Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Theologian at Witherspoon's blog: 'The Problem with Gender Studies'

Matthew Tuininga
Today it is Matthew Tuininga who is an Assistant Professor of Moral Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary. Witherspoon's president is an Opus Dei numerary and here, once again, we have a a theologians whose purpose seems to be to support the theologians responsible for the views of many churches including the Catholic Church. None of these people, including Mr. Tuininga, seem to have the necessary background and training in social science or medical science to opine on the science of sexuality. Therefore, Witherspoon's blog is a pseudo-intellectual enterprise per se.

Conforming science to religious beliefs:

Tuininga is greatly concerned with Michael Kimmel’s gender studies textbook The Gendered Society. Remarkaby, Tuininga accuses Kimmel of conforming to an ideology:
Driven by Ideology, Not Science

Consider Kimmel’s definition of gender. “‘Gender’ refers to the meanings that are attached to [sex] differences within a culture.” This is in contrast to “sex,” which “refers to the biological apparatus, the male and the female—our chromosomal, chemical, anatomical organization.” By definition, for Kimmel, sex is physical and biological, while gender is socially constructed. By definition, then, there can be no necessary connection between gender and sex.
They never mention intersex people but Kimmel is correct. We know — medical abd psychiatric science — that some people have gender that is not consistent with their sex. Nobody ever volunteered to be transgender. The science is represented by research that is peer reviewed (hopefully, double-blind) and published to scholarly journals. Kimmel's observations are consistent with the science. It's not an ideology.
But what if there is such a connection? What if certain human social conventions arise from natural, embodied human tendencies? Kimmel’s scholarly method does not allow for the possibility. He has built his conclusion into the very premises of his argument. He declares that he will prove from the sociological data that gender differences do not arise from nature, but his definitions assume the very conclusion he claims to be proving before he even looks at the evidence. Kimmel’s book, like far too much of gender studies, is driven by ideology rather than by science.
The overwhelming majority of people experience a consistency between sex and gender. That is the connection. But gender is on a continuum and the scientific possibility (indeed scientific fact) is that some people have a disconnect which is at the core of the diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
Of course, this is a criticism that is increasingly being raised about sociology in general. Sociology’s historical roots are in the post-millennial, social gospel theology of the late nineteenth century. Early sociologists sought to ground the social gospel impulse in the hard data of science rather than in the traditional dogmas of religious teaching. But the field has increasingly come under criticism for letting ideology determine its scientific analysis instead of teaching us truths about human society. 
Oh bullshit (sorry, but it is apt). If it (criticism) is increasingly being raised it is because science is increasingly challenging beliefs accept as truth that are based on ancient chronicles. That's not truth. That's religion. We are not in the 19th century and social science has more importance now than then.
Mark Regnerus, sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin, has recalled in a piece here at Public Discourse,
I am not going to quote Tuininga quoting Regnerus. Regnerus accepts as unalterable truth the catechism and teachings of the Catholic Church. When it comes to human sexuality, many of those teachings are demonstrably wrong. Regnerus also sold his soul, allowing a study to be designed by the same people who were funding it (Witherspoon Institute) in order to produce a predetermined result. Regnerus happily obliged.
Gender studies is an important field from which we have much to learn. We could desperately use an influx of sharp and disciplined minds willing to explore the connections among gender, sex (i.e., biology), and society. But as it is, the deconstructionists rule the roost, and that means that their abuses of the sociological method are permitted to proliferate largely unchallenged. To be fair, gender studies remains in a state of infancy. No doubt like other sociological fields, it will mature through a process of controversy and critique. But that has not yet happened, and in the meantime, gender studies is doing major cultural damage.
That is wrong on its face. The prestigious scholarly journals require a challenging peer review (often called the referee process). The honesty is that Tuininga does not like social science that supports things like same-sex marriage, same-sex parenting and transgender equality. Tuininga wants sociologists to employ methodology that will allow the science to conform to religious beliefs. Tuininga doesn't explain what that major cultural damage is.I would bet that it is theoretical, hypothetical or both.
Helping Men and Women Become “More Deeply and Fully Themselves”

In spite of his skewed definitions, Kimmel comes to a number of conclusions that contradict the logic of his own thesis. For instance, he defends the segregation of women and men in the realm of sports based on physical sex differences. He skillfully describes the different ways in which women and men experience and practice sexual relationships, insisting that the differences appear even more starkly when looking at gay and lesbian relationships. He acknowledges the necessity of technologically advanced methods of birth control and abortion for women’s social and sexual equality. And he favors special treatment of women in order to achieve full gender equality in the world of work. These differences are justified, he insists, based on the true sex differences between women and men.
Eureka! Heterosexual sex is starkly different from homosexual sex. Christians do not abortion and insist that it is no necessary to ensure that women achieve equality. Tuininga is probably wed to the biblical belief that men and women are not equal. “Special treatment” sounds an awful lot like “special rights.” It is demagoguery.
I share Kimmel’s desire to see genuine equality between women and men.…

But if gender studies is going to serve as a helpful guide for the next century, it must abandon its invented dualisms of sex and gender, nature and nurture, embodiment and social construction. Gender sociologists need to study the way human beings actually live rather than the way they wish we would live. They need to become less ideological and more scientific.

In other words Tuininga wants sociologists and other social scientists to abandon the overwhelming scientific consensus about sex and gender. Perhaps Mr. Tuininga can offer a competing thesis with supporting research for publication in a prestigious scholarly journal. Perhaps he needs to endure the referee process to gain a better understanding of how something gains scientific consensus. Tuininga wants science to conform to his truth which is based on religious beliefs. That is not likely to happen. That is less likely to happen five years from now. But let him do the research and prove me wrong. I have an MBA—not an applicable advanced degree. It should be easy to discredit my opinions on this issue.

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