Wednesday, June 20, 2007

If Boys Do it, it's Sexist, if Girls do it, it's Liberating!

Cathy Young has an interesting article in Reason on The Dangerous Book for Boys: That's What Little Boys Are Made Of: The false wisdom of a "dangerous" book.

Is The Dangerous Book... sexist? While it encourages respect for girls, it does seem to treat them more as "the weaker sex" than as equals. In one grating passage, boys are encouraged to carry a handkerchief, among other things, for "offering one to a girl when she cries." Boys are reminded not to make a girl feel stupid if she needs help, but nothing is said about the possibility of accepting help from a girl, or losing gracefully if bested by a girl at some "boy" activity.


In the last paragraph of the article, Cathy mentions the new book coming out as a companion book for girls: The Daring Book for Girls. How much you want to bet that this book will not be seen as sexist at all? It will probably be viewed as a liberating book for girls. Yep, sexist if boys do it, liberating when girls to it. Yawn, same old story.

327 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony Woodlief was writing on this yesterday:
"I thought I would ask some chain mail-knitting, sledgehammer-wielding little girls how they feel about the exclusionary effect of the book's title, but then I realized I don't know any little girls like that. I've also never seen girls drooling over cowboy guns at the hobby shop, or sticking butter knives in their belts and pretending to be pirates. "
http://www.tonywoodlief.com/archives/001229.html

3:46 PM, June 20, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously Tony didn't know me or my sister.

Personally, I'm not offended. We liked hanging out with boys and doing boy things because boys didn't get their panties in a twist over stupid crap like a book title.

4:26 PM, June 20, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

I don't know what's in The Daring Book for Girls, but it doesn't strike me as sexist because it appears to have been published to emulate the Dangerous Book for Boys, or perhaps to correct its exclusion of girls. Personally, I simply don't understand the point of labeling certain items as being "for girls" and others as being "for boys." My hackles go up whenever I see arbitrary gender segregation -- it usually means someone's getting the short end of the stick. And yeah, BOTH sexes suffer for it.

Also Tony Woodlief's comment is just silly. Plenty of girls HAVE suffered from being excluded from boys' activities. I vividly remember the longing I felt as a girl in the '70s when I saw the Boy Scouts going off on camping trips deep in the woods and making things with pocket knives, while we Girl Scouts camped in the backyard and sewed potholders. And how people looked at me like I had three heads when I complained. I remember having adults constantly pressing dolls on me. I remember the subtle disapproval expressed at my interest in more "boyish" pursuits. I remember the respect boys got for engaging in games of skill and having adventures, while there was pretty much NO social support for my desire to do similar things.

It's not that playing with cowboy guns is necessarily superior to playing with dolls -- but I know plenty of women (myself among them) who grew up resenting being pigeonholed by gender. I also know, from experience, that social pressure dictates much of what we do in childhood. Most children are not inclined to be little revolutionaries, and social expectations play a large role in the choices we make when we are young. The Dangerous Book of Boys is contributing to a depressing and degrading history of pigeonholing children by gender rather than by individual predilections.

4:26 PM, June 20, 2007  
Blogger dadvocate said...

Margaret - the Boy Scouts now include girls in the Venturing troops, Girl Scouts still exclude males. I wonder at what point you began resenting being pigeonholed by gender. I have two daughters and three sisters. They all fit into Tony W's description even though they all participated in various sports at some point in their lives.

Maybe your family had more define gender roles. My Mom gladly taught me to cook when I asked. We all did dishes at some point, even sewed a little.

As for the weaker sex, physical differences are undeniable (for reasonable people). My oldest son and my youngest daughter played/play basketball. My son recently graduated from high school. He began playing AAU basketball in the 3rd grade. I never saw a member of his team cry on the court, even when breaking a thumb.

My daughter began playing in the 3rd grade also and enters the 6th grade next year. Someone cries in virtually every game. The girl who cries the most does so mostly out of frustration. She's an excellent player but gets upset when she meets her match or thinks she gets fouled and it isn't called.

A large part of what you call "pigeonholing" is simply acknowledging the real differences between boys and girls. Denying those differences is every bit as dangerous and degrading.

4:56 PM, June 20, 2007  
Blogger Bugs said...

What if boys and girls do it together?

5:01 PM, June 20, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

Yes, but I don't think anyone is capable yet of untangling what differences in behavior (if any) are innate versus what differences in behavior are the product of socialization versus what differences are a product of the combination of the two. Babies seem to be treated differently based on gender from birth. For example, girls may tend to cry more frequently because girls are far more likely to be indulged when they cry -- whereas a boy who cries during a sporting event is going to be face stern social disapproval.

I favor treating children like individuals. Every individual has strengths and weaknesses which may or may not be correlated to gender. Regardless of the root causes (socialization versus innate tendencies) of your child's predilections, his or her strengths should supported and weakenesses corrected. If girls are indeed more likely to cry in the face of adversity, parents should work with their daughters to toughen 'em up. If boys are more inclined to aggression, parents should socialize them to make sure that aggression is used in healthy and constructive ways. And children who don't necessarily conform to traditional gender norms shouldn't be treated like freaks.

To answer, your question I began questioning some gender norms as early as age 4, but my concerns weren't went into full swing by age 7. And yes, our household, while nominally feminist, was very traditional in terms of my parents' gender roles, as were most households in my community.

5:10 PM, June 20, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

Dadvocate, I just read the link to the entry on your site about male and female difference. But in that entry you focus only on biological differences, which no one disputes. Collette Dowling in her book The Frailty Myth (which I believe is the book you refer to in the link) is not arguing that women are as strong as men in upper body strength and such, but rather that the extent of women's alleged frailty has been grossly exaggerated in since the Victorian age (until the recent explosion in women's sports).

For example, I wouldn't expect women in general to throw a ball as far as men in general, but problems that women have with throwing technique can certainly be ascribed to lack of practice and training. I "throw like a girl" but no one ever taught me how to throw or played catch with me (and while I struggled on my own to attain athletic competence as a girl, it never occurred to me then that throwing a ball was a learned skill that I would have to practice).

But the above post regarding boys' and girls' play relates to behavioral differences -- and those are much harder to untangle from socialization than clear biological differences such as women's ability to make babies and men's ability to lift heavier things.

5:20 PM, June 20, 2007  
Anonymous --drew said...

I think the "Boy's Book of Danger" is a reaction, rather than a tome for the ages (based on its descriptions here; I haven't read it). Over the past 20 years boys have been treated poorly in schools as gender-neutrality became an administrative objective. Well, 9 year-old girls and boys behave differently (in the main).

There's a reason why 99% of the world's Ritalin is prescribed to white American boys, and it's not that they're sick. It's that they don't resemble girls in their needs for physical activity, physical competition and physical expression. The schools are (broadly) run by people who disagree, and children now go to school and have the physical activity prejudices of the educators imposed on them.

I don't know how my son has gotten through school without the physical outlets, e.g. recess, gym, pre- and post-school games, that were considered de rigeur in my era. We were always sweaty and dusty, because we were playing games before during and after school, in part because the women teaching us knew we needed the outlet or couldn't function parked in a chair for 7 hours a day.

I have doubts about a book, though, that fetish-izes physical activity as though it is another must-have consumer item. To me it's suspicious that adults want to co-opt yet another function of childhood: to explore, to risk, to make mistakes, to learn on one's own.

But I should probably read it before libeling it further.

5:27 PM, June 20, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can perfectly well see why girls ought not to be pigeonholed into girly roles, but then why do the family courts pigeonhole boys/men into their view of what fatherhood is? (can you say 'ATM'?)

Further, why should we compell boys to accommodate girls at every turn in the road? My son just had his Eagle Scout board of review; we've been involved since Tiger Cubs. And he's told me himself unsolicited, mind you! that this just isn't a place where he wants the girls along. It's 'boy' time and 'boy' activities and masculine treatment.

Why do the girls/women incessantly feel compelled to elbow their way in?

Rusty

6:00 PM, June 20, 2007  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

bugs -- Then you get more boys and girls. Jeez, didn't you mama teach you about birds and such?

6:24 PM, June 20, 2007  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

Margaret --

You actually answer your own question. It never occurred to you. Not blame, just observation. Boys practice everything incessantly and are physically motivated by their high energy rates to do so.

Boys like to be with boys and girls like to be with girls earlier on. They aren't taught that. It's because they behave differently. Little girls are a pain in the ass mostly, because they don't want to run around, get filthy, throw a ball for an hour, things like that.

And, there are and were girls who participate(d). They're called (oh horror) tomboys. They pushed their way in the way any boy would and earned their respect at those things. Hell, I remember Zelda.

The whole hand wringing fret thing is like the chicken and egg. How about this? The situation evolved with neither side (physical / social) purposfully impressing anything.

6:32 PM, June 20, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

I can perfectly well see why girls ought not to be pigeonholed into girly roles, but then why do the family courts pigeonhole boys/men into their view of what fatherhood is? (can you say 'ATM'?)

Why? Because traditional gender roles are so ingrained in society that family court judges tend to assume that dad should be the pocketbook and mom should be the caretaker. See - pigeonholing doesn't just hurt girls and women. It hurts everyone. That's why gender equality is so important.

6:33 PM, June 20, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

You actually answer your own question. It never occurred to you. Not blame, just observation. Boys practice everything incessantly and are physically motivated by their high energy rates to do so.

For the record, I forced my grandfather (over his skepticism) to teach me how to swing a baseball bat and to spend hours practicing with me-- with excellent results. It just never occurred to me that throwing a ball was a learned skill that also needed to be practiced. Like many people, I assumed that throwing a ball comes naturally.

And I love the fact that you claim not to be assigning "blame" but are quite willing to make a negative value judgment about little girls (i.e. that they are a "pain in the ass")! This is the kind of crap that I remember as a kid -- being herded into the doll corner and then being criticized for playing with dolls!

You also are unable to separate the behavior you claim from socialization. For example, when I was babysitting a 2 year old boy as a young adolescent, I was amazed to see how the parents constantly bought him athletic gear and constantly had him throwing balls, jumping over things, etc. etc. There is no way to know exactly how socialization and innate differences interact -- but the sex that is supposedly so "innately" namby pamby sure has a lot of so-called tomboys!

6:42 PM, June 20, 2007  
Anonymous ellen said...

When I was a kid, I loved bugs and checked out as many books about bugs from the public library as I could. One of my favorite ones was The American Boy's Book of Bugs, Beetles and Butterflies. I don't remember getting my knickers in a knot because I was a girl and the title wasn't inclusive

7:29 PM, June 20, 2007  
Blogger Bugs said...

Then you get more boys and girls. Jeez, didn't you mama teach you about birds and such?

Well, yes - but she's never written a book about it. Why would I trust the word of an amateur?

7:46 PM, June 20, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Helen and others

How come we can't be treated as individuals instead of all boys should have these characteristics and all girls should have all those characteristics?

9:24 PM, June 20, 2007  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

Margaret --

I was telling you what little boys think of little girls. Context.

Also get a grip. I have a daughter and granddaughter and you hold no more a superior view of women than I do. There are differences and I suggested and believe everything happened together. You know, the chicken / egg thing?

9:51 PM, June 20, 2007  
Anonymous D said...

well now anon 9:24...

this is back to chicken and egg stuff... if you treat everyone as individuals, you will begin to notice that genders tend to gravitate towards certain things, tend to behave in inate ways. Also? going against societal standards is only tolerated to a certain degree... and that is true of the other gender especially. Not a manly man? Well you may be OK friend material. Strong, independant woman... often treated like 'one of the guys'...

we are creatures different, and making everyone the same DOESN'T work, any more than rigid gender sterotype does. It takes more effort than that.

There is however a built in problem with squeaky wheel syndrome. Are there as many universities with Men's Studies progams as with Women's Studies programs?

10:16 PM, June 20, 2007  
Blogger Grim said...

I picked up a copy of The Dangerous Book for Boys over the weekend. I disagree with the commenter who said it's not a book for the ages -- I think it is. It's the finest thing of its sort I've ever seen; it compares very favorably to (and makes an excellent companion piece for) the better editions of the Boy Scout manual. It's outstanding, and both you (doctor) and your husband are right to make such a big deal over it.

10:16 PM, June 20, 2007  
Blogger TMink said...

D said "Are there as many universities with Men's Studies progams as with Women's Studies programs?"

But D, all the programs EXCEPT the Women's Studies programs are men's studies! That is why women's studies programs must exist. Without the strong voice of feminist . . .

Oh, sorry, I just put myself to sleep with hackneyed rhetoric.

Trey

11:06 PM, June 20, 2007  
Blogger dadvocate said...

I favor treating children like individuals. Every individual has strengths and weaknesses which may or may not be correlated to gender.

I agree completely and that is how I try to raise my children.

Some people do question the difference in physical abilities. My motivation in researching that was that during a Thanksgiving visit I say my mother reading a book that claimed the reason that girls couldn't throw is that fathers didn't take the girls out in the backyard and toss ball with them.

It turned out that throwing is the greatest single measurable difference between males and females. (I don't have time to find all the links right now.) My mother should have realized this. My youngest sister was first string all-state basketball player, player of the year in a large city, and played NCAA Div. I basketball. Yet, she could never beat me or my brother one-on-one and we never did better than 3rd string all-county.

Speaking of resentment, I hear a lot more from my sons regarding preferential treatment of girls in school, etc. than I do from my daughters for any circumstances.

11:12 PM, June 20, 2007  
Anonymous Momzilla said...

I was a wild child as a youngster. I had only brothers, and most of the kids on our block were boys. But, when there were girls around, we tended to gravitate toward activities that were more geared toward our better developed fine motor skills: making dishes out of clay that we dug up from the side of a cliff, weaving daisy chains, etc. But, when there were no girls to play with, I used those fine motor skills to refine our makeshift weapons. (I was a dead shot with an improvised clothespin crossbow.)

11:35 PM, June 20, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

d

This is anon 9:24. I see what you are saying. You are saying that both extremes are bad and I agree. This does go back to the nature vs. nurture argument. How do we objectively tell if these inate differences are biological or if they are created by society? Do we have this objective system? Here is another wrinkle. Where do hermerphrodites fit in to this equation?

11:54 PM, June 20, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You start with stereotypes for most people, and then move on to more refined generalizations to finally individual understanding. Just like with a house you start with a foundation, put up walls, and then a roof.

There is a few people who can reasonably do it the other way, but mostly they don't have deep insight into human nature, I'd guess.

Mostly, demands for individuation without the prerequisites yield a lack of knowledge, and occasionally even broader generalizations that approach the utterly ridiculous ('everyone is basically like me').

Also, I suspect this process is a male idea and that a female dominated group would be less likely to come up with it.

Now this is all extremely wild speculation but it makes sense to me.

Trey,
About last week, I was on the outside smiling at you. No problemo, mon, I was not mad or offended. And I was pleased to hear you say my posts are useful.

Tennwriter

1:01 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger jw said...

I think the central point Dr. Helen brings up is most important: A book for girls CANNOT be sexist in our culture regardless of how sexist it actually is. On the other hand, a book for boys WILL BE sexist, regardless of how little sexism it actually has in it.

This is a dangerous viewpoint error which permeates our culture. Our entire culture is built on the idea that males are sexist and females are not, without any regard for actual behavior.

It is a point which must be considered.

4:20 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

JW,

Exactly, for all the talk about individualism blah blah blah, what we really have in the current system is "feminine good, masculine bad." This is no better than the old system where women were seen as weak, stupid and hysterical. As wrong as this was, we are heading into the reverse. Now, boys and men are treated with suspician even if innocent (think the Duke rape case), active boys are treated like pariahs in schools, no longer attend college due to the anti-male culture, and are seen as ready targets for firing. I was talking to an acquaintance the other day who is a partner at a law firm who told me that the only people who could be fired at his law firm were white males under 50. How sexist is that? So when everyone talks about just treating others as individuals etc., that would be great, except that it is not happening. Men are being lumped into a group worthy of blame, sarcasm and hate. If we want equality, we must realize that sexism is a two way street.

6:38 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger br549 said...

My daughters played softball as kids growing up. We practiced untold hours in the back yard. However, they threw like girls, swung bats like girls, and ran like girls. When their various teams lost, many girls cried. When they won, many girls cried. But boy did they have fun. And the competition was as fierce as with boys.

Put a boy in a chair in front of you, and toss a ball at him in an arc. He opens his legs to catch every time. Do the same with a girl, and she closes her legs every time to catch.

There are differences between boys and girls, men and women. Why is this new? Why is it criminal now? They should be celebrated, not made criminal on the part of the male. The differences are minimized, even set aside in many places. The board room, Congress, the trading floor, the laboratory, and to a lesser degree, the construction site. Many others that just aren't coming to me on my first cup of coffee.

The only constant in life is change. But what is this (white) male bashing really all about? C'mon, somebody have the courage to speak the real truth. Any ladies out there want to tell me? Rhetoric and associated B.S. I have been hearing for years has made me deaf to what is going round and round.
Please speak up, even singe my ears if necessary.

7:00 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Fen said...

Wasn't their a gender role experiment in some Israeli commune/camp [I forget the Jewish word for it] where they tried to raise babies without role differences, but found them gravitating back to society's gender roles as they grew up?

8:56 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger John said...

Outswide my window is a lovely concrete drainage canal with water, animals and green slime.

no kids play in it ever. 'back in the day' this was exactly the kind of place me and my buddies and the occasional tomboy would rejoice in.

even if they had tried our parents could not have kept us away from polywogs and green slime.

but now. something has kept the kids away.

8:58 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Fen said...

Plenty of girls HAVE suffered from being excluded from boys' activities.

Very true. Likewise, plenty of boys have suffered from girls being included in boys' activities.

8:59 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Fen,

They did try this social experiment in a Kibbutz in Israel. It collapsed within a generation.
See: http://www.city-journal.org/html/15_2_boys_girls.html

8:59 AM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, someone is complaining about the book. Over on Amazon a user is angry that the titles aren't parallel, that "Daring" is more sanitized or safe than "Dangerous."

It comes off as complete twattle to me, especially because she can't seem to keep the words straight, often writing that "danger is less edgy than dangerous."

9:00 AM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Dr. Helen
RE: [OT] Back Again

Nice to see the OTHER function has been restored. But I still think you need to move to something like ExpressionEngine in order to gain more powerful control of this environment.

RE: 'Is' It, Sexist?

"TO: Cathy Young
RE: 'Is' It?

"Is The Dangerous Book... sexist?" -- Cathy Young

To quote one of MY favorite presidents....

"I guess it all depends on how you define 'is'."

RE: Projection, Anyone?

"Thus, Rush Limbaugh has praised The Dangerous Book... in an rambling rant against "feminazis"..." -- Cathy Young

Cathy's article rambles quite a bit too, never quite getting to the point of 'sexism' in the book. Rather it leaves me with an innuendo, but no real proof that it is 'sexist' in any nefarious fashion.

Typical 'feminist' kant and tactics. Like gossiping. [Note: Please pardon my recognition of female tendancies.]

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Prejudice: A vagrant opinion without visible means of support.]

9:04 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

A book for girls CANNOT be sexist in our culture regardless of how sexist it actually is.

Actually, I think that a lot of people would consider a book called the "Fabulous Cooking and Housecleaning Book for Girls" to be sexist -- and I bet a lot of people on this thread wouldn't bat an eyelash at such a thing. My position is skepticism at labeling activities as more appropriate for one sex than the other. If boys are more likely to gravitate towards certain activities and girls towards others, why do we adults have to jump up and down insisting that books and activities be labeled for one gender or another?

9:10 AM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There must some Church of Umbrage out there to account for all the Umbragetarians out there.

~

9:11 AM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Chuck Pelto said...

TO: margaret
RE: Really??!?!?

"For the record, I forced my grandfather (over his skepticism) to teach me how to swing a baseball bat..." -- margaret

How?

Knock him to the ground waving the bat over his prostrate head in a menacing fashion?

Sorry....I just read that and almost fell out of my chair laughing at the image of a pre-teen doing something like that to their grand-parent.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[No woman ever took a man to Hell unless he had a ticket in his pocket.]

9:13 AM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Dr. Helen, JW, et al.
RE: 'Indeed'

"Exactly, for all the talk about individualism blah blah blah, what we really have in the current system is "feminine good, masculine bad."" -- Dr. Helen

It IS 'dangerous'. VERY dangerous.

I'm reminded of a citation from C.S. Lewis....

"We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful."

And I think, this is what we're beginning to see in society.

It would be interesting to see a psychological study on what the nature of 'virtue', 'enterprise' and 'honor' are today, compared to what they were from the 40s and 50s.

Then, to compare that study against a parallel study in criminology and other legal areas, i.e., divorce, to see if there is a correlation.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Virtue consists, not in abstaining from vice, but in not desiring it. -- George Bernard Shaw]

9:29 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

Anonymous 11:54 PM

"This does go back to the nature vs. nurture argument."

There is no nature vs nurture. That's a creation of soc classes. There is only the gestalt of a person.


"How do we objectively tell if these inate differences are biological or if they are created by society? Do we have this objective system?"

Short answers - can't and no. People are too variable. Why do kids from the same house turn out radically different? Why do kids from radically different homes turn out similar? People don't even react to basic stimuli the same way, so it'd be pretty difficult to nail down what is which.

You would have to set up a controlled environ with hundreds (at least) of newborns and rear them to even start truly finding out and I'm pretty sure I'd have a pitchfork in my hands if I found out about that going on, so it's all abstract discussion for the forseeable future.

[About to post and then read about the Kibbutz. There you go.]

I am frankly baffled at people's intense desire to pigeonhole everyone. Let people grow up and become who they become. It seems to me that this desire is driven by a need to control. Find out what makes them like they are and change the environ to make them conform. That's the way it reads to me.


"Here is another wrinkle. Where do hermerphrodites fit in to this equation?"

Elsewhere. What would you expect? They cannot relate to either or because they are not. They may have a predilection. By the way, I had a friend when I was 28 or so -- Crystal -- who was hermaphroditic and lined up for surgery. He was the best babysitter I ever had and she and my daughter (3 at time) would play dolls for hours.


Margaret --

"If boys are more likely to gravitate towards certain activities and girls towards others, why do we adults have to jump up and down insisting that books and activities be labeled for one gender or another?"

Umm. If boys and girls are likely to gravitate towards certain activities, why do some adults have to jump up and down when books on those subjects are labelled such?

9:32 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Clyde said...

Boys and girls are not the same, any more than men and women are. And that's not just physiologically but mentally as well. Our brains are hardwired differently, because for hundreds of generations, the sexes had different functionsin their societies. The men were usually hunters who needed better visual-spatial skills and greater upper body strength to bring down prey with thrown spears and bows and arrows. Good hunters lived to reproduce, bad hunters starved. The women were usually gatherers and farmers and raised the children while the men hunted.

Studies have shown that mens' brains use one particular part to do a specific task, while womens' brains use more than one part for the same task, which means that women tend to recover better from strokes because their brains can route around the damaged portion to the other parts that performed that task. Neither approach is necessarily "better," they are just "different."

Men as a group are taller and stronger than women as a group. There are, of course, some women who are taller than many men, but inevitably, the tallest man is taller than the tallest woman. Men as a group tend to be better a mathematical tasks and visual-spatial skills. Women as a group are better at verbal tasks and social networking.

Finally, even in a case where a society tries to be gender-neutral and gives its children identical gender-neutral toys, the boys will usually use them as toy weapons, while the girls will usually use them as dolls for tea parties. Outlying individuals to the contrary, this is what happens in the bell curve of the "normal" group.

9:35 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

Margaret --

Actually, I think that a lot of people would consider a book called the "Fabulous Cooking and Housecleaning Book for Girls" to be sexist.

Who, exactly, do you think those people would be? The same ones condemning the boy's book, perhaps?

9:35 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger rhhardin said...

In one grating passage, boys are encouraged to carry a handkerchief, among other things, for "offering one to a girl when she cries."

He's learning to accept an offer of a position from a woman, as the one who is sent on quests, and as one that she shows, in the end, that she is satisfied with.

Which is more or less marriage, and more or less in line with the respective interests of the two people involved.

9:36 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

There are differences between boys and girls, men and women. Why is this new? Why is it criminal now? They should be celebrated, not made criminal on the part of the male. The differences are minimized, even set aside in many places. The board room, Congress, the trading floor, the laboratory, and to a lesser degree, the construction site. Many others that just aren't coming to me on my first cup of coffee.

"Celebrating" gender differences always sounds to me like code for enforcing gender conformity. Obviously, there are real gender differences. But there are good reasons to be very concerned about how people interpret and treat those differences:

(a) There is a history of grossly exaggerating gender differences, and also treating them too rigidly. Until the end of the twentieth century, for example, we assumed that girls could get very little from vigorous physical activity and competitive sports or that women could never be aggressive enough to be effective litigators.

(b) Gender differences are often interpreted to the unjust detriment of one sex or the other. For example, gender differences have historically been interpreted as justifying the notion that women are primarily suited for unpaid labor at home. Girls may have better fine motor skills, but you rarely hear anyone say to a little girl, "Wow, you'd make a great surgeon." These differences are often given value judgments encouraging contempt for girls (which we see endorsed in this thread -- as in comments about the poor, poor boys having to tolerate being around (ew!!!) candy-ass girls).

(c) The actions of individuals are often interpreted in light of assumptions about gender. For example, if I am quiet, people may view me as "shy and subservient," whereas a man who behaves the same way will be seen as the "strong silent type."

(d) People who stray from expected gender norms are often penalized.

(e) We often encourage gender norms that may actually be weaknesses. We do our daughters a disservice if we indulge them every time they cry in the face of adversity. We do our sons a disservice if we assume they do not need as much protective concern from us as our daughters (given that our sons are far more likely to die at an early age from daredevil stunts like getting drunk and falling off a roof, or driving too fast or what have you, and are even more likely than girls to be the victims of violent crime).

9:38 AM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Tis the spirit of the times:

Only boys/men can be sexist and only whites can be racist. By definition, girls cannot be sexist, nor can blacks be racist. If sexism has become a one-way street, so has racism. Somehow justice is served by establishing a class system that puts the white male at the bottom.

This is the legacy of the civil rights movement of 40 years ago. The wind has been sown, now we wait to reap the whirlwind.
Old Bob

9:41 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

Oligonicella at 9:35 a.m.:

Well, yes, obviously. That's my point.

9:44 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Rupert said...

Frankly, women are rubbish at both sewing and ironing. I learnt this the hard way in the Army Cadets :-)

9:45 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

Somehow justice is served by establishing a class system that puts the white male at the bottom.

This is the legacy of the civil rights movement of 40 years ago. The wind has been sown, now we wait to reap the whirlwind.


I dunno. I work in a large law firm. The white males seem to be doing quite nicely, thank you. The difference is that, unlike 40 years ago, folks like me have a shot at the brass ring too. And on that note, I gotta get back to the grindstone.

9:47 AM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Dr. Helen
RE: Killer!

http://www.city-journal.org/html/15_2_boys_girls.html

I'd heard of this, but I'd never found a reference.

Thanks!

RE: So....

....according to this article the feminist mothers of the kibbutz defeated the experiment themselves; because of their maternal 'instincts'. That's interesting.

So it would seem that this proves there is such a thing as 'instincts' in human beings.

And, thusly, if there are 'instincts', they will be driven by 'gender', in humans as they are in animals.

This is anathema for feminism.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Few women are dumb enough to listen to reason. -- Sophicles]

P.S. It seems that the experiment proved this axiom.

9:54 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

This is a different Margaret than has been posting on this topic thus far.
Chuck(le), thank you for posting the Lewis quote. I had been thinking of that.

I really fear for the future of the US and the world as the march to feminize men (which is really what is going on, not equal treatment of men and women) proceeds.

My daughter bought her big brother a copy of The Dangerous Book... for his upcoming birthday. When we saw it in the store, she said "Oh, J would LOVE that!" She didn't go looking for the equivalent girl book. She looked for a craft kit instead.

9:54 AM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous jim2 said...

I (adult male) have tutored young fems (I use that term because they ranged from girls to young women) and males in math (10 - 15 years old). Nearly every boy thought or perceived the world in a 3-D fashion. This showed in the way the boys perceived numbers and manipulated them. Only a few fems were like that. Instead, they seemed to see numbers manipulation as pattern adjusting by application of rules.

I found tutoring fems more interesting than males because practically the first thing I had to do to be effective was to gauge how 3-D they were. It directly affected which tutoring strategies would be most effective.

For example, one bright young fem saw math as a box into which numbers went and she had to learn how to turn the crank with equations to output the answer. For her, learning math was like learning grammar. I soon discovered that the best way with her was to explain how the rules of grammar worked.

Another young fem that I tutored was much more intuitive to the point of being quite impatient with process. She saw the rules of math operations as ways to get her close enough to make the jump to the answer. Drilling on process stuff would never keep her attention so getting her to do better required also finding ways to better refine her intuition.

The techiques for tutoring young males in math, however, has seemed more uniform. Their knowledge level, their grasp of concepts, their speed of advance, etc. vary with each individual, but the best methods have always seem to be pretty much the same in concept.

9:56 AM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Mister Snitch! said...

"Personally, I simply don't understand the point of labeling certain items as being "for girls" and others as being "for boys.""

If you don't get it, it's because you've chosen not to, and no amount of explanation will make any difference. The commenters here are clearly wasting their time with you.

9:59 AM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Chuck Pelto said...

TO: margaret [the Feminist]
RE: THAT...

"Celebrating" gender differences always sounds to me like code for enforcing gender conformity." -- margaret [the Feminist]

...is just pure, unadulterated paranoia. Either that or worse.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[(S)He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson]

10:07 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

Actually, no one has explained it on this thread. I have heard that there are differences in activities that girls and boys generally prefer. I have heard that little boys don't like being around little girls. Neither of those address the issue posed.

10:10 AM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Chuck Pelto said...

TO: mister snitch!
RE: Not...

"The commenters here are clearly wasting their time with you." -- mister snitch!

...a 'complete' waste of time. It's interesting to see the behavior.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[I've studied abnormal behavior for years and I still don't understand women. -- Dr. Sigmund Freud]

10:12 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

"Celebrating" gender differences always sounds to me like code for enforcing gender conformity." -- margaret [the Feminist]

...is just pure, unadulterated paranoia. Either that or worse.


Well, isn't celebrating gender differences a way of saying, "Boys do X and girls do Y. Isn't that great?" That's gender conformity because it doesn't account for the boys who do Y and the girls who do X-- and it categorizes people based on gender rather than individual characteristics.

10:13 AM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Richard Aubrey said...

We have boy-girl twins. That will surely fix a good many of the nature/nurture arguments which come down on the side of nurture.
We tried, until it was obviously fruitless, to even up the boy-girl toys and activities.

My kids were athletic, and so were their friends, so I ended up watching some fabulous athletes playing varsity softball. Despite being terrific at practically everything, they still tended to throw like girls. One reason is that they had better things to do with their time than accumulate a couple of thousand hours playing catch from the age of, say, five.

10:15 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

Jim2 --

Fascinating observations. Yours is a good example of how it is possible to observe some general (but not inevitable) distinctions between the genders while treating each person as an individual and not assigning value judgments to the differences that exist or jumping to conclusions about your students' capabilities in math. Kudos! Unfortunately, I think attitudes like yours are rare.

10:18 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Bruce Hayden said...

jim2

Interesting observations about math. I suspect that my mother was one of the 3D types. She had a degree in math (and her aunt got a MS from Columbia in the 1920s in math) and was good with maps.

Most of the rest of the fems I know are not good with maps. I, and many of the males I know, navigate spatially. For example, in navigating around Denver metro area, I visualize where the destination is, then the major cross streets that go there, etc. IN other words, it is almost as if I were zeroing in from space, and picking my route based on the major, and then minor, streets that I see from there.

But it seems like most of the fems I know can't do this (not all - my father claims my mother was better than he was at it). Rather, their preferred method of navigation is via landmarks. Unfortunately, this doesn't work as well if you haven't been there yet.

But can this be changed with practice? I am thinking of one HS girl in particular who is very good at math, but seems borderline here.

But also, there was a debate awhile back as to why there weren't more women in certain subject areas, notably math and physics. But could this difference in learning have a bearing.

I am suggesting that it might, because my undergraduate degree was in math, and some, if not many, of the upper level classes were fairly abstract. Plus, one very good physicist I know is extrordinarily visual in exactly the 3D way you suggest, except more so.

10:18 AM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Umm. If boys and girls are likely to gravitate towards certain activities, why do some adults have to jump up and down when books on those subjects are labelled such?

Because despite protestations to the contrary, someone is really coming across sensitive, weak, and frail. Ahem.

10:25 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

Making an assertion and defending it is weak and frail? Ok, then, I'm weak and frail.

Now how about my argument?

10:29 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Rob said...

When I was a lad in mid-1950s, our Northern California neighborhood included a fairly equal mix of boys and girls all within a few years of the same age.

We all played together, for the most part, until we were all about 11-12: the girls participated in our paying cowboys and indians, war (WWII), space rangers or whatever, with the attendant cap guns, other toy guns, surplus military gear and the whole thing. The boys and girls all had BB and/or pellet guns. And, as part of fairly explicit understanding among the larger group, the boys played 'house' with the girls part of the time as well. It wasn't 50/50, but the mix of the kinds of games we played was governed by our naiive sense of fairness that everyone's interests had to be accommodated in our play over the course of time because we all liked each other and wanted to play together. The only time it sometimes became uncomfortable was when other school friends visited one or more of us and wasn't used to the girls (all of whom were considered pretty) rough-housing with boys or to the idea of the boys taking part in the girl-directed 'house' play with something approaching real equanimity.

Until we were 11 or so, even sports remained unisex -- touch football, baseball (we had a big fight with the town league until they let the girls play on our teams), tree-climbing, wrestling, hikes, biking -- pretty much anything we did included both boys and girls.

Then as we got to junior high, and the hormones kicked in, it all changed rapidly.

10:32 AM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Margaret and a few others are upset about the the implicit exclusion of girls from these activities.

But here's what happens, usually.

Girls see some exciting or interesting thing the boys are going to do: hike, climb something. They complain until they're included, then, when in mid-hike or mid-run or during the rough-housing phase they can't keep up, they begin whining and complaining about it being "unfair", etc.

So, the activity is "softened" or made less strenuous until it's like the Girl Scouts "camping" in pre-prepared campsites in cabins with showers, dining halls, barbecue pits, etc.

The boys would rather just hike somewhere difficult to reach, camp, get dirty and relish being way the heck out in the woods.

10:51 AM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As the father of 7 year old twins - a boy and a girl - I find this thread as confusing as it is interesting (take that as you will). My kids are mostly just kids at this age; gender roles are beginning to appear but in social rather than athletic contexts. For example, my daughter seems to have a different "best friend" every week while her brother is being pursued by a girl he describes as "freakishly pretty." Hmmm.

Both kids play soccer, basketball and baseball, and both take karate. My son is better at every sport except karate. Why? One reason is that my daughter, at least at this age, is simply more aggressive and more inclined to kick ass. But the more significant reason is that my daughter does better than her brother in an instructional environment that emphasizes the repetition of discrete movements. (She also wants to take ballet.)

The apparent preference for an approach to instruction that builds specific skills out of their physical components can be seen in other sports as well. It isn't difficult to get little girls to do basketball or soccer drills, for example, but boys apparently would rather play the game and pick up skills on the fly - by observation and by trial and error. I've seen this not just with my 7 year old but with his 12 year old brother (and his peers) as well.

Here's the fun part: it appears that this preference does not entirely disappear in adulthood. I'm involved in high performance driving and racing, and almost every instructor I've met tells me that women make the best students. One reason is that they listen. Another is that they check their egos at the garage door. But I think it's significant that driver training is inherently skills-based. An instructor can't just put someone behind the wheel of a racecar and expect the student to "figure it out" - it isn't safe. Driving fast isn't like playing shortstop. Students must learn and practice certain skills before they can safely drive at speed. Racing schools spend hours on exercises that teach discrete skills (braking, shifting, passing) before allowing students on track to put all the skills together. Many guys are impatient with this method and find the exercises frustrating, but instructors have told me that women students thrive.

Why there aren't more top-ranked women racers is a topic for another thread, but I don't think it has to do with an inherent disparity in skill.

10:52 AM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Chuck Pelto said...

TO: margaret [the feminist]
RE: Well...

"Well, isn't celebrating gender differences a way of saying, "Boys do X and girls do Y. Isn't that great?"" -- margaret [the feminist]

...'yes'. As some French guy put it, "Viva la difference!" And I tend to agree {nudge-nudge, wink-wink}

"That's gender conformity because it doesn't account for the boys who do Y and the girls who do X-- and it categorizes people based on gender rather than individual characteristics." -- margaret [the self-deluded feminist]

Wrong.

I'm the master of the kitchen in this household. I do 90% of the cooking.

However, the distaff here is the 'flour child'. She is the mistress and, for all intents and purposes, sorceress of baking.

She's also a better shot, in target competition, than I.

On the other hand, I'm the master of 'quick kill' shooting techniques.

Those are acquired skills based on proclivities.

For gender-based differences, when she discovered she was pregnant, she broke down in tears of joy.

I broke open a bottle of champagne and got drunk.

That's a different venue.

RE: However....

....you're attempting to change the subject.

We WERE talking about your apparently paranoia...or 'worse'.

And I suspect, more and more, that it's the latter.

I think mister snitch! nailed it quite accurately, above, vis-a-vis your unnatural proclivities.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[When I want to get in touch with my feminine side, I give her a hug.]

10:52 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Rich B said...

I just let my subscription to Reason expire after 20 years. Cathy Young was one of many irritants that led to my decision. I see she's up to her old tricks.

11:04 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

Ooh unnatural proclivities. That sounds sexual. Do go on.

11:05 AM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous wcgreen said...

Margaret wrote: " I vividly remember the longing I felt as a girl in the '70s when I saw the Boy Scouts going off on camping trips deep in the woods and making things with pocket knives, while we Girl Scouts camped in the backyard and sewed potholders. And how people looked at me like I had three heads when I complained."

I was a Girl Scout in the 1960s and early 1970s. We did all the woodsy things: wild foods, knife craft, fire building, etc. I canoed the length of the Suwanee River--one of the Girl Scouts' "Wider Opportunites" and my troops camped and backpacked all over Florida.

In the 1980s, I tried to take my troop of four girls camping, but insurance regs and G.S. Council rules prevented any outings unless we had two or more female adults. Unfortunately, all their mothers were busy on the weekends and fathers weren't acceptable.

Perhaps Margaret should have tried another troop or maybe she came along late enough to run afoul of tighter restrictions.

11:26 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Tom said...

The real travesty is in the schools. If you go to any elementary school in this country you will find the teachers to be excessively female. Our school had 2 token male teachers, 1 in the gym and 1 special ed.

And the woman teachers for the most part were the girly girls when they were in elementary school who thought boys were pure ick. Add to that fact that those that get a degree in elementary education are typically at the lower end of the education food chain you can see a problem developing.

So these girls that have grown up to be woman who never liked elementary school boys to begin with now are faced with having to teach elementary school boys. And they hate it. They do not behave like they are supposed too. They are still rude obnoxious little creatures that have to be tolerated.

And thus you have a curriculum, social setting, and leadership all extremely motivated to turning boys into girls for 6 years.

If they act too much like little boys, drug them. Make them sit in groups of 4 for long periods of time and punish them if they act up.

In an elementary school, your typical boy never has a chance.

11:28 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

WC Green, my girl scout experience was in the mid-70s. I attribute the disparity in activities (as well as the lack of organized sports for girls in my area) to the culture of my particular troop and my community. It certainly was not universal during that time period.

As for the treatment of little boys, I agree that certain activities, like "Take Your Daughters to Work," are unfairly exclusionary to boys. But forcing little boys to settle down and pay attention in school is as old as the existence of school itself. Before girls were even allowed in school, little boys were forced to sit still for hours engaged in rote memorization or math drills. Boys' boarding schools in Britain favored a regimen of paddling and cold showers. Now we've got ritalin. I am not a fan of any of these methods, but I wouldn't blame efforts to tame the high spirits of little boys on "feminization."

11:53 AM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Making an assertion and defending it is weak and frail? Ok, then, I'm weak and frail.

Now how about my argument?


Well, in this case, your "argument" is undercut by your effete, wounded, mewling - dare I say effiminate? - tone.

A little advice: if you want others to to take your arguments regarding "gender conformity" being "imposed" on women seriously, perhaps you should stop whining about being left out of kickball games as a child. It tends to make you come across like...well, like a such a girl.

11:54 AM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Megs said...

Incredibly fascinating discussion. I appreciate that it hasn't gotten too nasty. :)

"In one grating passage, boys are encouraged to carry a handkerchief, among other things, for "offering one to a girl when she cries."

I wish MORE boys were taught to be gentlemen. It used to be standard to offer a girl a hanky...now it's just uncomfortable to deal with. Or the boys make fun.

I was a complete tomboy as a little girl. Slug fights, dirt, mud, fishing...never bothered me a bit. I don't recall being left out or made fun of for wanting to do "boy" things. In fact my father generally took me fishing more often than my brother.

In 3rd grade my mom signed me up for hardball...with the boys. And I remember being SO uncomfortable and out of sorts. It wasn't that the boys treated me badly or differently...but I felt weird trying to keep up with them. So I quit that and started softball and played for 15 years.

I don't see why it's such an argument to say boys and girls ARE different. It's common sense. Why the heck we need so called scientific studies is beyond me. But just because the sexes are different in general doesn't mean every quality applies to all men or all women.

Even my grandparents knew this. Grandpa cooked breakfast. Always. He's the master of breakfast. Sometimes he'd cook dinner but mostly grandma did that. She baked. She also fished and often outfished grandpa. And she hunted - getting her fair share of kills. This was in the 40s/50s. No one got snippy because of gender roles.

It's just ridiculous. I hate to cook. Does that make me a weird female? I also hate to clean. I love to create jewelry but I also love my job which is very analytical. My husband carries a gun for a living but he also likes bubble baths and gardening. Who cares?

Men and women are DIFFERENT as groups. People who deny this are fools. You can't deny reality. That doesn't mean that individuals aren't different. I don't understand why this is so hard to understand. *sigh*

11:59 AM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger dadvocate said...

I think the "historical" perspecitives are grossly exagerated. Up until the mid-twentieth century, men and women worked very hard whether in a factory, farm or house. Sweat shops employing women abounded for many years.

As a city boy who moved to the country in 1990, I have learned how hard many women still work on farms. Who even cared about litigators, male or female, until the 1970's when getting rich off litigation became popular and promoted by litigators?

Historically, only upper middle class and higher women lived the typical "woman of the house" role. I imagine many of them prefered it to the much less comfortable, much more dangerous alternatives.

Organized sports, Scouts, etc. any where close to the level we see today have only been round for 150 years or less. And, there's been plenty of celebrated female athletes over the years, Babe Zaharias, Wilma Rudolph, Esther Williams, Annie Oakley, etc. My 82 year old mother played basketball at one of those patriarchial Catholic high schools. (If you visit the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, you will find that a Catholic Nun popularized women's basketball.)

Much of the sexism feminists protest only existed for a short period of time.

Other misconceptions exist. The South is generally considered more backwards but The (GREAT) University of Tennessee was the first coed college in the United States. Ironically, it is considered officially sexist to refer to a female as a "coed" at UT. Helen's hubby better be careful. Read it and you'll see that it's all about protecting women from offensive language, nothing about men. Talk about bias.

11:59 AM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Changing the subject very slightly: I just bought a copy of the book for my 12 year old son, and frankly I was rather disappointed by the misleading title. There is absolutely nothing "dangerous" mentioned in this book.

If skipping rocks and skinning rabbits is now considered 'dangerous,' then our civilization really is doomed. Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn must be spinning in their graves.

I wasn't necessarily expecting to find descriptions of some of the truly dangerous things that I did when I was a boy (like trying to make nitroglycerine, taking apart shotgun shells to make pipe bombs, flying kites in thunderstorms, electrocuting bugs with a 120 volt cord plugged into the wall outlet, and setting fire to hornet nests), but at the very least, I would have expected to find descriptions of a few slightly dangerous things -- maybe on the order of matchstick rockets or home-made black powder.

12:01 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

Margaret 10:13 AM

Well, isn't celebrating gender differences a way of saying, "Boys do X and girls do Y. Isn't that great?" That's gender conformity because it doesn't account for the boys who do Y and the girls who do X-- and it categorizes people based on gender rather than individual characteristics.

Holy friggin' crap! This is exactly why we can't talk about issues like this. Certain folks aren't satisfied unless everyone qualifies every last damned sentence into oblivion.

It's not gender conformity, it's not wanting to beat a sentence to putty every time you speak and expecting that the person being spoken to exhibit some form of context.

By the way, you missed the irony in my phrase turning. I meant folks such as yourself.

It used to be, margaret-f, that there was recess and hard exercise to bleed off the boy's energies. Now there is not. Why? Because one half of the class doesn't require it and it's hard to control. So, dope up the other half.

Anon 12:01 -- Wow. I remember doing all those things too. Burnt hell out my right thumb setting off a pile of M80 dust.

12:05 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one can deny that boys and girls are treated differently. Even how these differences are viewed are themselves different - through a feminist point of view by default, which of course, is yet another consequence of the different treatments. We are still living in the traces of an ancient warrior-culture, where men simply die fighting other men. In such a culture, a needy, whiny, narcissistic man is one less willing to scar or die. Parodixically, in such a male-centered society, men must be disposable; and women come first and are indespensable, even if only so they could then bear men willing to kill or be killed by other men.

For men therefore, self-love is dangerous and antithetical to war. For women, a complaint is a call for attention to her survival, which must be ensured by the patriarchs.

As a boy growing up gay in a third-world patriarchal country, I so hated the fact that boys (of which I considered myself not one) had to do all the dirty, difficult, and dangerous chores, while the girls busied themselves with skin care, sewing, and cooking. Worse, I hated that I wasn't allowed to hate it becuase I was a boy. And even worse, I hated that I had to hide my moisturizers and astringents for the exact same reason. I can only care for myself for as long as it didn't stray from the ultimate goal of toughness (aka a situation that calls for a sacrifice of life). It must not make me less willing to get cut, burnt, muscled, or scarred. My elders were preparing me and all the boys to die in some vague "battle".

Now, that I am older, and with a good complexion, and liberated to say "Bitch do that yourself"; I think boys and girls should be able to do whatever the hell the want.

12:09 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Denis said...

Margaret, this gender neutrality theory is for the birds. Both sexes are equal but definately not the same. Anthropoligists and socioligists and my little finger know that boys and girls do not as a rule have the same needs or physical activity. Besides the task-oriented (male)VS multi-task(female) thought process there are other needs. Some of these include play fighting, rough housing and competition for dominance. Its new age social reform minded liberals who are feminizing our men. Again I will restate that women are equal but not the same. Our society is not helped by the emasculation of men.

12:18 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Nony Mouse said...

There's something that seems to be missing from this thread, and that's something I got from my own remembered childhood as well as from my developmental psycology classes. There's a time when kids are growing up that they start identifying STRONGLY with their gender. Boys might play with cars, but if you paint it pink and put the word 'Barbie' on it somewhere, it's a girl's toy. And the girls in my class in elementary school played 'G.I. Joe' but not with the licenced action figures. Honestly, at the age they're shooting for, the kids are far more likely to open it if it has a gender designation on it. 'Dangerous' and 'Daring' are almost secondary here... except in the minds of adults. In other societies, cultures so different from our own that the roles are almost completely reversed, you still see the gender identification thing. Even, denis, when it's the women who are expected to go out and hunt and the men stay around the house.

12:25 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Bugs said...

When I was a kid, I loved bugs and checked out as many books about bugs from the public library as I could.

Ellen - call me. We need to talk.

12:30 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Slocum said...

What if boys and girls do it together?

Do yourself a favor and get your kids a copy of 'Swallows & Amazons'. Boys and girls together doing 'dangerous' things and nothing remarkable or PC about it. Originally published back in the progressive, non-sexist year of ... 1930.

12:44 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous jim2 said...

The 10:52 post on fems more apt to gain skill by drill while boys prefer skill gains "on the fly" also fit my soccer coaching experience. The girls would at least try things suggested by dad coaches in practice and even in games. The boys, however, would try things only if they were presented by someone they regarded as a skill figure, and that was NOT dads. We dads eventually learned that and sought out high school varsity players to introduce the very same things we dads had tried to introduce.

I am amused by some of the girl scout discussions because I was a girl scout myself (despite being an adult male). A GSA membership was a requirement to be a troop leader and my wife and I were co-leaders of our daughter's Brownie troop in the early '80s. That was so much fun!

I especially liked attending required GSA official functions. I would announce that I was the token male .... ;-)

12:50 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Slocum said...

Oh, and by the way, men are bigger and stronger than women, but boys really aren't up through about 8th grade, which is what we're talking about. For example, up through middle school girls soccer teams can be quite competitive with boys teams. Girls teams (and co-ed teams) joined my son's winter indoor leagues fairly often.

Unfortunately, sexism showed up there too. My son really disliked playing girls teams in indoor soccer, not because he didn't like playing with girls per se, but because the officials tended to cut them a lot more slack in terms of physical play, and they took full advantage (you should have seen them throw their hips around to knock opposing players off stride).

12:51 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think that a book with "amazons" in the title is non-sexist. I remember the mythology of that tribe, which included putting all male newborns to death.

12:53 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

Olgonicella,

I am suspicious of and not sure what it accomplishes to "celebrate our differences" by gender. Why not say, "Lots of kids are losing out by the eradication of recess and vigorous exercise. Let's bring it back." (I also can't imagine a scenario by which little girls don't need recess and exercise, regardless of what gender differences you posit!)

Qualifications are important because blithe assumptions about gender differences (often assumed without evidence to be innate) HURT people.

12:56 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

Slocum at 12:51 p.m. -- good point.
And it always amazes me that outfits like the Presidential Physical Fitness Award for kids has different standards for boys and girls, even at ages when boys are equal to or even weaker and smaller than the girls. This was obvious to me as a girl, as the boys standards never seemed to be particularly difficult. The differing standards seemed designed with no purpose other than to ingrain the nation that "you girls are weaker, weaker, weaker," even when it wasn't true.

1:00 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Bugs said...

slocum - I don't have any kids, fortunately for them.

That won't stop me from writing my own book, though. I think I'll call it The Book of Dangerous Girls for Boys...

1:01 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Slocum said...

I don't think that a book with "amazons" in the title is non-sexist.

Then you clearly don't know the book (Amazon is the name of a boat which is adopted as the name of its crew).

That won't stop me from writing my own book, though. I think I'll call it The Book of Dangerous Girls for Boys...

That sounds like a book for an older audience. And it reminds me of George Lakoff's title Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things.

1:12 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Peregrine John said...

I got a copy of The Dangerous Book and also discovered that while it's great fun and essentially a century of an update to The American Boy's Handbook, it's also nothing remotely like dangerous. Excellent marketing, that word, but little else.

As for the dreaded "for boys" designation, does anyone honestly think girls aren't allowed to buy/read/own/use it? Is anyone under the delusion that saying "for boys" will do anything less than prod endless girls to get it for themselves? I could go on for days (as could, apparently, many other of Dr. Helen's guests here), but it can be summed up in 4 letters:

OFFS.

1:13 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am really enjoying "The Margaret Blog," with special introduction to today's topic by Dr. Helen. Keep on keepin' on, Margaret!

1:18 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Happycrow said...

This is such a Baby-Boomer argument. Once the control freaks are all safely out of the way, and stop assuming that children need to fit into adult concepts, the kids can go back to having the fun of their choice.

1:19 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

Anonymous at 1:18 p.m. --

Tee hee. What I can say? I got tired of lurking.

1:23 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Occam's Beard said...

Babies seem to be treated differently based on gender from birth. For example, girls may tend to cry more frequently because girls are far more likely to be indulged when they cry -- whereas a boy who cries during a sporting event is going to be face stern social disapproval.

The tired old feminist warble, spoken like a true non-parent.

Parents give children toys to entertain and amuse them, not to teach them sex roles. Entertaining a child with a toy he isn't interested in is impossible, and he won't be polite about expressing his dissatisfaction. So parents, through trial and error, find out what works and what doesn't. That's why boys and girls end up with the toys they do. Especially at the pre-school stage, there's no reasoning with them, believe me. Try turning off cartoons and putting on the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour for a child if you doubt this.

For example, our boys, as soon as they could walk, used to push their strollers and make truck noises ("BIG trucks!", as they used to say, as soon as they could talk). No teaching, no nothing from us. A neighbor's daughter of the same age never did that once, according to her mother. Anecdotal evidence, to be sure, but a common observation. Nowadays, in elementary school, they have no use for girls - except for the one who also likes bugs, etc. She's OK in their book, because she shares their interests.

And as for crying, if girls/women do not have a greater intrinsic tendency to cry, then they have no excuse. The next time one of my female subordinates comes into my office crying about something (an all too frequent occurrence, btw, after trivial spats with each other), I'll have HR suggest she receive counseling to deal with her emotional instability (which is what I'd do with a male subordinate, although that's never happened).

Of course, I'd never do any such thing. Some of the blubberers have been embarrassed, but said they just can't help themselves. Maybe they were dissembling, but I don't think so. Putting up with women blubbing over trivial matters is just (a not especially attractive) part of the job.

Behaviors are learned to some extent, but have a large innate component as well. Consider the differences in temperament between, e.g., pit bulls and golden retrievers. Tough to ascribe that one to expectations.

It's time to put away childish things, such as the Marxist notion that man is a tabula rasa, and that a New Socialist Man can be made for whom Marxist will work. Ain't gonna happen.

1:27 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Bugs said...

Today's Marxists want the New Socialist Man to be the New Socialist Woman.

1:41 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

Parents give children toys to entertain and amuse them, not to teach them sex roles. Entertaining a child with a toy he isn't interested in is impossible, and he won't be polite about expressing his dissatisfaction. So parents, through trial and error, find out what works and what doesn't. That's why boys and girls end up with the toys they do. Especially at the pre-school stage, there's no reasoning with them, believe me. Try turning off cartoons and putting on the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour for a child if you doubt this.

Well, that's exactly right! Which is WHY it's silly to insist that certain things are "for boys" and other things are "for girls." As a girl, the adults in my life insisted on furnishing me with an enormous doll collection -- which I never touched. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make her drink.

No one on this thread has proposed a tabula rasa theory, which makes me wonder why people are arguing against it . . . I think what most feminists would say is that we don't KNOW (yet) to the extent to which certain behaviors are innate because we haven't been able to separate those behaviors from the socialization that starts from birth.

If a subordinate were to cry in my office, I would gently counsel him or her to get the crying issue under control either by counseling or self-discipline because crying in the workplace undermines one's professionalism. It would never occur to me to treat a male blubberer differently than a female blubberer. Perhaps the expectation of different treatment by people like Occam's Beard is why men would never think of crying in the office. Because they know they would be viewed as mentally unstable, while women know that they would be viewed as just women.

1:45 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Zoe Brain said...

I'm gratified at the good sense shown by most of the commentariat here.

Boys and Girls think differently, though virtually all Boys have some atypical traits, and virtually all Girls do too. We should treat individuals *as* individuals, while not pretending that real differences between the groups don't exist.

And yes, it is innate, fixed by our neuroanatomy.

But then, I have an unusual viewpoint, since I have a transsexual medical history.

Accounts by those guys with 5ARD say much the same. Most are not TS (though the odds are much higher than for most males). Because their bodies look female until their teens or early 20s, when they masculinise, they experience gender dysphoria in childhood, their brains like their chromosomes are male. For them, the changes at puberty are a Godsend.

A substantial minority are TS however, with feminised brains, and for them male puberty is a horrible nightmare. Most of this group request surgical reassignment at an early age, and often obtain it.

I repeat : boys and girls as groups think differently (as Megs so aptly put it).


The RadFems do have a point though : the glass ceiling exists, something I didn't believe when I was faking male. But I'm one of the few people on the planet able to make the comparison. I'm treated quite differently, and with less value, in technical meetings now my somatic appearance is female, something I find alternately amusing and frustrating. This is regardless of whether those involved know my odd medical history or not (most don't). I do work in a stereotypically male area though, Engineering, where women are only 8-12% of the workforce.

1:52 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Zoe Brain said...

Oh Margaret, for future reference: Testosterone (the primary male sex hormone) makes it far more difficult to cry. Assuming a guy's hormone balance is normal, having tears stream down his face is the equivalent of a gal having full-blown hysteria, a sign that something quite extraordinary and immensely upsetting is occurring.

There are also issues of shame, as "Big Boys don't cry". Crying for anyone with high levels of T does not relieve stress, it is merely a sign of extreme psychological trauma.

YMMV with social background and all that, but ask anyone who's made the transition in either direction, and they'll say the same. Gals relish the relief that a good blub can give, guys are thankful they no longer wear their heart on their sleeve and can conceal emotion.

2:05 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Bugs said...

slocum - Yeah, the Lakoff thing was on purpose. I was wondering if anybody would catch it.

2:09 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Slocum said...

And it always amazes me that outfits like the Presidential Physical Fitness Award for kids has different standards for boys and girls, even at ages when boys are equal to or even weaker and smaller than the girls.

When I was a school kid doing that stuff, the girls really needed different standards because they had very few athletic outlets and most were pretty useless athletically. They mostly *were* slow, and weak, and, well, they threw like girls. I remember watching girls H.S. basketball games back then and seeing final scores of 14-10.

Things have changed dramatically. How many of the 'gender essentialists' commenting here would have expected girls would take to competitive team sports as enthusiastically as they have in the last 20-30 years?

I repeat : boys and girls as groups think differently (as Megs so aptly put it).

They do, but quite a bit less so than they used to. In addition to the competitive sports, think about how many girls & women there are who love 'adrenaline junkie' (what one might have otherwise referred to as 'testosterone fueled') extreme sports -- climbing, mountain biking, snowboard half-pipe, and so on. No, not as many as men, but still a lot.

2:24 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Steve said...

It is not fair to individuals for their group identity to override all their other desires and attributes.

It's silly to deny that generalizations can't be made about the differences between men and women.

This is not a dichotomy.

2:32 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous anony-mouse said...

I think what most feminists would say is that we don't KNOW (yet) to the extent to which certain behaviors are innate because we haven't been able to separate those behaviors from the socialization that starts from birth.

Maybe, maybe not. As someone else already noted, the biggest basis for difference (even before puberty) is in the brain. The more detailed explanation is that in addition to however the brain actually forms in each fetus, a prenatal hormone release occurs in male fetuses that attacks the link between the left and right hemispheres, breaking down some portion of it.

The consequence is that which another poster already described -- a majority of men have limited intrahemispherical communication and tend to have one half of the brain or the other dominating during a given thought process. A majority of women have strong intrahemispherical communication and tend to think fluidly between both hemispheres. This has all kinds of implications on learning styles, emotional responses, etc.

Another point that has only been vaguely touched upon is the effect of hormone differences post-puberty: men have reasonably high and constant levels of a hormone that is correlated to aggression and sexual response in both sexes, while the female undergoes a monthly cycle of two different dominant hormones that produce different types of responses according to their proportions and consequent physiological effects.

A third point, not yet introduced to the thread, is that recent findings suggest that genes which control intelligence are found on the X chromosome only. Men have only one of these, and this explains why they tend to push out toward the tails of the bell (really smart or really dumb), while women receive the average of two X chromosomes and tend to push up the center of the bell.

Anyone who thinks the genders are basically equal and seeks to identify the social causes of difference is deluded: the social causes are themselves the result of difference. Sure, social causes can be used destructively, and I have no problem with seeking to promote an environment where each individual can find his or her level without being jammed into someone else's mold.

But in my experience, many (if not "most") feminists -- or at least the vocal ones -- aren't seeking that, but instead want to indict the results as having an inviolable first cause in sexism, rather than biology.

2:40 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger MikeT said...

Rich B,

You aren't the only libertarian who got sick to death of the warmed over liberalism that is infesting Reason. I think today, the only consistently good libertarian writer there that comes to mind is Radley Balko who focuses on real libertarian issues like... police brutality, prosecutorial corruption and eminent domain abuse. The rest seem fit to make snarky comments about how racist everyone else is for opposing illegal immigration, rant about "feminist" issues and stuff like that.

I knew that they had lost it when they started acting like the political left was a natural ally. I give Reason another 10 years before it becomes nothing more than a vaguely libertarian, left-wing publication.

2:48 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Marbel said...

Margaret, I am sorry that as a child you had girl toys forced on you when you would have preferred batting practice instead. Can you accept the idea that most girls enjoy playing with dolls just as most boys enjoy playing with trucks? And that most parents are not forcing gender stereotypes on their kids by giving girls dolls and boys trucks, but trying to please their children by giving them the toys they want?

Have you ever seen a toddler holding a baby doll? In general, the girl will hold the doll like a mother holds an infant. In general, the boy will hold it by one arm or leg just before hurling it. I've seen it over and over again, most recently with an 18-month-old girl with 3 big brothers and no sisters. No one showed her how to hold the doll. There were no dolls in her house - she came to mine and picked up one of my daughter's dolls. (Yes, I know: anecdotal evidence.)

Dare I say that in general girls are hardwired this way because they are the ones who give birth, who nurse babies, and are most often the nurturers?

2:54 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous tom swift said...

Here's an interesting statement from 'way up top -

"I remember the respect boys got for engaging in games of skill and having adventures, while there was pretty much NO social support for my desire to do similar things."

Quite revealing. Boys don't need social support to do dumb (or "dangerous") stuff. Slogging through the mud to catch frogs, shooting arrows at fish, making campfires, whittling useless things out of sticks, splicing ropes, building forts in the woods, making boomerangs - we do that stuff on our own. There's no point in waiting for approval; we knew we wouldn't get it even if we bothered to ask. If girls need "social support" for that stuff, well, there's your innate difference right there.

2:59 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This one was solved very easily in our house. Rather than have long, involved debates about what "The Dangerous Book for Boys" meant in terms of our future daughter we went with the simple, direct solution.

I took a black sharpie marker and wrote "& Girls" on the front cover. When she comes along as asks who wrote that on there the answer will be "your father". Several problems solved with one quick pen stroke: society does not dictate who and what you are, you are not bound by any external expectations of gender based behavior and solving these types of issues is as quick and easy as popping the cap off of a permament marker.

3:02 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Alan said...

In one grating passage, boys are encouraged to carry a handkerchief, among other things, for "offering one to a girl when she cries."

Can't win for anything. Guys are supposed to be more sensitive toward women, but we can't without being sexist.

Women cry more than men do. That wouldn't be the case if women weren't on average more empathetic than men. Pack the hankies!

3:13 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

Can you accept the idea that most girls enjoy playing with dolls just as most boys enjoy playing with trucks? And that most parents are not forcing gender stereotypes on their kids by giving girls dolls and boys trucks, but trying to please their children by giving them the toys they want?

I am not sure about "most" and I am not sure whether it's "hardwired", but sure plenty do and there is nothing wrong with that. Never said there was.

However, the socializing starts even before children show their predilections. It starts from the moment you start bouncing your baby boy in the air vigorously while cooing overy our baby girl. It starts when you assume your crying girl is scared and that your crying boy is angry. It starts when you lift your baby girl over the pillow while insisting that your baby boy climb over it himself. It's not that parents are evil; it's that these behaviors are unconscious.

Boys don't need social support to do dumb (or "dangerous") stuff. Slogging through the mud to catch frogs, shooting arrows at fish, making campfires, whittling useless things out of sticks, splicing ropes, building forts in the woods, making boomerangs - we do that stuff on our own. There's no point in waiting for approval; we knew we wouldn't get it even if we bothered to ask. If girls need "social support" for that stuff, well, there's your innate difference right there.

You are wrong. First of all, for activities like team sports, you do need social support in order to have any opportunity to play or learn. Secondly, boys were (once) freer than girls to engage in rough play. It's helluva lot easier to go off into the woods when adults don't come swooping in, screeching: "Oh my GOD!!! You'll get your clothes dirty!!! That's dangerous!!!" That's an adult response girls were far more likely to encounter than boys. Until now. Which is why you are seeing boys inside playing video games, and precisely why the authors of the above-named book and the "war against boys" rhetoricians are so concerned about the state of boyhood.

If boys are immune from social expectations, why are we so up in arms about the war on boys?

3:16 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

Can't win for anything. Guys are supposed to be more sensitive toward women, but we can't without being sexist.

Assuming that I am some sort of alien creature who is likely to be crying all the time hardly strikes me as especially "sensitive."

3:18 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Charles said...

The surest road to social success, even riches?

First, be an exemplar for your own gender. Then, master as many skills as you can of the other gender.

If you want to be chief of police, you can be All-Man. If you want to be governor, you need to be able also to comfort a squalling baby, play an instrument, bake a souffle, carry on a pleasant conversation with women as the only male...

Women tend to be more adept at also mastering some masculine skills. But for both men and women in general, the higher rungs in society go to those with, not the highest grades in college, but the broadest mastery of gender skills.

3:22 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Peg said...

(Actually another Margaret here)Great discussion. I'm an old gal here. Grew up in the 50's and 60's when gender roles were rigid and societal and parental expectations were stereotypical. I was a tomboy as well, and much preferred my brother's cowboy gear and sports equipment to my dolls and Easy Bake oven. I grew up to be a fairly outspoken feminist in my 20's. I'm also the mother of a son and daughter ( and grandmother of each) so I'll certainly agree that gender differences seem to be apparent from the get-go. However, basing our expectations of INDIVIDUALS on group stereotypes of any sort, including gender, is just plain wrong and diminishes the potential contribution of any individual to society. The list of what girls "couldn't" or "shouldn't" do was long when I was a girl. And the societal pressure was huge to conform. Frankly I worry about the tomboys of today in this Barbie-pink princess world. All that being said I have actually purchased and read the Dangerous Book for Boys and liked it a lot. In fact, I gave it to my son-in-law for Father's Day. Thought it was great and that boys need this kind of mentoring from their fathers in shared activities. I did write on the flyleaf however that Elizabeth might find some of this stuff fun too! I was only mildly put off by the exclusionary title and found the section on girls actually not bad. Girls do cry sometimes and I did not feel this was written in a judgemental way. I greatly appreciate Margaret's articulate and cool-headed contributions to this discussion. You must be a heck-of-a litigator!

3:29 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous tom swift said...

"You are wrong. First of all, for activities like team sports, you do need social support in order to have any opportunity to play or learn. Secondly, boys were (once) freer than girls to engage in rough play."

No, speaking as an ex-boy who did those things without any social support at all, I can assert that I'm 100% right. We didn't get anyone's approval for our team sports, either. Obviously we needed more than one boy interested in doing dumb stuff, like playing baseball with rocks because we lost the ball. But that's not "social support". We improvised the equipment and went at it until some adult chased us off. Then we went somewhere else and started up again. Social support simply didn't enter into it. I don't know if we'd have gotten it; it never occurred to us to ask.

"If boys are immune from social expectations, why are we so up in arms about the war on boys?"

They're not immune to constant, unceasing, 24/7 assault. You're up in arms about an imaginary war on girls, allow us to be mildly miffed about a real war on boys.

3:43 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Peg said...

"You're up in arms about an imaginary war on girls, allow us to be mildly miffed about a real war on boys."
Tom, this is what I do not understand. No one, I believe has mentioned a "war on girls". Trust me, girls and women have had their options severely limited in the past, less so now, though it concerns me that many men feel so threatened by this. I fail to see the "real war" on boys that you say exists. It was mentioned upthread,that expectations in school were impossible for boys to meet without medication in some cases. Why is this? 40-50 years ago boys could sit still and listen, did their homework, and excelled. Most often boys were the class leaders and at the top of the class. Believe me, rules were much more rigid then regarding behavior. I don't buy that the lack of PE class is simply the reason. I also don't believe that the reason has to do with the perceived attempt to "feminize" men. Please help me out here, I do see young men and boys in trouble, but I don't yet have a reason that I can understand.

4:04 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Dogwood said...

Margaret said....It starts when you assume your crying girl is scared and that your crying boy is angry.

I can only assume you don't have kids because most parents know why their kids are crying.

Using my two girls an an example, as infants they only cried when they were hungry, when they needed to burp, when they were tired or sick, or after they woke up from a nap and wanted out of their crib.

When a child is crying, parents don't make assumptions as to why the child is crying, rather we identify the reason for the crying and address it so the crying stops and we can get back to sleep.

In less than a week, parents learn what the different types of crying mean and we learn what we need to do to make it stop.

Trust me when I say that gender-based assumptions regarding our children's crying never enter the picture, especially at 2 a.m.

4:09 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger SGT Ted said...

However, the socializing starts even before children show their predilections. It starts from the moment you start bouncing your baby boy in the air vigorously while cooing overy our baby girl. It starts when you assume your crying girl is scared and that your crying boy is angry. It starts when you lift your baby girl over the pillow while insisting that your baby boy climb over it himself. It's not that parents are evil; it's that these behaviors are unconscious.

Or they are simply made up out of whole cloth to support an already arrived at conclusion; that gender differences are the deliberate result of sexism, rather than being natural.
I don't know any actual parents who differentiated between their babies like that.

4:52 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Matthew said...

Actually what I find interesting is that the book needs to say "for boys" in the title. I know that books for boys always existed, but I think it is more pronounced now. There seems to be a hyper masculine strain in society, seen in wrestling, body building, and things like the "Man Show". It used to be that guys just did this stuff, but now it has to go along with pronouncements of malehood.

I have an older book from just after the turn of the last century at home. Included in the book are ways to hunt and kill various animals, how to build ovens to cook what you kill, how to train dogs to fetch game (make a ball with pins sticking out of it and wrap the ball in yarn. If the dog bites down, he gets sharp pain.) Also included are diagrams and instructions for making blowguns and black powder pistols. The title of the book says nothing of danger or boys.

4:53 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Bruce Hayden said...

Peg,

The difference then and now before puberty is that back then a lot of the day at school involved recess, PE, etc. Recesses have been cut down, and the activity level during then is much more restricted. The boys could run around until exhausted, and then they could sit still long enough to learn something in school.

As for HS, the big difference between male and female seems to be that males crave respect and females being liked. So, teachers who reward students for being nice by good grades and by liking them turn off many of their male students.

Maybe because the HS's that I have dealt with recently are private, and my HS was public, I actually see more male teachers now than when I was in HS. But some of the female teachers are still doing the same things that totally turns off the boys.

The one thing that I have noticed is that homework is much more important now than it was back then. Why? I don't know, but mindless homework turns off a lot of boys. If it helps you learn the subject matter, then that is much better. But why should the student who does all the homework, but barely gets an A on her tests, get the better grade than the student who gets the high grade on the tests, but didn't bother with much of his homework? As a woman, you can probably come up with a justification for that. As a male, I really can't. What is important to us are the results, not the effort.

Which brings me to my mother. She got straight A's through HS, and couldn't understand why not all of us boys were motivated to do so so for her appreciation. One of my retorts was that if she had been a guy, she wouldn't have gotten straight A's, because boys don't get A's in PE for having a clean uniform and trying hard, but mostly for doing well.

Failure to do all the homework in many HS classes appears in many cases to be capable of resulting in a one, maybe even two, letter grade reduction. Back when I was in HS, it was typically the difference between an A and an A-.

4:54 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Bugs
RE: Sounds Like....

"Today's Marxists want the New Socialist Man to be the New Socialist Woman." -- Bugs

...a bunch of castrating -------, to me.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[BITCH is an acronym...

Boys
I'm
Taking
Charge
Here]

4:56 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Matthew said...

Peg,

There never was a war on girls.

Girls never really had their options severely limited.

What happened was for the first time, household labor needs shrunk and women had newfound freedom. They wanted to enter the workforce. No one stopped them. There was some bigotry, naturally, but this was to be expected, as it occurs anytime a major cultural shift takes place. It was the attempt to correct a problem that never existed that created the war on boys. For instance, the idea that girls suffered in school was invented out of whole cloth. Yet since the 1980's when it was "discovered", schools have tried to become more girl friendly. Result? 20 years later, men are suddenly disappearing from college campuses.

5:03 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Chuck Pelto said...

TO: All
RE: Topical Drift

Margaret [the feminist], from whatever motivation...which is up to some interesting conjecture, is interested in cleansing her spleen on something that has obviously been a bur under her blanket for quite some time; say the 70s.

On the other hand, Dr. Helen's principle point is being missed by many of the people who are all to happy to scratch Margaret's ab[d]ominable 'itch'.

On the third hand, it is very important that we teach our children well. But, is the feminist cant the real way to teach children? Boys and/or girls?

I doubt it. And because that cant dominates the vaunted American public education system, I counsel parents to 'home school'.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; Easy to govern, but impossible to enslave. - Lord Henry Brougham]

P.S. A bad 'education' leads to....what.....

5:10 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Bruce Hayden said...

I have seen studies that show boy and girl babies being treated differently, with the girls being given more physical affection, etc.

But this seems to ignore the studies that also show that female babies, on average, make more eye contact with adults, do so earlier, can distinguish between faces much earlier, etc.

In any case, these differences seem to surface even when you go out of your way to reverse expectations (and are militant about others around you doing the same). For example, no dolls for girls. Fine, stuffed animals work almost as well. They talk, get cuddled, and are mothered.

5:20 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Dogwood said...

Chuckle,

We're just trying to be good Samaritans by helping her pull out the bur!

5:33 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

Hmmmm . . . not working. Reading stupid comments just causes the burr to become more deeply embedded. Thank you for trying though.

5:47 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

For all the talk of "celebrating" our differences, the discussion of differences is usually interpreted in the way most derogatory to girls. For example, Bruce Hayden notes that "mindless" homework turns off a lot of boys -- the implication being that girls thrive on mindlessness! Interestingly, rote memorization and sheer classroom drudgery were the pedagogical tools of choice for centuries before girls entered the classroom.

I agree that a lot of the practices complained of here (like the constant use of ritalin and cutting back on recess) bear further scrutiny. I just don't know why this scrutiny needs to involve slamming girls for allegedly being mindless drones. Also, feminism didn't cause overreliance on ritalin or longer classroom hours (the latter, I believe, being motivated by the desire to keep up with places like Japan that have a longer classroom day).

5:55 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Dogwood
RE: The Burr

"We're just trying to be good Samaritans by helping her pull out the bur!" -- Dogwood

Sounds to me like some problem with what some psychologists would call 'co-dependency'. Maybe you guys should seek professional help.

After all...look at her reply (above). She's acting like she's got a canker sore, that she keeps probing with a toothpick....It hurts so 'good'.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Are sado-masochists 'co-dependent'? Inquiring minds want to know....]

5:55 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

Chuck,

Your posts throughout this thread have been uniformly hostile yet lacking in any substance whatsoever. Sure, you don't have a bur yourself?

6:00 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Margaret
RE: Posting Patterns

"Your posts throughout this thread have been uniformly hostile yet lacking in any substance whatsoever. Sure, you don't have a bur yourself?" -- Margaret

I have no problem with low 'self-esteem', myself. Seriously....

Myers-Briggs ENTJ, airborne-ranger-infantry, lieutenant colonel who worked his way up from the ranks, member of Mensa, married to the, for all intents and purposes, model of the good woman described in Proverbs 31, who, in the proper venue, reminds me of the female lead in the movie Life Force.

Life IS 'good'.

However, I do admit to finding some diversion in looking at the likes of you.

Hope that helps.

However, I suspect I struck a 'nerve'. Sorry about that....NOT!

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[There is nothing in Life to be feared. There is only that which we do not yet understand.]

P.S. At the moment, I'm in the kitchen doing some chemistry experiment involving chicken, tomato, garlic, onion, various other interesting and pungent veggies, herbs and spices. Well mixed with martinis, after a day of watching the local government turn itself inside out over an issue that has been before it since the mid-80s; according to testimony.

And I managed to jump into the middle of it....

Oh well...as I like to say..."Everyone ought to have a hobby". I'm just concerned that I'm living, in this venue, the life I read about in high school English Lit....Babbit.....

6:15 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Chuck Pelto said...

P.P.S. If YOU can't see the point of my posts here, I suspect it has something to do with what mister snitch! had to say (above) and I began to recognize.

Too bad YOU can't seem to 'recognize'.

[Recognizing there is a problem is the first step in solving the problem.]

6:17 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Kevin L said...

"If boys are immune from social expectations, why are we so up in arms about the war on boys?"

I thought this was an interesting question. I don't think boys are immune from social expectations... but I think they get over it. Conformity is actually rather easy for boys, because that's what we want -- the question is conformity to who's standards? Conformity to the 20-some odd boys of the soccer team? Or Conformity to the teacher in the class room? Who's jeering and expression of awe do we desire more? Easy question to answer, really, if you were a boy.:)

But, in the end, as a man, I think that I've gotten over those kinds of things for the most part. Enough to know that as boys, and as people, we'll get through whatever silly 'War on Boys' there is, if there is any. You can't stop boys from doing stupid stuff. Its impossible. And that girls, and as people, if they're healthy will get over the fact that the book is designated 'for boys'. Because if they really want to do stupid stuff with boys, they'll do it anyways.

BTW, as a man, I cringe at all the stupid stuff I did as a boy... but I suppose, I'd never figure out why you shouldn't do them if I didn't try it atleast once.;)

6:18 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Until two years ago, I taught middle school—6th and 7th grade. I did so for four years. We had a short 15-minute recess after lunch. During this time, except for as few exceptions, the girls walked and talked with their friends. The boys pulled up plants, threw plants, threw dirt, threw rocks, pushed, shoved, yelled and punched one another and sometimes punched the girls if they liked them. Two things I observed from this—the female teachers could not understand why the boys could not behave more like the girls, and secondly, recess did not draw off the energy of the students as we had hoped. The period after recess was the most disruptive period of the whole school day.

I am not from Maryland, but I remember that the state motto there translates from Latin as “Men act while women talk.”

Make what you will of that.

6:25 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

And that girls, and as people, if they're healthy will get over the fact that the book is designated 'for boys'. Because if they really want to do stupid stuff with boys, they'll do it anyways.

I don't disagree with that. Indeed, hordes women over the last 50 years have stepped up to the plate and proven themselves in all sorts of endeavors previously thought to be for boys only (and their desire and drive to do so thus disproving that women "naturally" prefer to do other things).

However, this book title is only one thing. Looking at it in isolation, sure, it's not a big deal. Kids get countless small cultural cues that in the aggregate can add up to ingrained expectations that are unfair to people of both sexes, notwithstanding the unquestioned ability of people to overcome them. And just because kids can overcome stereotyping doesn't mean that it should be immune from criticism.

6:33 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Graham said...

The single most important reason why Americans need to wake up and recognize the differences between men & women is very simple.

Americans (and most Western Europeans...and, well, probably most other people) live in intolerant cultures that despise difference.

Those of us, men & women, who, by training or inclination (or necessity) fall outside the mainstream tend to be shunned and abused.

Understanding sexual (and culturally-based sexual difference) is crucial because there will always be men & women (and boys & girls) who defy the rules of the day by intention or instinct. This is a particularly cruel manifestation of majority tyranny & to fight it we must accept some things.

And one of the things we must accept is that males & females do tend towards different preferences & have very different capabilities.

And if we do that, and make an effort to understand it & accept the fact of sexual preferences without rancor or prejudice we become more alert to & accepting of those who by preference or instinct go against the grain.

It is an exceptionally cruel thing to shun, wound, or abuse men or women who have abilities & proclivities outside the norm for their sex.

Being different is always harder. But people who are different & have the courage to be different tend to accomplish amazing things.

I know how hard it is to be on the outside looking in. I'd like it if I could edit my life in a way that it might fit a more comfortable narrative.

But I will never lie to myself about who I am or try to fit into some system just because it makes other people feel better and injures me. And I'll be damned before I fail to protect anyone else who is heading out on the proverbial path less taken.

Thomas Paine was pretty keen on capitalism but mostly he was enraged by tyrannical majorities. So was Tacitus. They both earn a good solid read.

But the fact of the matter is that there will always be sexually/genetically & culturally driven proclivities. That's just life, God & Darwin. We can't do anything about that.

What we can & should do is recognize that girls usually like to play with dolls & boys usually like to see what happens when they hold a magnifying glass for an ant-mound on a bright summer day.

That's just how it is.

How it USUALLY is.

Problem is that some girls would rather work on their three-point shot & some boys find the idea of killing a bunch of innocent ants in the same of pubescent science disgusting & would rather spend the day reading & writing poetry.

The way it works in our culture now, it's the kids (and the grown-ups) on the outside, the folks who defy & deny tradition not because it has become trendy. Mostly, they/we are pretty normal.

Reasonably normal.

But some people ARE different in crucial ways that put us in positions where we are shunned, abused & painted with various scarlet letters by the mainstream.

And speaking for myself, I'd rather live in a place where I can be me, whether I'm in the mainstream or spinning off in a tributary.

America was founded on an idea, ladies & gents. A lot of ideas, actually. Can't say I agree with all of them but that was sort of the point of the main idea.

That is, we shouldn't have to all agree on the point and mob up on the people who don't agree & set them on fire.

We have a mixed record when it comes to seeing this idea through to the core.

But the crux of this idea is that people should respect facts as they are, deal with them as best they can & fight them when they disable rather then enable & corrupt rather then enlighten.

And one of these facts that we have to deal with is that in the main males & females have different proclivities, interests & talents & there is no shame in being in the main.

And another fact is that there will always be males and females who defy traditional roles in certain ways and that generally speaking, this leads to major suckage as far as life goes. Dealing with difference is something people aren't generally good at, unless pyres & knives & large under-fed carnivores in big arenas & annoying Washington pundits are involved.

We're on firm ground here.

Fact is, this inclination to obliterate dissent & difference is something we as a people can and must fight against.

God, Darwin, Decency & Self-Interest all suggest that we'd be better off being decent to each other.

I say self-interest because historically speaking dissidents are good for the species. Diversity and all that. And the fact that when everyone thinks the same way, it's real easy to get blind-sided by someone who thinks differently & has bigger teeth.

Like Qui-Gon Jinn said: "There's always a bigger fish."

I think Voltaire had some words on this subject, too, but I can't remember the quote. And Buffy had a good line in Season 2 or 3, I think, but that's eluding me, too.

So I'll just go with my favorite Jedi.

See the world as it is. Deal with it as best you can. Accept the majority. Protect the minority. Initiate change when you must and know that you'll probably piss a lot of people off when you do & they might stick a lightsaber through your chest for your temerity. Unless you stick them first. Or eat them. Set them on fire.

Be creative.

But be nice.

You feelin' me, kids?

6:38 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous anonx said...

Seems like the changes over the last 30 years have been good for a SUBSET of women. If a woman wants to pursue a career at the highest levels, or wants to do adventurous things, or has strong sexual desires, then she is probably much better off than she would have been back when. But for women whose interests are more domestic, the changes probably haven't been so good.

The more extreme feminists don't seem to fit in either category. They don't want to live traditionally female lives, but they sure as hell don't want to be mechanical engineers or NASCAR drivers or astronauts, either.

It's hard to understand what they DO want other than to control the lives of other people.

6:46 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Marbel said...

Margaret sez: "For example, Bruce Hayden notes that "mindless" homework turns off a lot of boys -- the implication being that girls thrive on mindlessness!"

Or maybe that in general girls tend to want to please people, are more compliant, tend to look up to their teachers, and so will do what's asked of them without complaint. Boys, maybe not so much.

Peg asked why so many boys are in trouble when school really hasn't changed. Some ideas:

- Fewer male teachers, less effective discipline.

- Boring, dumbed-down curriculum. I'm learning more history homeschooling my 8 and 10 year olds than I learned in public high school in the '70s. And it's real history - with wars, and all that icky stuff. And war heroes! And the difference between just and unujst war - not just "war is bad, peace is good."

- More emphasis on feelings than on knowledge.

- More assignments requiring kids to work in groups.

- Rote memorization can be interesting to boys (in my experience with boys,including but not limited to my own child) when it is substantive. A 2nd-grade grammar book I tried to use had the dumbest poems to memorize - really cutesy stuff. My son couldn't retain them because he had no interest in them. I didn't either. But he has memorized a good portion of the Westminster Shorter Catechism which in some spots is quite complex (too much so for my old brain).

6:48 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous graham (again) said...

marbel:

You are accurate and insightful. Good observations.

My professional career has been rather nastily rolled away but as a kid in school I was very, very lucky.

I've been screwed professionally, but as a kid, well, let's just say that I had the sort of teachers who would have gotten angry at me if I wasn't so bloody clever, able & oppositionally defiant (in a respectful way, of course).

I was well into 2nd grade before one of my classmates carefully explained to me that I was in fact in the gifted program & not resident in a learning disabled class.

It was such a stimulating & fluid environment that I honestly didn't give a damn either way. I was encouraged to think things through, create & challenge & if I messed up, well, that was reflected in my grades.

But it was scrupulously fair.

In all honesty, the single thing that has hurt me the most since I graduated from college 11 years ago is the fact that I grew up with & was trained to believe in honest conduct & achievement, fairness & egalitarian behavior & the world I fell into despises these things.

It's 11 years & I'm still back-peddling & tripping over myself trying to understand how people can be so ignorantly orthodox & cruel to anyone with a dissident voice.

7:42 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmmm . . . so when boys do well at something it's because it is substantive and when girls do well at something it is because they are compliant. THIS is why feminists believe we need to be careful when interpreting the differences we observe.

How about this one? Girls may tend to be better at focusing and multitasking. For example, I used to memorize my boring Latin grammar while watching TV, and did exceptionally well in that subject.

-- MARGARET (the feminist one)

7:51 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Chuck Pelto said...

TO: anonymouse
RE: Compliant?

"Hmmmm . . . so when boys do well at something it's because it is substantive and when girls do well at something it is because they are compliant." -- anonymouse

Hardly.

RE: Focused and Multi-Tasking

"How about this one? Girls may tend to be better at focusing and multitasking. For example, I used to memorize my boring Latin grammar while watching TV, and did exceptionally well in that subject." -- anonymouse

As we used to say at the battalion level staff....

"If you can't do five things at once, well....what good are you?"

Also, there is something of a 'difference' [Note: Please excuse my use of the word.], between 'memorizing' and 'doing'. Don't you think?

So...margaret [the feminist]...why have you dropped to doing posts 'anonymousely'?

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Definition of Terror: A female Klingon having a bad hair day.]

8:00 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Kevin L said...

"Kids get countless small cultural cues that in the aggregate can add up to ingrained expectations that are unfair to people of both sexes, notwithstanding the unquestioned ability of people to overcome them. And just because kids can overcome stereotyping doesn't mean that it should be immune from criticism."

Nothing is immune from criticism, however, I think its naive to feel that such stereotyping is going to go away, criticism or no. Or that it can be truly changed. You're right. There are billions of small ways that these stereotypes are reinforced. But, are you not ignoring the possibility that the reasons why these are being reinforced is that many people 'like' many of these stereotypes? So, if these people enjoy the way they are, then there should be no reason to cease encouraging the stereotype? If that is unfair, its unfair. But, it makes sense. You don't encourage something you find detrimental.

And you're right, its not fair. But, what does that have to do with it? Things aren't fair. That's a fact of life. It will never change because we as people aren't cookie-cutter. You can seek to change a stereotype and be successful, but there will always be another, or another will grow in its place going the other direction.

Point being -- that even if the fabric of stereotyping one thing is overcome, there will always be need for someone to step up and be true to themselves if that's what they want to do. There can't be a perfect setting. There isn't a perfect setting for everyone.

So, I'll take the 'un-fairness' of it all.:p Even the boy-stuff as compared to the girl-stuff. As long as I rise to the occasion, not force people down to some common average baseline. The first will get you where you want to go, no matter what the situation. The second will just make things mediocre.

8:04 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Graham
RE: Early 'Learnings'

"I've been screwed professionally....

I was well into 2nd grade before one of my classmates carefully explained to me that I was in fact in the gifted program & not resident in a learning disabled class." -- Graham

Gee....

...why does THIS 'sound familiar'.

Maybe it has something to do with some 'commandment' about 'covetousness'....vis-a-vis 'paranoia'.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Don't feel like the 'Lone Ranger'.]

8:05 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Bugs said...

electrocuting bugs with a 120 volt cord plugged into the wall outlet

anon@12:01 - What did I do to deserve this?

8:09 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Chuck Pelto said...

TO: All
RE: Tonights Kitchen 'Experiment'

It was a great success. I highly recommend it to you all. Think of spaghetti with marinara-PLUS!!!!

Good chianti, a tossed salad with basalmic vinegarette, Texas toast garlic bread....and fine chocolate for dessert....with a little brandy and Benedictine.

Now....off for a movie...in the library. My choice....as long as it is not a 'tear jerker'....

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Kill your televisison and save your soul.]

8:13 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Bugs
RE: What?

"electrocuting bugs with a 120 volt cord plugged into the wall outlet

anon@12:01 - What did I do to deserve this?" -- Bugs

In the 82d Airborne Division, it's referred to as a "Prop-Blast" Ceremony.

Enjoy...

Chuck(le)
[You haven't 'lived' until you've almost 'died'.]

8:15 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Marbel said...

Margaret says: "so when boys do well at something it's because it is substantive and when girls do well at something it is because they are compliant."

Not at all, and this is why many people are getting tired of feminists who want to be offended all the time.

Speaking in generalities - as always - girls are often more social and therefore more apt to want to make people happy. Thus, they may not like a mindless task but may do it without complaining, while boys who may not be so concerned with pleasing their teachers may complain or just outright refuse to do it.

My use of the word "substantive" had to do with rote memorization. Again, in general, girls who are more compliant and eager to please will memorize the dippy little poem even though they are perfectly capable of, and may well prefer, memorizing something more difficult and meaningful. Boys, when faced with the dippy poem, are more likely to say "to hell with this" and not bother.

Both boys and girls should be given meaningful work to do, not mindless tasks to keep them busy for the sake of being busy.

8:31 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger br549 said...

If anyone, to me, has a handle on modern life, it's Joni Mitchell. Especially the "Hissing of Summer Lawns" album. Although it goes back a ways, it still makes for great listening. Great stuff.

This thread has been great reading material.

9:01 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger ricpic said...

Girls always make me feel stupid. I thought that was the natural order. :^(

9:10 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Graham said...

chuck pelto:

You're almost as confusing as I am.

I'm not really sure where the Seven Deadlies fit into my 2nd grade experience. At the time I barely thought twice about the matter.

This was 2nd grade, Chuck.

In retrospect, I always found it kind of funny. I was already pretty moody by that point but I was basically a regular kid with a lot of imagination & a wierd mix of great talents & great weaknesses.

But I was still in 2nd grade. I think it was Jennie Finch who explained things to me. Nice girl. Very sharp. She lived up the street from me when we were in high school. No idea where life took her afterwards.

Now how about you explain what you said to me without cracking open the Good Book & making vague allegories.

Not that I am generally against this sort of thing, mind you, but there's a hostile tone to your post that irks me.

If my perception does not match your intent then I apologize now. I do tend to react with excessive vigor to perceived hostility at times.

Perhaps I have merely failed to connect the amusing elements of your joke. I do take things a little too seriously sometimes. Can't argue that.

9:43 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous G-HAD!!!!!!!!!!! said...

bugs said:

"What if boys & girls do it together?"

The species continues? I think that's the general idea, bugs. ;)

Some people have different preferences. I'm cool with that. Some people like to bugger sheep. I root for the Phillies to win each year despite massive evidence that the team is going to suck (again).

No accounting for tastes, right?

But broadly speaking, I think we have some serious problems if boys & girls DON'T do it together. As a species, I mean.

Maybe we could splice some amoeba DNA into our genomes but, well, I dunno...I can barely deal with one of me. Parthenogenic reconstruction of my person would probably be bad for everyone.

Kids, Evil Twins NEVER come out...ah, not evil.

Yeah.

9:57 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Peg said...

Bruce, I understand your comments regarding school and homework. However, in my day homework was substantial, much more than either of my children had in the 90's. If one didn't do his or her homework it was unlikely that you were learning enough to pass any test. I agree that our educational system has gradually been "dumbed down". This began in my view around the beginning of the 70's. In the mid 70's I was teaching college students in nursing. The lack of basic math skills was profound. And I do mean basic. We asked very little beyond addition, subtraction, ratio and proportion, and an understanding of how to work with decimals. We ended up adding math tutoring to the curriculum. These students also had much difficulty learning anything by rote, often saying they had never had to memorize anything.

10:28 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Margaret --

It is vital for boys to learn how to become "Alpha" aka dominant, high-status, A-Lister men if they want to have girlfriends.

This means, among other things, beating women resoundingly in sports and other typical "male" activities.

When women stop choosing the Alphas this will change. Until then, every boy must learn that to get the girl he has first to get as much status as possible. Because that's what women select on, mostly. Other aspects matter only around the margins.

10:35 PM, June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Peg said...

Matthew, I agree with you wholeheartedly about the "hypermasculinity" thing and I think academic success and good behavior at school is somehow now seen as feminine. This has not always been true. By the way, I never claimed a "war on girls". I believe it was one of the guys who used the phrase. And if you think girls were never limited in their options you are either very young, very naive, uninformed,or all of the above. Women could not vote until 1921. That was a little before my time. But I could not wear pants to class until I was in college. I had to be "signed in" to my dorm by 10 PM on week nights and 12 on weekends. There were no overnights except to "approved" housing. This in fact was at a major co-ed university in the 60's.
These are the types of limits that confronted us on a daily basis. There were others. Basically we were often treated as children who couldn't make responsible decisions for ourselves. It was profoundly limiting for many of us.

10:53 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Marbel said...

Peg - I'm not arguing with you but how were these things limiting for you? Not wearing pants? What did these restrictions keep you from doing that you believe you should have been able to do?

(I agree that it would seem I was being treated as a child if I had to be signed in and out of my college dorm.)

I don't think most people would say girls have never been limited. But boys really are under assault these days. Girls/women have so much power over men. Even young ones learn they can get any boy in trouble if they want to. The girl just has to encourage the boy to, say, chase her and then when she's tired of the chase, start crying and saying "he won't stop." The boy has no clue what happened but he's in trouble. And the girl learns right away how powerful she is. And was it on this blog that I read about "prom babies?" Girls plan to get pregnant on prom night so they don't have to cope with college decisions. And what does that mean for the boy?

11:09 PM, June 21, 2007  
Blogger Kev said...

"It is not fair to individuals for their group identity to override all their other desires and attributes."

Steve, this is one of the best comments on this entire (lengthy, but interesting) threads. Now if we can get everyone on board for this, and also apply it to race as well.

Dr. Helen--that dreaded auto-refresh feature (which kicks in many times on long threads like this) is still happening on Safari--any suggestions from you or anyone else as to how to disable it? (Umm, besides "don't use Safari," of course. *grin*)

2:12 AM, June 22, 2007  
Blogger jw said...

Dr. Helen: Thanks. I most completely agree with your central point and do not understand why there are so very many side issues in this thread.
-------------

Margaret: I agree that sexism targeted at females is easily seen, the point I made though is that sexism targeted at males remains unseen! We either target sexism or we MUST ignore it. One or the other. The current 'only misogyny is sexism' scheme is a threat to us all. Your post shows the size of the problem and threat we face.
-----------

Davocate: You're absolutely right in saying 'Helen's hubby better be careful. Read it and you'll see that it's all about protecting women from offensive language, nothing about men. Talk about bias.' This again goes the the central point! Sexism against women = wrong sexism against men = non sequitor
-------------

All: One thing related to this which has always bothered me is tomboys are perfectly acceptable, BUT the male equivilent is not acceptable under any circumstances! This again goes to the heart point here that sexism is only sexism if it hurts females. Sexism which hurts males is either good or cannot-exist.

Dr. Helen says it as feminine = good and masculine = bad. There are many ways of saying the thing, they all mean the same thing.

4:42 AM, June 22, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

ok, i cannot follow maps, i am more this shop next to this shop, by this pub.. i get lost easily but once i have been there i see the inter-relationship between location and where i want to go.

but i can sew and i am pretty good at embroidering, i can cook but i rather use my instincts as to whats needed i improvise more, my fiancee likes to add this, then this then do that.. in precise order.

(and peg, if you really read it, you will see it was only about one generation before women got the vote, when ALL men got the vote, before that it was only the landed people who could vote, in the industrial era, as dadvocate said, men and woman and children all worked sometimes 14 hours a day, until the law makers decided children and women didnt deserve to work nothing was said about men. men had to work)

i am better at maths, i jump straight to the answer, if i try and do my working out i get it wrong. (i learned to fudge it by working backwards, get the answer then reverse the calcualtions)

boys are girls are different there are exceptions always exceptions, even if they are mentioned they are implied. any group feminists or men, who do broadly state (without realising exceptions are the rule), does everyone a disservice, its just so happens that feminists do that more than men.

5:29 AM, June 22, 2007  
Blogger br549 said...

One of the most intelligent children I've ever seen, was a small boy actor in the movie, "Kindergarten Cop", starring the current Governor of California.

The boy stated, "Men have a penis, women have a vagina."

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen! Truth, spoken from the mouth of babes. Men and women are different.

5:52 AM, June 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agreet that sexism is (by definition, really) a two-way street. Often, sexism against boys and men happens because there isn't enough feminism! For example, someone complained that women tend to choose "alpha" males so boys have to be taught to be "alpha!" But how many of those alleged "alpha"-lovin' females are feminists? Not many, I'd bet! Same with women who need alimony or don't pay on dates (which are other frequent complaints of the men's rights crowd!) Consider judges who feel "sorry" for female defendants and give them breaks that similarly situated male defendants wouldn't get. Those judges need a good dose of feminism so they get over the idea of women as inherently frail and weak.


Another problem is this: The proposition that "men and women are different" (an unassailable fact as br549 points out) is often discussed in terms that are profoundly wrong-headed. (See my analysis as to why at 9:38 a.m.)

Although I consider myself to be committed to justice for both sexes, the "war on boys" rhetoric is disturbing to me. Of course, we should look at and critique educational policies that are unfair to or damage certain kids, kids who may predominantly be boys (i.e. kids with "ADD," antsy kids, kids who need more recess and exercise, etc.) But it seems absurd to me to heap blame for these issues on feminism.

I also think the "war on boys" rhetoric loses a ton of credibility because it always seems to be framed in terms of males superior / females inferior. The tone always seems to be that boys are losing out because of their daring, courage, independence, impatience with mindlessness, etc. while girls are compliant and overly sensitive little drones. It makes me skeptical of the "war on boys" thesis and the motivations of those who propound it because of the venom against feminism and everything female which frequently accompanies it. It often sounds like people are interested in "payback" for what they don't like about feminism, rather than real fairness.

-- MARGARET (the feminist)

7:35 AM, June 22, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Margaret,

I agree that we need more equality between the sexes. The problem is that many of today's "feminists" want to have their cake and eat it too. That is, they want women to be seen as powerful and autonomous when it comes to the goodies--getting CEO positions--but not in areas where women could be held accountable--such as the court room. Most defend such lame defenses as the battered women's syndrome that basically says that women are weak, emotional and incapable of doing anything but sneaking up on their sleeping husbands and shooting them in the back. Today's feminists want laws that include only women such as the VAWA but do not want to include men who are being abused. They want funding for women's centers and shelters but none for men. They want men's rights eroded when it comes to getting custody of their children but want men to be held liable for child support no matter what. They want the right to control whether or not they have a baby but see men as having no reproductive rights at all other than to cough up cash for a child without a whimper or any backtalk. The list goes on. I believe in equality between the sexes--but so far, the feminists that you are so proud of seem to be engaging in the worse kind of reverse sexism. "Fine for me but not for thee." It is sad, revengeful and smacks of nobility rather than equality.

7:50 AM, June 22, 2007  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

It's obvious you simply haven't been reading the commentary here and are just playing your own victimization tapes.

This is not a society where women are kept down in either traditional or untraditional roles. Examples abound. This forum is even less so.

Put away the flaggella and let your back heal. Once the self-induced pain stops you just might stop seeing the illusory male/superior examples that apparently haunt you and start living and enjoying.

8:11 AM, June 22, 2007  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

That was not directed at helen. I took too long at composition.

8:13 AM, June 22, 2007  
Blogger Bruce Hayden said...

Speaking in generalities - as always - girls are often more social and therefore more apt to want to make people happy. Thus, they may not like a mindless task but may do it without complaining, while boys who may not be so concerned with pleasing their teachers may complain or just outright refuse to do it.
My use of the word "substantive" had to do with rote memorization. Again, in general, girls who are more compliant and eager to please will memorize the dippy little poem even though they are perfectly capable of, and may well prefer, memorizing something more difficult and meaningful. Boys, when faced with the dippy poem, are more likely to say "to hell with this" and not bother.


I think this very accurate. Yes, the girls don't like the busy work either, they just do it. And a lot of boys don't. I noted earlier, that I was one of them who didn't. But talking to HS kids today, it seems to be even more of a problem now.

Peg - I wouldn't have suggested that it was useless busy work if it hadn't been. When you can, and regularly did, ace the test, often with the high grade in the class, w/o doing much of the homework, you get the view that it is worthless, at least to you.

You may have needed that homework to understand the subject matter, and ditto for those you know. Not here. Sorry.

Again though, I point out that part of the problem of penalizing for failing to do unneeded homework is that it rewards working hard and looking good, as opposed to performing well. The former is stereotypically female, the later is stereotypically male. So, in essence, we are imposing a stereotypically female reward structure on young males as they go through puberty and then as they quickly rise to the peak of their testosterone production.

8:52 AM, June 22, 2007  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

Bruce -- I combatted all that by taking my texts home the first two weeks and doing everything and I mean everything in them. Then I stuffed the papers in and just pulled them out as needed. I will admit, however, to sitting in class and acting like a bored ass when I had to do the busy work handed out there.

10:19 AM, June 22, 2007  
Anonymous Rose said...

Like Zoe, I have a different take on this discussion. I was born male, but later chose to become female. The word is "transsexual". I have had the dubious joy of being on both sides of this divide.

All arguments about socialization aside, all quibbles involving the word "real" aside, I have learned one thing very well: my brain on estrogen is a gentler place than my brain on testosterone. Most of the men-turned-women I know seem to agree. (And I know quite a few.)

Those females who become males, on the other hand, seem to add on quite a layer of drive. (Don't know many FTMs, but you hear these things in gender forums and publications, and the few FTMs I know seem to agree.)

The really interesting part is this: most transsexuals have a period of hormonal treatment before they go public with their transition, let alone have surgery. And the emotional/cognitive changes begin then, while you're still living life as the "old you". So you can see what happens by changing one variable - the hormones - while leaving the body and upbringing as they were.

And isn't it surprising that the changes are about what one would expect from the dreaded patriarchial bipolar gender construct?

Once I'd actually come out to the world at large, and begun living as a woman, there were a lot of people who tried to tell me how I must do it. The worst of them all were the doctrinaire feminists, who insisted I march with them in lockstep and denim, chanting the same slogans. Are we talking about respect for individual differences here? Right.

Your mileage may vary.

12:24 PM, June 22, 2007  
Anonymous Peg said...

Bruce,
Frankly I was a quick study and seldom did homework I found tedious and repetitive either. Sadly real life is full of tedious, repetitive, and boring tasks. Somebody's gotta do it. Historically many of these tasks have fallen to those with less power/money. Often these tasks in day to day life have been done by women. It may make you feel better to imagine that most women get off on this type of work but I hate to disillusion you that it just isn't so. Tedium is tedium whether one is male or female. Your statement that "performing well" is "stereotypically male" is offensive to me as a women.

1:35 PM, June 22, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

Right. The problem is not that there are physiological and behavioral differences across the genders -- which no one on this thread has denied.

The problem is that these gender differences constantly and unrelentingly get interpreted in the manner most derogatory to the female half of the human race. On this thread, I have read about women being inclined to "blubber" about "trivial" matters, girls being more compliant and malleable, girls being less willing to practice and master new skills, girls not being able to keep up on camping trips and crying about it, girls being happy to perform "mindless" tasks, girls wanting to be liked rather than respected, girls manipulating boys by asking to be chased and then crying to authority figures when the boys comply, boys justifiably finding girls to be a "pain in the ass," girls caring more about "looking good" and "being rewarded" than "performing well" etc. etc. Even when girls do well at something (i.e. schoolwork), it's because we are too stupid and malleable to rebel against the mindless homework we are given. Based on the descriptions here, one would be justified in thinking that little girls (and by extension, women) are indeed contemptible creatures that no one would to spend any time with.

In this entire thread, I have seen only a couple of characterizations of "female" attributes that might be said to be positive, or at least neutral. (ie, Rose's observation that her mind is gentler on estrogen, someone's observation that girls have better fine motor skills -- although as I pointed out this is rarely interpreted as evidence that girls should become surgeons, and the math tutor's description of the different ways boys and girls visualize mathematics.)

1:52 PM, June 22, 2007  
Blogger Matthew said...

peg,

My point in saying that there never was a war on girls was that women didn't really complain. Everything they asked for, they got. And there are plenty of women who did go to college and held positions of significant influence. But men didn't TRY to keep women down, it wasn't a war. Men and women both had ideas about the role of men and women in society (it was probably women who wouldn't let you wear pants!). The feminist movement was as much about changing the ideas of women as it was about changing the ideas of men. What we have now is a feminist driven attack on masculinity. That's why people call it a war on boys. It is a conscious assault, not bigoted ideas and old prejudices that refuse to die.

By the way, most of the law still considers women to be children, except this time it's argued for by feminists.

1:56 PM, June 22, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

Helen, I am indeed proud to be a feminist, although I do not belong to any particular feminist organization. I don't think feminists want to have their cake and eat it too. It's more that we want equality but we also recognize that the sexes are differently situated for both societal and physiological reasons. The question is how to obtain equality for human beings who are differently situated.

For example, we have many women CEOS. But we have many more women who are the primary caretakers of children and who make far less money (if any) than their husbands. Such factors are rightly taken into account in custody and child support decisions. As a feminist though, I am glad that the law is gender neutral and I would love a world in which we had more role reversals. That's not the world we live in though.

Similarly, it would be absurd to pretend that female-on-male domestic violence is as pervasive or severe as the reverse. (I am not aware of any feminist opposition to the notion of shelters for male victims, by the way.) However, as a feminist and former prosecutor, I would and have advocated tough sentences for female offenders.

Equal parental leave for both men and women is also an important feminist issue. One of the motivations behind the Family and Medical Leave Act was to address unequal leave provisions based on assumptions that only female employees are the primary caretakers of children and other family members.

2:06 PM, June 22, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

Matthew, I agree that what feminists call "patriarchy" (not a term I favor by the way) is a set of ingrained assumptions held by members of both sexes, rather than a deliberate, male conspiracy. And I agree that feminism has been extremely successful, a fact for which I give thanks every day!

I disagree about a deliberate war on boys and masculinity. Again, a lot of the issues cited, such as longer class time and the overuse of ritalin have nothing to do with feminism.

2:14 PM, June 22, 2007  
Anonymous Peg said...

Forget the pants already. Sorry I mentioned it. Matthew, did it ever occur to you that women shouldn't have to ask for concesssions from men? This is a patriarchial position if I've ever heard one. I never meant to imply that men specifically held women down or made war against them. Most men I knew who were my contempories during the Women's Movement in the 70's were quite supportive of efforts to fight societal expectations that held women back. I still fail to see feminists (whatever in the world that word has come to mean) as waging war on men. It often appears to me that men can be their own worst enemies. I am female. I do have a healthy respect for hormones. (Especially at this time in my life.) Men do have other motivators in addition to their testosterone. Men claiming to be victims of their physiology reminds me of the girls who used their hormones as excuses for everything from missing gym to overeating. I have had little patience for those who just give excuses for their behavior and don't try to identify or solve the real problems. Male or female.

2:25 PM, June 22, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Margaret,

We will have to agree to disagree--the law is NOT gender neutral, in fact, studies show that juries are more sympathetic to female defendants. As far as domestic violence, the studies by Murray Strauss et al. show that women instigate physical violence as much as men--yet no one wants to admit this because of the funds flowing to women's shelters, grants and centers.

It does not matter to me whether or not we agree, I will continue to work and advocate for equality between men and women. I do think there is a cultural backlash against men that has lasted longer than is necessary and is harming innocent men and boys who never had any role in denying women rights fifty or more years ago. When even magazines like "Cosmo" have articles that there is too much male bashing in our society, you know that a line has been crossed.

2:25 PM, June 22, 2007  
Anonymous Peg said...

Margaret, interesting comment on patriarchy. On reread perhaps I should have used "paternalistic".

2:35 PM, June 22, 2007  
Blogger Rickey Henderson said...

Well said indeed!

2:44 PM, June 22, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

I agree to disagree, and will let you have the last word since you have been such a kind host. I may not disagree as much as you may assume. I just don't happen to equate or attribute male-bashing to feminism.

(And I love Murray Strauss! He's the anti-spanking guy!)

2:49 PM, June 22, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

take for example the vawa act.

violence against women act. wheres the violence against men act.

apparently in the UK, the people in charge of the prisons, want to release a lot of female killers and others, because 6 of them killed themselves.. or fine.. but when 92 men killed themselves for the same reasons.. no one champions them.

the law should be blind, but it isnt. the UK has over 3000 shelters for battered women, and 3 for battered men.

can you remember seeing a woman doing a "mucky" job, like work on the building site, collecting the trash, or working in the sewers, why arent more women working these dangerous jobs..

they want equality, they they should not be expecting handouts, or preferential treatment, as that reinforces the idea that women are weak.. yes this woman is equal to me, but i will give her more time off, i will let her go have a child, then come back and then go off again.. and yet she will remain at the same level of employment, (but if a man did it well)..

if there is no reason why women cant become politicians, then why dont they, hillary clinton is one, the uk had maggie thatcher, plus all the female politicians now, used to be about 70 now about 20, why.. pressures of work, having children. and they leave.. so who is really to blame. the women for wanting to be treated differently because of sex. which is sexism.

3:48 PM, June 22, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

btw, how many women were killed last year, and how many men, you will see more men DIE due to violence than women, yet. wheres the rights for men

3:50 PM, June 22, 2007  
Anonymous Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Dr. Helen & Margaret [the ignorant...or worse feminist]

"We will have to agree to disagree--the law is NOT gender neutral, in fact, studies show that juries are more sympathetic to female defendants." -- Dr. Helen

Why am I suddenly reminded of Mary Winkler who murdered her husband by shooting him in the back while he slept. And all she gets is...what? An extended visit with one of Dr. Helen's colleges?

If any man did that, they'd lock him up and throw away the key.

Hence my opinion that Margaret has got REAL problems.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Female: One of the opposing, or unfair, sex. -- Ambrose Bierce]

P.S. I wonder if the Equal Rights Amendment would eliminate this sort of double-standard....

4:34 PM, June 22, 2007  
Anonymous Ginkgo said...

"ie, Rose's observation that her mind is gentler on estrogen,"

Margaret, this is an wxample of the attitude that many commenters are calling you and other feminists on - you simply assume that "gentler" is superior. Your assumption is that the female-identifed attribute is superior. The commenters further complain that this attitude gets translated into law and educational policy. That constitiutes the "war on boiys" they are complaining of. It is that simple and that fundamental. Your whole view of gender is biased.

" But we have many more women who are the primary caretakers of children and who make far less money (if any) than their husbands."

Here we have a clear example of a strong sense of entitlement. Margaret, in what way are these wives not receiving their husbands' pay? They are in fact being paid for child rearing and housekeeping at their husbands' rate of pay, and denying this fact. Then when they get divorced, they howl if they lose this income, and howl if they have to make do on the pay that nannies, whose rate of pay is almost always set by the WOMEN who hire them.

"Similarly, it would be absurd to pretend that female-on-male domestic violence is as pervasive or severe as the reverse. (I am not aware of any feminist opposition to the notion of shelters for male victims, by the way.)"

Actually, it would be absurd to deny that female-on-male violence is pervasive, and to deny that it is celebrated in popular culture, where crotch-grabbing is comedy and women burning their sleeping husbands to death is considered an act of political courage. And if you are not aware that men are denied acces to DV shelters, then you are in denial. Who if not women's advocacy groups would be the ones advocating for this exclusion?

Peg,

" Women could not vote until 1921."

Yes, that was limiting. And it was repealed. By men. Do you know what else is limiting? Young women are not required to register for the draft. Where are all the suffragette marchers for that cause? Apparently that part of citizenship is not so attractive.

Margaret,

"I disagree about a deliberate war on boys and masculinity."

Suppose students were disciplined for forming cliques and threatened with expulsion, and suppose the use of any make up or perfume, any colored clothing, hair longer than one inch, the use of vocabulary such as "sad", "sympathy", "excited" - basically any overt expression of femaleness - all these could result in disciplinary action in an educational setting, would you consider that a war against girls? What if the only literature they were taught was the Iliad and All Quiet on the Western Front? I would call it damned misogynistic and if I had a daughter subjected to such a regime, I would be furious. Parents of sons are expressing this kind of anger. Educators are ignoring these parents and their concerns out of complacency, laziness, bigotry and self-interest, and then lying about it. That's what people are calling a war on boys.

You don't see it probably because you are a decent person who would never buy into any of the attitudes underlying these policies, and who doesn't have a children in such a situation so that you might see it first hand. I would expect a prosecutor to be more cynical and suspicious of human beings, but you apparently have the strength of character not to be warped by that kind of work. So it it is to you your credit that this is not all obvious to you. But believe us when we say it is real. We are teachers and parents and the like and we know what we have seen.

5:10 PM, June 22, 2007  
Anonymous Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Ginkgo
RE: Or, Perhaps...

"You [Margaret] don't see it probably because you are a decent person who would never buy into any of the attitudes underlying these policies, and who doesn't have a children in such a situation so that you might see it first hand." -- Ginkgo

...she does see it. She's just in 'denial' for any of a number of reasons.

Seriously....

....does her writing seems like she has fifth grade reading/writing skills? I seem to recall she claims to be involved with legal matters in some firm. She claims to be 'analytical'. These are attributes that the reasonably prudent individual would suspect that she is fairly cogent as well as legally 'savvy'.

Therefore, if she is not a card-carrying member of Densa and she is involved with legal activities, one would reasonably think that she is well aware of the matters we are discussing here.

And yet....she refuses to acknowledge our honest reports. Instead she obfuscates and/or changes the subject.

In the military, as well as political, venue we'd call such behavior an 'indicator' that there is more at play than is being admitted to.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Know your enemy and know yourself and you shall never be defeated. -- Sun Tzu, The Art of War]

5:44 PM, June 22, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Margaret,

Thank you for keeping it civil. I am sure there are places where we would agree. In my earlier days, I was a feminist and still am to some degree, but only when the word means true equality between men and women, not rights for women without responsibility. BTW, I am not a big fan of Strauss's research on spanking. I disagree with him--he stupidly says a child should not be spanked under any cicumstances. This is wrong in many ways. But that is another topic of discussion!

5:50 PM, June 22, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

Ginko,

I will ponder your comments. Just to respond briefly, I should note that I NEVER said or thought that the "female" attribute of being "gentler" is in any way "superior." What I said in my comment at 1:52 was that was on the few descriptions of femaleness in this thread that "might be said to be positive, or at least neutral."

6:10 PM, June 22, 2007  
Blogger Margaret said...

Oops (in a hurry). That last sentence should read:

What I said in my comment at 1:52 was that was one of the few descriptions of femaleness in this thread that "might be said to be positive, or at least neutral."

6:14 PM, June 22, 2007  
Blogger Bob said...

I think one's social class enters in to this. Lower and middle socioeconomic classes are more likely to accept aggressive behavior in boys and not tolerate loss of emotional control in girls. Uppermiddle class and upper class adults are more prone to being infected with political correctness, and, therefore, less tolerant of boys being aggressive and more accepting of girls melting down ("expressing emotions is a good thing").

11:58 PM, June 22, 2007  
Blogger jw said...

Margaret: I raised my kids on my own, with no help or support from ANYONE. Discrimination against custodial fathers was policy in Canada until the late 1980's and it was openly supported by Canadian feminists. We in Canada got the law changed due to the (new) Charter and a few mistakes by the feminists. We were lucky.

I'm a rape survivor, adult female offender / adult male victim: Not the rarest of the sex crimes, but not all that common either. BUT! I know of no feminist who does not promote contempt for and discrimination targeted at male survivors by demanding we target ONLY female survivors and male offenders and by deamanding all of the research & advocacy go to females only.

You cannot wave a magic wand and make these things go away.

We need a time, we need at least a decade, in which we look compasionately at how males are hurt in our culture. As a part of that, women are going to find themselves not looking very nice. Part of equality is duty and duty means taking responsibility for one's own bad behavior and, in some ways, for the bad behavior of those who look like one's self.

The combination of feminist misandry and most-women's refusal to take a stand against misandry add up to our womenfolk not looking at all nice. Knowing that about one's self is a part of equality and a VERY important part.

You say there is little positive view of the female in this thread. In many real ways this is a good thing as it shows that social change is starting. We've had thirty years of contempt for males and there now must be a sea-change. That change may be uncomfortable to many women, uncomfortable can be a VERY good thing in that it fosters growth.

4:56 AM, June 23, 2007  
Blogger Alan said...

Margaret said: Assuming that I am some sort of alien creature who is likely to be crying all the time hardly strikes me as especially "sensitive."

Who said anything about all the time?

Actually, I should have added this: girls cry more often than adult women (and boys). This is the Dangerous Book for Boys we're talkiing about.

The hankie is a multipurpose tool and is good to carry around, anyway. Boys should be taught to offer the hankie if they see a girl crying.

But what if a boy is crying? It's been a long time since I was a minor, but I've been under the impression that when (school age) boys cry they usually don't want to be around their peers - they want to hide. Can anyone verify this?

5:38 AM, June 23, 2007  
Blogger br549 said...

Were the Winkler thing 180'd, of course the male would have at least been put away for life. Mentally disturbed men go to prison, mentally disturbed women go into the system. With exceptions, as to every "rule". Sometimes they go to bars and have a few drinks.

When it is a male, the perception is a much stronger one preying on a weaker one. That is not simply sexism. But the stronger one is usually male domain. With exceptions (mother - child).
For instance, I have personally wanted to beat the tar out of every bully I have ever seen. Out in the school yard at a Catholic school I went to in the first three grades, I did exactly that on more than one occasion. But that is me, and this is, as always for me, a personal point of view - nothing one should take to the bank.

As a male, and when a child, sure I cried. And as an adult. And in an answer to alan 5:38 AM, I always went to a place where no one would see it. And not just my peers, anyone. I cried when emotions were very strong, and there was simply nothing else I could do to change what was going on, and I needed release. My dog died, a girlfriend and I broke up, my mom got sick and passed away. My first born son died in my arms. That was the worst. I cried for days. Otherwise, I make needed changes. Umm, sometimes too late.

8:46 AM, June 23, 2007  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

Helen:

It does not matter to me whether or not we agree, I will continue to work and advocate for equality between men and women. I do think there is a cultural backlash against men that has lasted longer than is necessary and is harming innocent men and boys who never had any role in denying women rights fifty or more years ago. When even magazines like "Cosmo" have articles that there is too much male bashing in our society, you know that a line has been crossed.

Since when was a backlash against men necessary at all? The very concept lumps all men together. It's easier that way true, but I thought the whole movement was about justice, not retaliation. One doesn't retaliate against the innocent.

I don't think that's your POV, I just think it was ill-stated.

But, back in the real world, it only took an historical moment's time for the grand idea of equality to devolve into the generic backlash we see today.


Equality wanted? Be friggin' equal. Both sides of the aisle. Level it all. No funding for men's concerns without equal funding for women's concerns and vice versa.

If that's unacceptable, then one needs to explain how it's not sexist.

8:52 AM, June 23, 2007  
Blogger TMink said...

Cultural backlash or immature acting out. That is the question.

Trey

9:02 AM, June 23, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here we have a clear example of a strong sense of entitlement. Margaret, in what way are these wives not receiving their husbands' pay?

Women who stay home with kids sacrifice career and lose out in terms of future earning capacity. Men benefit from this sacrifice. The same can be said of women who cut back on career to be the primary caretakers of children.

The law, however, doesn't actually provide any compensation to women who make this deal and then get divorced. The purpose of the law is to support the CHILD. Ongoing alimony is rare these days except in the most extreme cases, because the law expects divorced women to go out and get a job.

The LAWS are actually gender neutral, but the attitudes of jurors and judges often are sexist. Thus, there is often an automatic assumption without regard to individual circumstance that women are better suited to be the primary caretakers of children (and indeed, I think the gender essentialists on this thread would likely agree that in general women DO tend to be better caretakers of young children!)

If you don't like it, join in me in fighting the gross exaggeration and rigidity of gender stereotyping. Also, marry a career oriented woman with a good income!

-- Margaret (the feminist)

10:39 AM, June 23, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You say there is little positive view of the female in this thread. In many real ways this is a good thing as it shows that social change is starting. We've had thirty years of contempt for males and there now must be a sea-change. That change may be uncomfortable to many women, uncomfortable can be a VERY good thing in that it fosters growth.

To me, it sounds like tit-for-tat -- which doesn't seem very grown-up or productive. Let's suppose you are right and that boys have suffered from terrible anti-boy excesses of feminists. Why would you want to mirror those excesses?
And it does tend to sound like immature acting out and a game of gotcha with the feminists, which makes you lose credibility.

(I also have to laugh at the sea-change BACK to contempt for females that I grew up with in my white-bread community in the '70s and that my mother and Peg grew up with in the 50s! Gee, this girls-on-top stuff must have lasted a whole blink of an eye!)

But seriously, enough with the boys-vs.-girls zero sum thinking.

-- Margaret (the feminist)

10:49 AM, June 23, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Equality wanted? Be friggin' equal. Both sides of the aisle. Level it all. No funding for men's concerns without equal funding for women's concerns and vice versa.

If that's unacceptable, then one needs to explain how it's not sexist.


I am all for equality. The problem is that the sexes are not similarly situated.

For example, men are more likely than women to be victims of stranger violence and gang violence. That fact deserves attention and funding. Men are vastly more likely to be victims of prison rape (a pet issue of mine on which I personally have worked long and hard). It would be silly to provide equal funding to prevent rape in women's prisons as to prevent rape in men's prisons, because 99% of prisoners raped by fellow prisoners are men.

Women are more likely than men to be victims of rape and severe violence from acquaintances and intimate partners. Male abusers are more likely to stalk their victims. Which is why DV shelters need to be segregated by sex, and why it would be silly to insist that there be the same number of shelters for both sexes. At the same time though, we desparately need to train law enforcement officers, judges, and prosecutors to take male victims of DV more seriously.

11:01 AM, June 23, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops that was me Margaret.

11:02 AM, June 23, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

oligonicella,

You are right, it was poorly stated, innocent people should not be harmed by what happened several generations ago. However, I was pointing out that even in the minds of women who want and seek revenge against men (which, of course is wrong) how much is enough? For there is a certain segment of feminists who see it as their job to get revenge on men--consciously or subconsciously. As for feminism being about justice or equality, that seems to be no more than a ploy these days to get people to let down their guard.

11:08 AM, June 23, 2007  
Blogger br549 said...

I'm not trained on the matter, but I can't conceive of rape being a sex crime. Man on woman, or man on man. It is easier for the perp to take matters into his - or her - own hands, so to speak.

It seems it would be a hate crime, full of anger, an establishment of dominance, payback for a perceived wrong doing, or just plain twisted thinking.

Seemingly, the same with gangs, and gang violence. To establish dominance in the only way they know how. To be different from everyone else, but be the same as those in ones "group" at the same time. Mini-countries?

The only reason I can see with ever having to establish some sort of dominance is so the result would be to be left alone. So far, so good. I can go through the door, shut it, and plop on the couch with a minimum of problems and inconveniences. But to establish a position or place via absolute dominance would mean it would never end. Sort of like being the fastest gun in the west. Someone else thinks they may be faster, and needs to see.

My main reason for love of property ownership. If someone is unhappy with the way I'm living, they would have to be trespassing to know.

11:50 AM, June 23, 2007  
Blogger Alan said...

I can't conceive of rape being a sex crime...It seems it would be a hate crime

Maybe it's both. I haven't figured out how a man be physically capable of raping someone without first being sexually aroused.

7:20 PM, June 23, 2007  
Anonymous Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Margaret [the feminist]
RE: Missing Out

"Women who stay home with kids sacrifice career and lose out in terms of future earning capacity. Men benefit from this sacrifice. The same can be said of women who cut back on career to be the primary caretakers of children." -- Margaret [the feminist]

Thanks!

You just proved the good doctor's point about women [of the feminist persuasion] want it both ways; a career and control of the children (see an earlier thread about Mommy-Blocking).

You cannot be all things to all people. Neither can anyone else I've encountered in this sojourn. Indeed, the only person I know who COULD be 'all things to all people' got nailed to a tree for it.

There is such a thing as 'division of labor'. And, biologically speaking, we've 'evolved' to specialize in skills that allow us to provide for the children.

If you doubt this, show me the woman who can out-run and/or out-fight the male Olympic champion. Or, why don't more women win the Tour de France?

You can do one thing or another. You cannot do all things.

If you decide on a career, you have to sacrifice your children. If you decide on children you have to sacrifice a career.

Frankly speaking, having worked a career...I think I'd rather work at home and have more time with my children. That is not, what most people consider, a 'career'. It's what I call 'having a Life'. But the pay isn't all that good...if that's one of the things that 'floats your boat'.

So, life is full of decisions. The question becomes what is your motivation? [Note: Some 'woman', in an earlier thread here, rebuked me for my concept of 'serving others'. I suspect she's much more 'selfish' than I am. And that's a topic for a thread up the hall from here.]

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[The honor IS to 'serve'.]

The question is whom do you serve? Yourself? Or others?

8:53 PM, June 23, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Margaret,
Sometime long ago you wrote,

Qualifications are important because blithe assumptions about gender differences (often assumed without evidence to be innate) HURT people.

I think that statement sums up many of the problems with "equality" discussions. Sometimes STUFF HURTS. And like it or not, the traditionally male response to something hurting is to DEAL WITH IT. The traditionally female response is to CALL ATTENTION TO THE HURT, and want someone to help.

Frankly, if someone can't handle the truth, it's not MY problem.

9:33 PM, June 23, 2007  
Anonymous Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Anonymous
RE: Target! Cease Fire...

"The traditionally female response is to CALL ATTENTION TO THE HURT, and want someone to help." -- Anonymous

As I've said around here, Margaret is not here for her stated reasons. Rather she is here because she 'has a burr under her saddle'. Or, more accurately...

....she has a demon that needs exorcising. However, instead of dealing with the problem, and exorcising it....

....here she exercises it. And, it gets stronger as a result.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Mouth: In man, the gateway to the soul; in woman, the outlet of the heart.]

10:46 PM, June 23, 2007  
Anonymous Heather B said...

I had safely walked away from this thread and was sucked back in by my own stray thought.

To the poster who didn't understand why 15 minutes of vigorous play once a day didn't dissipate any excess energy -- any trainer will tell you that 10-15 minutes is a warm-up. Period. In those 15 minutes the boys got their heart rates up, muscles warm and their bodies ready to go and then you... took them inside and expected them to sit still. Go do that at your gym and see how happy you are.

There is significant research that yes, girls prefer drill activities and boys competitive activities during practice. There is tons of literature out there on how to modify practice structure to give everybody what they like. Quit drilling in isolation, have game-like set-ups that emphasize the technique at issue and let kids play. It improves skill acquisition in boys and girls.

The education system's war on boys is very real.

My mother and I had an interesting discussion the other day. She observed that teachers today believe they are as busy as they could possibly be, and that is not necessarily the case. She also observed that teachers believe that it is normal to have only 20 - 24 children in one room and to have at least one aide at all times, and that was not always the case. Further, she observed that many, if not most classroom teachers today are not old enough to have participated in the late 60's/early 70's boomlet as either a student or a teacher and therefore have little perspective on their lot.

Boys have always been expected to behave, to sit and to work as quietly as possible and to rein it back in if they got out of hand. We were also given a 15-minute morning recess, a 15-minute afternoon recess, and a 30-minute recess after lunch, unless it was lightning or below 20 degrees F. We didn't have to be at school until 9AM and we were let go at 2:45 when we walked/ran/skipped the half-mile or mile home and then played outside until dinner. That was my elementary school in 1972.

35 years later my son is expected to be in his seat no later than 7:45. He will work until lunch at 10:30. At 10:50 he will return to his classroom and work until 2:00 snack. At 2:10 he might get a recess if the class "has time". He will be dismissed from school at 2:45 and be expected to sit quietly until "his number is called" meaning my car is at the school's front porch.

My son's teacher felt completely overwhelmed by the 22-24 children she had at any time and thought she lost control if they didn't have directed activities every moment of the day. My son came home overstimulated and exhausted every day for two months while he adjusted to this routine. It was insane and I complained and was told I didn't understand anything and I should go home. Now I'm told "he does much better with structure" and it's like my beautiful baby had a lobotomy. He used to be able to occupy himself outside for hours without any intervention. Not any more. If it isn't a programmed activity or an incredibly stimulating one, he is listless and "bored". I didn't send him to school this way, this is what they turned him into. Then I have to listen to garbage about how parents let their kids sit inside all day watching TV and that's why they are couch potatoes. His summer vacation is only 10 weeks long. By the time he's back to thinking and acting for himself it will be time to take him back.

How is this related to the "war on boys" that some of you say doesn't exist? I have to sign off on a school handbook that codifies many typical boy behaviors as "bad" with required minimum consequences. Gossiping, backbiting, clique-forming, and other less desirable girl behaviors are not punishable. The activities that let my son express himself and his energy have been eliminated from his day and his behavior is shaped to resemble a girl's, and I mean shaped in a psychological sense via a carefully constructed behavior modification program.

That's my problem in a nutshell. Mean, nasty girls are "a part of life" and rambunctious boys are to be punished and squashed. It's the rules.

Boys like to compete, but we don't compete anymore because it makes some people feel bad when they don't win. Girls, in general, prefer cooperative activities and they do lots of those things in school because cooperative things are the "good" things. Competition is bad, cooperation is good. In whatever twisted language you care to use, my son's motivation in many activities has been defined as bad and therefore unusable.

He has to behave, he has to take direction from his teachers and those in authority. He must demonstrate respect for others. Once we get past those basic ideas, there are days when the world seems to be run by girls for the benefit of girls and the girls don't notice because everything is working the way they like.

Count me in as a Frustrated Mom

2:57 AM, June 24, 2007  
Blogger jw said...

Margaret said: "If you don't like it, join in me in fighting the gross exaggeration and rigidity of gender stereotyping. Also, marry a career oriented woman with a good income!"

This is something I've heard many times: Join the feminists and all will be equal. Yet! Yet, it is the feminists fighting hardest to make sure that all is unequal. I really do not understand the thing, it is mind blowing and totally baffling to me.



I do not want to echo the bad behavior dumped onto innocent men! Yes, it does sound imature! However, that is how social systems work. Show me another way and I'll follow it. The thing is, you cannot show me another way no more than you can show me a way of making breakfast without using food. The pendulumn swings of social interaction is how our species handles these things.

Margaret, the point you are missing is the damage done to innocent men will have to be corrected and even when corrected there are still a LOT of damaged innocent men who need to be accounted for! There is simply no way to wave a magic wand and make them go away.

My great aunt was a fairly important early feminist. She was harmed by some very sexist ideas and laws. She died still damaged by those ideas and laws. Now, you cannot compare my sisters to her! That simply does not work. However, you can compare me to her. That must be understood and it does not appear like you are capable of making that understanding.



br549: Certainly, when talking about female offender / male victim sex assault you are talking about intent to cause harm BECAUSE the victim is male. In other sex assaults, that may or may not be true.

4:58 AM, June 24, 2007  
Anonymous Rachel Ann said...

Actually, to return to Helen's original point, which is if men do it is sexist, but if women do it it is liberating; well if one has opened a door to men and at the same time closed it to women, then it makes sense to open another door to women and close it to men. It does become rather tit for tat, but in terms of the books; it was to give the girls something that doesn't treat them like porcelain dolls that need to be cared for.

I think I might get the Dangerous Book for Boys for my daughter if I can find it on the cheap, and just tell her to ignore the digs at girls, and oh by the way, when did she know that when my motehr, who is in her 70's was young, she had to fight to defend herself against anti-semities, adn I don't mean with words, that she could lug heavy loads, but was told to act weak and ask for help when a boy came about, because, we want to make the boys feel strong and masterful, and oh by the way, culture taught girls to lose to boys so they could feel like winners. So the auhtors probably remember a time when girls asked them to carry heavy loads and they really believed the girls couldn't do it!

Thank G-d those times are passed.

One more point. As someone here said, the individual is what counts. Your child, or your student, needs must be met and it is easier to meet them if one just looks at the child as a whole instead of the X or Y of their genes. They you don't have to filter through all that gender stuff. You just need to get your kid chemistry set or a pair of knitting needles (knitting by the way was once men's work) or maybe both. And your kid doesn't have to worry at all about "boys are girls are" but just "I am, I like, I want, I need, I must, I should"

6:24 AM, June 24, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to anonymous at 9:33 p.m.:

HURT doesn't mean "waaaah, my feelings are hurt." Hurt means a man doesn't get a job he wants in a preschool because people assume that men shouldn't be around preschool kids. Hurt means a woman lawyer not getting a client she wants because he assumes she won't be aggressive enough on his behalf.

Example: My great aunt was a very well known appellate lawyer in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. She had a distinguished career with the government. However, she was never able to get a job or attract clients in the private sector because of her sex. The government was the only place for her to go. She took that opportunity and ran with it -- but she was still HURT (in terms of her ambitions and her finances) by the gender assumptions of her era.

-- Margaret the Feminist

8:46 AM, June 24, 2007  
Blogger br549 said...

Actually, jw, what I was doing was sort of wondering out loud, so to speak.

I do that quite a bit here because of the high caliber of folks who come in. And NOT that I am one of them. I get great points of view, good answers and the occasional "boy, are you a dumb ass".

Like almost all dads, and most men, I have been with women. It is the most magical of moments. I can't conceive of it being anything else.
So unless it is given freely, by both parties involved, it is something else. A crime. In a case where the victim knows the perp, it is in addition, a betrayal of trust. That's infuriating to me. As a man with two wonderful daughters, it is a crime that should be punishable to the maximum extent of whatever the law provides. No matter the sex of the perp, or the sex or age of the victim. The only step left beyond rape is murder. If both occur at the same time, the punishment should be death. Every time.

8:49 AM, June 24, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuckes at 8:53 p.m.:


Where did I say that women should have career and control of the children?

I suppose when divorce happens many may want that, but how is that different than what you men seem to want? BUT if you (male or female) take on the primary childcare responsibiltiies, you SHOULD be in a better position vis-a-vis custody. Usually it is the woman who takes on those primary childcare responsibilities, with the accompanying career sacrifices.

I (as the career-oriented primary breadwinner in my family) would expect to lose custody and pay child support upon divorce (if we had children) because that correlates to the division of labor in my family.

-- Margaret (the feminist)

8:56 AM, June 24, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heather,

I share your concerns about the lack of recess and the de-emphasis on competition. I don't necessarily think this is a deliberate plot against boys, but some of these things may have a disparate impact on boys.

It seems to me that BOTH cooperation and competition need to be stressed in schools. Both boys and girls need to deal with both forms of interaction when they grow up and enter the modern labor force. I worry a lot about proposals I have seen for segregated classrooms in which girls are shielded from competition and pressure! That's just a wretched solution.

I'll never forget my 9th and 10th grade Latin teacher. His 45 minute class period consisted of very fast paced drills where we would go around the room and have to come up with answers to grammar, vocabulary, and translation questions. At the end of the period, he would declare a winner and we would emerge from class with our shoulders tensed up but exhilerated. We focused on Julius Caesar the second year. The two best students in the class? Me and another girl. But we ALL male and female knew the material cold.

-- Margaret (the feminist)

9:07 AM, June 24, 2007  
Blogger br549 said...

According to Drudge, Larry King "landed" the Paris Hilton interview.

Set your Tivos and VCR's!

10:47 AM, June 24, 2007  

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