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My response to: “Toys ‘R’ Us U.K. Agrees To Stop Labeling ‘Boys’ And ‘Girls’ Toys”

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In our country – and indeed in most societies – being in a minority stance on an issue has you directly or indirectly silenced. Whether it’s being for trying to promote traditional marriages or advocating for giving more money to the poor in modern times. Or having empathy for black slaves and advocating for  giving more money to the poor in our recent history. Or believing that a government should be representatives of the explicit concerns articulated by its people or advocating giving more money to the poor, in our farther history.

Therefore, as is tradition, (me being a traditional) I will put the tape over my own mouth about most of my views regarding this topic and instead present points more in line with what seems to be more appropriate to talk about in modern times.

 

The arguments of this article seems to be:

1.

A. Gender and/or Gender Norms is a Social Construct in Our Society

B. Social Constructs expressed in our society are detrimental to the        development of our people as individuals

C. Therefore: Gender being expressed in our society is detrimental to    the development of our people as individuals

 

Furthermore:

2.

A. Gender being expressed in our society is detrimental to the                development of our people as individuals

B. Toys ‘R’ Us expresses Gender Norms in our society

C. Therefore Toys ‘R’ Us’s actions are detrimental to the development of a person as individual

 

Assuming that these breakdowns of the arguments into two syllogisms is valid and would be agreed upon by both sides, I would then like to focus on the premise 1B or “Social Constructs expressed in our society are detrimental to the development of our people as individuals.”

I would rewrite this statement to say:

“Social Constructs expressed in our society can direct the development of our people as individuals and as communities (in beneficial or detrimental ways).’

To begin, my biased argument would be just the opposite, that social constructs expressed in our society are beneficial to the development of our people as individuals.

 

As Rousseau’s argument was presented against John Locke’s philosophical belief on how individuals should interact with each other; I too feel that in order for such an argument to be made, one must first make sure they are not assuming too much given information is ever-present. In the case of John Locke’s argument, he stated that property belonged to individuals and there were codes of conduct that needed to be maintained in order make sure that these people’s properties were protected. But this argument, as Rousseau presented, assumed many – in fact too many things. Like for example the assumption that because someone says: ‘this is my property’ that that thing is theirs solely because they say it is, and therefore that it makes it accessible to anyone else.

In the case regarding the idea of Social Constructs and in particular Gender and Gender Norms being expressed in our society I believe that the perspective that this is detrimental to us is shortsighted, if not in the context of the future, then surely in context of the past.

It disregards the centuries and centuries and millenniums prior that both implemented it and in many way found great success in it, enough for us to preserve ourselves as humans and continuous expand and develop families into tribes then nations. It disregards they true difficulty it is of becoming an adult and how much more truly difficult it is when one is finding their identity at the same time. It disregards or possibly fails to even look over, what were there deep spiritual and social implications and effects were outside of the egocentric perspective of “rights” “freedoms” “empowerment” and other power words of an individual society. It assumes that human mind during the stages of post-natal dependency was made to in essential ways determine existential questions like: “should I see things as a boy or as a girl?” which the deepest philosophers to this date are still in heavy debate over. It disregards that the lack of such gender and gender norms could very possibly be one of the contributors to why post-natal dependency is nowadays being extended out to the ages of 24 and 27. It assumes that society could function as effectively without social constructs, a society of complete individuals, which seems akin to anarchy in a sense. And that the deconstruction of social realities for the sake of micro-decision making of adults, including children is more important than ensuring that our communities are solid and flowing in communication and exchange of resources including material, emotional and social as they should. This being in particular when there is a general consensus from nearly all age groups that we as a society are more communally disengaged and isolated from one another. Even more than we were before, and even more than other societies are. And that even though it can not be assumed that the deconstruction of gender roles and norms is the primarily cause of why we have been becoming as we have, I have not heard many say that we would be worst off if we didn’t increase our need in individualism. In other words, one our main objectives: “The Pursuit of Happiness”, has collectively seem to diminish in our country, even to the point of us ranking as the most depressed and anxiety ridden society in the world, especially out of developed societies. And our numbers seem to be in no way reversing. Again, it would be unfair to say that because people are ultimately trying to give more opportunities to as many people as possible and in as many ways as possible is negative; still, not considering that this possible ‘paradox of choice’ and its effect can be paramount is flat out neglectful and even dangerous.

Finally and maybe even most importantly, this argument assumes that  because one has an idea or even science that they can control and manipulate the socio-spiritual aspects of an individual, with more arrogance and lack of critical examination than I’ve rarely seen in history.

These points made above are presented just to point out that to assume that ‘Social Constructs expressed in our society are detrimental to the        development of our people as individuals’ is flat out false. At the same time I have no desire to disregard  the possible evidence of the benefits of gender neutral norms being promoted more leading to things such as:

“The more traditional their assumptions about what it means to be and how you should behave as a boy or a girl, the [higher the] rates of depression. For girls, adolescent pregnancy tends to be higher, and for boys, belief in coercive behavior in relationship with girls is higher.”

 

Not too mention the negative effects in my own history, in regards to race and ethnicity, of how inhumanely people were treated because social constructs about race and race and ethnic norms and other obvious negative effects have in fact been demonstrated by social norms, I do understand the general notion that it might be possible that the pursuance of any form of it is bad.

But to paint with such a broad stroke as to say that because social constructs and race and ethnic ‘norms’ or expectations  seem to have devastating effect on those groups, does not mean that social constructs of any kind, even most kinds is necessarily devastating or detrimental (though of course it could be in ways). This falls under the classic fallacy of “generalizations”. And it can be a tough one to get around sometimes. Sometimes it can require arduous efforts on behalf of the person themselves to separate the categories themselves in order to be able to analyze more objectively what they are observing. Arduous, but necessary. As this argument can easily be knocked down by their general consensus of the social construct of parent-child or teacher-student infact, proving otherwise.

Therefore ultimately my conclusion would be that premise 1B or “Social Constructs expressed in our society are detrimental to the development of our people as individuals” is a false premise and should correctly be written as: “Social Constructs expressed in our society can direct the development of our people as individuals and as communities (in beneficial or detrimental ways).’

 

That being said I believe that argument that “Toys ‘R’ Us’s actions are detrimental to the development of a person as an individual because it expresses gender norms” is not a bad argument, but indeed is unsound.

 

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