Saturday, June 06, 2015

Bruce Jenner and the Emotive Theory of Gender

If you tried your hardest you could not make up the farcical drama we have seen played out on the national stage over the last two weeks in regard to Bruce Jenner (now calling himself "Caitlyn"), who has convinced a credulous national media that he has been able to change his sex by the simple expedient of a little cosmetic surgery and the donning of a corset for a national magazine.

The whole XY chromosome thing that we were all told in high school science class was the way to determine gender in human beings is now a victim of political fashion. Now, in a move hard to justify as an actual scientific improvement, gender is determined by feelings.

You are a man if you feel you are a man. You are a woman if you feel you are a woman. The actual biology is now incidental. Let's call it the "Emotive Theory" of gender determination, on contrast to the "Biological Theory" of gender. And of course the move to the Emotive Theory doesn't clarify anything; in fact, it makes things a lot more confusing, partly because, unlike the Biological Theory, where there are hard and fast rules, under the Emotional Theory of gender determination, anything goes.

One chapter in the historical chronicles of the early 21st century will be about why, in a time when science is worshiped with more reverence than any god, scientific principles got thrown to the wind when it came to anything having to do with sex.

It wasn't too long ago that Paul Gross and Normal Levitt could write a book like Higher Superstitions: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science, about the political distortions of even basic science. It was greeted with accolades by the hard-nosed scientific community at the time. Today the academic and popular left has become so predominant in academia and the media that Gross and Levitt would be thought old-fashioned, and scientists expected to tow the party line.

In 1996 Alan Sokol took the criticism of postmodernist thought to new and hilarious heights when he wrote a paper filled with deliberate nonsense and submitted to Social Text, a prominent postmodernist academic journal. The editors published it, making themselves a laughing stock among their academic colleagues and attracting the derision even of the public that had never heard of Social Text.

Again, here we are in 2015 living in a time when what Sokal wrote in his paper is no more nonsensical than what you hear on E! television, or the View, or CNN. The heights of nonsense have been scaled and conquered.

Some day history is going have a good laugh at the expense of our generation, which has managed to confuse itself so badly about gender that it has literally rendered itself incapable of making sense of the common, everyday world. And not only that but they are even more confused about the reality they have created for themselves.

Their ideology makes them scratch their head about the world, so they create another one for their own political convenience that ends up making them scratch their heads even harder.

I would say that the Emotive Theory of Gender awaits its Alan Sokal, but in reality I don't think there is anything more nonsensical than what the media feeds us on a daily basis. You could try to make up something more ludicrous than what we are now seeing with the Bruce Jenner story, but you just wouldn't be able to do it.

Not only are the doctrines of the Emotive Theory nonsensical in themselves, but they blatantly contradict themselves.

How many times have we been told that our distinctions between the masculine and feminine are arbitrary and socially constructed. But right on the tails of that lecture, we watch Anderson Cooper's interview last week with Buzz Bissinger, where he solemnly asks,
AC: You've spent hundreds of hours with Bruce Jenner, a lot of time with Kaitlyn, are they different? Do they seem different? You know obviously their appearance obviously ... 
Buzz: Yes they're very different, very different in appearance obviously. 
And they blather on about this, making no sense at all, going so far as to refer to the "soul of Bruce" being replaced by the "soul of Caitlyn."  It's amazing what reconstructive surgery can do nowadays.

For one thing, how can Bruce become a woman if he has already been one from the beginning, which is what he claims? If he is simply bringing his body into alignment with his soul, then why are we all gushing about him "becoming" Caitlyn and the "soul of Bruce" leaving (and by the way, were exactly did it go?), and the "soul of Caitlyn" inhabiting this highly trafficked body?

And for another, are there now really two Jenner selves--one inhabiting the body before the transformation and another entering it and taking over after the transformation? And when did this transformation occur? When he started taking estrogen? When he shaved his legs? When he put on the corset? Is the seat of the soul now the breasts, of which Bruce got a brand new and significantly larger set?

What happened to masculinity and femininity being arbitrary social constructs? If they are arbitrary and don't reflect reality then how can Bruce be said to be different from Caitlyn?

We now live in a society that believes that men and women are not fundamentally different from one another unless they have been first switched through reconstructive surgery.

You just can't make this stuff up.

1 comment:

Old Rebel said...

The heights of nonsense have been scaled and conquered.

Great line. Sadly, it is not true. Just when we think the supreme idiocy has been realized, we see it outdone in the next news cycle.

This week it's celebrity dress-up. Last week it was the noble cause of changing the definition of marriage so homosexuals could play house.

Next week's new frontier of Civil Rights? Aw, who knows?

I'm reminded of this exchange from The Simpsons:

Marge: Homer, this is the dumbest thing you've ever done!
Homer: Marge, you've said that so many times that it's lost its meaning.