Male and female are more than biological realities. They are spiritual essences and cultural ideals.
Laura Wood puts this well. So well, that I can imagine liberals hyperventilating on reading it.
Liberals take autonomy to be the highest good. This means that we are supposed to be self-determining creatures, i.e. we are supposed to create who we are for ourselves. But this means that liberals are committed to making our sex not matter. We don't get to determine what sex we are, therefore it's thought of by liberals as a negative restriction on individual autonomy.
Here, for instance, is a brief exchange I had at a men's rights forum with someone calling themselves "Atomic parrot".
Atomic parrot: The "provider" role espoused by the author of this article is as damaging to men as the "housewife/mother" role is/was to women. People are individuals, we're smarter than our biology, we need the freedom to live our lives as we see fit, not to be forced into a narrow role defined by social conservatives. Some people really don't even want kids and a family ... Live and let live, stop trying to define yourself by your gender alone.
Me: Your gender is a more meaningful aspect of who you are than your job, your hobbies or your consumer choices. It's not some kind of negative restriction, it's something that can potentially make you feel more connected in your personal identity.
Atomic parrot: I'd argue that gender is less meaningful than the choices you make - because your gender is something you didn't choose, something that just is - but what you choose and do defines you more than something you were born with.
Me: Atomic parrot, that's a clearly set out reply. It's modernist philosophy in a nutshell. I disagree with it though. The fact of something being predetermined doesn't make it less of a good. I didn't choose my nationality and yet that's important for my self-identity. I didn't choose my sexuality, but that's important too. The things we get to self-determine are mostly limited in scope: career, consumer choices, travel destinations, hobbies. What we inherit is often of greater significance, even though it's not something self-created.
Atomic parrot is an orthodox liberal. He believes that freedom is the choice to self-create. He therefore looks down on the fact of his sex because it's something that is pre-created, something that "just is," rather than something self-chosen. It loses meaning for him as a liberal, and is associated in highly negative terms with "forced" or "narrow" life paths.
What a distance there is between the modernist liberal and traditionalist conservative viewpoints. For us the fact of being a man or a woman is part of the essence of who we are. It is a deeply meaningful aspect of our personal identity, one that rightly generates some of the ideals that we live by.
But for a liberal like Atomic parrot it's something that just is, a mere fact of biology that is dangerously limiting. Freedom for Atomic parrot is not the fulfilment of our masculine or feminine selves, but the transcending of our gender, our making it not matter in our lives.
There's not much common ground here.
And where does Atomic parrot's liberalism take him? He declares that he doesn't like to date women who know whether they want children or not:
cfisi79: So, do you only date women who also aren't 100% sure whether or not they want kids?
Atomic parrot: My current GF isn't sure either - I like not having "set" expectations for the future.
This is the way that the logic of the liberal position unfolds. If a masculine role is thought to limit our autonomy, then why wouldn't a parental role? A parental role, after all, is also linked to the fact of biology. It's not a uniquely chosen life path.
And so it's no surprise that Atomic parrot should finally declare himself against a masculine role, a marital role and a parental role,
Monogamous marriage partnerships are kinda out dated at this point, especially since more and more people just don't want to have kids.
For someone who didn't want to be limited, Atomic parrot is placing a lot of significant life experiences out of bounds here.
And it's not exactly a recipe for an enduring civilisation. It's an unsustainable form of individualism, one that can't carry on for long. A philosophical dead end.