Monday, 16 September 2019

Children's Futures Are Being Damaged, And There Is Going To Be A Real Price To Pay In Their Adulthood

Parents, be warned! Young children are currently being damaged in two big but insidious ways. The first real damage is the creation of offence culture, where young people are growing up in a world in which many of them will be overly-entitled and ill-equipped to think and speak freely, explore subjects with open rigour, be too lily-livered to cope with proper scrutiny of beliefs and ideas, and demand special intellectual privileges that their opinions and beliefs simply do not deserve (I've written about this before)

In order to say things of importance you have to take risks, you have to be courageous, you have to risk offending, and you have to make challenges to ensure that there is no false security or complacency in consensual opinion. In other words, to be profoundly right, you have to be prepared to be profoundly wrong, a fool, an outcast, even a disgrace sometimes. You have to be free enough to be able to say what others might also be thinking but haven't yet said.

A society that puts people in gilded cages and encourages them to lock the door from the inside is not only fostering an environment that suppresses speech, it is also fostering an environment that suppresses thought, because we do lots of our best thinking from talking and sharing ideas and hearing feedback. A society that makes people craven about speech makes people craven about ideas, because it keeps a lot of our best stuff locked away in the safe space of our cranium - unexpressed, and therefore unfulfilled.

Seek the truth and you will never be afraid to hear anything, because you can't lose: if something offensive or heterodoxical comes along, it is going to be evaluated through your robust truthseeking lens - and if it adds any value by way of a corrective you will modify your view to an improved state, and if it merely reinforces your view stronger, you will have an even more robust opinion, and a better defense of it. You have to be free to explore ideas and express them, because it’s only by expressing ideas and talking about them that we have a full capacity for learning. You have to be free to offend, and free to speculate in bold ways, and your children will pay a big price for attempts to stultify that.

The second real damage is the damage that is being done to children with their understanding of identity and biology. In the news this week we see that the BBC has told teachers who work with children aged 9-12 that there are “100, if not more” gender identities. We even see cases where people are threatened with prosecution if they declare a view that there are only two sexes or two genders. Already, we read that children are seeking in record numbers to change their gender, because they feel they were born in the wrong body - and this is only going to get worse.

Society, like riding a bike, is about balance - and on this issue there needs to be a better balance struck between being empathetic and supportive when people don't fit in to a simple binary categorisation, and not becoming hysterically reactionary with every fad and obscure belief system, some of which seem powerful enough to confuse children about their core identity, and even in some cases their core biology.

Many of society’s socio-political hot potatoes are more to do with rooted human behaviour than they are the issues themselves. You’ll find most people like to operate from within a safe, simplistic framework that rewards them with an easy model for analysing the world, and causes discomfiture when things happen that do not fit into that worldview. 

This, I think, is what is happening with the gender fluidity debate - something upon which I have rarely commented, until now. Over-simplicity from within a safe, uncritical framework does not leave you well equipped to deal with the world competently, but neither does uncritically accepting the most foolish things in common parlance just because they happen to be in vogue. I'll bet the average person on the street does not know very much about the differences between sex and gender, yet they comment in highly politically charged circles as if they do. It is important not to use sex and gender interchangeably. Sex is determined on the basis of biological apparatus (principally genitalia) and gender is to do with the associative socio-personal phenomena in partnership with sexuality. To that end, men and women are different in both categories.

To recap on the genetic differences that constitute sex; men and women both have 46 chromosomes, and 2 sex chromosomes. Women have 2 X chromosomes, and men have 1 X chromosome and 1 Y chromosome. The Y chromosome in dominant, and causes the formation of male biological apparatus. XX and XY differences also engender the variances in hormones (principally oestrogen and testosterone), and these bring out the physiological and biological differences between males and females.

The gender differences, on the other hand, are to do with perceived masculinity and femininity. If you look at male and female personalities in totality, their similarities far outweigh their differences, but there are plenty of differences too, and these play out in their respective relationships, attitudes, careers and priorities (to name but four). Personality differences are significant, but they are not the same as sex differences - hence sex and gender should not be used interchangeably - and the fact that they so often are is not helping the debate, especially for our children.

There are, of course, people who identify as transsexual who feel they have been born in the wrong body. We had a guy like that in our snooker team in the 1990s - born a male, but felt he was a female, and had sex reassignment surgery. These intersex conditions are complex, especially when you consider emotions and psychology. But because of the desire to be either one sex or the other, most intersex people choose to be identified as either a male or a female.

That should not, however, be used to pander to the whim of every attention-seeker who wants to be referred to with fictitious, biologically fantastical gender pronouns - and you are certainly not helping children by being complacent about an insidious environment that makes these crazes commonplace, and gets kids questioning their own biological identity to follow a trend.

When you have situations like the '100 genders' debacle in schools, where facts, feelings, offence, entitlements and perceived rights are sowing so much confusion into the minds of children, and provoking hostility into the minds of teenagers and young adults, you are going to end up with a toxic combination where people don't know truth from falsehood, and are furtive about how free they are to express their views about either. Because these problems are setting in to lives at such a young age, there is a real danger that the generation that follows this one will be more bewildered and maladapted than they can realistically cope with - and that is going to be a big problem.