My daughter’s high school required her to wear a black cardigan sweater. So off we went to a clothing store so that she could be in full conformity with the school’s dress code. The sales clerk, however, told us that none were in stock. Nonetheless, my daughter, while browsing, discovered exactly what she was looking for on the rack. “Oh, no,” mustered the sales clerk, “that one is for boys, the one for girls has buttons and button holes on the reverse side.” My daughter laughed. “Who’s going to know the difference?” 

Was this an instance of stressing the difference between boys and girls a bit too much? There was a time when women were discouraged from smoking cigarettes, but men found it cool to light up. Full court basketball was fine for boys, but considered too strenuous for girls who were not allowed to stray from one side of the court to the other and were restricted to two dribbles per possession. Women wore makeup; men wore cologne. The male always led on the dance floor; women followed uncomplainingly. The suitor picked up the check; his date said, “Thank you, I had a wonderful evening.” Men went off to war; women stayed home and prayed for their beloved heroes.

Those days may be gone forever. With the arrival of transgendered people, the difference between the sexes has been blurred to the point of no longer being recognized, let alone honored or ritualized. A bill has been introduced in California that would hit store owners with a $1,000 fine if they separate “toys for boys” from “toys for girls.” In the interest of equality, the sexes are now regarded as identical. If one disagrees, there are penalties to be handed out. Nevertheless, the penalties for strict conformity will be far more severe.

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