And here we are….
Many intractable controversies in today’s culture wars relate to issues of sex and gender. Americans disagree, for instance, about whether marriage is limited to a man and a woman, who can use which bathrooms, and whether we should hope that mothers should take care of children—at least in their formative years. These controversies are emblematic of the inability to say what a man is, what a woman is, or even whether stable sexual identities are linked to our bodies.
This confusion has origins in the revolution that the French feminist Simone de Beauvoir initiated after the Second World War. Before the publication of Beauvoir’s The Second Sex in 1949, science and philosophy assumed that society’s prevailing opinions about men and women were grounded in sex so that gender corresponded to sex. Beauvoir demurred. She drew a distinction between gender (society’s prevailing opinions about what man and woman should be) and…
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