Wag the dog essay

Unisex Scouts, as they are in Canada, where the scouting movement has collapsed. Luke is ten years old. He sports a cowlick across his forehead, and wag the dog essay bright smile.

Despite the birth of a child a thousand miles away with vestigial organs of the opposite sex, and despite genetic anomalies that blunt the edge of masculinity or femininity here or there, everyone is certain he is a boy. Luke is outdoors a lot, running after baseballs, footballs, and soccer balls. You can see it in the muscles of his chest. His voice is pitched high, but not really—as if a flute were played an octave low. It helps that he has a father, who was a boy once, and who still has a lot of the boy in him, as most fathers do.

Look at him through the eyes of his father: that is to say, with philosophical love. He has the boy’s body that shadows forth the body of a man. He will have sturdy shoulders, and the swelling in his throat suggests the timbre of the man’s voice. He is going to be taller than the average woman. Fallen creature that he is, Luke stretches to the limit of what his parents allow, but already he is taking into his heart the Rules his mother represents, Rules that make for decent life among other people from day to day, and the Law his father represents, moral truths that can no more change than can the polestar fall from the sky.

Meaning: He will join other men, brothers fighting to attain or defend the common good. Greater meaning: He is made for a self-giving that is categorically impossible among his male friends. It is the orientation of his body, in its sexual form. It is the orientation of his masculine being, developing in a natural and healthy way. None of this should be controversial, no more than claiming that the noonday sky is blue. A boy is not a girl. A boy grows up to be a man.

A man marries a woman, for love and for a family: That goal is stamped upon his body. Even savages without a doctorate in philosophy can figure it out. Consider Luke, the boy, through the eyes of his father. He also sees himself, and his own father, and his grandfathers. I’m not just talking about physical resemblance.

They share the same sex: They share the same mode of relating to the future of their kind. They are not the bearers of children, but the begetters. They are not the field, but the sowers. They cannot know the body-from-body bond their wives know when they bear children. Every normal and healthy and responsible father wants this for his son. It’s not like wanting the boy to go to Princeton. Such things may happen or not, and are extrinsic to the boy’s nature.

It’s rather like wanting that the boy should not suffer scurvy or rickets. The father wants Luke’s bones to grow straight. He wants his soul to grow straight, too. She’s suspicious of women who like to keep their boys in diapers, as it were.

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