Sunday, January 13, 2013

What Are They Talking About?


The Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, has shown in a very detailed and profoundly moving study that the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper. While up to now we regarded a false understanding of the nature of human freedom as one cause of the crisis of the family, it is now becoming clear that the very notion of being – of what being human really means – is being called into question.

He quotes the famous saying of Simone de Beauvoir: “one is not born a woman, one becomes so” (on ne naĆ®t pas femme, on le devient). These words lay the foundation for what is put forward today under the term “gender” as a new philosophy of sexuality. According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society. The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves.

Address to Roman Curia, December 21, 2012

Reflection – So today and next time we wade into the thickets of controversy, the section of the talk that got all the pundits and activists buzzing furiously away. The whole idea of gender and its meaning comes under a searching study here, and so it should.

Theorists and activists have worked hard to dismantle the obvious meaning of gender and sexual identification, based on body morphology (I trust I don’t need to spell out the details to anyone, right? I don’t really want this blog to get caught in your spam filters…)

Essentially, there are males and there are females, and you know, you really can spot the difference by looking at them hard.

Well, all of that has been cast aside in progressive thought. Body morphology has been decisively uncoupled from gender identity. There are men in women’s bodies, women in men’s bodies. Not every transgendered person seeks gender-reassignment surgery—some women-in-men’s-bodies like their bodies just the way they are. Nor does it have any connection to sexual desire: there are men-in-women’s bodies who also identify as homosexual, hence being sexually attracted to men, but as a man-in-a-woman’s body.

So gender identity has nothing to do with body morphology. Nor does it have anything to do with sexual attraction. The question must be asked: what are these people talking about?

Is it some stereotyped view of male and female characteristics? Men are logical, brave, mechanical and violent; women are emotional, caring, intuitive, and sweet? Somehow I do not think the post-modern theorists of gender are advancing gender theories redolent of the 1950s. But what on earth do they mean? Since they want to entirely restructure society based on their gender theories, I think we have a right to insist they explain themselves, no?

What is it to be male, to be female? If it is not to do with the body structures you were born with, and not to do with the personality traits you exhibit, and not to do with who you are sexually attracted to, what on earth does it have to do with?

To be clear, my own belief, founded on both common sense and religious faith, is that while allowing for the vanishingly rare exception of actual hermaphroditism, gender is body morphology, and the grand human adventure is to live as a man or to live as a woman within the psycho-social-familial context you have been given.

As soon as we reject what has been given in favour of some increasingly elusive and abstract notion of gender, we reject humanity as an object of dignity and respect in favour of endless social engineering and experimentation.

In short, and in conclusion for today, let us begin to answer the question of what is a male, what is a female by accepting the given of it (human genital differentiation) and living out our human dignity—the call to love, to give, to commit one’s life to the other—from that basic given reality of our human being.