Gender confusion is abounding these days. I keep coming across stories about children whose parents raise them "without" gender, or who give their sons pink, sparkly dresses to twirl around in, or who encourage shedding the "enslaving" stereotypes of boys and girls.
And now there's this:
Isn't it just heartbreaking to see these beautiful, innocent, wide-eyed, confused but listening nine-year-olds? When in the world did we begin to think it's a good time to come into a public school and "celebrate diversity" by telling the students that they can be anything they want? Not that they can be an astronaut or a doctor or an explorer, but that they can be a boy, or a girl, or a boy and a girl, and can create their ideal gender style, just like they can choose their ideal career choice.
Gender matters. We seem to have forgotten that. We seem to think we can determine sex/gender by how we feel. And gender isn't something that's reduced to pink, sparkly dresses or playing with toy trucks. Gender is about masculinity and femininity, about different modes of giving and receiving (and we both do both, but differently), about being created with absolute dignity but not "sameness," about a difference that matters.
Gender is a beautiful reminder that I am not God, that I cannot encompass the whole of reality, that I cannot be everything ... there is always someone different from me, "other" than me. And that difference and "otherness" is good. And it reminds me that I did not create myself, nor did I create the "other." I was created. I am a child. My life has been given.
Gender is a beautiful reminder that I am called to love. In seeing that there is another with whom I have unity (same gift of humanity) and difference (gender), I see that it is possible for me to give to another and to receive from another. I begin to see that love is possible, that it is good and that it is the meaning of life.
Gender is a beautiful reminder that I am called to love fruitfully. When I realize that I did not create myself, that I come from God, and when I realize that I can love another with whom I share a unity and a difference, I can see that my love can be fruitful. It can grow and be more. It doesn't have to collapse in upon itself. It can open me up to new experiences, new wonder, new gratitude as I watch love unfolded as something I am given and not as something I create, dominate or master.
So, why do we think it's a good idea to march into classrooms, and onto national television shows and into newspapers and tell children, tell parents, tell the world that we don't need a reminder that our life is a gift? In fact, we don't want a reminder that life is a gift, thank you very much. We'd prefer to take out the mystery, take out the wonder, take out the gratitude, take out the fact that we did not create ourselves. And this is supposed to lead to happiness and freedom?
It's no wonder that as I watch the fourth graders on the video clip above, I have to reach for the tissue box.