To Be of Not to Be (Gender Equal)?

Gender equality.  Perhaps you’ve heard of it.  Perhaps you think you have a firm idea of what it is, or what it should be, if it ever came into existence.  But here it is 2021 and many people don’t have a clue.  The World Economic Forum is one case in point.  Another is Frances Tilney Burke writing at the site for the Institute for Family Studies.

What spurred her to write is what she seems to consider a sinister amendment to the Military Selective Service Act that replaces the word “male” with the term “all Americans.”  In so doing, it would, if passed and signed into law, for the first time ever, require both men and women to register with the Selective Service System when they turn 18.  Having registered, those same men and women could be conscripted into military service in the event of a war requiring same.  And, having been conscripted, they could then be pressed into combat.  Plainly, the amendment would be a step toward equality of the sexes.

Burke doesn’t like it, despite swearing to be all about the aforementioned term, you know, gender equality.

I know that all of us strive for equality and desire to be “treated the same” when school and job applications roll around.

Aye, there’s the rub.  For Burke, as with so many others (like the WEF) who pretend to want equality of the sexes, the “equality” they really want goes only one way, a mathematical impossibility.  They want women to have the upside of equality without the downside, the benefits without the detriments, the rights without the obligations.  When it comes to college admission and workplace treatment, Burke’s all for equality.  But when equality would mean sacrifice by women, her enthusiasm quickly wanes.  For her, equality tilts more toward a corner office and a hefty salary, and less toward “sleepin’ in the jungle and duckin’ real bullets.”

She offers but a single justification for her anti-equality bias: motherhood.

Whether Americans like it or not, women are still the primary caregivers to young children and elderly or disabled relatives. Women, in general, nurture and raise kids, schedule doctor’s (sic) appointments, pack lunches, and help with homework…

What some people conveniently forget is that some women enjoy raising their children. It’s a privilege to do so. They do not want to be taken away from their family unit by the draft, and they do not want to abdicate the responsibility of mothering to another person, to include the father (in a scenario where the mother is drafted first).

Wow, that’s a truly awesome sense of entitlement you have there, Ms. Burke!  Women like raising their kids and therefore should be allowed by law to do so unrestricted by petty concerns like their country’s need or, you know, that term again.  Women who “enjoy raising their children,” and even those who don’t, should receive an across-the-board exemption.  Period.  “Equality” should be public policy every place but here.

Now, the problems with Burke’s piece are almost too many to count.  It’s shocking that a reputable organization like the IFS would even publish such claptrap.  For one thing, what about the many, many women who don’t have kids?  Even granting Burke’s “logic,” surely they should make themselves available for military service alongside their brothers.

And, as long as what the sexes enjoy doing should constitute an exemption from registration and service, think of all the things men enjoy doing and that benefit their families, communities and countries.  Men like engineering things, building things, inventing things, taking care of the house and the car.  Should those activities exempt them from registration and service.  Burke doesn’t address the issue, but her “logic” dictates that they should.

Do fathers care for children just like mothers do?  Yes, so naturally they too should be exempt from registration and service, right?  After all, Burke’s already told us how enthusiastic she is about gender equality, so clearly her “logic,” as it applies to women, must also apply to men.

Come to think of it, if either sex should, based on their potential to become parents, be exempt from registration, it should be men.  That’s because the male brain is more adaptable in parenting than is the female one.  Bar Ilan University’s Ruth Feldman studied gay fathers and learned that, in the absence of a mother, the brain of the male parent produces neuronal connections between the frontal cortex (where most male parental behavior is governed) and the amygdala (where most female parental behavior is).  That allows male parents to engage in behaviors that are typical of both mothers and fathers.  But mothers’ brains don’t.  Mothers without fathers tend strongly to still act only like mothers. 

We’re a bi-parental species, one of just 5% - 10% of mammals that are.  Human mothers and fathers both care for children and tend to do so differently, but also as complements to each other.  Mothers’ parenting tends to teach the child self-esteem, that the child is loved and worthy of love.  Dads’ is more outward-focused.  It teaches empathy, the need to pay attention to others and understand them.  The two work in tandem to produce what we think of as a whole person.  As such, our kids need the parenting of both sexes, so, since fathers without mothers can pick up the maternal role, if one parent must be absent, it should be the mother.

Therefore, if we take Burke’s approach to heart (and no sensible public policy would), we’d send women off to war and let the dads stay home and care for the kids. 

More sensibly, the armed services routinely assess recruits for their abilities and inabilities, and try to fit each one into a job they’re capable of performing.  They’ve done that for many years with volunteers of each sex.  But Burke’s theory assumes that, in the event of conscription, they’d suddenly become unable to continue doing so.  It’s patent nonsense.

I could go on and on, but it’s clear that Burke has no principled concept of gender equality.  Still, she’s just one person, so why should we care?  Well, it turns out that her notion of gender equality is actually far more widespread than, you know, the other kind, the kind in which the sexes are actually equal.

I’ll get into that next time. 

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