Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A brilliant and innovative solution for women who want birth control!

Ugh. Matt Walsh has already written this post before. In fact, that was the post I used to start this blog. (By the way, has anyone noticed that most of Matt Walsh's posts relate to topics affecting women? It's like he spends his day thinking about all the ways women are out to get him.)  Despite repetitiveness, and against my better judgment, I will throw in a few comments once again.

Matt Walsh writes: 
Ready for it?
I’ve poured through mounds of research, read pages and pages of court precedent; I’ve reflected on it, meditated, retreated into the mountains to ponder this mystery in peace; I’ve even Googled it, and all of these measures have brought me to one incredible solution for women who want birth control:
Pay for it yourselves.
Or find an employer that chooses to provide it.
Or have sex and don’t use it.
Or don’t have sex.
Basically, take responsibility for your sex life, one way or another.
There you go. I’ve solved this dilemma. You’re welcome.
I only bring this up because the Hobby Lobby challenge to Barack’s Birth Control Mandate has finally reached the supreme court.
If you aren’t familiar, Hobby Lobby – a store known for its picture frames, fake indoor plants, and dangerous religious extremism –  has refused to comply with the president’s decree that all employers must provide whatever kind of “health coverage” he personally feels we all should be using.
The store already subsidizes several forms of birth control this is a distortion, but wishes not to purchase things like morning after pills and IUDs it does not purchase any medical treatments. The government has responded to their concerns by making three basic points:
1) Hobby Lobby is not a religious organization.
2) Emergency contraception is not abortion.
3) Lots of women use contraception.
To which all rational and reasonable adults respond with three counter arguments:
1) That’s irrelevant.
2) That’s irrelevant.
3) Oh, good point. Actually, just kidding, that’s irrelevant.
Unfortunately, it might be necessary to offer a more detailed retort.
Here goes:
1) It doesn’t matter if Hobby Lobby is a religious organization. Nowhere in the First Amendment does it stipulate that only religious organizations are afforded religious protections. All rules of government are located in the First Amendment? Actually, generally yes, only religious organizations are afforded religious protections. This argument is like something out of a 20th century dystopian science fiction novel.
We have the right to live by our convictions, but only if we are officially employed by some group that the government defines as “religious”?  That's a huge illogical jump. Religious freedom, but the government gets to decide what constitutes “religious”?  By that logic, only priests count as “being Catholic,” and only rabbis really get to be Jewish.  If you were going for King of Non Sequiturs, good work. 
What an impossibly ridiculous argument. Besides, where is it written that only “religious people” might prefer to forgo purchasing some forms, or all forms, of birth control? Other kinds of people might have other kinds of objections. In the end, it doesn’t matter. They own the business. They purchase the plans. They make the decision.  They purchase the plans. The plans make the decisions. The employers are not health care professionals and should not be making medical decisions for their employees.
This is exceedingly clear to anyone with their brain fully engaged (i.e. if you disagree with me, you are stupid), but sadly, the sheep will follow the pigs on the Animal Farm, because they’re too dumb or too selfish or too apathetic to realize that this sort of tyranny will eventually come back around and destroy them. Anyone who disagrees with me is REALLY stuuupid.
2) For the purposes of this debate, it doesn’t matter if morning after pills are or are not abortifacients. Hobby Lobby has an objection to them. Their reasons are of no consequence at all. Since when do we have free speech I guess you really do think the First Amendment is the only legal principle that exists, but only if the government agrees with our motivations and conclusions?
3) When debating the merits of the government forcing employers to provide birth control, my favorite pro-argument is the one where the Apologist for Oppression breathlessly insists, “almost all women [insert arbitrary, fabricated percentage] use birth control!”
Even if this is true, the Apologist seems to be making two startling and contradictory assumptions: First, that our liberties are dependent upon the whims of the popular majority. Second, that “almost all women” use contraception, yet there’s still a crisis of women not being able to afford contraception.
Truly, only a modern leftwing progressive can get away with asserting their right to a particular good or service by simultaneously arguing that everybody uses it and nobody uses it.  Methinks ye may be distortin' again.
Stunning. Absolutely stunning.
They’re right, of course — birth control is popular. It’s popular because it helps you have less babies, and we all know that babies are a disease (which is why the morning after pill is called “preventative medication”) and a punishment (according to the president, anyway).
Bacon is almost as popular as birth control, but I still don’t think Muslim employers should be forced to stock the vending machines with bacon Hot Pockets.  And no one is forcing Hobby Lobby to stock their vending machines with birth control. Hobby Lobby is not providing birth control. Now, let's use an analogy that makes sense:  is it okay for Muslim employers to withhold wages they think are being spent, privately, on bacon Hot Pockets? Obviously not! They cannot control their employees' private lives.
But what if the employees really WANT bacon Hot Pockets, you ask? Well, I don’t blame them. Still, this one philosophical and constitutional reality remains (I will write in all caps, just to make sure that the tl:dr skimmers see it):
YOU DON’T HAVE A RIGHT TO A PRODUCT THAT MUST BE PROVIDED TO YOU THROUGH GOVERNMENTAL COERCION OF A THIRD PARTY.  Actually, that is exactly what a right is. It is something that can only be protected through government coercion.  (How can my right to property be protected, for example, if the government cannot coerce a thief - a third party - to return it?) Always has been, always will be.  Without government, there are no rights. Once again, I advice you to check out some of the theory on human rights if you are truly interested in this topic.
At least, that’s how it used to be. Wrong-o.
But something strange has recently occurred. I’m sure you’ve noticed it.
A tectonic shift. A philosophical transformation. An evolution. A devolution. A reconstruction. A collapse.  Nope.
The very point and purpose of our nation has gone from something solid, real, and formidable, to something shallow, fluid, and absurd.
We used to be a country devoted to protecting and ensuring the rights of its citizens.  And also, enslaving Africans, killing Native Americans, and mistreating women. Our rights were those innate human qualities and capacities, endowed by a Creator God, infused into the human spirit, needing only to be expressed, not provided by any manmade authority.
Now we are a country devoted to fabricating and engineering the rights of its citizens. And now our rights are those modern human desires and preferences, developed by cultural trends, promoted by political agitators, needing to be provided by unwilling third parties through governmental coercion and force.  Once again, you may actually want to do a little bit of reading on human rights.
It used to be that your rights were infringed upon if the government punished or threatened you for expressing your sincerest beliefs.
Now, your rights are infringed upon if you want something but someone refuses to buy it for you.
It used to be that the vision of tyranny was a man or woman bound, gagged, and shoved in a cage for speaking his or her mind. 
Now, tyranny is the tragic image of man or woman forced to spend their own money on something because nobody would give it to them for free.
We used to fight and die for free speech.
Now we sit around and whine for free birth control.
Times have changed, in other words. And not for the better.  Nope, times have not changed in that regard.
But I’m extrapolating unnecessarily on something that I rather sufficiently covered in the first few sentences of this post.
Forget the Constitution (most of us already have), forget these high falutin’ philosophical concepts, forget the Supreme Court and Hobby Lobby, this all really boils down to one basic and immutable fact:
Adults must take responsibility for their sex lives. Adults, in fact, must take responsibility for their lives, in general.  But also, adults do not live in a vacuum, and pretty much everything that happens to one person affects others.
If you want birth control, spend the 15 bucks  there may be a brand out there that is that cheap*, but I know for a fact they ain't all that cheap; definitely unaffordable for people without means a month and buy it yourself (hint: that’s about an 1/8 of your monthly cell phone bill, also a fraction of your cable bill, a fraction of what you spend on smoothies and Starbucks coffee, a fraction of your entertainment budget, a fraction of your alcohol expenditures and a fraction of what you spent on your TV, your clothes, your computer, and your iPhone). Or find a job that will provide it.  Fun fact: jobs don't provide birth control... unless maybe you work in the porn industry? Or don’t have sex. Or have sex and don’t use it.

*Correction: I found out that is the insurance negotiated price. If you have ever paid for birth control without insurance, you know it is much more expensive than that. And if your employer is not offering you a plan that covers birth control, then you will be paying the non-insurance price.
Want the government out of your sex life? Stop asking them to subsidize it. Stop asking them to force employers to subsidize it. Stop making your sex habits into a public issue.
The tyranny of the Pigs on the Animal Farm might work in your favor for now, but eventually you’ll wish to claim for yourself those rights which you asked them to steal from others. And by then, it will be too late. God help you.  You are the Wagner of conservative bloggers.
And, seriously, in case I forgot to mention it: pay for your own birth control.
The end.
Next issue?

Update: despite closing this post with “the end,” I feel the urge to offer a few responses to the most frequent(ly off base) responses from Nanny State Proponents.
Response: “Well, what if a Scientologist/Jehovah’s Witness/Whoever doesn’t want to provide health insurance that covers antibiotics, due to their religious beliefs?”
Answer: Then that is their right. See, you can’t back me into a corner with this liberty thing. I’m not afraid to take my convictions to whatever extreme and unlikely conclusion you can conjure.
Now, it’s certainly ludicrous to compare contraceptives and Morning After Pills to antibiotics, but go right ahead. The basis of my argument is NOT my own personal views on birth control. My basis is liberty, the constitution, and personal responsibility. If you choose to work for a Scientologist, you agree to play by the Scientologist’s rules, or else make other arrangements.
Pro tip: review a company’s health coverage package BEFORE YOU TAKE THE JOB. Don’t like it? Doesn’t work for you? GET A DIFFERENT JOB.  When was the last time you tried to find a job? Do you have no concept of how difficult it is? No one can afford to be choosey in this economy. Or resign yourself to obtaining your medication through some other avenue.
Here's the problem with your rebuttal. You are essentially saying that employers should not have to do anything they don't want to do, for whatever reason... all in the name of LIBERTY! I know you think employers should be allowed to pay $2 an hour and not service black people, because those opinions were expressed in previous posts. Given the evolution of our society, with fewer large corporations taking over more and more of our economy, including sectors that are vitally important to our survival (say, health care), when does this not become corporate tyranny? Why should allowing corporations to run our lives be any more pallatable than letting government control us? It seems you are in such a tizzy about the government that you have blinded yourself to the real potential of tyranny. You are saying we should allow corporations to run society to the ground (by exploiting workers, paying them a pittance, exacerbating inequalities, refusing services based on race, gender, sexuality) because, hey, at least the corporations are living the dream! When did corporations become more important than people? I guess, when it was determined that they ARE people.
Simple, isn’t it?
Response: “But lots of women use birth control for medical reasons that extend beyond preventing pregnancy.”
Answer: Yes, some do. There’s absolutely no doubt that the vast majority of birth control users are using it to prevent pregnancy, but some women do, in fact, take them for difference reasons.
On the other side of that equation, it’s also true that many of these medical issues — hormonal imbalances, acne, etc — can be, and often should be, addressed in other ways.  How do you know this? Evidence? But what about the medical maladies that absolutely cannot be treated through ANY other means, aside from birth control? Well, now we’ve whittled the percentage down even further.
It simply isn’t prudent or just or fair to pass across-the-board laws for the sake of such a small minority. And it isn’t honest to pretend that the birth control mandate is primarily meant to address these cases.
In a land of freedom, women who need birth control for non-birth control reasons would inspect their employer’s health plan before taking the job.  Are you for real? No one turns down a job in this economy. And also, why again, should we allow employers to determine the policies of health insurance providers?  Remember, these are not "employer health plans." They are health plans, offered by insurance companies, that the employer helps to pay for. If it doesn’t cover their needs, they’d work some place else. If the need arises while already employed at a place that doesn’t offer a plan to cover it, they’d look into other ways to obtain the medicine, or else they’d look into other places to work. Yeah, see my discussion above about corporations controlling our lives. I’m not saying that’s an easy solution, but I can’t give you an easy solution to the hard cases. Actually, it's a terrible solution. That’s the thing about living in a free country: the government won’t, shouldn’t, and can’t find a quick fix for every problem its citizens might face.  But corporations can?
If given the freedom to do so, employers who object to birth control, but not to non-pregnancy prevention uses of birth control, could easily find another way around the problem. They could, for instance, require a diagnosis. INSURANCE COMPANIES ARE THE ONES WHO DETERMINE WHAT IS REQUIRED. Seriously, to what extent do you want random corporations dictating health care procedures and coverage? Do we really want more corporate control of our health care system?  If you are diagnosed with a condition of which birth control is the only treatment, then it’s covered. If not, it isn’t. Again, none of this is terribly relevant because, as BC Mandate proponents always tell us, the huge majority of women are allegedly already using birth control. This seems to suggest that “access to birth control” isn’t the national crisis they purport it to be.  And this argument is irrelevant because you said it doesn't matter how many women are using birth control.
Besides, getting back to the current event that sparked this post, Hobby Lobby already covers the kinds of birth control that might be used for medical purposes. HOBBY LOBBY COVERS NOTHING. HOBBY LOBBY IS NOT A HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANY. GET THAT THROUGH YOUR HEAD. That seems to be a point that’s been lost in almost all of the reporting on this case.
Response: “But what about Viagra?”
Answer: Uh, what about it? I don’t think the government should force employers to cover those things, either. Of course, there is a fundamental difference between Viagra and birth control. Namely, Viagra is generally used to make a dysfunctional thing functional, whereas birth control is generally used to make a functional thing (fertility) dysfunctional. Birth control pills use hormones the body already produces to mimic pregnancy. You are, in essence, saying that pregnancy itself makes fertility dysfunctional. Think about that. Good Matt Walsh logic at work.
Still, I’m certainly not advocating that the government force any employer to provide Viagra to anyone. As far as I know, there isn’t a Viagra Mandate, so this is a moot point.
The fact that some employers might choose to cover Viagra while not covering some birth control methods is completely irrelevant.  Except for that whole "subsidizing your sex life" argument that your case rests on.... Stop insisting that the government swoop in and make everything “fair” and “even.” The government isn’t a Force of Fairness. It can’t be. It isn’t. It never will be. It shouldn’t be.
Read a history book sometime  oh the irony and then come back and tell me what a great job governments do when they try to make things “fair.”

UPDATE: I won’t stop until this post is a one-stop shop for every reason the Nanny Staters are wrong about the Birth Control Mandate. That said, here’s another common response.
Response: “My employer doesn’t have the right to come in between me and my doctor!”
Answer: Agreed. But no employer is trying to stop its employees from using birth control.  The issue is about employers not wanting you to get birth control THROUGH THEM. NO ONE gets birth control THOUGH their employer, once again the porn industry perhaps excepted. Uninvolved in your sex life? Yes, that’s precisely what they would be. Yeah, define "uninvolved"... They aren’t interfering with your reproductive choices.  Not allowing you to get it through your insurance; making it prohibitively expensive? Yeah, that's interfering with reproductive choices.  You are free to do whatever you want to do. You just aren’t free to force others to subsidize it.
Hobby Lobby isn’t forcing its workers to abstain from MAPs and IUDs. They are merely declining to cover it.  Hobby Lobby is not an insurance company. Hobby Lobby does not cover anything. That’s all. Someone declining to give you something is NOT the same thing as them removing your right to obtain it. If I refuse to buy you lunch, am I taking away your ability to eat?  Hobby Lobby does not provide coverage for any medical treatments because, once again, it IS NOT AN INSURANCE COMPANY. Hobby Lobby provides wages and benefits as compensation for the work performed. Hobby Lobby has no right to withhold compensation based on personal lifestyle choices. Hobby Lobby also cannot withhold from women's wages the money they suspect they will spend on birth control. The employer compensates. The employee does whatever she wants with the compensation. That's how it works. The employer does not have a say in private medical decisions, even if said decisions involve the compensation that the employee received from working for the employer.
Let me revise your "refusing to buy you lunch" example so it makes sense in this context. Say the employer found a way (perhaps through some kind of middle man analogous to an insurance company) of ensuring that none of your earned wages could be spent on food. "Oh sure, you can buy food," the employer assures you. "You will just have to use another source of money to buy it. Or find another job. Or don't eat." Then yes, the employer is interfering with your ability to eat.
By this logic, I guess I am.
In which case — considering that I haven’t bought lunch for a huge majority of the nation — I am hereby responsible when all of you starve to death.
My apologies, ladies and gentlemen. May you all rest in peace.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I guess I’m old fashioned, but I wouldn’t let my son wear a My Little Pony backpack to school

Matt Walsh writes:

I’m going to walk down a path here, and I don’t know if anyone will follow.

I also go into this knowing that my points can often be misconstrued and twisted when the nuances in my positions are deliberately ignored. There's a difference between saying your positions are nuanced, and actually having nuanced positions.

Be that as it may, many of you have emailed to ask that I chime in on this, so here we go.
You may have heard about nine-year-old Grayson Bruce and his now-famous My Little Pony backpack. Here he is, alongside his mother and the notorious piece of apparel:

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As the story goes — at least according to one side of it — young Grayson brought his My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic gear to school, which prompted other boys to bully him. Grayson says that he was “called horrible names,” “punched,” and “pushed.” The school allegedly responded by, in part, telling Grayson to leave his My Little Pony accessories at home, claiming that it was causing an undue distraction.

The way the media and Grayson’s mom tell it, the school has given the bullies a total pass.

I’m not actually sure if this is true — and I suspect it isn’t. If the kid was literally assaulted by groups of boys, I find it hard to believe that none of the offenders have been punished.

I’m not accusing the mom of dishonesty, but I do think she’s demonstrated a capacity for hyperbole, as evidenced by this quote:

“Saying a lunchbox is a trigger for bullying is like saying a short skirt is a trigger for rape.”

She just compared her son to a rape victim. No, she isn't saying the situations themselves are comparable, she is saying the practice of blaming the victim is analogous, Mr. Nuance. Tragically, many young boys in this country have been sexually assaulted, and it’s rather unconscionable to minimize those atrocities by likening them to a child being harassed over My Little Pony. Sighhh

Now, if the world was full of sane and lucid human beings, it probably wouldn’t be necessary for me to offer the following qualifier, but it isn’t so I must:

Clearly, I neither condone nor support any person — man or woman, boy or girl — who would physically assault or verbally abuse any other person merely for their taste in cartoon programs, or for any other reason. These bullies ought to be punished and punished severely. Like the rest of humanity, I am unequivocally against bullying. "Except in a recent post, when I said that acts of violence among young boys was totally healthy and normal."

If Grayson were my son, I certainly wouldn’t tell him that he deserves this treatment — far from it. I’d take him aside, as my dad did with me, and tell him that he must always be prepared to stand up for himself. I’d tell him that nobody ever has the right to abuse him. I’d tell him that he may even need to respond physically, and I’d give him the two caveats that my dad gave me: 1) You may hit back in self-defense. 2) You may hit back in order to defend some other innocent person.  Yes, that always ends well...

Never instigate. Never provoke. But always stand tall with conviction and courage.

That said, I’m very uncomfortable with the reaction to this story. Seemingly everyone’s taken the same stance on this latest viral Outrage Du Jour. They say the school is wrong, the boy should keep wearing the backpack, and we should all celebrate the individuality and self-expression of a male who watches a TV show about unicorns. Not quite, Mr. Nuance. It's about not wanting children to be violently pressured into conforming to rigid gender stereotypes.

Unfortunately, I can’t quite get on board with all of that. And I can give you three reasons why:

1) As long as the bullies are made to suffer serious consequences (I cannot emphasize that enough), I’m not sure I have any problem with the school’s reaction here. The administrators have been accused of “victim blaming,” but that’s just one of the new euphemisms we toss around anytime someone in authority looks to find a pragmatic solution to a difficult problem. Not sure you know what "euphemism" means.

It would appear that we are no longer allowed to assign any responsibility to the victimized party, nor are we permitted to search for an answer that at all, in any fashion, to any extent, involves even the slightest modification of behavior on the victim’s part. Nowadays, if I am mugged and robbed while walking down a dark alley at night in west Baltimore, it would be highly offensive of you to breathe even the mildest notion that perhaps I ought to avoid such strolls in the future. The false dichotomy is presented: either you arrest and charge the muggers, or you urge caution and discernment on my part.

Nope, Mr. Nuance, once again you misunderstand. Let's use rape as an example. You can get raped if you are walking down a dark alley. You can get raped if you go to your professor's office hours. You can get raped by your boyfriend. You can get raped wearing a mini-skirt. You can get raped wearing sweat pants. You can get raped in "safe" environments, looking as unsexy as possible. This is a fact. This is the problem with victim-blaming in the case of rape, which does not apply to your mugging scenario above: there is nothing you can do to prevent rape. You can get raped in just about any situation. The problem with victim-blaming is the underlying assumption that the act of rape is confined to particular dangerous situations in which women have intentionally placed themselves. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The problem with victim-blaming is that it ignores and obscures the root societal causes of rape, thus making it ever more likely to continue at its current rate. The circumstances surrounding rape and mugging are completely different.

The mugging example is also totally inapplicable to the bullying situation we are discussing. The boy did not place himself in a dangerous situation. He was at school. He wore a backpack. Those are totally normal and safe activities. He was not bullied for what he did, but for who he was. He was bullied because he was not properly, stereotypically a "boy."

You are not allowed to do both anymore.
It’s absurd.

It isn’t fair or right that a boy’s enthusiasm for a show called My Little Pony – featuring unicorns named Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie Pie — would lead to bullying, but it does. And yet, we're still supposed to blame the victim? I suppose it shouldn’t cause a distraction, but it does. What, now, must be the priority of the educational system? To protect a boy’s right to wear unicorns on his backpack, or to maintain order and focus in the classroom? It’s not as though a child’s My Little Pony gear represents some heroic stand for a virtuous ideal or important ethical principle. Unless that virtuous ideal or important ethical principle is resistance again harmful gender binaries.

It’s just a child’s cartoon show, designed and marketed towards girls, but also watched by a certain collection of passionate male fans. Is this the hill to die on? Really? As a parent — knowing that the undeniable oddity of a boy wearing a girl’s backpack will lead to a certain level of mockery and chaos among his peers — why would you permit him to continue? Because he wants to? If it's no big deal, then why should we accept bullying on such a basis? Do we want to live in a society where children are constantly at risk of being bullied for trivial, meaningless things? So... say your child is taunted and maybe roughed up a bit because he really likes the show Andy Griffith, and everyone else thinks it's old and nerdy. Do you tell your child to stop watching Andy Griffith? That he is partially to blame for being bullied?  In what way is this not group tyranny? Where is there any space for individual differences?

 I wouldn't call your thinking nuanced, Matt, I would call it inconsistent and incoherent.

Sure, we don’t want to teach our kids to hide “who they are” for fear of abuse from small minded bullies that's exactly what you're saying, but we also don’t want to teach them that “because I like it” is enough of a justification to do something that will cause problems for other people. But what if the "problems" in question are not actual problems. What if the "problem" amounts to kids not liking it when other kids have preferences that differ from theirs? ("You shouldn't eat peanut butter sandwiches anymore, even though you like them, because Bobby doesn't like kids who eat peanut butter sandwiches.")  Shouldn't they learn how to handle some difference, given the society we live in?  The other people in this scenario would be, not the bullies, but the teachers and neutral students who’d rather not be bothered by the whole ordeal. Once again, maybe we could stop bullying, and then the "problems" for other students wouldn't exist.

Speaking of hiding who they are, that’s bring us to…

2) I don’t believe that Grayson’s affinity for My Little Pony has anything to do with “individuality” or “self-expression.” This is a cartoon show produced by a subsidiarity of the multinational conglomerate known as Hasbro. The Pony gear is mass produced kid’s apparel, which his mother likely bought at Toys ‘R Us, Target, Walmart, or some such place. This stuff is packaged, marketed, and sold in bulk. Individuality? Hardly. Call it whatever you want to call it, but “individuality” isn’t involved here. Nope, Mr. Nuance, still missing it. It's about gender expression. And yes, mass-produced commodities are integral to gender expression, because gender stereotypes are to a large extent the creation of the producers of said commodities (all to maximize their profit, of course - because why should parents buy only ONE set of toys for their boy AND their girl?).

As mentioned above, many bloggers and internet commenters have lamented that Grayson is being made to feel ashamed of “who he is.”  Exactly, the issue is gender.


So he is defined by his affection for cartoon unicorns, is he? That backpack speaks to the very substance of his soul, does it? No, Mr. Nuance, the cartoon and the backpack are secondary to the real point: gender. The point is that he is refusing to define himself by all the stereotypes of boyhood.

This is precisely the problem with modern culture (well, one of the many problems). We all walk around following fads and trends — some of which are DESIGNED to elicit glares and guffaws from non-trendy “prudes” — and then we act as if we’ve been attacked on a molecular level when someone expresses distaste for our plastic-wrapped, calculated, corporately constructed “image.” I’m not accusing nine-year-old Grayson of falling into this category, but this does describe many in the Outraged Mass who choose to hoist up a My Little Pony backpack, and march under it like a battle flag.   You're really going off in all directions here. You know the issue is gender. This is all irrelevant; get to gender.

To prove my point, the “Bronies” have turned Grayson into a martyr for their cause.
What are Bronies, you ask? I was unfamiliar myself until recently. Evidently, these are a sub-culture of grown men who love My Little Pony. They gather together on internet forums and discuss the show. They congregate at Brony Conventions.


They are involved in a fad that is one in a long line of similar fads, all bound by one goal: to do bizarre things, then dare anyone to call it a bizarre thing. Nope. Do more research on bronies, and then you will find out the real reason why they like the show.

I, for one, will take the challenge. It is bizarre for grown men to be such passionate lovers of a little girl’s cartoon show about unicorns.

Yes, it is bizarre. But bizarre ain’t unique these days. It isn’t individualistic or bold. It is precisely what it purports to attack: collectivism.

But the boy, Grayson, isn’t yet a Brony. Yes, so we have been in completely irrelevant territory. Get to the point.  He’s just a kid and, for now, the show is just a show. It’s frivolous and unimportant. Better for his mother to steer him away from it before it becomes something more than that. The problem with the Bronies isn’t solely the fact that My Little Pony is girly, it’s that adults shouldn’t be obsessed with children’s cartoon shows. It isn’t healthy. There is no reason that Grayson will become a brony because he liked the show as a child. Bronies are completely irrelevant to this discussion. You have finally admitted that gender is the issue. Let's get to gender.

3) This next part probably won’t come as a surprise, but here it is: I wouldn’t let my son wear a My Little Pony backpack to school. I don’t think anyone should. Here we go.

I wouldn’t let my son wear the backpack, I would discourage him from being a fan of the show, and I would and will guide my son away from “girly” things and towards “boyish” things. Yup. Despite spending most of this post pretending this wasn't the issue (going on about differences that cause problems, and self-expression through commodities, and bronies) we have finally gotten to the heart of it. If my son wanted to wear a skirt, I wouldn’t let him. If he wanted me to buy him a Barbie doll, I wouldn’t buy it. If he wanted his room adorned in My Little Pony paraphernalia, I wouldn’t do it. Both my son and my daughter will not be able to do everything they want to do, nor “express themselves” in every way they wish to express themselves. In fact, my wife and I will have a lot to do with shaping their “selves,” thereby shaping their expression.

The one thing lost (besides sanity, reason, rationality, and coherence) in this modern idea of “genderless” parenting is that boys do need to be taught how to be boys, and girls do need to be taught how to be girls.  This is not true. If you think it is true, then evidence, please. We can’t sit back and say, “hey Junior, a boy is whatever you think a boy should be.” Junior doesn’t know what a boy should be — that’s where you come in.  Nope, actually the corporations (all the ones you mentioned) and the tv shows and the movies and everything else children are exposed to have already come in. They have already taught your child about gender binaries. That’s why you’re the parent. This doesn’t mean that all boys should like to play in the dirt and read books about dinosaurs (although I think both are valuable pursuits), and it doesn’t mean that all girls should like to play dress up and brush their doll’s hair. So then... why, again, do children need to be taught gender stereotypes? If all girls don't have to like playing dress up and brushing dolls hair, why is it so important that we teach them that "real" girls like doing those things?  Can't we just let children explore whatever interests they want? What's the big deal if Amanda likes astronauts and Robbie likes cooking?

Here's something for you to ponder, Matt: gender differences in children's toys and activities has increased markedly over the past century. Imposing gender binaries on children isn't "old-fashioned," it's - gasp! - modern!

But there’s quite a wide gulf between rigidly forcing our children to fit every superfluous stereotype associated with their genders, and acting as though their sex ought to have no bearing on their behavior and habits at all. “Gender” (or “sex,” as science calls it) might not be relevant to everything, but it isn’t irrelevant to everything, either. Time for social science lesson of the day.  "Gender" and "sex" are actually two different terms. They are not equivalent. Sex refers to biological characteristics. Gender refers to cultural meanings attributed to biological difference (e.g. the arbitrary attribution of "liking ponies" to people with female anatomy). Gender is inherently cultural, and hence, arbitrary. I have already discussed this in detail (cross-cultural gender differences, historical gender differences, no biological link between sex and gender, etc. etc.) but you will have to do your research, Matt. I can only repeat this so much.

Shows like My Little Pony, starring unicorns named “Rainbow,” probably aren’t particularly useful to kids of any chromosomal composition. They’d all be better off reading books and playing outside.

But they especially don’t do anything to help a boy become a man. They don’t assist a young boy in his quest to discover true masculinity.  Oh my word. Are you for real?  (Pssst. btw, there's no such thing as "real masculinity" - masculinity is an arbitrary cultural construct.) They don’t provide any answers to him.

It’s quite easy to look at these things from a utilitarian perspective. Why is pink girly? Why can’t a boy play with dolls? Why shouldn’t a boy wear makeup? It’s true that, on the surface, these all appear to be mechanically neutral things. A color is just a color, a doll is just a bit of plastic and fake hair, make up is just a dash of face paint. What’s the difference?

Yet these associations aren’t entirely inventions of toy manufacturers.  Actually, if you take a good look at the history, they pretty much are. Example: pink was  more of a boy's color and blue was more of a girl's color, until department stores decided otherwise.  They aren’t just societal conventions.  Yes, they absolutely are. Once again, look at history. And even if they were just societal conventions, I’ve yet to hear anyone articulate a good reason to dismantle them.  Because we don't want to be pawns of corporations? Because teaching boys to be dominant, and to express their dominance through violence is damaging to their psyches (as well as to the recipients of violence)? Because teaching girls to limit their interests to superficial things is damaging to their souls? Because teaching girls to be weak and passive is damaging to their future? Because forcing children into 2 boxes, when they could be so many different things, is damaging to creativity and the societal division of labor?  As Chesterton said, modern progressives tear down a fence without knowing why the fence was erected in the first place.  They know exactly why the fence was erected. It is you, Matt Walsh, who is not doing the historical research.   And where does that leave us? With more confusion and listlessness, as far as I can tell.

Still, one kid watching My Little Pony can’t lead to the utter destruction of culture and tradition.

I’m not saying that.

I’m not the one making a big deal out of this. Well, actually, you kind of are.

I’m just trying to offer a different perspective, even if it’s the perspective of a dwindling minority.