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Boys Will Be Girls and Girls Will Be Boys
There’s a question that has been on my mind of late that I do not hear anyone asking. Our culture has asked the question: could male and female behavior be learned instead of from nature. Because of this, we have been making efforts to raise our girls to be like men and our boys to be like women. But, I have not heard anyone ask the opposite question:
Is there such a thing as raising a child incorrectly?
Can you raise a dog to act like a cat? A horse to act like a dog? A duck to act like a pig. Often, nature intervenes with animals, and they go back to their normal racial behavior as they get older…but we all know of at least one dog that acted like a cat or visa versa.
So…what about children?
The question not being asked is: if some traits of the two sexes are nature rather than nurture…what happens when you deliberately try to train them to act against their normal nature?
One only needs to look at the percentages of things like: the number of guys who play violent video games vs. the number who read romance novels, and visa versa for woman, to see that there is, in fact, a difference. And yet, we know that the number of women who play violent video games…and who commit violent crimes and end up in prison for it…has been doing up.
The question no one seems to be asking is: is this good? Or are we doing something wrong? Animals teach their young behaviors specific to their species. Is there a good reason for this?
Was there a reason our ancestors taught boys to be men and girls to be women?
It’s something that’s been worrying me recently.
Blurring the lines for sexual roles has always been necessary under times of extreme stress (war, economic depression, etc.), but the truth is, you don't find a lot of little boys drooling at the princess clothes at the disney store. Neither do you find many little girls obsessed with transformers.* That overwhelming tendency would be biology. Our brains really are different. Our hormonal systems are different.
Teaching girls to be proper young ladies and boys to be young gentlemen is a neglected art. It is also very dependent on the perceived normality of relationships/roles between the sexes.
Did you read about the child in Sweden the press nicknamed "Pop" who was being raised without an awareness as to his or her gender? In fact it was/is a secret. The child is dressed in girly dresses one day and really rugged stuff the next. They intend to keep the sex a secret as long as possible so the child will be raised without sexism. That to me is not only impractical but carrying things too far.
That is the kind of thing I worry about.
Also, I note that boys do not naturally do things like not attack girls. One has to teach them...and yet, they will still be stronger than girls and have masculine urges...if no one teaches them to be a gentleman, they won't be!
I've encountered on LJ a lot of "she deserves it" commentary that really worries me.
It's thinly veiled sexual aggression. We see it with Sarah Palin--who just resigned the governorship in part because of it. Now that the sexes are equal, they are equally fair game for physical aggression, or so the song seems to be going in the popular media.
"Slutty flight attendant look"
"Got her pregnant in the 3rd inning"
"Conservative women you'd most like to hate f**k"
Just good fun, right? Well, she asked for it, didn't she?
There's a peculiar vileness to the whole thing from the party that brought you "sexist pig" as a common term of the 70s.
Me, I'm for bringing back the tea dance. More waltzing, less Sex in the City, please.
Yes. That sounds nice...the last part, I mean. What bothers me is the kind of double madness. Let's both have move sex and less femininity...it's like everything has gone bonkers.
(Angela here, not Warren) There's definitely such a thing as raising children incorrectly--go to any Walmart and observe the kids and parents if you doubt that--but I don't think it has much to do with gender! And somehow I don't think it's going to be the downfall of our species if we allow our little girls to like trains and dinosaurs and our little boys to bake cookies and have tea parties. Rather, I think it's going to produce better-rounded human beings of both genders. The violence of our culture is its own separate problem. We need to encourage our girls and women--and our boys and men--to own their power in ways that are not violent.
|Date:||July 4th, 2009 03:56 am (UTC)|| |
Oh, I agree with what you say here! I am all for letting children live outside the box, so to speak...but I recently ran into a case a bit like the one mentioned above...though not so extreme...where a child was basically being forced to live like a member of the opposite gender. This seems wrong to me...and thus led me to wonder whether some of my other ideas might need reexamining, as well.
Well -- the specific details of gender roles vary from culture to culture and era to era. But certain general patterns are universal: men tend to be the fighters and hunters and voyagers; women the nurturers and caregivers and homemakers. This probably comes from basic biology, to wit that women are the sex who get pregnant.
Contrary to what the PC crowd may believe, modern America is probably the least gender-role fixed society ever. Which is of course in a large part due to our superior wealth and technology -- the richer that one is, the better one's equipment, the less confining become the basic biological differences on how people choose to live their lives.
>Contrary to what the PC crowd may believe, modern America is probably the least gender-role fixed society ever.
You are entirely right. The fact that I am female as opposed to not almost never comes up in my day to day life.
What bugs me is that this has already been "tried"-- with those poor boys whose doctor slipped and cut off important bits, so their parents let the doctor "edit" them into women while they were infants.
If even while lacking physical evidence, and raised utterly as girls, boys still act like boys... well, duh, so will boys raised as girls who have their working bits.
My cats think they're people. This would get them killed in normal situations. Draw conclusions as needed....
(I don't even want to think about the trouble with reproduction-- I had a heck of a time finding a guy because I'm just not girly, even though I am feminine. Joy, more drama in love! Just what we need, right?)
Wendy Shalit writes about the growing problem of teen girl violence in her book "Girls gone Mild". Turns out that trying to train girls to be aggressive and confrontational instead of bitchy and backstabbing doesn't lead to happier female relationships. It just leads to the girls acting violently as well as bitchy.
I'm always annoyed that people make a big deal about women being/not being in certain male dominated industries like engineering. Nobody cares or worries about the low number of men being Florists. Interestingly enough even though most women are Florists the "Master Florists" that teach in seminars and earn a lot of money are nearly all men.
I use to work in a church creche with 3-4 year olds. There were no swords or guns allowed but the boys just made them out of leggo anyway. I think that if you leave kids alone most girls will chose dolls and boys trains. If they choose non stereotypical toys it shouldn't be a big deal.
I'm with you on that last. I used to play sniper in 4th grade while the other girls were skipping rope. That doesn't mean I don't like to cook or garden or play with babies. I just hate skipping rope.
Girls and boys work out their identity in part by what they are presented with as being normal. If they think Jerry Springer is normal, they'll be more likely pattern after it. If they think civilized behavior, self-control and personal responsibility are normal, you'll see more patterning that way. To get that last, it would help to have it demonstrated on a daily basis.
Terry Pratchett capitalization, ahoy!
I think that one of the great tragedies of our culture is the idea that "equal" is often read as "identical." "Different" does not mean that one thing is inferior to the other.
I very strongly feel that some traits are just defined by biology, or at least, made more likely by biology. (Though "biology" is not a carte blanche for misbehavior.)
I have always priding myself on being... good with women. Knowing how to interact with them. Knowing how to treat them. In general, Having A Clue.
When I started my current relationship, I wound up offending no fewer than three separate women, each of whom had remarked that said relationship had come out of nowhere. I replied by telling them that I tend to not bother my friends with my dating life until there is something solid and concrete. Something Worth Mentioning.
Apparently, to women, every single date is Worth Mentioning. I had entirely edited out three short relationships from what people knew about me, because I viewed it as a bother to those around me, something that doesn't really amount to much until there is a real relationship.
When I tried to discuss this with them, each and every one of them told me, in disgust, "That's such a male way of thinking." One of them even said, "I thought we were friends."
And this from a guy who Knows How To Interact.
It eventually occurred to me that women and men -are- different, and in ways besides girls having those nifty curves. This doesn't mean that one sex is inferior to the other... just that we are different. Even when you have a guy, like myself, who was overjoyed when Admiral Adama finally said "I love you," to President Roslin (Took him three and a half seasons! Jeez!) or a girl who likes Movies With Explosions, we are different.
Not inferior. Just different. Mac Vs. PC; they are capable of the same thing, really, it's just that it's easier and more natural to do somethings on one of the systems than on the other, and vice versa.
|Date:||July 4th, 2009 10:59 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: Terry Pratchett capitalization, ahoy!
Ah...very interesting and true...that guys don't mention anything except the important stuff and girls discuss it all.
The best answer would have been "I didn't want to tell anyone because I was afraid I'd mess it up." Girls understand that!
A lot of the toy stuff can overlap. I loved playing with castles and having imaginary swordfights and going on adventures, but I also liked dressing up and playing with dolls. I never really thought of it as 'boy stuff' or 'girl stuff' until I was older. It was just stuff I liked doing. I'm not really a fan of romance for the most part, I still have a tendency to pretend sticks are swords, I still imagine adventures for myself, and I still sew and bake. Its just who I am.
I do get bothered by people who act like since all those behaviors are 'learned,' they are wrong.
I find the 'genderless' ideas to be really really stupid. I think its offensive to women. Trying to abolish gender discrimination by abolishing gender is as offensive as it would be if someone said the way to get rid of racial discrimination is to make everybody white. And those poor kids. They're just going to grow up to be very very confused. If your not 'he' or 'she' what are you? 'It'?
I have found, on occasion, that there is a greater pressure on girls to be agreeable. Don't argue, don't come up with those ideas, be a good little girl and agree with me. I don't think the ideal woman is never aggressive at all, I just think the circumstances under which they are aggressive are different than men.
>I find the 'genderless' ideas to be really really stupid. I think its offensive to women
You put your finger on exactly what I feel. I feel as if women are being asked to be equal by becoming men...like your race and white example.
I love romances. A lot! I also love playing with swords, even now. I liked lots of boys things. I am happy I was able to do them...I would not have wished to be required to do them.
I agree with what you say at the bottom, too. Women can be tough! But our type of tough is not always the same as masculine tough.
I agree. There was this poem of Kipling's I liked called "The Female of the Species," which basically ran with that idea. I loved it.
And about the romances . . . I love them as a subplot more than a main plot. I happen to think that Tolkien had a lot of cool romantic subplots, for instance. Beren and Luthien are one of my favorite stories ever.
Edited at 2012-04-27 07:56 pm (UTC)
I love that poem. (My favorite poem of all is Kipling's The Fairies siege.)
My favorite Tolkien romance was, ironically, Eowyn and Aragorn. I realize it didn't go anywhere, but there was a scene where her hand brushed against his at a table that really stuck in my mind as a kid.
Besides, if you don't give them toy guns, they'll just make finger guns.
Like Briares. :)
LOL So true.
I have seen boys turn a Barbie doll into a gun. (One leg down, head forward as the barrel.) A friend also just told me of a case where a woman was converted away from the 'it's all environment' view when her five-year-old daugher--whom she had raised to be genderly-equal, wrapped her firetruck in a blanket and carried it around like a baby.
I did something similar --I tucked chess pieces in bed like dolls. It irritated my brother.