Unless you’re watching “Happy Feet,” penguins don’t have gender roles. And at that point, you should also probably realize that you’re watching CGI penguins.
Even if you believe that gender and sex are separable concepts, that really only deals with humans. Sphenisciform seabirds don’t have cultural preconceptions about gendered behavior attached to them.
Nobody goes to the zoo to tell a penguin, “Hey, you waddle a bit too girlishly. You should really man up.”
And you know, if you did, you’d be an idiot because birds don’t understand English or any other language. That penguin is going to keep on waddling exactly how it was before you got there and isn’t going to feel any worse about it.
You, on the other hand, should probably feel worse about yourself.
I mention this all because you’re about to see the world’s wokest zookeeper explain why her aquarium isn’t gendering its latest baby penguin.
The 4-month-old gentoo penguin chick is being raised by a same-sex penguin couple at Sea Life London, according to NBC News. A statement said that the baby “will be the first of its kind in the history of the famous London aquarium not to be characterized as male or female.”
“While the decision may ruffle a few feathers, gender neutrality in humans has only recently become a widespread topic of conversation,” Graham McGrath, general manager of Sea Life London, said.
“However, it is completely natural for penguins to develop genderless identities as they grow into mature adults,” he added.
The aquarium has, up until now, committed the grave sin of tagging all penguins with a band that identifies it as male or female and giving it a name that corresponds to its biological sex.
Not this time, though! Instead, it was tagged with a purple band and became the first “genderless” penguin in the history of the zoo because it “captured the Aquarist team and guest’s imaginations after it was successfully adopted by two female penguins,” according to the aquarium.
“This was the first time we had successfully adopted a chick onto a same-sex couple and to mark the parenting achievements of Rocky and Marama in helping to develop the chick into a happy and healthy penguin,” the statement read. “It made sense to continue to allow it to be identified more naturally by staff and guests at the aquarium in the future.”
Enter the terminally woke Charlotte Barcas, the zookeeper who went on Sky News to try and explain the decision.
Barcas was asked, quite rightly, why they were raising the penguin in a genderless way given the fact there aren’t unspoken gender roles in the penguin kingdom. (Even though everything in the penguin kingdom is unspoken because, well, they don’t speak.)
“What we wanted to do with this chick was give guests an opportunity to meet that individual and learn about its personality without assigning it any sort of preconceived sort of gender roles,” she said.
All right, then. Are there any sex differences between males and females in the gentoo penguin kingdom?
“It’s a really sort of difficult subject to navigate specifically,” Barcas said.
“You will get small differences in terms of, um, behavior based on whether they are male or female.”
Oh. So there’s that.
But why would you even need this when, again, there aren’t preconceived gender roles among penguins?
“I think that’s the key thing. You don’t really see it in the animal kingdom and there is a little bit of conversation going on at the moment in terms of whether we might be seeing gender roles in some higher primates, much like we’re often compared to all the high primates, because we’re so similar,” Barcas said.
“But with penguins, there’s a difference between sex differences and with gender roles. Penguins would have to have some sort of society where all the penguins were potentially putting pressure on little baby penguins and that they should be more masculine or more feminine and things like that. So what we wanted to do was give guests the opportunity to not be putting those assumptions onto a little chick.”
So there aren’t any gender roles in the penguin kingdom, so you shouldn’t put pressure and assumptions onto a little chick even though that chick can’t feel the pressure of those assumptions because they’re a penguin and there aren’t any gender roles.
Look at her face at the end of that statement. You can clearly see how she’s losing faith in her own argument. It’s almost as if she realized mid-sentence how preposterous this whole thing was.
I spent the rest of the interview alternately feeling sorry for Barcas, who was clearly out of her depth here, and feeling sorry for myself because this was giving me a headache.
All of this twaddle has nothing to do with the penguin chick and everything to do with making the aquarium and its guests feel good about themselves.
And for what?
Because the penguin has a purple band? Because it’s not being given a proper male or female name? Because they’re making sure they’re not imposing human constructs on birds that have no opportunity to understand them anyway?
If this makes you feel better about yourself, fine. It doesn’t make any difference to the penguin.
And, for every person who thinks more deeply about gender and sex because of this penguin, I can guarantee you at least five will break down in laughter.
Such are the dangers of terminal wokeness: Sometimes the message you send and the message that gets received are very, very different.