I have never once second-guessed my gender, my sexuality, or my femininity. But a new book has tempted me to. Even though I recently spent eight years either growing babies in my womb or feeding them from my breasts, according to Secure Daughters, Confident Sons: How Parents Guide Their Children into Authentic Masculinity and Femininity (Multnomah), I am in fact a man—and a good one at that.

Consider author Glenn Stanton's description of what "makes a good man," in the chapter "What Makes a Good Man?" These men are:

  • Explorative
  • Determined to deliver the goods
  • Needing to know what's next
  • Opportunists
  • Chance-takers
  • Initiators
  • Active and aggressive
  • Competitive and dominant

I am all of these things, in one way or another. Now consider what Stanton, the director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family and author of several books on marriage and parenting, says "makes a good woman," in the chapter "What Makes a Good Woman?" These women are:

  • Confidently enticing
  • Seekers of intimacy over action
  • Wisely receptive
  • Security-seekers
  • Prefers of modesty
  • Care-seekers
  • Word-users
  • Desirous of equity and submission
  • Wielders of soft power
  • All about connecting

Now I'm confused. After all, I use words. I might even be "confidently enticing," though I'll need to ask somebody. A quick tally of this list, and maybe I am a woman, though not all that great of one.

Of course, I jest, to illustrate the problems in pigeonholing men and women by lists of traits—especially when an author seeks to help parents understand the differences between their sons and daughters, and emphasizes the importance of having both male and female influences in a child's life.

This is not to say I don't believe men and women are different. Remember, I once spent eight years ...

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