Gender-free Toy Stores and Schools

Earlier this year when I read that London’s most popular toy store, Hamleys, was undergoing a complete overhaul. In a monumental move that was full of symbolic significant, the shop did away with separate girls and boys sections. From then on, there would be no such thing as separate categories for “girls toys” and “boys toys.” In a Breakpoint column from earlier this year, Chuck Colson had some insightful comments to make about the larger issue at stake:

the issue of “expunging gender from playthings” is part of a larger political project. This project sees the blurring, if not eradication, of gender differences as the key to female equality.

Earlier generations of feminists sought to eradicate formal, legal barriers to female equality. Their goal was a world where if a woman wanted to be, for example, a United States senator or a Fortune 500 CEO, she was free to pursue her dreams.

While some obstacles still remain, that world has largely come to pass. Yet, in some areas like politics and business, the feminists are still not happy.

Why? They believe that women aren’t pursuing these opportunities because they still buy into traditional ideas about gender differences.

The push to achieve gender neutrality is now so pervasive in Sweden that in the nation’s capital, Stockholm, there is actually a “gender neutral” school. The school exists on the philosophy that girls and boys need to be liberated from social norms. Teachers at the school are taught to carefully avoid masculine and feminine pronouns. When it is not possible to use the child’s name, teachers use the genderless pronoun “hen”, which they had to borrow from the Finnish language.

One teacher at Stockholm’s gender-neutral school, Emelie Andersson, was quoted in a BBC report as saying, “I want to change society. When we are born people have different expectations on us depending if we are a boy or a girl. It limits children. In my world there is no girl’s world and there is no boy’s world.”

The UK government has also given funding to equality activists who have been “demanding that schools have a strategy for challenging gender stereotypes among the under-14s, complete with monitoring and enforcement mechanisms”, according to a Telegraph report. According to reporter Jill Kirby, the proposals involve stamping out “the unfortunate tendency of little girls to play at being nurses when their male counterparts want to be Bob the Builder…”

Chuck Colson on the Politics of Gender

Three decades ago it seemed a sensible thing to do: After a botched operation destroyed a baby’s genitals, his parents accepted doctors’ advice to turn little “John” into little “Joan.” The baby was given sex-reassignment surgery and hormone treatments. The parents were reassured that the child would adjust to a new identity as a female.

But it turns out the doctors were dead wrong.

Over the years, the case of little Joan was hailed as proof that babies are born “gender neutral”—that major gender differences are assigned, not by our genes, but by our environment. Recently, however, doctors did a follow-up study—and discovered that the sex reassignment had been a complete failure.

Joan’s tragic story is told by sexologist Milton Diamond and psychiatrist Keith Sigmundson in a recent issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. The doctors report that from the very beginning, Joan rejected her new identity. When dressed in frilly clothes as a toddler, Joan yanked them off. As she grew older, Joan preferred playing with toy trucks and guns. She even tried to go to the bathroom standing up.

By the time she hit adolescence, a confused Joan threatened suicide. It was only then that her father told Joan the shocking truth: She had been born a boy.

Keep reading

Thought Surveillance

In an article I wrote for this blog back in 2010 and in an article I wrote for my personal blog in 2009, I drew attention to some of the ways that the UK is slipping into the Orwellian-type of totalitarian. I pointed out that the British government has been taking an acute interest, not simply in what their citizens are doing, but in what they are thinking.

I had hoped that by moving to America I was escaping from this type of cognitive totalitarianism. After all, I reasoned to myself, if thoughts are not free, what else is? However, I pointed that America is not far behind. As I wrote in my 2009 article, ‘Thought Control‘:

The de facto criminalization of certain thought has also found expression as a mechanism for short-circuiting debate within the American media. On issues such as intelligent design, global warming, homosexual rights, abstinence education and a host of other questions, American liberals allow for only one correct viewpoint. In a final swipe of McCarthyism, those who dissent from the grinding uniformity demanded by the liberal establishment are treated, not as mistaken, but as bad. Thus, journalists who dissent from climate change hysteria, for example, do not require refutation but stand in need of therapy, since any alternative interpretation to global warming automatically puts one on the same level as delusional flat-earthers.

Fast forward to the present and I am here to inform you that the United States has officially caught up with Britain in policing ideas.

At least, that is what many critics fear may be the result of the decisions reached during the three days of talks that recently occurred between the American State Department and representatives from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The UN resolution promoted by the State Department and the OIC contain provisions which, if taken literally, would make it a criminal offence to criticize Islam. Essentially, if emplemented, the UN resolution could make simple statements (thoughts?) such as “Portions of the Koran promote violence” a case of ‘derogatory stereotyping’ and punishable by law.

To read more about this, see Jonathan Turley’s op-ed piece for the Los Angeles Times or my own report at Alfred the Great Society.

Further Reading

Criminalizing the Criticism of Islam

Thought Police

Criminalizing intolerance

Free Speech and Islam

Sex Between Consenting Adults is Expensive

You’ve probably heard it a dozen times: “sex between consenting adults is nobody else’s business.” You may (and should) object to this statement on moral grounds. But recent evidence suggests that you should also object to this statement on economic grounds.

Last year Mr Brandon, author of the book Just Sex: is it Ever Just Sex?, used quantitative cost-analysis to disprove the mantra that “sex between consenting adults is no one else’s business.”

By using the category of ‘moral hazard’, he showed that British society has created a system that incentivizes promiscuity. Much of his research applies equally to American society.

“‘Moral Hazard’, he explains, “occurs when a contract or financial arrangement creates incentives for the parties involved to behave against the interest of others’ – typically because one party is insulated from risk.”

One of the ways British society does this is through a system in which the financial consequences of promiscuity are not carried by the people directly involved but diffused throughout society collectively.

The British Government has also created a moral hazard when it began to allow the welfare safety net to be exploited in ways which incentivise family breakdown. “At present,” Brandon writes, “the tax and benefits system makes it economically more favourable for some parents to live apart – the so-called couple penalty. Ending this must be a priority.”

Why Free Sex is Never Free

The Jubilee Centre article, titled ‘Free sex: Who pays?: Moral hazard and sexual ethics’, suggests that while “the costs of sexual freedom and relationship breakdown to the taxpayer and wider economy are complex and difficult to calculate… £100 billion annually is probably a reasonable starting point: about twice as much as alcohol abuse, smoking and obesity combined.”

The following are some the areas where the costs of sexual licence are felt the strongest in our economy:

  • Promiscuity often leads to STI’s, which cost the British taxpayer more than £1 billion per year.
  • Promiscuity often leads to HIV. The estimated 83,000 cases of HIV in the UK at the end of 2008 represent a total lifetime cost of £26 billion.
  • Promiscuity leads to teenage pregnancy which cost the NHS £63 million per year, and a further £29 million for infertility and other complications arising from chlamydia alone.
  • Promiscuity often leads to abortions, and 96% of abortions are carried out on the NHS at a cost of £650 each, or £118 million.
  • Promiscuity often contributes to separation from marriage and cohabiting relationships (including promiscuity prior to entering such relationships), which entails huge increases in tax credit payments, lone parent benefits, housing benefits, in addition to the health, crime and educational impact of relationship breakdown. Altogether this totals about £42 billion a year.
  • In contributing to relationship breakdown, promiscuity leads to Absenteeism. The loss of working hours following relationship breakdown costs the economy at least £20 billion a year.
  • In contributing to relationship breakdown, promiscuity can lead to domestic violence which costs the British taxpayer around £3.4 billion a year, and around £21 billion today in ‘human and emotional costs.’
  • The effect of relationship breakdown on children leads to educational underachievement which results in an estimated £40,000 for each child, reducing GDP by £6 billion. Much of this cost can be directly attributable to the promiscuous activity which contributed to the relationship breakdown.

These facts, all of which Brandon meticulously documents, help to undermine the common narrative that sex is a choice made only by the couple most directly involved with only limited consequences beyond the two of them. This narrative has found expression in phrases such as ‘recreational sex’ and ‘casual sex’, which obscure the reality that the entire society picks up the bill for promiscuity.

Some of the material for this post was originally published by Christian Voice, a UK ministry whose website is http://www.christianvoice.org.uk/. The article is published here with permission of Christian Voice.

The Crimes of the Sonata

I ended yesterday’s post by mentioning about the work of musicologist Susan McClary. The Wikipedia article about her musicological contributions explains her discovery that the Sonata form (the most basic form in Western music) is inherently misogynist, sexist, imperialist, to name a few of its crimes.

Not only is the sonata sexist, misogynistic and imperialistic, but “tonality itself – with its process of instilling expectations and subsequently withholding promised fulfillment until climax – is the principal musical means during the period from 1600 to 1900 for arousing and channeling desire.” As such, McClary interprets the sonata as being rooted in constructions of gender and sexual identity. To quote from the Wikipedia article,

The primary, “masculine” key (or first subject group) represents the male self, while the allegedly the secondary, “feminine” key (or second subject group), represents the other, a territory to be explored and conquered, assimilated into the self and stated in the tonic home key.

To the extent the Sonata form reached its peak in the music of Beethoven, he receives the harshest critique from McClary. In the January 1987 issue of Minnesota Composers Forum Newsletter, McClary wrote as follows about the Ninth Symphony:

The point of recapitulation in the first movement of the Ninth is one of the most horrifying moments in music, as the carefully prepared cadence is frustrated, damming up energy which finally explodes in the throttling murderous rage of a rapist incapable of attaining release.

Er…ok.

Further Reading

The Shadow of Marcuse: from Phallogocentrism to Feminine Endings

Reductio Ad Femininum

 

Schools Encourage Cross-dressing and Gender Confusion

One of the things we find here at Salvo is that our Fake Ads, designed to parody aspects of contemporary foolishness, sometimes come incredibly close to depicting the reality. The same thing happened with my feature in Salvo 11, ‘Gender Benders: Is My Sexual Identity an Accident Just Waiting to Happen?‘ and the add (below) which accompanied it.

In the article I quoted various scholars who have argued for a more fluid concept of gender, and then I suggested (in jest, of course) that I worried I might wake up one morning to find I had slipped into a state of womanhood.

I didn’t know it at the time I wrote the article, but the children’s book Bill’s New Frock had already explored the concept of a male waking up to discover he was female. According to an LGBT organization that uses the book in schools, the story is about a boy who “wakes up one day as a girl and is horrified to be sent to school in a frilly pink frock with fiddly shell buttons.” It doesn’t take Bill long for his gender stereotypes to be undermined, not least because boys begin flirting with him (who is now called ‘her’) instead of bullying him. As the day progresses he finds that being a girl isn’t so bad after all.

Bill's New Frock was made into a children's movie in 1998.

It would be nice to say that cross-dressing is limited to fictional school children like Bill. However, in a Stonewall teacher training DVD, teachers have shared their experiences encouraging boys to dress up as girls. A class teacher for St. Matthew’s Primary School in Cambridgeshire boasted that “I had a group of boys last year and every day they came into school they wanted to wear the dressing up dresses. And they really loved wearing dressing up dresses and it went on for several weeks, and within the culture of the classroom I wanted to say that that was ok.” The teacher went on to explain how she reprimanded other boys who criticized the cross-dressers. Tony Davies, the head teacher of the same school, explained how the school had a cheer-leading club in which boys dressed themselves in pom-poms and put in “I think that is absolutely wonderful.”