Thursday, June 05, 2014

Sex is Not Complicated: Binaries and other road kill on the highway to the new sexual utopia

The level of intellectual absurdity people are willing to engage in to justify their ideological beliefs about sex and gender is really something to behold.

Here is where we have come in the debate over sexuality: While your sanity is automatically called into question if you hold to traditional beliefs about sex (as well as basic reproductive science), you can basically believe anything you want if it comports with a permissivist view of sexuality.


Any evidence for the traditional view of sexuality is immediately suspect, while any assertion, no matter how preposterous, is to be admitted without question into the discussion if it supports the permissivist view.

Reason, evidence, testimony, all are road kill on the highway to the new sexual utopia.

In Slate magazine, Jillian Keenan writes in her article "Sex is complicated," of how she called a few scientists one day who told her that all that stuff that you learned in science class in the 8th grade is wrong.

Science? Wrong? I thought that was what those Evil Conservative Republican Science Deniers do?

Now if you missed science class that day when they discussed "calling a few scientists on your cellphone" as a legitimate research technique, you might want to bone up on it before reading Keenan's article. As it turns out, this kind of methodology is characteristic of her approach to the topic in general.

The proximate cause of her article was a piece by Kevin D. Williamson of National Review magazine in which he argued against the  “delusion ... that transcends the biological facts in question." Keenan's response to Williamson's argument about the biological facts in question was to question the biological facts.

[NOTE TO SELF: Add "biological facts" to the list of things that are road kill on the highway to the new sexual utopia.]

Keenan admits that her biological education is not good, which is why she took to her cell phone to execute the rigorous research program that yielded the conclusions outlined in her article:
My biological education peaked at age 3, when the boy next door and I played doctor and discovered that the differences in our hair length weren’t our only physical differences.
Based on a reading of her article, the trauma of this experience had lasting effects.

But what Keenan figured out by the age of 3 (and what anyone who grew up in even remote proximity to, say, household pets also figured out) has now been called into question in the interests of gender politics.
A new book, Sex Itself: The Search for Male and Female in the Human Genome, even makes the case that we should abandon the term “sex chromosomes” entirely, because it encourages an “empirically wrong” binary understanding of sex.
A "binary understanding of sex"? Since when do scientists give Derridaean readings of scientific questions? [ANSWER: Whenever the topic turns to sexuality]

When Paul Gross and Norman Levitt wrote Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and its Quarrels with Science a few years back, scientists―even politically liberal ones (like Gross and Levitt themselves) cheered them on. There was legitimate science, which was good, and politicized science, which was bad.

That, by the way, is still a good binary (as opposed to a bad binary, a distinction which is also a good binary).

In those days postmodernist claptrap was universally reviled by the people who discussed scientific questions, even those having to do with sex. Now, however, when it comes to the birds and the bees (one wonders if that is still an acceptable binary), Higher Superstition rules.

[ADDITIONAL NOTE TO SELF: Add "revulsion against postmodernist claptrap" to list of things that are road kill on the highway to the new sexual utopia.]

In fact, Keegan's article is just one of many examples one could cull from the ideological bestiary of modern gender politics that demonstrates how the once lofty ideals of science have been co-opted by postmodernist ideologues with the seemingly sheepish cooperation of the same people who once professed an opposition to politicized science.

In fact, come to think of it, they still express an opposition to politicized science, but only when that so-called "politicized science" is in express support of the science we all believed in before politicized science changed it.

[ONE MORE NOTE TO SELF: Add "opposition to politicized science" to list of things that are road kill on the highway to the new sexual utopia.]

Here is Keenan herself, offering a textbook example of politicized science:
Even those of us who distinguish between sex and gender, who understand that gender is a cultural construct, too often reduce sex to a binary. But when we dig into the science of sex, it turns out that the fundamental categorizations we take for granted—male and female—are not fundamental at all. The assumption that there are only two sexes is wrong. Sex, like gender, is a construct—and it varies.
The constructivist idea that human characteristics like sex did not originate (nor is it confirmed) by science. It originated in the faux sciences like sociology and psychology and education theory―in other words, among the same people who think that science itself is a social construct.

In fact, just watch those who have forsaken their lab protocols for political slogans who say that sex is a social construct scatter like roaches when you suggest that they apply the same interpretation to their own discipline. They're fine to give a constructivist reading to sex and gender, but try to apply it to their own field of study and they'll all faint dead away.

This is what the philosophers call a "performative self-contradiction": When you want to apply a certain criterion to everyone else but yourself.

One of the "binaries" that sexual revolutionaries like Keenan no longer apparently accept is that between "A" and "not-A," otherwise known as the Law of Non-Contradiction. Although central to logic, it poses an insurmountable problem for gender politics.

While saying on Tuesday that homosexuality is inborn (in other words, not culturally constructed), they will say on Wednesday that gender is culturally constructed―the only apparent difference being that on Tuesday it is politically convenient to hold the thesis and on Wednesday politically convenient to hold the antithesis.

Let's just call it the postmodern sexual dialectic: The ability to hold two mutually exclusive beliefs about the same thing at the same time without batting an eyelash.

One more binary bites the dust.

And who are the scientists Keenan quotes as she slouches toward Gomorrah? Well, apparently Keenan's cellphone can only reach scientists who happen to agree with her. There's JoAnne Keatley, the director of the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health. Now there's an open mind just waiting to ... well, just waiting to stay open to any opinion as long as it doesn't conflict with progressivist ideology.

And then there is Melissa A. Wilson Sayres, a "geneticist who studies sex chromosome evolution" who thinks she has proved that male and female are sexual constructs because "The Sambia people of Papua New Guinea, who have high rates of hermaphroditic conditions, have three different words to describe three distinct sexes."

The "Sambia people of Papua, New Guinae"? Really? This is our new model for progressive views on sexuality? Get out!

My first thought here was to point out that if we are now taking cultural tips from this particular tribe in Papua New Guinea, why not take dietary tips from them as well―the only trouble being that one of their favorite food groups might very well be homo sapiens.

Well, then, in preparation for writing the previous paragraph, I clicked over to my Google Chrome to do a search on the "Sambia people of Papua, New Guinea." I thought, "Wouldn't it be funny if the same people Sayres was extolling for their progressive views on sex were actually cannibals."

As it turns out, not only were the Sambia cannibalistic, but, I swear, the first hit I got on a Google search was this article: "The Social Construction of Gender: Female Cannibalism in Papua, New Guinea," by Ilka Thiessen, in which Thiessen asserts, "In Papua, New Guinea, gender identity has been described as the strict segregation and oppression of women."

Didn't catch that part in Keenan's article? Just read it again and you find that ... well, it isn't there.

And then there was this:
However the imagery of cannibalism can give us new insights into a gender identity in which gendered substances are exchanged. Culture creates boundaries that imply division, though sameness is experienced. This social experience is projected onto the body. In the act of cannibalism, substance and power are exchanged, and women and men cooperate for the common goal of transcendence. The difference between the sexes, then, cannot be understood within the framework of hierarchy ... Gender identity reflects an ideology, not a bodily function.
Now this may give a whole new meaning to the slang expression, "man eater," but does this mean what I think it does? If so, I'm now even more worried than I was before I wrote this post about what might be next on the progressivist menu.

[FINAL NOTE TO SELF: Add cannibalism to the list of things that are not road kill on the highway to the new sexual utopia.]

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