John C. Wright (johncwright) wrote,
John C. Wright
johncwright

Boys and Girls, Women and Men

I read three interesting articles about raising children in an unisex culture. Allow me to quote the whole thing at length.

The articles speak for themselves. By way of comment I will only post a link to a website telling grown-up boys how to practice the fine and lost art of manliness :

http://artofmanliness.com/ -- the website promises to tell boy-men how to man up, including such accomplishments as how to wear a hat and how to find a barber.

The website (I draw my readers attention especially to an article on adventure books: http://artofmanliness.com/2009/06/02/the-essential-man%E2%80%99s-library-adventure-edition-part-one-fiction/ -- I notice the prominent edition of Stephenson's TREASURE ISLAND illustrated by N.C. Wyeth, which yours truly just finished last month reading to his boys.)

Here below are the articles:

http://ozconservative.blogspot.com/2009/06/abba-star-child-called-pop-and-bathing.html

OZ CONSERVATIVE

An Abba star, a child called Pop, and bathing Swedish style

by Mark Richardson

Björn, the ABBA pop star, wants to ban independent religious schools in Sweden. Why? He gives this explanation:

Above all, children should be kept away from anything that bears even the slightest whiff of indoctrination. In fact, freedom from indoctrination ought to be a basic human right for all children.



I burst out laughing when I read this. There is no place in the world where people are more indoctrinated than in Sweden. And they are not indoctrinated by churches but by the secular state.

Consider two other news stories from Sweden. We learn in one story that the parents of a 2-year-old have refused to reveal the child's gender:

In an interview with newspaper Svenska Dagbladet in March, the parents were quoted saying their decision was rooted in the feminist philosophy that gender is a social construction.



Where would the parents have gotten this idea from? It's state policy in Sweden. A Swedish minister, Jens Orback, announced some years ago that:

The government considers female and male as social constructions, that means gender patterns are created by upbringing, culture, economic conditions, power structures and political ideology.



So there is a state doctrine that gender is an artificial social construct which should be made not to matter. The parents, as indoctrinated as they come, want to raise their child in line with this state policy:

“We want Pop to grow up more freely and avoid being forced into a specific gender mould from the outset,” Pop’s mother said. “It's cruel to bring a child into the world with a blue or pink stamp on their forehead.”

The child's parents said so long as they keep Pop’s gender a secret, he or she will be able to avoid preconceived notions of how people should be treated if male or female.

Pop's wardrobe includes everything from dresses to trousers and Pop's hairstyle changes on a regular basis. And Pop usually decides how Pop is going to dress on a given morning.

Although Pop knows that there are physical differences between a boy and a girl, Pop's parents never use personal pronouns when referring to the child – they just say Pop.



So we are not supposed to discriminate between boys and girls, not even by dressing them differently or applying different pronouns to them. Gender must be made not to matter.

The second story has a similar theme. Authorities in the city of Malmö in Sweden have decided to let women swim topless at public swimming pools. It was thought discriminatory that men should be allowed to swim bare breasted and not women. Also, thinking about women's breasts as sexually attractive was thought wrong as this made a woman's gender matter - and gender is not supposed to matter:

Speaking to The Local, Ragnhild Karlsson , 22, explained the womens' motives for swimming without bikini tops.

"It's a question of equality. I think it's a problem that women are sexualized in this way. If women are forced to wear a top, shouldn't men also have to?"

Outraged by what they regarded as discrimination, a group of women in southern Sweden made a show of solidarity by establishing the Bara Bröst network. (The name translates both as 'Bare Breasts' and 'Just Breasts'.)

"We want our breasts to be as 'normal' and desexualized as men's, so that we too can pull off our shirts at football matches," spokeswomen Astrid Hellroth and Liv Ambjörnsson told Ottar, a magazine published by the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education ...

"Our aim is to start a debate about the unwritten social and cultural rules that sexualize and discriminate against the female body," said Astrid Hellroth and Liv Ambjörnsson.



So to be equal, Swedish style, we must not discriminate between men and women - we must treat them exactly the same. This means not recognising that the adult female body has a sexual significance different to that of men. It means, in other words, pretending that the female body has no natural sex appeal to men.

The non-discrimination principle leads on to a denial of any form of social differentiation. And so you get the following "resolution" of the bare breasted swimming controversy:

“I’m satisfied with the decision,” Bengt Forsberg, chair of the sports and recreation committee on recreation, told The Local.

“Everyone is required to have a swimsuit when visiting the city’s indoor pools and if it doesn’t cover the upper body, that’s OK too.”

... "We don't define what bathing suits men should wear so it doesn't make much sense to do it for women. And besides, it's not unusual for men to have large breasts that resemble women's breasts," he said.



According to Bengt, everyone is being treated the same by the same rule so everything is OK. Nor, in Bengt's world, are male breasts any different to female breasts. Gender doesn't matter.

In 2007, a young woman named Cordelia wrote about her unisex childhood in Sweden. She noted that at adolescence it was no longer possible to pretend that the sexes were the same, as the behaviour of the boys and girls started to vary dramatically. Then, as a young woman, she rejected the whole unisex indoctrination that had been pushed on her at school and within her family:

It started becoming increasingly clear to me as if man and woman are two pieces of a puzzle that fit together because they are essentially differently shaped ... That their physique and psyche complemented rather than duplicated each other. The idea that they are identical pieces seemed to me as a tremendous misconception and I was terribly irritated at having been fed an incorrect version of things all through my childhood. What I had been told simply wasn’t true. All my recent experiences showed that men and women were different and that men could no less be like women than women could be like men.

Since I wouldn’t want a man who behaves and looks like a woman, it makes sense that a man wouldn’t want a woman who behaves and looks like a man! True?

Why this ridiculous pretense that we are the same, when we very obviously are not? If I had been brought up more as a girl/woman instead of a gender-neutral being, I would have been stronger and more confident as a woman today! As it is, I had to discover the hard way that I was not the same as a man in a multitude of ways ...

I have no idea how the unisex ideal affected the boys around me. They too were brought up in a ‘unisex’ way.

I can tell you this though: In Sweden it is not common for men to help women with bags on public transport. Also, men expect women to regard sex in the same way as they do (i.e. casual unless explicitly stated otherwise ...)

Until quite recently, every time I noticed a difference between me and men I kept thinking; this is wrong ... I ought to be like the men ... I felt like I was letting other women down unless I constantly strived towards the male ‘ideal’ that was set for Swedish women ... But let me tell you, it’s hard work hiding your true nature and pretending to be something you are not!

Discovering that being feminine is not a ‘crime’ (in fact, it can be a positive thing) was a big revelation for me. I don’t actually want to be like a man!

I wish Northern European society would stop denying women the opportunity to be female! What good does it really bring? Who benefits?



So, Björn, here you have one Swedish child who was indoctrinated in ways she came to think false and harmful. But it wasn't by a church school. It was not a religious indoctrination but a political one, carried out by the Swedish state and within a secular culture.

Perhaps we have to accept that parents will always seek to indoctrinate their children and governments will always seek to indoctrinate the citizens. What matters is the quality of the indoctrination. The Swedish product seems to be of a particularly poor quality.

The principles of equality and non-discrimination are not sufficient by themselves. Taken literally and absolutely, they ignore or destroy all forms of social differentiation. They lead ultimately to a bland denial of reality in which, for instance, we are supposed to believe that there is no natural sex appeal invested in women's bodies. Instead of a celebration of gender difference, they lead to an unhappy repression of it.

**

THE VIKING PRINCESS

Also from OZ CONSERVATIVE

Sweden has taken feminism much further than most other countries. Although I've criticised the theory behind this feminism at length, I've done so from a distance. So I was very interested to discover the Viking princess website, written by a Swedish woman now living in London. When the Viking princess criticises Swedish style feminism she does so with first-hand knowledge of its effects on her as a woman.

Amongst the more revealing articles are:

Femininity and womanhood today? In this article the Viking princess notes that she is effectively living the lifestyle of a man. This is what Swedish feminism aims at: it identifies autonomy as the key good in life and the male role as the autonomous one. Therefore, it insists that men and women are similar in nature and that women should pursue the "superior" male role in equal numbers to men.

If the Swedish feminists were right, then the Viking princess should be happy with her autonomous lot. But she's not. She feels as if she's lost something central to her own self, namely her femininity. She writes:

I can do most things that a man can do; I am independent, competent and earn a high salary. All this might make me think: What do I need a man for?

Yet, what do I crave more than anything? To be a real, old-fashioned woman. To have a man who cares for me and to have a home to manage (as opposed to managing stupid IT projects.)



She adds:

I get very little satisfaction from my ‘high-powered’ job. Why is this?

I think it is because what I am doing is against nature!

Everything I wanted to prove to myself and others about my competence or career, I have already proven. And to be honest, I wasn’t that fussed to start with. I just needed the money and happened to like IT.

But now I need to prove that I can be a real woman! I don’t even know where to start! I spent most of my life trying to emulate men and male behaviour!

I am sick of being so independent, of often being cleverer than men who fancy me (which is a turn-off). I am sick of wearing the trousers, metaphorically and in practice.



Furthermore:

Another problem is that the more time I spend emulating male behaviour at work, the less feminine (and more masculine) I become. I have learnt military leadership techniques for goodness sake! I can push my guys as if I was a drill sergeant… And every time I do, it kills of another bit of my female soul.…

All my feminine qualities are undesirable at work. Being caring, giggly, pretty, emotional etc, are all negative things to a greater or lesser extent. In my reviews at work I have had negative feedback involving all of these qualities, believe it or not.



What all this suggests is that for women like the Viking princess independence through careerism is not the most important good in life. What she finds more important is to fulfil deeper aspects of her own given nature; it is most significant to her to reconnect to her feminine soul, something she feels she can't accomplish adequately whilst living a masculine lifestyle.

Growing up a unisex girl. This article describes the experience of growing up in a country in which gender difference was suppressed rather than celebrated. Even at nursery school feminist gender politics was drilled into the young children:

There was constant talk even in nursery school about how traditional split of work between the genders must stop. There certainly was no question of having pretty dolls for girls to play with; we all played with nice but very gender-neutral toys. I suppose there was a slight bias towards the kinds of toys you’d traditionally give to a boy actually.



It's interesting to note here a contradiction in modernist politics. Autonomy, in the sense of being unimpeded in selecting who we are or what we do, is the ruling principle. The Swedish government follows this ideal of autonomy. The end result, though, is a greater state intrusiveness into what people would normally choose to do or be compared to more traditional societies. Autonomy theory doesn't result in people being left alone to make their own way, as most people if left alone would choose things considered illegitimate under the terms of autonomy theory (most people would follow their natural instincts and adopt a pattern of gender behavior; they would also choose to sacrifice some part of their autonomy in order to fulfill other aims, such as marriage and parenthood).

Our Viking princess accepted the unisex ideology until she became old enough to choose to read some classic girl's books:

Gradually I started to notice that the heroines of these books generally put a big emphasis on being girls and on taking pride in that. It was something I had never done. I started having a feeling I was somehow missing out on the experience of being a girl.

When going abroad to Southern Europe, I noticed that little girls there usually wore skirts and frequently even pretty dresses. I and my friends very rarely did. In fact I very rarely wore traditionally girly clothes at all. My parents told me that the Southern Europeans wore such clothes because they were old-fashioned, religious and couldn’t afford much clothes anyway. They made all these things sound very bad, which I as a child of course latched on to.

I also dreamed of wearing pink, or perhaps yellow clothes. But looking at photos, it would appear I was mainly in brown corduroy or navy cotton! ... I remember fantasizing about being asked to be a bridesmaid so I could wear a frilly dress and carry a bouquet of pretty cut flowers!

I was aware though that I was not supposed to want such things.



At puberty it was even more difficult to accept the unisex view:

When I started getting breasts and boys started changing their voices I felt somehow cheated.. There wasn’t supposed to be any difference between boys and girls! But we all started changing to be more and more different. The boys were getting violent, always fighting each other. They seemed to enjoy watching and teasing us girls while we started becoming interested in fashion, make-up and pop music.



Eventually, the Viking princess rejected unisexism in principle:

It started becoming increasingly clear to me as if man and woman are two pieces of a puzzle that fit together because they are essentially differently shaped… That their physique and psyche complemented rather than duplicated each other. The idea that they are identical pieces seemed to me as a tremendous misconception and I was terribly irritated at having been fed an incorrect version of things all through my childhood. What I had been told simply wasn’t true. All my recent experiences showed that men and women were different and that men could no less be like women than women could be like men.

Since I wouldn’t want a man who behaves and looks like a woman, it makes sense that a man wouldn’t want a woman who behaves and looks like a man! True?

Why this ridiculous pretense that we are the same, when we very obviously are not? If I had been brought up more as a girl/woman instead of a gender-neutral being, I would have been stronger and more confident as a woman today! As it is, I had to discover the hard way that I was not the same as a man in a multitude of ways. I spent many years at work, trying to emulate an ‘alpha’ male in my behaviour…

I have no idea how the unisex ideal affected the boys around me. They too were brought up in a ‘unisex’ way.

I can tell you this though: In Sweden it is not common for men to help women with bags on public transport. Also, men expect women to regard sex in the same way as they do (i.e. casual unless expicitly stated otherwise…) They normally do not pay on dates, walk women home or pull out the chair for you etc.. Imagine my surprise when these things happened in England. I felt like a princess!

Until quite recently, every time I noticed a difference between me and men I kept thinking; this is wrong… I ought to be like the men… I felt like I was letting other women down unless I constantly strived towards the male ‘ideal’ that was set for Swedish women. I forced myself to carry heavy things (hurt my back badly when I moved!) to take work extremely seriously (with the result that I got very stressed out) and to never be scared or cry. These were girly, i.e. bad things. But let me tell you, it’s hard work hiding your true nature and pretending to be something you are not! (I still do it all the time, at work .)

Discovering that being feminine is not a ‘crime’ (in fact, it can be a positive thing) was a big revelation for me. I don’t actually want to be like a man!

I wish Northern European society would stop denying women the opportunity to be female! What good does it really bring? Who benefits?



This is nothing less than a feminine rebellion against liberal modernism and the Viking princess carries it through with a certain skill and style.

**

The notion of raising a child without gender was tried before in the United States with disastrous results.
http://www.slate.com/id/2101678

**

http://wittingshire.blogspot.com/2005/06/raising-men.html

WITTINGSHIRE

RAISING MEN by Amanda Witt

When my boys were three and four, they spent a good bit of time patrolling the perimeter of the back yard with stick guns. One day they were making particularly gruesome sound effects and my feminine squeamishness, which I try to keep tamped down while mothering boys, got away from me. "I really don't like you pretending to shoot people," I told them.

"We're not pretending to shoot people," my older son said. "We're shooting pretend people. Dangerous ones."

Oh.

As one who has both boy and girl children, I can tell you they're different from birth. My daughter is something of a tomboy, and still she's nothing like her brothers. She has never hit anyone over the head with a zucchini, for one thing. She has never knocked her father's legs out from under him and laughed when he fell on her with bone-crushing weight. She has never lost a toenail or fingernail, climbed higher in a tree than the cats will go, picked up unidentified insects with her bare hands, or picked them up again after being bitten the first time. She has never captured a big black spider in my good Tupperware and left it for me to find unexpectedly while putting away leftovers.

My boys--sweet and well-behaved as they truly are--do those things regularly.

My job as mother is to keep my mouth shut unless death or dismemberment is imminent. "They're boys," Jonathan says, when I come to him worried about their latest escapade. "That's what boys do."

Now, my boys memorize poetry. They clean up the supper dishes, with a little reminding. They tell their sister that they love her, and they prickle with indignation when other boys talk about girl germs. They're not Neanderthals. They're going to be good men, strong and tender, trustworthy, confident, brave.

They aren't learning this from me (except by my refusal to squelch it). They're learning it from their father, grandfathers, uncles; from the men at church who greet them with outstretched hand and expect them to answer audibly and shake firmly, from the men who lead worship; from the male friends who take them up in cherry-pickers, bulldozers, fire engines, and out in boats, who stop by to show them a new motorcycle, who talk to them with great seriousness about dinosaurs, asteroids, and snakes. Thanks to these men, my boys are going to know how to be men--not bullies, not henpicked eunuchs, but men.

Unfortunately, they have many friends who won't know how to be men, who are already less than confident in their maleness.

Some of these are boys whose mothers watch anxiously the whole time they're playing lest they hurt themselves, who forbid toy guns and swords and urge their sons to play "games everybody wins," which to a boy means a game nobody wins, that has no point.

Some are boys whose fathers are gone and who carry the weight of guilt not their own, who feel somehow complicit in other men's abandonments, other men's unreliability, other men's cruelty.
Some are boys whose energy is treated by teachers and parents as a curse, whose enthusiasm is treated as naivety, whose curiosity is treated as a distraction.

It's almost as if some people don't like little boys.

I do. I like their energy, their toughness. I like their forthrightness, their ruthless logic, their dislike of cant. I like their natural gallantry, their instinctive desire to protect those who are smaller and weaker. And I like that they include me in that group, though I am yet, for another few years, larger and stronger than they.

So I sympathize with Russell Moore, who "is aiming to raise up violent sons." Moore is being deliberately inflammatory, of course, but in a very real sense he means what he says:

I am not seeking to raise sons who are violent in the amoral, pagan sense of contemporary teenagers playing Grand Theft Auto video games or carjacking motorists. I want them to be more violent than that.

I want them to understand that the Christian life is not a Hallmark Channel version of baptized sentimentality. Instead, it is a cosmic battle between an evil dragon and the child of the woman, an ancient warfare that now includes all who belong to the Child of the Promise (Rev 12). I want them to forgive their enemies, not because they are good boys, but because they understand that vengeance against the Serpent comes not from their hand, but from that of the anointed Warrior-King (Rev 19), whose blood-soaked garments don’t often transfer to the imagery of a Precious Moments wall-hanging. And I want them to exercise self-control of their passions, not because it is polite, but because they are called to struggle against the Evil One, even to the point of cutting off their own limbs rather than succumb to devices.

And as Gary of Both Worlds says:

Men are in the image of God. And our need to prove ourselves on some field of combat, to confront danger and, yes, to win a beauty, reflect a side of God which few hymns uplift. Men and boys are often bored in church because many churches have become overloaded with feminine sensibilities and sensations.

So men and boys light out, like Huck down the Mississippi--not irresponsibly, but in search of something. Into the unknown, or the backyard, we go, Aslan at our sides. There be wild things here, and adventures to be had.



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