Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Worldview Test: Can We Do Without "Male" and "Female?"

Controversies and debates about gender define much of today's cultural landscape. In reality, if you take away all debates about gender, gender roles, and sexuality, our world would be a much quieter place. Nevertheless, the world we know is a world increasingly in revolt against the idea that gender is assigned by our Creator and is thus a fixed category.

A perfect illustration of this confusion is found on the May 12, 2009 op-ed page of The New York Times. There, along with articles by the paper's own columnists, was an article by Jennifer Finney Boylan, a professor of English at Colby College in Maine.

Professor Boylan argues that we should just accept and celebrate "the elusiveness of gender" and see the most difficult questions about gender as "sometimes unanswerable."

As you might expect, there is a story here. Professor Boylan begins her column with reference to the fact that Gov. John Baldacci of Maine recently signed a law making his state the fifth in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. Then Boylan drops the bombshell. Even before Maine's governor signed the law, there were legally-recognized same-sex marriages in Maine (and other states as well). As Boylan explains: "These are marriages in which at least one member of the couple has changed genders since the wedding."
"I am in such a marriage myself," Boylan explains.


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