Should we allow men and women to be friends? Should we allow them to share bathrooms or changing facilities? Is gender a spectrum? What does it really mean to be a woman or a man?
Thanks to Freud we are an over-sexualized society who has no idea how to keep intimacy in a proper box. This has inhibited us from making meaningful relationships with members of either sex in recent decades. It wasn’t long ago that people would write deeply intimate letters to members of the same gender even. Now it is rare to see anyone showering in a locker room due to fears that the next guy in the stall may be a closet homosexual.
Recently there has been much debate about allowing people of the opposite sex to use single sex locker rooms. Debates as ridiculous as these come from our obsession with both identity politics and sex.
How about this: allow private businesses decide their own locker room policies. If they want to divide guests between male and female, young, old, black, white, family, not family, let them. If they want to mix everyone together, let them. Put it in the private contract members sign to join the club. If a potential member doesn’t approve of the policy they don’t have to sign the contract.
Public spaces are a little more complicated. If I had it my way everything would be private, and the above solution would solve everything. But we live in the here and now, so I’ll have to make concessions. First, let local jurisdictions decide. One size-fits-all top down solutions never work out well. Requiring a small local government to build extra locker rooms or adapt current ones to accommodate that one individual in the whole town who decides one day that they are not what they are is a tyrannical burden on taxpayers. If that one person and his (her?) supporters don’t like the policy let private industry sweep in and provide them with the space they want.
But really. Why not just have three options for all new public facilities? A men’s room, a women’s room, and an “I don’t know or care” room should all be built into new public facilities. Old facilities should adapt family locker rooms into the last category. They are already almost in that category.
Or better yet, stop being so squeamish. Europe has hundreds of co-ed dressing rooms, locker rooms, showers, and saunas. It doesn’t matter what gender one feels like one morning, they go and do what they need to do without everyone getting jumpy. Is Europe one big orgy? Not from what I have heard. Most of what you hear from Americans who visit these co-ed places is that there is really a whole bunch of unsexy going on. Sexual arousal is virtually nil when there is an abundance of flesh about. Not to mention the embarrassment of being aroused in a room full of people who are not there for sexual purposes at all.
The solutions I’ve seen thrown around such as curtains and single stalls really serve to perpetuate the intimacy problems we already have in this country. It is already rare to see people showering in same-sex showers due to sexual insecurity, curtains and single stalls are just validating that fear. We need to overcome the idea that everyone is defined by their sexual orientation. That dude showering next to you probably is not the least bit interested in you, whether he is gay or not.
Sex and gender are not different things, and we are not defined as individuals by either. Gender is not a spectrum. One is either a male or a female, determined by biology, not character, personality, or anything outside of genetics.
Yes, it is easy to categorize people by their genitals, we can make generalities based upon genetics and hormones. There are stark physical and hormonal differences between the genders. But much of what we call “masculine” or “feminine” is really just cultural. This is what I believe leads to all the confusion. In our culture, we can no longer look at our genitals and say “I’m a man” or “I’m a woman”.
In our confusion we have to look at our personalities, our thought patterns, our interests, and our feelings to determine what we are. The problem is, those traits are not determined by chromosomes. Those traits are highly individualized and influenced by environmental factors as well as internal factors.
There are generalities made by “experts” about each gender. In our culture “manly” men are characterized as brutish, stupid, into sports, obsessed with sex, unemotional, and not at all interested in things like fashion or the arts. Women on the other hand are over-emotional, irrational, obsessed with materialism, maternal, talkative, and usually quite critical. Oh, and less prone to having body hair. According to our culture, women are all vain and care for very little beyond what they look like. Generalities like these are made in all cultures. Some are cross-cultural, some are very much local.
But what of the outliers? What about the men who hate sports and competitiveness, or the women who cling to rational thinking and can’t stand emotional nonsense? What about the well-dressed men or the hairy women? What about the boy who plays with dolls or make-up and the girl who plays with trucks and in competitive sports? Why must we force them into the boxes which generalities have created? Why not allow them to be who they are as individuals and stop labeling them based on chromosomes and genitals?
Gender to the modern mind is either a social construct or a spectrum. Those who say gender is a spectrum will ironically cling to the very stereotypes feminists have tried for so long to dispel. The entire gender “spectrum” is based on stereotypes of what defines “male” and “female”. You only have to look at Bruce Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair to see what I am talking about. In order to be the “woman” that he feels he is, he must conform to the beauty standards of American culture and appear in full makeup, deep cleavage, and the airbrushed glory of every female model that has graced the magazine. He even had to hide his hands because they are “masculine”. Interesting also is that all of the things that make him a “woman” are based largely on externals, what culture says women should look like.
Those that feel they are the opposite of their genetic gender are often basing those feelings off of stereotypes of what our culture says being a man or woman is. If gender is really just a social construct, how can one sit there and say that person x is “more female” or person y is “more male”? They have to resort to the very stereotypes and social conventions they are trying to reject. If gender is nothing more than a social construct, how does one feel “more male” or “more female”? Do they not simply feel more male or more female by their own culturally influenced definition?
The manufacturers of gender confusion have to resort to the very stereotypes that they claim to reject. Would they not do better to say “I am male, and I act like this” or “I am female, and I act like this”? Their tastes, character traits, or personalities do not define them any more than the stereotypes created by culture. The very stereotypes they say they are trying to reject in saying that gender is a spectrum are the very stereotypes they are embracing when they say a passive man is “acting female” or a sports loving female is feeling “male”.
You are not a male simply because you are strong or aggressive, bold, big, muscular, single-minded, or driven. You are not a female simply because you are passive, quiet, submissive, delicate, sensitive, gentle, nurturing, kind, or able to multitask.
We need to stop placing so much value on the collective idea of “men” vs “women” and start viewing people as individuals. We should not fall into the ditch that says that character traits are determined by gender or into the other ditch that says that character traits determine one’s gender. Your chromosomes may determine the hormones that flow through your body, testosterone may increase aggression, but they do not determine one’s character. A man does not have to act aggressive merely because his hormones tell him to.
We should also not fall into the error of assigning moral character to personality traits. A testosterone filled male who behaves in a more passive manner is not going against nature and trying to be a woman, he is merely being himself. He is how God made him. His personality is determined by many factors, not simply the chromosomes he was born with. Likewise, an aggressive woman is not less female. She is not trying to be a man or go against nature. She is merely acting according to what nature and nurture has instilled in her.
Is gender a spectrum? No. One is either a male or a female. Behavior does not make gender. Can men and women share space? Why not let the facility owners determine that? What does it mean to be a man? You have an X and a Y chromosome. What is a female? Two X chromosomes. Stop trying to confuse people, stop focusing on externals. Focus instead on the strengths of each individual, whatever their genetics may be.