Research into whether gender roles and preferences are innate has been ongoing since at least 2002. New Scientist reported in April 2008 that young male monkeys living in a wild environment preferred toys such as trucks and wheels while females of the same age – three to four months – preferred dolls. These studies were led by Kim Wallen of Emory University. Gerianne Alexander of Texas A&M found similar results with captive rhesus monkeys in 2012. Chimpanzees living wild in Uganda showed similar behavior patterns in a 14-year study led by Rick Wrangham of Harvard University and reported in National Geographic in 2010. The same result occurred in studies of macaques reported in 2014 by the BBC.
There is no such thing as a scientific consensus on any issue – for example, climate change and its causation, or the origin of gender identity – in terms of unified opinion. The relative impact of nature versus nurture in gender identity is debated, though studies cited above occurred in youngsters far too young to have been socialized into their preferences. Yet these studies present unitary findings. In short, there is a scientific consensus – in experimental results – on the innate presence of gender identity, inasmuch as there are no contradictory studies.
Contrast this phenomenon with the growing-toward-consensus among educational professionals in Australia and America – as two examples – that gender-biased reading materials damage boys and girls and must be removed from primary school classrooms. The number of people taking this position is growing without a shred of evidence to back it. It derives its authority from the “Ph.D.” following the names of those who agree. I know no better example of the distinction between the discipline of science and the religion of scientism.
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Science is characterized by repeatable experimentation on testable hypotheses, evidence demanding a verdict, yet declining conclusion until evidence can be stockpiled. Scientism depends on repeatable dogma and on intimidation of those who defy current orthodoxy.
Please understand me: We brought much of the political correctness movement on ourselves. All the snide comments down the decades about women drivers, denying women the right to vote and even to inherit, expecting them to work only in professions that did not threaten men – when they were allowed to work at all – are chickens coming home to roost. Even today women tend to be paid less than men for the same work, and this assessment fails to acknowledge the demeaning and deadly discrimination against women that is so characteristic of Islamic and other cultures with no Christian background. The Church has been neither outspoken nor forceful in bringing about gender justice. But pseudo-science boasting no more backing than the opinions of self-styled experts is no solution.
How did women from Condoleezza Rice to Susan Rice to Nikki Haley become national security advisers, governors, U.N. ambassadors and heads of major corporations if the very toys they were given in school conspired against them? How did Madame Curie revolutionize medicine way back in the nineteenth century? How did Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton manage to run for president? How did a housewife like Betsy DeVos help found an international corporate giant and then become secretary of education under supposed male chauvinist Donald Trump?
If we would help girls – and for that matter boys – to become all they are created to become, let us exercise the gift God gave us called scientific method. It is not so difficult. We need only make real policy of confronting stereotypes in the classroom instead of eliminating them – and thus eliminating the stimulus to overcome. Cinderella and Snow White were both victims of gender bias waiting for their princes-charming to come for them — yet Cinderella won a kingdom and Snow White whipped seven dwarves into shape. When the full truth is revealed – instead of suppressed for fear of hurting feelings – victims become viceroys of achievement. That is the hypothesis to be tested.
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Experiment. Let authentic science trump weeping sentiment.
The God Who speaks through the Bible claims to work all things together for good in those who love Him and serve Him. That’s everybody. He says all things will be revealed to those who hang with Him. That’s everything. And finally He claims to perfect His strength – His ability to bless and care for – in our weakness. But it all presupposes His first claim – that not we but He is the author of all that is. When we set out to discover rather than re-invent to suit our wounds, we are setting out on a road to freedom and leaving our addictions behind.
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