Bucknell University professor of gender studies Erica Delsandro said this week that binary gendered divisions are social constructs with nothing to do with biology.
“This is not biological by any stretch of the imagination. These are social expectations, social scripts that we all as people who often have to choose between two gender options are socialized into,” Delsandro said on a March 21 student podcast, as reported by Ellie Gardey of The College Fix.
“As soon as you are assigned male or female at birth, immediately what happens after that is you’re placed into a category — the social category — of man or woman,” said Delsandro, who has taught courses titled “From Fairy Tales to Playboy Bunnies” and a #MeToo-based “power and privilege class.”
When a doctor “assigns” a sex to a baby, the sex is “decided in a very inaccurate way that I like to call the stray cat method,” Delsandro declared, adding that scientists “are coming around to see” that “by only marking male and female, we’re really doing a disservice to the variety of sex expression.”
During the podcast Delsandro told her two male student hosts that they have a responsibility to call out “gendered divisions” on or off campus.
If students notice that there are “no women” in the weight room and they’re on the treadmills, or that “women are at the salad bar and men are getting hamburgers,” then someone should step in and say: “This doesn’t seem right,” Delsandro insisted.
Calling out gendered divisions is important because it “pulls back the curtain,” Delsandro said, and lets students see how these divisions “participate in or are products of gendered expectations, patriarchal structures, maybe misogyny, or homophobia.”
“If it isn’t interrupted, it remains invisible,” she added.
Delsandro also suggested that gendered divisions have even more nefarious consequences, like teaching men that they can get away with crimes.
At Bucknell, expectations that a female student will come to class prepared and organized while male students can saunter in and borrow a pen propagate dangerous behavior patterns, she suggested.
“The structures that allow Michael to come to class without a pencil then play out in these other arenas where men get free passes when they break the law and harm individuals,” Delsandro said.
“Sorry to bring it there,” she added.
A number of feminists have begun questioning the wisdom of having gender studies programs on college campuses.
Noted feminist author and scholar Camille Paglia, for example, argued in 2017 that women’s and gender studies departments should be defunded.
“All of a sudden, to create a department with a politicized agenda from the start taught by people without any training in that field?” she asked. “What should be the parameters of the field? What should be the requirements of the field? How about biology? If you are going to be discussing gender, that should be a number one requirement.”
Paglia criticized the notion that biology has no role in shaping gender, noting that it led to absurd conclusions.
“I couldn’t even have a conversation with any of these women,” she said. “They were hysterical about the subject of biology. They knew nothing about hormones. I probably got in fist fights over this. People were so convinced that biology had nothing whatever to do with gender differences.”
Earlier this year, Pope Francis denounced what he called the “evil” of gender theory, calling it “an attack on difference, on God’s creativity, on man and woman.”
Gender theory is “dangerous,” the pope said, because it implicitly wishes “to destroy at the root that creative project that God wanted for each of us — diversity and distinction — by making everything homogeneous and neutral.”