Category Archives: Gender Issues

Brett Kavanaugh

Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings to be the second appointee by President Trump to the Supreme Court were derailed by the accusation by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh held her down and tried to force himself upon her in the early 1980s, when they were high school students.

Let’s break the “he said, she said” deadlock and grant that events unfolded as accused.  How did the two of them get together?  They were at a party; they were friends; they knew each other.  They apparently rather liked each other, to the point where they wanted to be alone with each other.  But when Kavanaugh asserted himself, she resisted, and ultimately, he thought better of it and backed off.

If this had happened last week or last month, or even ten years ago, I’d agree this is a serious concern: I don’t want a Supreme Court justice who runs around attacking women.  But what about an accusation from two-thirds of a lifetime ago, when the participants were both teenagers, with their brains not yet fully cooked?  Moreover, Kavanaugh, as a serving Federal judge rising through the ranks, has repeatedly been background-checked by the FBI, and nothing of this nature came up.

While it may have been a sexual assault under the legal definition, more practically it was a case of botched consent.  (If there had genuinely been an assault, the proper course of action, even in the early 1980s, would be to call the police.  But that didn’t happen.)  Today, one is supposed to ask and receive permission every step of the way, giving a romantic encounter all the charm of an ICBM launch.  But this was another time.

We’re told that we need to believe the survivors of sexual assault.  OK: I’ll believe her.  We have an event that happened two-thirds of a lifetime ago, which, at the time, would have been deemed a youthful indiscretion.

Since then, repeated background checking over Kavanaugh’s adult life found nothing of concern.  The inescapable conclusion is that Kavanaugh grew up, became a responsible citizen, husband, and father, and the events of his adolescence shouldn’t be held against him.

What’s chilling is that the tale of Christine and Brett is hardly unusual.  Very few people are so pure of heart that nothing could be dredged from their past.  If this is the standard to which future Supreme Court justices and others subject to advice and consent will be held, we’re going to have trouble finding people who can meet that standard.

Then again, this could all be a put-up job.

Gender, Reconsidered

I’ve had a ‘well, maybe’ moment.

Look Past Pink and Blue

The graphic above is part of a publicity campaign from the city government.  While I’ve been railing against the notion of equal access to restrooms, it has, in fact, been the law in New York City since 2002.  It hasn’t been a problem: in fact, it’s been such a total absence of a problem that I didn’t even know that we had such a law until this graphic crossed my desk.

So I must withdraw my objection that allowing equal access to restrooms is a license for perverts.  It hasn’t happened, at least not to an extent that would suggest a problem.  I stand corrected.

Being able to go to the bathroom should not be a civil rights issue.

And yet, I wonder about the animus against the binary notion of male and female.  ‘Look past pink and blue,’ the ad says.  But for more than 99% of us, our reality is that we are pink or blue, female or male, one or the other, not both, and not neither.  And even for the transgendered, the notion of ‘pink or blue’ persists: a person is transgendered if his perception of himself as male or female does not match his equipment.  ‘Charlie,’ in the graphic above, seeks to present himself as male, whatever his origins.  If I met him on the street or at work, and didn’t know the back story, I ’d think of him as a dude, and not consider the matter further.

What is so horrible about pink and blue?

Gender

When I was very little, I learned the concept of what I now know as ‘gender:’ people are male and female, boys and girls, men and women.  I was really young when I learned this concept, so young that I can’t remember not knowing it.  And along with gender, I learned some other concepts, which I never really thought about until much later:

  • Essentiality: A person must have a gender.
  • Binary states: One is male or female: there is no other alternative.
  • Mutual exclusivity: A person must be male or female. One cannot be both at the same time.
  • Immutability: One cannot change one’s gender.  (One can impersonate the other gender, but it isn’t the same thing.)

I learned all of this just by observing the world around me.  So far as I know, my parents never had to explain this to me, nor did I have to explain it to my son when he was little.

So now we’re facing the onslaught of people who believe that requiring men and women to use different bathrooms is somehow evil: you’re denying people their basic human right to a comfortable place to pee!  We’re told that we have to look out for the transsexuals, who need to go to a bathroom that does not correspond to their physical gender.

Since this is ludicrous on its face, it’s actually pointless to argue logically against it.  Ayn Rand said, ‘Don’t bother to examine a folly—ask yourself what it accomplishes.’  Nevertheless, to establish that the issue in question is a folly, it is necessary to argue against it:

  • Yes, there are some (very few) transgendered people who have issues with using one restroom or another. But there are many more maladjusted but otherwise normal men who enjoy peeping at women’s private parts.
  • There are also many more non-transgendered people who have no question about which restroom to use, but are nevertheless uncomfortable with public restrooms. I used to be one of them, and I got over it as I got older.  It isn’t the responsibility of the world at large to furnish me a comfortable place to pee wherever and whenever I need it.

And what does this accomplish?

  • It raises what seems on its surface to be an affectation to a ‘protected class,’ where to even identify it is to be discriminatory.
  • It’s another way to get people who disagree to shut up for fear of offending someone. (Remember that liability makes cowards of us all.)
  • It’s another effort to erase the distinction between men and women. But this difference has been part of our nature since the beginning, and has been integrated into every human society to date.  It seems pointless at best and dangerous at worst to try and eliminate it.

None of this means that men and women shouldn’t have civil equality.  Men and women should have the same rights before the law and in commercial transactions, including receiving the same pay for the same work (this last has, in fact, been the law in the US for over 50 years).

But underneath it all, men and women are different.  That difference is to be respected, admired, cherished, and enjoyed.  To deny, disparage, or deprecate it is to deny reality.