By Jonathon Van Maren
I was in Eastern Europe recently, and one thing that struck me is the extent to which many people do not see Westerners as sinister, but simply as silly. While we engage in “pronoun wars” and our student activists howl about various imagined injustices committed against ever smaller and newer sexual minorities, most people on Planet Earth are simply getting on with life, trying to make enough money to cover their bills, feed their children, and achieve something like stability for their families. The utter seriousness with which Western politicians, academics, and journalists treat the boutique issue of the moment here in the West stands in stark contrast to the eye-rolling scorn that such issues earn outside the West.
One example of this would be the “gender neutral” movement, which has actually taken to protesting the fact that stores generally segregate toys and clothing by gender, so that people shopping for boys or for girls while find the products they need conveniently grouped together. While every culture on earth recognizes that boys and girls are different, this wisdom has been lost to some gender activists here in the West—even though science indicates that their ideology (surprise, surprise!) is incoherent. From the Los Angeles Times:
In steadfast pursuit of gender equality and to promote nonconformity, it’s become popular in some social circles to start early, very early, by raising young children in a gender-neutral way: not revealing the baby’s sex at birth, dressing them and their bedroom in various shades of oatmeal, encouraging them to play with gender-neutral toys. There’s also pressure on corporations to help; parental complaints led Target to stop sex-segregating its toys, for instance.
Offering kids the opportunity to pursue what they’d like, freed from societal expectations, is an undeniably positive thing — whether it has to do with toys, clothing, or their future aspirations. But the scientific reality is that it’s futile to treat children as blank slates with no predetermined characteristics. Biology matters.
Consider that previous sentence for a moment, and the fact that it needed to be written and published—and that it is even considered controversial. The idea that boys and girls are different is, to some, such an ideological heresy that it has the power to trigger an enormous reaction. This is why so many people around the world struggle to take the West seriously. More:
A large and long-standing body of research literature shows that toy preferences, for example, are innate, not socially constructed or shaped by parental feedback. Most girls will gravitate toward socially interesting toys, like dolls, that help social and verbal abilities develop. Most boys will gravitate toward toys that are mechanically interesting, like cars and trucks, fostering visuo-spatial skills.
One recent study, published in Infant and Child Development, showed that these preferences emerge as early as nine months of age — before children are developmentally aware that gender differences exist, at around 18 months…
In the face of scientific data, the gender-neutral movement nevertheless continues to gain momentum. Indeed, its adherents took heart in a study published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which touted the idea that the brains of women and men are identical. If so, that would offer support to the theory that gender is an artificially created, outdated concept.
However, an immense body of neuroimaging research has shown brain differences between the sexes. One meta-analysis of 126 studies found that men have larger total brain volumes than women. Men also show greater white matter connectivity running from the front to the back of the brain, while women have more of these connections running between the two hemispheres.
Additionally, when researchers reanalyzed the same brain data from the “no sex differences” study, they found that it was possible to correctly identify whether a given brain was male or female 73% of the time. But this discovery did not receive much attention from the media, and as a result, the initial study’s misinformation continues to spread.
I hear from many well-meaning parents who raised their children in gender-neutral homes and were surprised to find that they nevertheless gravitated toward stereotypical interests and toys. Little boys who were given pots and pans to play with turned them into makeshift toy cars, complete with self-generated engine sounds. Little girls turned to one another and started playing house.
Moving beyond the fact that the parents who embark on the gender-neutral experiment are actually surprised when it turns out that boys and girls are different, it is interesting to note that in gender ideology, as well as with many other issues (like abortion, for example), science rapidly becomes the enemy of progress. Activist academics and those that follow them have decided that the reality of gender must be done away with for some reason, and thus we suddenly no longer hear about the “science-based policy” that was given such vigorous lip service on other issues that they hold dear—instead, we hear that it is time we “transcend old attitudes” and other such nonsense.
And we wonder why most of the world finds it very difficult to take us seriously.
For anyone interested, my books: The Culture War, Seeing is Believing: Why Our Culture Must Face the Victims of Abortion, and How To Discuss Assisted Suicide, are available for sale here.