Saturday, February 14, 2009

V-Day Special: Androgynous Nation

Ahhh. Valentine's day. Love is in the air. The birds are singing, the sun is shining and floristry is experiencing its annual rally on the NYSE. Today is the day to express your love and devotion to your beloved. Today is the day to tell your friends how much you love them. Today is the day, on college campuses, that young couples walk hand in hand, as fellow students greet them with heart-warming slogans such as "if you're headed to the candy shop, don't forget to wrap your lollipop." Ahh, young love.

Huh? Did we miss something here? This juxtaposition of genuine expressions of human love next to crass disrespect for human sexuality gives us pause.

An so today, Valentine’s day, is the perfect day for us to begin to investigate the current state of male-female relations in our culture. We have begun to explore the meaning of friendship and love. Now that we have defined terms, let's get into the meat of the issue.

Why are we writing? Why have we found it necessary to address the issue of male-female relations? The answer is written in our experiences and observations. We have taken to our keyboards because our culture's push for androgyny has stripped men and women of their unique differences. This disrespect and lack of appreciation for the differences between men and women has significant implications for the relations between the sexes and has resulted in the deterioration of the male-female dynamic. But there is hope for an alternative.

Our culture has worked tirelessly to dismantle the unjust structures of gender inequality. Women have championed the cause of full integration and demonstrated their ability to participate fully in the world. Integration between the sexes has righted imbalances in the political and societal spheres. In a testament to woman’s determination, man’s adaptability, and our potential, we have sought to bring about a more just society.

While we praise the achievement of equality of the sexes, we understand equality to be distinct from the agenda of androgyny. Without a doubt, men and women have equal inherent value and ought to be afforded the same opportunities according to their abilities. But, unfortunately, the push for equality has been trumped by the promotion of sameness and androgyny—the belief that there are no significant differences between a man and a woman.

On campus, we are told to "celebrate diversity," yet are ridiculed when we celebrate the diversity between men and women. We are told that gender is a social construct that must be overcome. Rather than recognizing that men and women complement each other with differing strengths and weaknesses, our culture has sought to obliterate sex differences.

This widespread and utter failure to recognize the differences between men and women has led to confused relations between the sexes. Without societal guidelines, young men and women interact with one another with little or no understanding of their unique characteristics as members of opposite sexes. This has an incredible impact on all manners of relating, especially friendships and romantic relationships. What we face today is a crisis in male-female relations.

The simple fact we suggest is this: guys are not girls. Let that sink in. Girls are not guys. Radical idea, we know. The implication of this fact requires that relationships between the sexes must proceed with recognition, respect and celebration of differences. Unfortunately, without this respect for diversity, our culture has become the breeding ground for confusion. It has become the scene of harmful hook-ups and countless ambiguous male-female relationships, which may be regarded as potentially fruitful friendships between young men and women that disintegrate for want of clarity.

We hope the simple truth that “guys are not girls,” which we will begin to explore on this page, will help to mend the growing rent in the fabric of our society.


  1. To those whom it may concern,

    Brevity being the soul of wit, I will keep things short. This entry began with a fair dose of tongue-in-cheek sarcasm, describing the rather lopsided treatment of love that appears to be the norm on Grounds. The author(s) then follows this up with what seems to be little more than a rant about taking sex differences seriously. Though the tie between the modern analysis of love and the reality of sex differences may be obvious to the writer, I am not convinced that it came out in this piece. How does it follow, for example, that if the university distributes condoms on Valentine's Day, then sex differences are not being taken seriously? Moreover, if the university has the best interest of the students in mind in going to the trouble of distributing prophylactics, how can it be condemned of engendering a nefarious tendency towards androgyny? I see very little correlation between the two sets of ideas, and I would like some clarification.

  2. Your point is very well-taken, Vince. We have to stay focused if we're going to arrive at any conclusions with legitimacy. Our immediate concern is not the University's passive support of safe sex; we are concerned with the undefined nature of male-female interactions. Thanks!

  3. Perhaps I can take Vincent's question:
    The tie between the modern analysis of love and the reality of sex differences is that in order to properly analyze love you must define it. In a previous post Maria and Elyse specified that they were looking at Eros between men and women. In order to look at the relations between men and women, their distinction must be established.
    Perhaps a look at the question of whether or not proper Eros can occur between two of the same gender can be the subject of a future post.

  4. Vince,

    Actually, contraception is a key method employed by those who seek to obscure gender differences. The legitimate desire to enable women to pursue careers along with (much less legitimately) carefree sex motivates those who distribute condoms. Most people just want to avoid pregnancy, but for others contraception is much more political. Pregnancy is seen as a lingering sign of an unequal past that must be eradicated if equality is to be achieved. There is something to this concern: pregnancy can inhibit women from pursuing other projects. But this is only necessary in a world where men are absolved of responsibility for child and mother. In a system of 'soft patriarchy' men would take a very large role in tending for mother and child, thus leading to a kind of equality that does not deny woman's fertility and man's responsibility. I'm sorry for the seeming non-sequitur, but my point is that contraception is indeed connected to (necessarily misguided) efforts to erase the differences between the sexes. I'm glad that Maria and Elyse are willing to take the time to state what is--or at least should be--obvious.

  5. Moderate, but expressive and very convincing. You were very well-spoken, no big controversial holes or anything. Your quotes fit perfectly, and your choice of pictures were so cute. I love the website graphics too by the way. Keep up the great work, Elyse and Maria.

  6. Can we *please* be more careful with the terminology we're using here? Gender and Sex are completely separate and it would be best to get on that bandwagon earlier, rather than later in your usage of the terms. (A post on this after a bit of research might be warranted)
    Jose's words, "between two of the same gender," is what pushed me to make this comment. I understand that it is annoying to be meticulous in your use of the word gender, but it will be entirely worth it to sound (and be) more educated about the matter. The word gender is becoming more and more associated with gender-identity, which is an emotional and internal matter, as opposed to physical sex, which is determined at birth the vast majority of the time. Gender is not binary or definitive, while sex generally is.

    I stand as a counterexample to your second to last paragraph, Maria and Elyse, as a physical male, who identifies themself as female in gender (well, female has the plurality at least). Just trying to make your jobs more complicated. :D

    I think the "celebrating diversity" issue can be looked at similar to the issue of acknowledging race (a problem that I have been pondering for a while). While on one hand I want to start being "color blind" in my life; to stop making a separation from "them" and "me" (I have recently embraced the fact that I am a pantheist and to make distinctions out of habit based on my social upbringing is unsettling to say the least). On one hand, I see no difference between a person whose heritage can be traced to Africa and myself, but the other hand holds the problem of denying them of that inherent heritage, which is equally a misdeed.

    I feel the answer lies somewhere along the lines of celebrating without imposing. The problem regarding ambiguous relationships and disrespected men and women everywhere... this seems like a foundational problem that to me is curable only by realizing the inherent loveliness and worthiness in all things.

  7. Mr. Grasmeder,

    First, thank you for your comment. It's good to hear from you!
    You are absolutely right in saying that the foundational problem in ambiguous friendships and the disrespect of men and women is a lack of awareness and appreciation of the true and inherent worth of individuals. All people deserve respect, no exceptions.

    You also bring up an interesting discussion of sex and gender.
    We are glad you have taken the time to share your thoughts with us. Perhaps we will be able to explore this topic further in the future as we discuss traditional sex differences.