'Gender' - a new dangerous ideology

Wlodzimierz Redzioch talks to Dale O'Leary, American specialist in gender studies.

The last century was a period of the righteous fight of women against abuses, unjust treatment and humiliating stereotypes. The result of this fight was the rights that guaranteed women equal status. Unfortunately, in the 1970s the feminist movement was much influenced by radical ideologies, promoting a new revolutionary vision of man. These ideologies caused that the fight for equal rights for women often became a pretext for destroying the so-called traditional family and motherhood as well as for promoting sexual dissolution. Therefore, it happens that various offices, which are established by governments and which are to guarantee equal status for women and men, serve to promote radical feminist ideas more than to protect true interests of women and society. One of those dangerous ideologies is the widely promoted 'gender' ideology. I made an interview on that subject with Dale O'Leary, American specialist in gender studies.

Dale O'Leary, American from Rhode Island, author of the book 'The Gender Agenda: Redefining Equality', mother of four and grandmother of twelve, is editing the electronic magazine www.thefactis.org, which deals with problems of social politics in the United States and in the world. The magazine is published by the Culture of Life Foundation and the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute.

Wlodzimierz Redzioch: - What were the first objectives of the feminist movements in the West?

Dale O'Leary: - Generally speaking, one can say that in the second half of the 20th century the Western societies fought to combine equality between woman and man with their obvious biological differences. In the 1960s women protested against the laws and customs, which made them being treated differently than men. Reacting to those protests the governments introduced laws, which guaranteed equality for women. Women were able to use them very quickly - the number of female students at universities, employed women and those having top governmental posts increased.

- Why did the fight for equal rights for women change into the fight against men and family at some moment?

- In the 1970s the radicals, who regarded women as the prototype of the 'afflicted class' and marriage as well as 'obligatory heterosexualism' as tools of oppression, joined the feminist movement. This philosophical movement comes from Friedrich Engels and his analysis of the origin of the family. In 1884 Engels wrote, 'the monogamous family remains true to its historical origin and clearly reveals the antagonism between the man and the woman expressed in the man's exclusive supremacy'. Shulamith Firestone in her book 'The Dialectic of Sex', published in 1970, modifying the idea of the class struggles, calls to sex-class revolution: 'In order to eliminate sex-classes the inferior class (women) must rebel and take control over reproduction... That means that the aim of the feminist revolution is not only to remove men's privileges, which was the aim of the feminist movement, but also to eliminate the difference between sexes: these differences will never have any meaning'.

- This explains why this new feminism did not only act against men but also against motherhood...

- According to Firestone the essence of oppression of women is motherhood and upbringing of children. Those who support this stand think that abortion on demand, contraception, total sexual freedom, women's employment and keeping children in nurseries, which the state subsidizes, are the essential conditions of women's liberation. Nancy Chodorow in 'The Reproduction of Mothering' claims that until women perform educational-upbringing functions children will grow seeing mankind as divided into two different and, according to her, unequal classes. This is the reason why class oppression is being tolerated.

- Does that mean that radical feminists want children to live without family?

- Yes. The new feminism wants to abolish biological family. Alison Jagger in the manual for women shows what is the desired result of the sex-class revolution. 'Abolishing biological family will also eliminate the need of sexual oppression. Male and female homosexualism and extramarital sexual relationships will not be seen as alternative options in the liberal optics... The very 'institution' of sexual relationships, where woman and man play definite roles, will disappear. At last mankind will return to its natural, multiform and pervasive sexuality'.

- How did the term 'gender' originate?

- The problem, which those who promoted revolution against family, had to face was to eliminate sex classes, which are conditioned by biological differences between women and men. The solution of this dilemma was the theses of Dr. John Money, Hopkins University in Baltimore. Till the 1950s the term 'gender' was a grammatical term ad indicated the masculine, feminine or neuter forms. Dr. Money began using it in a new context, introducing 'gender identity' to define whether a given person feels a man or a woman. Money thought that gender identity depended on the way a child was brought up, and sometimes it differed from child's biological sex.

- How did feminists use Dr. Money's theories?

- In her book 'Sexual Politics', 1969, Kate Millet wrote, 'there is no difference between sexes at the moment of birth. Psychosexual personality is something that is learnt after birth'. Thus the idea of gender as a social phenomenon was introduced into the feminist theories. The gender ideology caused that the priority of the feminist movement ceased to be the fight against politics that discriminated women but the priority was to the fight against the ideas that showed the differences between women and men and emphasized the fundamental role of woman in the sphere of education and upbringing.

- Feminists very often used the forum of the United Nations to impose their radical ideas on the world. Was it the case of gender, too?

- Till the 1990s the UN documents emphasized the need to eliminate all forms of women's discrimination, but in the 1990s the problem of gender became the major one. In the UN brochure, which was made by the INSTRAW agency and entitled 'Gender Concepts', the term 'gender' is defined as 'system of roles and relationships between woman and man, which is not biologically determined but depends on the social, political and economic context. As biological sex is given, gender is a product'. A big problem is that sometimes people who use the term 'gender' are not aware of its ideological roots.

- Perhaps we can see that best at some EU world conferences, during which the delegates of many countries signed the documents, in which the term 'gender' was used, not knowing what it exactly meant and not knowing the difference between 'gender' and 'sex'.

- That's right. It is worth mentioning the World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. In its final document 'Platform for Action' we read 'In many countries, the differences between women's and men's achievements and activities are still not recognized as the consequences of socially constructed gender roles rather than immutable biological differences'.

- It is obvious that the difference between the roles of men and women is the consequence of natural biological differences! A man cannot be pregnant, cannot breast-feed...

- It is obvious, but from the perspective of the gender ideology it cannot be accepted that a woman can choose motherhood as her most important calling. The words of Simone de Beauvoir confirm that. When Betty Friedan asked her whether women should have the right to choose staying at home and raising children the writer answered, 'Women should not have such a choice because if such a possibility really existed too many women would use it'.

- These are very meaningful words. Let us come back to Dr. Money's theory. Has it been scientifically confirmed?

- Gender ideology became more and more popular whereas its theoretical motivation disintegrated. Dr. Money's theories have been discredited by researches concerning brain development. The prenatal researches have shown that before birth the brains of a boy and girl do not differ, which influences among other things their different perception of movements, colours and shapes. For example, it causes that there is 'boy's biological preparation' to use male toys and with girls to use female toys. Women, commencing with mother's womb, are being equipped with special sensitivity to other people, which is needed to perform the mother's role.

- And what of it? Some feminists do not want to acknowledge the unique role of woman in society and they ignore the researches, which confirm that!

- This is a big problem. The scientists who examine the earliest stages of child's development and the development of human brain, express their concerns that the researches concerning the meaning of the relationship between mother and child are ignored by those who would like to see woman as only a labour force and see children only in the nursery school.

- The gender ideology is in favour of a new definition of marriage, which would also embrace couples of the same sex. In recent years there have been many publications that suggest that there is no essential difference between children raised by couples of the same sex and those raised by natural parents. Are such theses reliable?

- Those who have analyzed such researches claim that they are no valid. According to Prof. Lynn Wardle, 'Most researches concerning homosexuals' parenthood are based on inadequate documentation from the point of quantity as well as on false methodology and analysis (some of little more than anecdotal quality), and consequently, the empirical base is too poor to be decisive as far as social politics is concerned'. On the other hand, numerous researches confirm that the presence of father and mother increases the physical and mental state of a child. Patrick Fagan, Heritage Foundation, collected much evidence that having mother and father who live together is very important to children. Whereas children who 'are brought up by women or whose parents are divorced incur a greater risk to experience poverty, abuse as well as educational and emotional problems'. The future of the society depends on children and therefore, our duty is to regard the good of children as our priority.

- What is the attitude of the Catholic Church towards gender ideology?

- The Catholic Church cannot be neutral when family, marriage, motherhood, fatherhood, morality in sexual relationships and unborn children are attacked in the name of women's good. The Church strongly condemns unjust treatment of women in family but fight against family itself cannot be the reply to that issue! When society encourages extramarital sex, abortion, and divorce and proposes anti-contraceptive mentality women are the first victims. The continuous sex-class struggle does not lead to authentic woman's liberation. False anthropology, which negates differences between sexes, leaves women in situation we would not like to be found in; or they try to imitate men's behaviour or lose their energy to change men into 'pseudo-women'. Enormous sums of money are lost to struggle with the natural women's desire to be mothers. It is obvious that gender ideology leads nowhere.
Solidarity between husband and wife in family, between woman and man w society, is needed in order to act for the common good. A woman, who is aware of the differences between sexes, is free and can co-operate with men without the risk to lose her personal identity. Supporting marriage and family, fatherhood and motherhood does not endanger the rights, dignity and fundamental equality of women. Although it is still necessary to protect women against abuses and injustice, to differentiate between sexes and the stereotypes that humiliate women, and to ensure that women and men have rights to choose untypical jobs.

- What is the Church to say in this important discussion?

- John Paul II repeated many times that solidarity is an alternative to class struggle. Those who are interested in forming a really pro-women society will find directions in Karol Wojtyla's book 'Love and Responsibility'. John Paul II condemned the behaviour that treats a person as an object, which appeals to women who are the first victims of sexual and economic utilitarianism. A fruitful co-operation between women and men must be based on the truth about human person. God created woman and man, two sexes, different but equal, he made the institution of marriage and family and laws regulating morality, and God cannot be unjust. Therefore, women should not be afraid of the culture that emphasizes and respects the differences between women and men.

- Thank you for the conversation.

"Niedziela" 49/2005

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl