On Gollum, Gender, and Negative Feedback

Photo of vintage carnival swing ride by GrainnePhotography

I get a lot of e-mail. The longer I’ve been running this site, the more I’ve grown to enjoy the reader feedback–for good or bad. Thanks to each of you who take a moment to write.

Make no mistake, the feedback is overwhelmingly positive–too positive, really, considering I blather on sometimes about things that primarily interest me or my cat, Italics–but it is very kind. And the negative feedback–which generally comes in the form of insults or comparisons to 1950s housewives (am I supposed to hang my head in shame?)–is nothing I take too seriously. (C’mon! Their aprons were cute!)

We are, after all, entitled to our opinions–right or wrong.

That said, I received a negative piece of feedback in response to a post I wrote entitled, Female Without Apology. Here is what the anonymous reader wrote:

“Who [we] are is not a gender. First and last post I will read from this blog.”

I’ve got to give the reader kudos for brevity. But the words have stayed with me for almost a month. So here is my response:

Dear Anonymous,

Researchers say that, when a girl and boy are given a sheet of paper and a box of crayons, they will generally draw different things. The girl will likely draw a scene–her house, perhaps, or the people in her life–while the boy will set to work creating action. He might draw a military demonstration or the latest scene from Lord of the Rings. (Hopefully not a scene with Gollum, yikes.)

Whole studies and schools of thought are dedicated to gender identity and their ensuing roles in society. Many studies would suggest that boys and girls do things–unprompted–for no other reason than that they are following the pattern set by gender.

Additionally, it is difficult to paint the full picture of a person without including the individual’s gender. Try it. It makes the person . . . well . . . bland.

I am no expert, but I believe that gender is very definitely part of who we are. And I believe gender is a gift. From the beginning of humanity, man and woman were created with unique responsibilities and roles. To take away gender (theoretically, of course) is to take away one of the things that makes each of us unique. Strip away gender and we don’t have equality–we have less variety.

And as we know, variety is the spice of life.

With that said, I’ve seen people in the news–some celebrity, some activist–fighting for the right to change genders. And it does beg the question, “Why?” If gender isn’t who we are, why does it matter?

Food for thought? Maybe. Maybe not. Well. You’re not reading anyway.


  1. It is funny you should post this now, as I've been thinking about this issue a lot lately. I have two sons, 3 and 5. My 5 year old is on the autism spectrum, and did not do ANY imaginary play until after he was 3. I say that because of what comes next. My 3 year old.

    He amazes me. He correctly brandishes a sword. He runs with football tucked under his arm. He is almost obsessed with being a soldier. NO ONE taught him how to do these and other things. I certainly didn't–no brothers–and my oldest didn't pretend! My hubby works a lot, so swashbuckling is not high on the education list right now. More like tickle fights and sock wars.

    I simply watch him in amazement as he lets his gender show. 😉

  2. katische says:

    I have to say I agree with the reader. gender is only one part of who we are. how much importance you place on your gender depends on who you see yourself as. what labels you place on yourself. the sad thing is that your reader was looking for some information that he/ she thought they would find on your page. perhaps it was a male? lots of male househusbands and make stay at home dads these days. so my personal interpretation is it is not your fault that they got offended. That is there own personal issue. the lesson for us all is to be inclusive in everything we do. keep up the great work and thanks for sharing!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I read a book recently that talked about a woman who was determined to raise her daughter without "gender stereo-typical toys." In her case, that meant she only bought "boy" toys for her daughter, such as trucks, swords, guns, etc. She was doing this to prove a point about nature vs. nurture. The mother found this little girl, who was an only child at the time, playing in her room one day. The girl had taken one of her T-shirts, wrapped up a toy fire truck, and was rocking the truck and calling it "little truckie." No one had taught her that little girls were supposed to act that way. It comes natural.


  4. Anonymous says:

    Poor anonymous :(
    I am who I am because of who God is = an identity more complete and satisfying than any identity I could create for myself.


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