Most Americans do not realize that, as large as the issue of same-sex marriage is (and it is very large), there is an even larger issue at stake in the same-sex marriage debate.
That issue is whether gender matters: Do male and female, man and woman, matter?
In the brief span of about 40 years, a war against the male-female distinction has been waged. And it has been largely successful.
This was unforeseen and unforeseeable. Had anyone living in 1975 (or, for that matter, anywhere in the Western world for the previous 2,000 years) been told that Western societies would one day seek to erase the most basic and important innate distinction between human beings — the man-woman distinction; that the best educated would deny that men and women were different in any meaningful way; and that the two sexes would be regarded as completely interchangeable — that person would have thought he or she was talking to a madman.
Yet, that is what has happened at the social equivalent of the speed of light.
It began with modern feminism, a movement that has influenced vast numbers of men and women born after World War II. It was the movement’s goal of women’s equality that led to its denial of innate male-female differences. First, feminists feared than any acknowledgement of male-female differences would lead back to male-female roles. Second, they increasingly tended to equate “equal” with “same.”
Feminism convinced a generation of men and women, especially those attending college and graduate school, that (to cite one well-known example) the only reason boys play with trucks and girls play with dolls and tea sets is due to a sexist upbringing. Without sexist assumptions about boys’ and girls’ alleged differences, boys would just as happily play with dolls and tea sets and girls would just as happily play with trucks.
That this was nonsense didn’t matter. When that is all you hear from your teachers and read in your textbooks, you begin to believe it. It was believed, for example, by a major intellect, Lawrence Summers, former president of Harvard University and Secretary of the Treasury under President Bill Clinton. He told a story about “giving his daughter two trucks as an effort at gender-neutral parenting. The girl soon began referring to one of the trucks as ‘daddy truck’ and the other as ‘baby truck.’ ”
The next societal force working to erase the significance of the sexes was the gay rights movement. The very premise of the movement is that the only thing that matters in sexual relations is that consenting adults engage in it. Whether men and women make love to one another or to members of their own sex makes no difference. Gender doesn’t matter.
And if gender doesn’t matter, then it doesn’t matter with regard to parents: It makes no difference whether children have two mothers, two fathers or a mother and a father. Schools such as New York’s progressive Rodeph Sholom Day School, in 2001, even banned any celebration of Mother’s Day or Father’s Day among its elementary school students.
Catholic Charities, the nation’s oldest ongoing adoption services, were forced out of the adoption business in states like Massachusetts and Illinois — because they placed children for adoption only with a married man and woman. Progressives consider such a sentiment — that, all things being equal, it is better for a child to have a mother and a father — as bigoted and absurd. Since the sexes aren’t different, a mother provides nothing that two fathers can’t provide, and a father provides nothing that two mothers can’t provide.
Young people in America and elsewhere are increasingly experiencing the results of this denial of male-female significance.
• Harvard University appointed its first permanent director of bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender and queer student life. The individual, Vanidy Bailey, has asked that he/she never be referred to as he or she, or as male or female. Harvard has agreed.
• Each year, more and more American high schools elect girls as homecoming kings and boys as homecoming queens. Students have been taught to regard restricting kings to males or queens to females as discrimination.
• When you sign up for the new social networking site, Google Plus, you are asked to identify your gender. Three choices are offered: Male, Female, Other. The same holds true on applications to American universities such as New York University.
• The left-wing French government announced that in the future no government-issued document will be allowed to use the words “mother” or “father.” Only “parent” will be allowed.
• In Rhode Island, at least one school district canceled its father-daughter dance after the ACLU threatened to sue the district for gender discrimination. Only parent-child events, not father-daughter dances or mother-son ballgames, will be allowed.
• More and more schools now feature cross-dressing days for all their students.
• In Sweden, some parents now send their children to at least one school that does not refer to children as either a boy or a girl.
Same-sex marriage is both the culmination of this erasing of male-female significance and its most powerful expression: Society has declared that marrying someone of the same sex is no different from marrying someone of the other sex.
The Torah went out of its way to assert the monumental importance of gender distinctions. When God created the first human beings, the Torah tells us, “Male and female He created them.” Only of humans does the creation story make this statement; gender distinctions don’t matter among animals except with regard to procreation. And the Torah prohibits men from wearing women’s clothing and women from wearing that which represents manhood. But how many Jews really care what the Torah says? Like the American Constitution, the progressive regards it as a deeply flawed text written by deeply flawed sexist, homophobic and racist men.
In negating the man-woman distinction, we are bequeathing to our children a Brave New World. Time will tell whether they will thank us. I don’t think they will.