The Third Turn

Written by Dr. Mark L. Vincent & Kristin Evenson
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Disintegration of Gender

Posted by Mark L. Vincent on Aug 5, 2021 6:15:00 AM
Disintegration: the process of something becoming weaker or being destroyed by breaking into smaller parts or pieces
I’ve been trying to capture some thoughts on the subject. Perhaps we could also label this disintermediation, whereby we remove the woman or man from the middle - that is, the actual need for a person and any aspect of their biological gender.  
My interest comes because my grandchildren's grandchildren (and yours) will live in this world we are creating, and I want them to have hope.  Several trend lines are converging that spark these thoughts. Writing these trends down might spark some insight and perhaps a conclusion. Maybe even an action step. 
First up is the unnecessariness of men. Males becoming unnecessary has been on the  scene for some time. Maleness is no longer a prerequisite to fight, to dig, to provide, to enter into marriage, or reproduce. The one thing that men are still needed for - genetic material - can be harvested and stored. Women do not need men to marry or have families.
And now arriving is the unnecessariness of women. Males becoming unnecessary had been encouraged by some as a means to gender equity. Now, however, the technology and social change that disintermediated men and disintegrated maleness now leaks across to the female. Wombs can be replaced by machines. Female is being redefined for competitive athletics as the suppression of testosterone underneath a measured threshold. Previous female-only sanctuaries such as public restrooms are being redefined and redistributed. Men do not need women to marry or have families.
If we go one level further we learn gender traits, behaviors, and roles are moving away not just from women and men, but away from human.
For example, man muscles are replicated by power tools. Just plug any one in to get the needed torque.
On the female side of this, specially attuned female voices powered by always learning artificial intelligence algorithms are fast becoming the first touch points of customer service. Why? We humans tend to cooperate more with a female-sounding voice than with a male one. Artificial voices cannot be yelled at with any effectiveness. And, they need no pregnancy leave, comp time, or mental health breaks.
When it comes to parenting, what women and men would do to raise their children, in the ways that men and women might do them in specifically gender-aligned ways, are increasingly outsourced. In much of society, we do not follow our parents to field or kitchen to learn at their side, because they are not there. An increasingly complex and fractionalized set of uncoordinated containers hold, socialize, instruct and bring children to adulthood without a gender to emulate or rebel against. Many of these are becoming machines
Have I made an adequate case that gender is disintegrating and disintermediated?
Out of this come a couple of reflections.
  • Those who are arguing about what is happening in the culture have already lost the argument.
When I was first a pastor, it was the middle 1980s and very inner city. The congregations in my tribe of churches were arguing whether a person who was divorced could be a church member.  They were convinced anyone who was living together prior to a marriage ceremony disqualified themselves from a church wedding and church membership. By contrast, our congregation was finding its way among "his, hers, and ours" families, often pregnant with yet another child. Divorces were not sought prior to new cohabitation and siring/birthing children in this and other relationships. We had to figure out for ourselves how to be a ministering presence because those around us were too busy opposing what had already passed beyond them.
One more example: At the beginning of physical card catalogs giving way to a computer database, I watched a long-time librarian fight a computer and then break the decibel level she had long enforced as she made demands of the new machine purchased to serve her. She was used to having some latitude. If a book could not be found, perhaps someone had transposed two numbers in /the Dewey Decimal classification, or perhaps the card was slightly misplaced in the catalog. Now there was no such latitude, no room for error, and no need for her skills. Without the approximate search capacity we now have, all criteria had to be entered in a precise sequence and with correct data or a book could not be found. She had already lost her argument.
In a similar way, any of us who demand our gender back the way we have known it have already lost. People are arguing about who can sleep with whom while it appears that fewer are choosing sexual partnership at all. Tech can be controlled for your own pleasure and time/place of preference with no need for a real relationship--not even a hookup at the bar. Mechanical wombs will only get better and safer. Sperm storage and use is becoming even more widespread, screened against disease, for optimal health, and perhaps according to maximum desirability. We, with our tech, are becoming the designer rather than God or chance, .
  • Listening and describing are more useful than telling and prescribing.
In my attempt to listen and describe with these thoughts, I fear that people on either side of significant cultural issues will read this in fury because they cannot find their preferred progressive or conservative cardinal doctrines in what I've written. Even if all I do is listen, observe, and describe, it may well be heard through distorted filters, with much reaction and little true examination. Still, I find it worth the risk. I want to be in the world of my grandchildren even if I am not of it. They have to make sense of this world they are inheriting, and their making sense will be more grand if an older dude like me is asking astute and experienced-based questions, rather than trying to enforce a cultural expression that cannot seriously be defended as the reality they are living.
So, perhaps that is the action step. Asking, articulating, and inviting all our generations and genders toward knowledge that can be converted and lived as wisdom, especially that our grandchildren's grandchildren might have hope.
I've made some significant choices about how I will do this. While I am happy to talk about my choices with people who would like to share a cup of coffee on my Idaho porch, I'm not going to write them here. I do not want my choices to circumvent the process of someone wrestling with their own. I will say, however, that my choices are intended to help me listen and describe rather than tell and prescribe. The former invites a relationship. The latter only seeks an audience.

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Topics: process consulting, Mark L. Vincent, Design Group International, The Third Turn, The Third Turn Podcast, Future Value, Kristin Evenson, emotional intelligence, Building the Future

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