Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Francis DeBernardo on Pope Francis's Gender Complementarity Ideas: "Sending Harmful Messages to Those in Heterosexual Marriages," Too

As the day goes on, I am just now seeing Francis DeBernardo's very good response to Pope Francis's latest set of statements about gender complementarity, which I mentioned in my previous posting today. As I noted, the pope responded to this past Sunday's gay pride celebration in Rome by harping once again on the theme of gender complementarity: he insisted that every child needs a mother and a father, because the (biological) differences between males and females create a parental "balance" that helps children thrive.

As I noted earlier today, this reduction of parental roles to binary biology overlooks the very many ways in which gender complementarity is used to keep women in their places and to entitle and privilege men in ways that harm everyone in the world. Here's Francis DeBernardo's take on these same points:

In praising heterosexual complementarity as the preferred norm for marriage and child-rearing, he is also sending harmful messages to those in heterosexual marriages where abuse occurs, as well as to single-parent families. 
Francis' remark that gender differences are "an integral part of being human" ignores the fact that decades of scientific and social scientific research has shown that what people consider "natural" gender differences are actually the result of cultural biases and stereotypes. . . . 
Too often, complementarity has been used to keep one partner dominant and one submissive; one rational and one emotional; one the bread-winner and one the homemaker.  Can you guess which roles go with which gender?

As I said previously, the Catholic church really does need today to offer a different kind of language and witness to the world today regarding issues of gender and sexual orientation. The biology-as-destiny language has long since gone stale, and simply does not convince increasing numbers of people — especially in cultures in which women are proving that the "natural" roles assigned to them on the basis of a gender complementarity based in crude biologism are far from the only roles they have the ability to play in the world.

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