such programming. This is bad, and a balance needs to be reached between harmless encouraging of girly behavior and simultaneous nurturing of the opposite when it shows itself.
For liberals it’s the opposite bad news. Many women actually WANT to be submissive in the relationship. They actually want to stay home. They actually don’t want to compete with men in the workplace, or have to earn the money, or any of that. They are actually most happy when in a traditional feminine role. As a result, the constant liberal programming telling women that these tendencies and feelings are BAD are highly damaging. You’re essentially telling, just like the conservatives, that one’s nature is wrong and is worthy of shame. This is wrong, and a balance needs to be reached between harmless encouraging of natural behavior and healthy empowerment of the opposite when that desire is present.
- Many women actually do want to just be girly and stay home and do all of that stereotypical stuff that gender-focused-liberals find repugnant.
- Many women have those tendencies while simultaneously wanting more from life, and thus seek other means of fulfillment (which are traditionally done by men)
- Some of the gender programming for boys and girls is too extreme. It’s too focused on makeup and war and violence and weddings: all the polar opposites in a way that is likely unhealthy to a balanced and fulfilled future.
- Much of this same programming is just fine. It goes along with natural tendencies and is fairly harmless when done in moderation.
- We should not tell gays that it’s wrong to be who they actually are, if that’s what they actually want.
- We should not tell women that it’s wrong to want to live in a “traditionally feminine” role if that’s what they actually want.
- We should not tell women that it’s wrong to want to live a non-traditional lifestyle, whatever that means. If you’re following your desires (wherever they came from), and not hurting anyone, then it should be encouraged.
- It’s wrong for liberals to assume that when someone says they are attracted to dressing up, getting pretty, attracting men, and being generally submissive in a relationship, that conservatives have somehow made them that way. In general we can trust when someone says they have natural tendencies.
- It’s wrong for conservatives to assume that when someone says they’re gay, and always have been, that liberals somehow made them that way. In general we can trust someone when they say they have natural tendencies.
- When any member of any group chooses to do something outside of what’s usually selected by members of that group, that’s ok too. Just because natural tendencies exist, and they should be acknowledged and not denied or actively programmed against, doesn’t mean that there won’t be thousands or millions of exceptions. Let people pursue their own happiness without feeling the need to remind them of how others in their group “usually do it”.
Truth doesn’t have factions, and that’s why so much of the conversation on gender is wrong.
Conservatives have an agenda lens that makes everything look traditional. Boys like trucks. Girls like dolls. Women WANT to stay home, so we should stop trying to tell them otherwise.
Liberals have an agenda lens that makes it look like traditional things are wrong things. Women only play with dolls because someone told them to. If they had a choice they’d be stock brokers and physicists in the same percentages as men. And boys don’t really like trucks and guns—they’re just being told that they do.
This is rubbish.
There are natural tendencies towards behaviors, and there are also people who either don’t have those tendencies or have desires to counter them to whatever degree. To have a healthy and fair society we must acknowledge and accept that this is just fine.
Let people be what they are inclined to be if it makes them happy, and let people be what they want to be even if it opposes convention. This is the path of an evolved society.