Robert Ludlum begins his book, The Bourne Identity with Jason Bourne as an amnesiac looking for clues as to who he is. His first tip is when a gun is tossed to him and he is told to take it apart and reassemble it, which he does effortlessly and expertly, increasing his sense of wonderment about himself.
There is psychological and emotional strength in a clear concept of one’s identity because that enables us to reason and act based on understanding. Confusion is debilitating, disrupting, and threatening (Thoits, 1991). Jason Bourne was deprived of his resources and capabilities, including judgment, because of the uncertainty of who he was, what he knew, and what his abilities enabled him to do. To survive, he focused intense energy on discovering his identity.
Although role identity is adaptive over time, a firm sense of personal identity is central to emotional and behavioral health (Stets & Burke, 2000). Gender is a primary component of personal identity – indeed of the nation itself, as stable families are the cornerstone of any society. Children are the result of gender.
How unfortunate, then, that elements of our culture are advocating for confusion through biological, emotional, and behavioral blurring of gender. Roles, such as who-takes-out-the-trash do not define an individual in the same way that gender and its physiological, psychological, and emotional potential does.
Some sociological and science researchers claim gender is irrelevant. However, the research cited in backing such claims is largely flawed. For example, one article reveals that the comparisons of families are NOT actually between same sex couples and traditionally married heterosexual couples, but rather unmarried cohabiting couples. The data for the latter vary dramatically from those of heterosexual married couples.
Also, the samples used are convenience rather than randomly selected, further impairing validity. Likewise, the research organization often has a pronounced bias, selecting and shaping everything from conceptualization and questions to interpreting data and reporting findings. These considerations make reports that there is no difference or even advantages to same sex relationships less valid.
In fact, several forums claim that domestic violence is a greater problem in same sex relationship households, so much so that a U.S. Justice Department study refers to it as “epidemic” (Callie Maire Rennison, “Intimate Partner violence and Age of Victim, 1993-99,” Bureau of Justice Statistics: Special Report, Oct. 2001). Additionally, married women in traditional heterosexual relationships experience the lowest rate of violence in comparison with women in other types of relationships (“Violence Between Intimates,” Bureau of Justice Statistics Selected Findings, Nov. 1994:2).
Only recently have we had to clarify whether two-parent homes are made up of a married man and woman. This confusion of basic gender differences weakens the strength of the concept of marriage, of family, and of parenting. It also sets the stage for young people to wonder about their own identity and explore – taking apart and reassembling in some fashion – their identity, particularly regarding gender.
Ironically, media creates at the other end of the spectrum a hypersexualized model that contributes to the morass of what young people view as appropriate or “normal.” It is little wonder that identity confusion in this and other areas is propelling society toward chaos. Emotional and psychological confusion disrupt the ability to feel contentment and peace and live accordingly (Burke, 1991).
There is great power in structure and security. In jerking the firm gender foundation from under the feet of families, we leave a quicksand of insecurity and insanity for the next generation to navigate. Married mothers and fathers are the solution.
Parenting is most powerfully expressed in assuring each child of his or her precious individuality, distinct worth and worthiness, and the unlimited devotion of family members. Mothers and fathers model this adoration in their daily interaction and response to each child. Confusion is replaced with confidence, stability, and resilience in maintaining clear understandings of identity.
Families find happiness, communities flourish, and society increases in peace when each individual acts with a certainty of who he or she really is.
Marlene Hinton is a wife, mother, grandmother, and defines herself principally through faith, family, and freedom. A teacher for many decades, education, particularly in those three areas, is a focus. She holds degrees in history, Spanish, bilingual education, and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.
Burke, P.J. (1991). Identity Processes and Social Stress. American Sociological Review. 56:6, pp. 836-849.
Ludlum, R. (1980). The Bourne identity. New York: Bantam Books.
Regenerus, M. (2012). Children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study. Social Science Research 41:752-770.
Stets, J.E. & Burke, P.J. (2000). Identity theory and social identity theory. Social Psychology Quarterly. 63:3. 224-237.
Thoits, P.A. (1991). On merging identity theory and stress research. Social Psychology Quarterly. 54:2, pp. 101-112.