Imagine, dear reader, a scene that I wish was complete fantasy, but I fear is not that far removed from the reality of our society:

A mother and father are speaking to their daughter on the eve of her high school graduation. The young woman has just previewed her graduation cap and gown garb to the parental units. This swells a feeling of worthwhile pride in the hearts of these two people who have guided her through the trials and tribulations of her initial 18 years on earth. Somewhere in the distance, maple trees bristle in the wind with envy over the sweet sappiness of the occasion.

“Honey, we’re so proud of you,” says her father, “And we’re so excited to see you take this next step in your life, but we need to talk to you about something we’ve told you all your life.”

“Ok sure,” says the daughter.

“This is serious dear,” says the mother, “It’s something I’ve worried about for some time. You see, we’re so happy that you’ve been accept to so many top colleges. We’re so pleased that you’re so driven to become a top doctor someday. We know whatever you put your mind to you’ll succeed.”

“And of course, we support you in whatever you decide to do,” says the father, “but we think you may have taken our advice too seriously. You really took our words to heart when we said ‘you could be anything you wanted to be’ and again, we’re so proud, but we wanted to say we didn’t really mean anything.

“Huh? What are you talking about?” says the daughter.

“Well dear,” says the mother, “you’re such a beautiful young woman, and speaking as a woman, I think it would be an injustice if we didn’t tell you what it means to be a woman. We wouldn’t want you to sin against your nature.”

“And we wouldn’t want you to miss out in finding a great guy,” says the father, “And speaking as a man, men don’t like women who don’t need their help. That is, men like to be the breadwinner, the hero. They like to be able to take care of a woman, and your mother and I worry you may be so driven to succeed that you don’t think you need a man to be happy.”

“I don’t need a man to be happy,” says the soon to be graduate.

“Oh, you’re so young, so idealistic,” says the mother with a dismissive wave of her hand, “You may say that now, but what happens if you succeed in your career only to find your twenties are gone and when you start to look for a man in your thirties you realize it may be too late: that you’re too intimidating and too old and too intelligent and too successful? Men don’t want some thirty-something success story who has made her own story. A man wants a woman he can care for and hewn to his own story.”

“So what are you telling me?” the daughter asks with incredulity.

“Be anything you want to be, but remember you’re a woman.”

You may be asking yourself why I have painted such a cartoonish conversation. It turns out such a scene is not that cartoonish after all. The parent’s message to their precocious daughter is clearly part of modern American discourse, and I personally have no stomach for such a presumptuous, contradictory, and counter-productive message being foisted upon the women (and tacitly the men) of our silly little thing called a nation.

So, let my general contempt be known for people who claim their own culture as the “natural” way for human beings to behave. To claim certain cultural norms are the product of one’s biology is poppycock. And to appeal to “cultural” biology in order to shun, discourage, or simply “check” successful women for the sake of protecting “masculinity” is even worse, a remnant of a patriarchy that was once dominant.

So you may be wondering what in particular has me in such a fuss. Well, the other morning a short segment from that smarmy television show Fox and Friends appeared in my social media feed. The title, “Are female breadwinners a problem?” Later subtitle during the segment: “Recipe for Disaster? A Woman’s Paycheck Can Impact Her Marriage.”

The segment starts in a somewhat shaky fashion when the host, Clayton Morris asks, “I get the cultural argument, guys. We can all weave our way through cultural issues. But isn’t there some sort of biological, innate need for men to be the caveman, go out and bring home the dinner. Is it emasculating if we don’t do it?

Considering the person who is the source of the above question, I will say the biological need to be a “caveman” is about as innate as Clayton’s shiny toothed, make-up wearing, faked-tanned, manicured hand, tailored suited, primped up appearance. Behold the modern caveman! Hear him roar!

I must ask, why do so many men and women feel uncomfortable with the changing of “traditional” gender roles? Could it be not biology but the culture they have been taught?

Gender roles are not biological. And if I may betray my 12 years of Roman Catholic schooling, gender roles are not divinely ordained. We should be wary of ordaining nature with the responsibility of shaping our own identity. We should not allow certain forms of non-coercive authority to be deemed the natural way. When we do so, we suffocate the dynamic ingenuity of people to discover new and fulfilling ways to enjoy one another’s company whether in the boardroom, the classroom, or the bedroom.

I have very little issue with other people’s preferred gender roles. If you want to freely play the parts of the traditional husband and wife, play the parts well. If you want to flip the traditional household on its head go ahead and do it. Just know that you are the one in charge of your preferences, not nature; or put another way, nature has provided you the capacity for thought and choice. Use that capacity to be creative and dynamic. And in this ever-changing world where information is shared and culture changed at speeds beyond our comprehension, I say let your freak flag fly. You may be surprised how many people out in this weird wild world are just as freaky or traditional as you.