Wednesday, 1 February 2017

What's Got Into the "National Geographic"?

     The National Geographic Magazine, to which my family has been subscribing since 1963, frequently contains article which are not, strictly speaking, geographic in nature. For many decades they have provided grants for the study of wild animals, the results of which have been published in the magazine, but at least they can be justified as being set in exotic foreign places. Ditto the forays into archaeology, and history. Nevertheless, it is hard to see the geographic justification of articles on the King James Bible (December 2011), food (December 2014), or beauty (January 2000). This is not to say that I objected to these articles; I found them very interesting. However, in January 2017 they dropped all lip service to their original charter, not to mention common sense, when they jumped onto the latest bandwagon, with an entire issue dedicated to the "gender revolution".
     Now, as I have written previously, I have known individual transsexuals, and I am sympathetic to their plight, to the extent that I consider the current bandwagon will eventually run over and crush them. And that is what is so very wrong with the National Geographic issue. It's not that some of its details are incorrect or misleading; it is the approval it gives to the movement, the way it expresses itself to normalise abnormality. They talk about "assigned gender" as if it is merely some cultural attribute and not a recognition of anatomy. They even used the term, "gender-confirmation surgery."

     Advice to Parents
     There is a page entitled, "Helping Families Talk About Gender", which provides the following advice:
All children need the opportunity to explore different gender roles and styles of play. Ensure your young child's environment reflects diversity in gender roles and opportunities for everyone.
    Whatever for? After all, it is one thing not to get alarmed if your children don't completely conform to society's sex stereotypes, but it is quite another to proactively encourage them to deviate from the norm, even if they don't exhibit any such desire. They will find life be much easier if they manage to slip into the roles society expects them to play.
      National Geographic prides itself on fully validating their statements (there is an apocryphal story of them trying to find out if corn really can grow as high as an elephant's eye), but here they appear to have uncritically adopted the latest politically correct doctrines - in this case from the politicized American Academy of Pediatrics, from whose website it is taken.
     For example, they state:
Research suggests that gender [presumably they mean a person's subjective feelings about his or her sex] is something we are born with; it can't be changed by any interventions.
     Well, yes and no. It is true that gender dysphoria usually starts at a very early age. But what does "born with" mean except that the victim was programmed from the start to turn out that way? Yet on pages 48-49 they show a photo of two brothers, one of whom decided at age 17 to, so to speak, become a woman. But since they were identical twins, it is hard to see how genes, uterine environment or, indeed, anything simple could have caused it. True, I know of no therapy, effective or ineffective, being proposed for adult gender dysphoria (this extraordinary exception was probably a one-off). However, the AAP admits that for some young children identifying as the opposite sex may be temporary, and some do not end up as adult transsexuals. That's putting it mildly; it is well established that 80 to 95% of children with gender dysphoria grow out of it. Under such circumstances, it doesn't seem unreasonable that they could be helped towards normality with a bit of appropriate therapy.
    Similarly, we have the statement, taken straight from the AAP website:
Understand that gender identity and sexual orientation cannot be changed, but that the way people identify their gender identity or sexual orientation may change with time as they discover more about themselves.
     Essentially, these are weasel words to avoid the reader seeing the real meaning ie that they cannot be changed (ie by any external therapy), but they can change spontaneously. It is surely important for parents to know whether there is any possibility or probability that their child will revert to normality in his or her own good time.
     We have already mentioned the high rate of spontaneous reversion for gender dysphoria. For homosexuality, The US ADD-Health Survey found that 72% of males and 55% of females who were homo at age 16 were hetero at age 22. Nor does it stop at adulthood. Studies in many different countries have established that a high proportion of adult homosexuals revert to normal in later life, and there are many accounts of spontaneous changes. (You can a fully referenced list in PDF form here.) The Spring 2016 edition of Scientific American Mind vol. 25(1) was a special edition entitled "The Sexual Brain", which included an article by Robert Epstein. In this we were introduced to Matt Avery (a pseudonym), who "came out" as homosexual, and an effeminate one at that, at age 17, and had several hundred male sexual partners, followed by a four year relationship with a male lover. But at the age of 24, he was shocked when his lover announced that being gay "wasn't a truth" for him. When his lover, now flatmate, dated a woman, Matt decided he might try it too. To cut a long story short, within two or three years he was dating women exclusively, and at the time of writing he had been married to one for eleven years, and even his same-sex sexual fantasies had disappeared.
     As for change induced by therapy, it is incredible that people keep insisting it doesn't work when there are so many ex-gays testifying that they were once wholly or predominantly homo and are now wholly or predominantly hetero. Don't they know their own feelings, or are they all lying for some obscure reason? The only way to prove a therapy doesn't work would be to have a longitudinal study of a large number of conscientious patients and establish a 100% - not 70%, 80%, or 90%, but 100% - failure rate. In fact, a success rate of a third or a half has been established in about 100 different studies.

     The Gender Benders
     The core article in the issue is the one entitled, "Rethinking Gender". "Gender" is never specifically defined, but it appears to mean the person's subjective feelings. The article describes, more or less accurately, the occasional chromosomal, endocrine, or anatomic abnormalities which muddy the waters. However, the main focus is on gender dysphoria, but it is presented not as a mental illness, but essentially as a lifestyle choice. There is little about adult transsexuals, and their problems, but a lot about child transsexuals, without mentioning the very high reversion rate to normality, or of the possible dire consequence of mutilating the body.
     It features 17 years old Charlie Spiegel, a girl who now calls herself "he". Femininity never felt right for her. Then, in her first year of high school, she went to the school library and found I Am J, a novel about a transgender boy, which clarified matters for her. Why was that book in the library?  American school libraries are perverse establishments, which will ban an anti-racist classic like Huckleberry Finn because it uses the word, "nigger", but will plant, like some insidious booby trap, a book whose sole purpose is to validate a mental illness, and lead confused young people down the wrong path.
     There is a photo of six years old Henry, who still appears to call himself a boy, but considers himself "gender creative". Does a six year old really know what such a term means? His parents have enrolled him in the Rainbow Day Camp so that he can find the vocabulary to explain his feelings. In other words, they are reinforcing his aberration!
     To be fair, some child transsexuals are "insistent, persistent, and consistent" at a very early age. I would hate to be in their parents' shoes. However, it must be accepted that giving in to the child's mental illness, even if it is the only option available, is a recognition of defeat, not some sort of victory. And I really think it is a bad idea to violate their children's privacy by publicising their condition, and putting their photographs on the internet, or in glossy magazines. And here, I might add, the Australian edition of National Geographic is different from the American original. The cover on our edition features a group of what I can only call weirdos, illustrating the various aberrations of "gender". But the American cover features the photo found on page 31 of our edition: that of nine year old Avery Jackson, who presents as a pretty little girl, but is really a boy. About this, the ex-transsexual, Walt Heyer has some caustic words:
Even if young Avery is willing to be used in this way, National Geographic's cover photo is exploitation. The health and well-being of this child are being sacrificed to advance a political and cultural crusade. Avery may not realize that his feelings and photos are a revenue source for National Geographic and a strategic tool for the LGBTQ lobby. Yes, the bright lights are squarely on Avery. He is today's poster child - a hero, at least for now. But Avery's male sex is unchangeable, while feelings do change. What will surface eight, ten, or even thirty years from now? Anyone who thinks that affirming his transgenderism can undo Avery's innate male sex has caught the contagion of mass delusion. Avery's mom surely thinks she is helping her son, just as my grandmother thought she was "helping" me. Today, my body bears the scars from all the unnecessary surgeries I endured because as a young boy I was enabled, encouraged, and provided opportunity to act out such a fantasy. It is naïve to believe there are no negative outcomes from using this young boy as a symbol and presenting him as an activist. National Geographic's irresponsible imagery of a cross-dressing boy on the cover will no doubt ratchet up the spread of the contagion that is transgenderism.  Notably, the magazine does not include any interviews with individuals who have had their lives destroyed by the long-term consequences of cross-dressing and gender confusion. Cross-dressing eroded my true gender which in turn ruined my teen years, ripped apart my marriage, and ended my career.
      (According to a new pro-trans documentary, Avery is not terribly enthusiastic about transition. See this video, starting at 6.00, if you can't read the article.)     
     It also reports on various "third genders" accepted in certain societies, without mentioning that they are still expected to adopt an established stereotype, just like the two real genders. In practically all cases, such as the fa'afafine of Samoa specifically explored, they are male homosexuals expected to act like women. As such, it is disturbing to see a photo of two boys already adopting this stereotype at ages 10 and 12 respectively. With some, it appears to run in the family. To me this suggests a form of social contagion; if Uncle Andrew is a fa'afafine, and he's a nice man, why not try it out yourself? But a professor of psychology suggests that, although the gene for homosexuality cannot be passed in the male line, perhaps it improves the reproductive success of female carriers. Or perhaps the fa'afafine provide a service in helping to raise their relatives' children.
     Well, as someone whose degrees were in zoology rather than psychology, I have some serious problems with both hypotheses.
  1. Natural selection will effectively eliminate any gene which produces sterility in one sex, unless it actually doubles the reproductive success of the other sex.
  2. Any investigations of current reproductive success will be based on a low fertility/low infant mortality system - which is the opposite of what it was like just a couple of generations ago.
  3. The heritability of homosexuality is very low. If a homosexual has an identical twin, that twin - same genes, same environment - will be homosexual in only 11% of cases.
  4.  In any case, that's not how genes work. They affect behaviour by tweaking the amount and timing of hormones, the response to hormones, the response to such things as frustration, and so forth. In other words, they just point the individual in the direction he or she may go. Any genetic effect on homosexuality will thus be indirect, weak, and the result of multiple genes.
   If I can spot errors in matters I know about, how trustworthy should I regard the rest of the article?
   It also quoted a survey of a thousand millennials, half of whom agreed that gender is a spectrum. Again, this is the sort of thing which gets my BS-detector ringing. What does that statement really mean? More to the point, how does the questioner know exactly what the respondent thinks it means? If it means anything at all, it demonstrates that a lot of young people are confused - and it is articles like this which are responsible.

     The Rest of the Issue
     Next came an article on the various processes by which societies turn a boy into a man - essentially by toughening him up. In focusing on the harrowing initiation ceremony of a Kenyan tribe, the author muses about his own son.
There's nothing startling or unorthodox to him about female cops or male nurses or about a father who stayed home microwaving stockpiles of breast milk while mom went to an office as the prime provider. Oliver's mom still outearns me and, by the way, has amassed a vastly larger number of Instagam followers.
     ". . . microwaving stockpiles of breast milk..." Really! Surely what is most appalling about this is not that such an inversion of normal family life can exist in an advanced society, but that a journalist can write it so cold-bloodedly, as if it were perfectly natural, and without being ashamed of his own failure. To be sure, he does later admit that perhaps he hadn't guided his son to manhood as well as he could.
     The following article provides a host of photos of fathers looking after children in Sweden. Now, a good case can be made for some sort of paternal leave. The arrival of a new baby can be a hectic time, and it is useful for the father to take off the first couple of weeks with his wife. But Sweden provides 480 days of subsidised leave to be taken alternately ie for the father to take over when the wife goes back to work. Indeed, there are bonuses according to how evenly they split the leave. In other words, this is a form of social engineering, instituted by a government which sees its task as being to manipulate its subjects citizens rather than as representatives responding to the voters' desires.
     You may not be surprised to discover that only one in seven fathers split it evenly with their spouses, and that they are looked down upon by other men. Perhaps this is because, even in politically correct Sweden, normal human instincts still prevail.
  • Women seek to marry providers ie men who will earn more than them. It thus makes little economic sense for the father to give up work, bonus or no bonus.
  • Women tend to bond with, and want to nurture the babies they bear. Also, by some oversight, nature did not provide men with breasts. Mothers who want to dump 'em on the dads will thus have to stockpile breast milk for their mates to microwave.
     A subtle feminist propaganda runs through the rest of the issue. Of course, we don't need to be told that in backward, semi-civilised societies, women are treated like dirt (and men like a higher class of dirt). Nevertheless, the situation in strife-torn Sierra Leone, with girls dropping out of high school due to pregnancy, doesn't sound so different from what happens in American slums. Likewise, although the statistic of only 58% of world's girls attending high school sounds terrible, the figure for boys is just 62%. As for the double page spread on economic participation, as I explained elsewhere, this rests on the highly sexist attitude that the feminine lifestyle is inferior, and the quite ridiculous idea that men and women live separate lives without sharing income. The major reason for the income gap is the tendency for women to marry men who can support them. And as for political participation, what do they think Parliament or Congress is for: to provide careers for politicians, or to represent the people they serve?

     And now some words from their sponsors
     Nothing could better illustrate the tone of the January issue than the fact that it has two forewords: one by Gloria Steinem and one by Sheryl Sandberg, plus an afterword by Anne-Marie Slaughter, who announced that: "We [women] do not all bear children; we do not all love men; we do not even all have the same genitalia" [emphasis added]. Why did they sandwich the magazine between the pronouncements of these notorious women's libbers, as if their opinions were so natural and mainstream they were the only ones which mattered?
     Come on, editors! We subscribe to the National Geographic in order to vicariously visit strange, exotic foreign places. If we wanted to read politically correct propaganda on aberrant lifestyles, we can get it for free on the internet.