I don’t exactly get along with James Dobson and Focus on the Family. For the record, our worldviews are fundamentally opposed. At least that’s what they told me. I dared to suggest there might be a logical endpoint for the command to multiply and fill the earth. Apparently I’m wrong, and that means I’m a heretic.
I’m OK with that.
So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that I disagree with other things Dobson stands for. With fundamentally opposed worldviews, it’s bound to happen. But I guess I’m still surprised. I naively think we can all just get along.
This time around it’s gender roles. I’ve heard about the views espoused in Dobson’s Bringing Up Boys before, but this time it really sunk in. Dobson belongs to the old school of gender roles, where men are men and women are women. Gender roles are sharply defined, and crossing those lines is a “straight” path to homosexuality. Apparently dads are supposed to wrestle with their boys, stock their toy boxes with play guns, encourage them to play sports, and — I wish I was making this up — shower with toddler-aged boys to show them what a penis looks like. If a father fails in those things, the boy is bound to be gay.
T-ball was the extent of my childhood sports career, I rarely wrestled with my dad, and I definitely didn’t shower with him. While I did play with plenty of guns, that’s only 1 for 4. I must be three-quarters gay. My wife played with G.I. Joes as a child, so our marriage is pretty much whacked.
This is the kind of 1950s mindset that firmly divides domestic chores from manly tasks. This is the mindset that declares men as the only fit breadwinners and women as the only fit nurturers. This is the mindset that squeezes people into boxes that don’t fit. This results in non-athletic boys (like myself) and non-girly girls feeling unnatural, like something is wrong with us.
This is the mentality that in part crippled my parents’ marriage. Rigidly defined roles left the overwhelming housework to my mom while my dad sat back to be served. It goes deeper than that, but anyone could see the tension it caused.
This is the kind of mentality that leads to (gasp!) homophobia. I’m not condoning homosexuality, but it exists and you have to face it. Washing dishes and playing sports has little to do with sexual orientation. Homosexuality is a deeper issue than mere gender roles. You’d think we could get past the manly pride stereotype.
I know Focus on the Family and James Dobson do some great stuff. They stand up for some important causes and do good work. But sometimes they support things I just don’t understand. And what really baffles me is how many people give Dobson and Focus on the Family unwavering, unquestioning support. Unfortunately, ideological lemmings exist on throughout the spectrum.