Sex, as in the verb and the noun. Specifically, gender
and homosexuality. For this post, I'm not explicitly linking the two, but am discussing them together because my argument is the same. (I echo some of the thoughts that Steve had in the linked post.)
First, "gender essentialism" usually refers to inherent differences between men and women. Some like to snarkly point out that there are inherent differences between men and women, i.e. "boy parts" and "girl parts". Point taken, but it's asinine. The purpose of gender essentialism seems to make claims such as, "Since men are more/less X than women, only men should do Y." Psychological differences and quantitative/qualitative differences (strength, communication skills) are often tauted as the "X" in the previous statement.
On homosexuality, there is a debate concerning inherency. That is, many are concerned with whether or not homosexuality is a learned trait or biologically programmed. It shouldn't be difficult to see the similarity with the gender essentialism I've outlined above.
In case you want to skip the justifications that follow, I'll offer my conclusion now: talk of essentialism is lame. It doesn't (or shouldn't) mean anything.
. Every conversation I've read in the nacle since I started reading the nacle (4 months) starts with the assumption of a man/woman dichotomy. Perhaps I should not be surprised at this, as the bible
, official proclamations
, and Church culture affirm this. But there is good reason to think of gender as a continuum
with "strictly man" and "strictly woman" as the poles, assuming (of course) that we could state what "strictly man/woman" means. When this spectrum is spoke of, it generally refers to biology. The Intersex Society of North America
is a good place for more information.Some also argue
that a straight/gay dichotomy is also wrong, and that sexual orientation is also a continuum.
These issues need to be dealt with, or talk of essentialism is utterly pointless.Second
. Assume that there are essential gender traits that make women better at Y. So what? Does it follow that we should restrict male access to Y? Well, no. It seems that only one broad reasonable arguments can be made in favor of restricted access: society would be more efficient. Okay, but:
(a) Don't we believe in 'freedom' (whatever that means)? Agency? The equal opportunity to make our own choices?
(b) a free society will fluctuate around an equilibrium (efficiency) anyway, so why mandate it (see (a) above)?
So it comes down to this, why I think the discussion is lame: it makes do difference on how we should treat people. My feminism is not dependent on belief in inherent gender differences, but on principles of freedom and equality. My pro-SSM is not dependent on belief in inherent sexual urges, but on principles of equality and freedom.
And, frankly, I'd expect the anti-SSMers to feel the same way. Do you think that they would give up their battle if it was proven (100%) that homosexuality was genetically programmed? I don't. Even though I disagree with their position, I think that's the way it should be.