Jake DiMare argues that for true gender equality, we need more progressive, liberal folks to create more children and raise them up with love, civility and the ability to think critically about their surroundings.
This piece is part of a special series on the End of Gender. This series includes bloggers from Role/Reboot, Good Men Project, The Huffington Post, Salon, HyperVocal, Ms. Magazine, YourTango, Psycholog
It seems to many as if gender is a binary matter. People are either male or female and should behave accordingly. Boys like to hunt, kill, and build things. Girls like to cook, clean, and raise things. If only life were still that simple.
In reality, the topic of gender is incredibly nuanced. Even the meaning of the word is highly debatable. It may appropriately refer to gender roles, gender identity, biological sex and/or all of the above.
What’s even more complex are the societal issues surrounding the topic of gender. Topics such as reproductive rights, the ways women are often treated in corporate America, and issues surrounding marital rights for the LGBTQ community are some of the most derisive and thought provoking philosophical and political debates of our time.
I’ll be honest. In a lot of ways I am not very mature. When confronted with the idea of the ‘end of gender’ the first thought my primitive, fear-driven mind races toward is my own sex life—or potential lack thereof. I am in love with a woman who is quite feminine. Luckily for me, she prefers me to look and behave decidedly masculine. What would happen to us if these traits were no longer acceptable in society? Would we ever have been attracted to one another in the first place? Would any run-of the mill heterosexual?
Most people will agree that the idea of changing societal norms associated with gender identity is an issue much higher on the agenda of progressives than conservatives. After all, conservatives tend to like things to stay the same, while progressives believe things should change. However, few might agree that completely eliminating gender norms, in the context of families, is actually dangerous for progressive people.
That’s right, I said it. In the context of families, eliminating gender is actually bad for progressives as a demographic and political whole. This statement is based on the following assumptions:
- Gender roles are good because they promote sexual attraction between men and women.
- Sexual attraction between men and women is good because it promotes making babies.
- Making babies is good, nay, imperative for progressives. (queue up Al Green)
Before all the feminist and/or LGBTQ voices tear into me, I’d like to add some other beliefs I hold dearly. I do not believe lifestyle alternatives to traditional family values are bad. I don’t even necessarily know if my ideas about families are better than those of anyone else. I do think, on the basis of millions of years of evidence, they work well.
Also, this is not an article about lifestyle choice as much as it is one about demographics and the long-term, strategic importance of raising families amongst people with like-minded ideals. If you happen to be a progressive member of the LGBTQ community and are raising children or planning on doing so, I support and applaud you.
At this point many progressives may be wondering: What’s so good about making babies and why is it so important to progressives?
I am old enough to clearly remember back in 1992 when then Vice President Dan Quayle criticized the popular, fictional television character Murphy Brown for making the decision to have a child out of wedlock. This was during the early days of the 24-hour news cycle and his comments opened a floodgate of gender and family related criticism and debate. Quayle said:
It doesn’t help matters when primetime TV has Murphy Brown, a character who supposedly epitomizes today’s intelligent, highly paid professional woman, mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice.
I was in high school at the time, and I made the foolish mistake of announcing that I agreed with Mr. Quayle. My mistake was making this declaration in the presence of many classmates who were quite liberal. Amidst the squawking flurry of insults and jeers which followed, I never got to finish my point.
What I was planning to follow up with back then, which I still think is important today, is this: It is irrelevant whether crazy, ignorant, hate-filled conservatives actually care about individual families. Espousing family values in this context is a political strategy to increase the conservative voting base and, quite literally, beat liberals the old-fashioned way. Consider the following data:
The first set of charts shows the bottom 20 and top 20 states for live births per 1,000 estimated population in each area. Colors indicate voting results in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election.
Notice anything? This next set of charts are the top 20 and bottom 20 states for the percentage of people with a college degree. Again, the color overlay indicates voting record in the 2004 Presidential election.
If you are anything like me and don’t like to consider a lot of numbers while reading I will sum up what this data means in a sentence: Poorly educated people make lots of babies and vote for less progressive presidents. I discussed this article with my fiancé while writing it, and she aptly pointed out these numbers can easily be explained in a very simple, pragmatic way. Smart people are too busy pursuing education and careers to be making babies. This conclusion seems very logical to me.
As Phillip Longman, senior fellow at the New America Foundation, said:
When secular-minded Americans decide to have few, or no, children, they unwittingly give a strong evolutionary advantage to the other side of the culture divide.
So what’s a thoughtful, intelligent person to do? Well, if you envision a future where education and healthcare are more important than bombs and corporate profits, you might consider it a worthy undertaking to raise a few children. Perhaps, in the long run, making babies is as important if not more important than a career?
If you think you agree, here’s where the conversation comes back to gender. Truthfully, like most evolved men I know, I have no problem with men staying at home and doing the baby raising. In fact, one of my closest buddies is a stay-at-home dad. His kid is happy, healthy, and well-behaved. My friend’s a happy guy, and frankly, he gets much more time on the Xbox than I do.
But regardless of who does the raising, more progressive men and women are going to have to be willing to make babies. Which means women need to carry them. And, if I may be so bold, it would help to start making them younger. Waiting until forty may be great for the career and fitting into skinny jeans, but the risks to both mother and child increase, while the possibility of multiple children decreases when women wait until later in life.
So, get out there and make some babies. Raise them up with love, civility and the ability to think critically about their surroundings. Teach them your values, whatever they may be. As is always the case, the longest journey starts with the first step. Fortunately the first step on this adventure is an easy one to take. Light some candles, poor some wine and drop the needle on that Al Green track. Let’s get it on.