Defining the Problem
Gender self-concept amongst the adolescents of our culture is in a state of severe confusion, which is leaving a generation unstable and unsure of who they are and what they are supposed to be. Now, more than ever, there seems to be a great level of confusion around the issue of gender self-concept. There is enormous pressure in our culture to eliminate any gender presuppositions and look at oneself as a person rather than a male or female. Societal gender neutralization can be seen in many areas. For example, clothing lines from companies like Abercrombie & Fitch differentiate very little between sexes in their clothing. In the media, males are increasingly feminized and the “traditional” male roles and stereotypes are being replaced by the metro-sexual image. So where is an adolescent supposed to get their gender identity/gender self-concept? It seems that in our culture it has become taboo to even point out gender differences, other than “plumbing.” It seems our society has become very confused regarding its sexuality and gender roles; hence the gender confusion that is prevalent in adolescents today.
One need not look far to find the luminous hand of feminism all around this issue. In her book Masculinity Studies & Feminist Theory: New Directions, Judith Kegan Gardiner states the following, “the unmaking, if you will, of the category of men importantly remakes masculinity as pertinent to if not constitutive of female subjectivity, thereby rendering complex feminism's ability to negotiate the distinctions and interconnections between sex, sexuality, and gender.” (Gardiner, 2002, p. 33) It seems clear that the concept of masculinity is of great concern to the feminist and that the goal is to neutralize and redefine it. At the core of this agenda is a struggle for power. Gardiner attempts to demonstrate that masculinity studies can help feminist theories break free from theoretical impasses and that feminist attention to the institutionalizations of power can ensure masculinity studies against superficial celebrations of the mobility of gender. (Gardiner, 2002, p. 1)
The progress of the feminist movement over the past forty years is daunting, as they have redefined maleness in nearly every section of our society. This influence can be seen throughout our educational system: in churches, entertainment industries, and our political systems, and is literally redefining maleness. Gerald Corey, leading author, lecturer, and professor, in his textbook Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions, 7th Edition, defines ethnic minorities as the following: a group of people who have been singled out differential and unequal treatment and who regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination. Although the term “minority” has traditionally referred to national, racial, linguistic, and religious groups, it now also applies to women, the elderly, gay men, lesbian women, and peoples with disabilities. (Corey, Corey & Callahan, 2007, p. 113) It seems that given this new and broader definition, nearly every group except white middle-aged males are now defined as an ethic minority, which by its own definition creates a problem, another ethnic minority.
One might think that overt angst toward maleness and whiteness is overstated, but think again. “Despite all that has been written over the past twenty years on femininity and feminism, masculinity has stayed pretty well concealed. This has always been its ruse in order to hold on to its power. Masculinity tries to stay invisible by passing itself off as normal and universal.” (Robinson, 2000, p. 194) Masculinity and whiteness retain their power as signifiers and as social practices because they are opaque to analysis, the argument goes; one cannot question, let alone dismantle, what remains hidden from view. This line of argument makes a good deal of sense, for it is clear that white male power has benefited enormously from keeping whiteness and masculinity in the dark. (Robinson, 2000, p. 1)
Humanism is a comprehensive life stance that upholds human reason, ethics, and justice, and rejects supernaturalism, pseudoscience, and superstition. (Wikipedia contributors, 2008) The humanist seeks to eradicate Christian theism because of its antiquated traditional views. The Humanist Manifesto II states: “promises of immortal salvation or fears of eternal damnation are both illusory and harmful. They distract humans from present concerns, from self-actualization, and from rectifying social injustices.” In Humanism’s quest for total equality for humanity, it converges with feminism and thus analogous to an ideal of assimilation in identifying sexual equality with gender blindness, by measuring women and men according to the same standards and treating them the same way. Indeed, for many feminists, androgyny names the ideal of sexual liberation--a society in which gender difference itself would be eliminated. (Johnson, 1994, p. 134)
If the people can be convinced that there was no creation, it necessarily follows that: there is no creator (God), no sacred or inalienable right to Life, Liberty, and Property, no divine purpose for mankind, no life after death, or Judgment Day. It then becomes much easier to promote: situational ethics (no absolute right or wrong), the ends justifies the means, abortion, euthanasia, the right to suicide, homosexuality or any other variety of sexual exploration, Goals 2000, the common good over individual rights, the erroneous notion that the environment and lower animals are more important than human beings, and One World Government under socialism. (McLeod, 2006)
The rich Christian heritage and traditional American values are being eroded away in an attempt to reorient our society towards this humanistic gender-neutral, family-neutral, morally-neutral society. Every age has its defining crisis. Sin is always at the heart of the crisis. But the manifestation of sin expresses itself differently from age to age. The defining crisis of our age is the systematic annihilation of the Biblical family. The family was the first institution created by God and blessed by Christ during His earthly ministry. It is God’s primary vehicle for communicating covenant promises to the next generation. It is the basic agency of dominion on earth. Minimize the father and the family will perish. Minimize the family and you have neutralized the church. (Phillips, 2008) When the moral absolutes that have been perpetuated by the Church and the Christian principles on which this country was founded are final gone, then the neutralized utopia dreamed of by the Humanist and spoken of in Manifesto I and II will have been achieved.
While it seems the perspective of the Christian community should be somewhat different than society regarding gender concepts, unfortunately it rarely is. The unfortunate fact is the old adage, how do you eat an elephant…one small bit at a time, is precisely how feminism and humanism have infiltrated our churches. It is through the slow, steady, and persistent bites that these secular ideologies and captured the unguarded minds of Christians and their faith. It is now time to stand and take back our forfeited ground. If our faith base culture, values, families are to survive, then we must as a Church dust of our apathy and rise to our challengers, rebutting the humanism that has seeped into our Christian ideologies.
Through the denial of a Creator, secular society denies absolutes and their implications, choosing instead to rely on consensus to establish its worldview. Conversely, Christians are supposed to look to the Bible for Gods guidance in their development of worldview. Worldview defines how we react and respond in the world around us, so as Christians we should be compelled to consider what God says regarding the issue of gender self-concept. During the Genesis creation story we see a very clear and concise order that leads me to believe that God is not confused regarding the creation and roles of our male/female purposes.
Gardiner, J. K. (2002). Masculinity studies & feminist theory: New directions. Columbia University Press.
Johnson, P. (1994). Feminism as radical humanism. Colorado: West view Press.
McLeod, G. (2006, August 19). Humanist manifesto. Retrieved 24 November 2008, from http://www.c4cg.org/humanist.htm.
Phillips, D. W. (2008). Vision forum's quest for family renewal [Web Journal]. Vision Forum, Welcome to Vision Forum.com. Retrieved 25 November 2008, from http://www.visionforum.com/about/.
Robinson, S. (2000). Marked men: White masculinity in crisis. Columbia: University Press.