Boys and Girls

I had been planning to write a post about the way gender stereotypes are imposed on children. See, I would argue that most (or even all) of the differences between the genders are simply the result of social conditioning. Girls are taught to be nurturing and cooperative, boys are taught to be assertive and independent. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Until recently, boys played with erector sets and chemistry sets while girls played with baby dolls and play kitchens. The idea was to prepare the boy for the world of work and the girl for the world of the home. While the toys have changed, this gendered division of play continues. Babies even where different clothing with different colors and patterns (ballerinas for girls, dinosaurs for boys). You see what I mean? This training began early.

Given this social conditioning, is it any wonder that men have traditionally behaved differently from women? Is it any wonder that more nurses and teachers are women and more CEOs and engineers are men? But in the end, this is all a social construct. It’s all invented and made up.

Now, I said that I had been intending to write a post. I don’t think I’m actually going to, at least not right now. I sort of got scooped, you might say. Young Mom wrote an amazing post on her blog that said exactly what I wanted to say, only better. So all I’m going to do is point you there, to read her insightful words:

Boys and Girls aren’t different, they’re just individuals

Enjoy!

Edit: For an example of how socially constructed things like dress and hair styles are, see the following picture of Franklin D. Roosevelt from the late 1880s.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02510172065585770709 Hopewell

    I've noticed over the years that clothing is so completely gender-specific anymore. In the 70s things got kind of "unisex" but not any more! Girls barely are allowed to wear navy or red. Boys might wear a yellow dress shirt or yellow with a cartoon character but not girly yellow. It's ridiculous!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Hopewell – As to clothing colors, the weirdest thing is that pink for girls and blue for boys is actually a relatively new thing, historically speaking. In fact, in 1918, an article in Ladies' Home Journal stated: “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.” Weird, huh?For more, see: http://boingboing.net/2011/04/11/why-boys-wear-blue-a.html

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16232186225573312896 Incongruous Circumspection

    He's so cuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuute!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04510986008238276269 Amanda

    Oh my gosh, I SO agree with you. I've been writing like crazy about this same topic! I love your blog. You write about so many things that mean a lot to me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10353346026765317698 College At Thirty

    Ah, yes. The Little Lord Fontelroy look. Thanks, Francis Hodges Burnett. I have a few pictures of my Gramps like this. My friend saw it in my last move and said, "Who is this adorable little girl?" I laughed. There have been a lot of articles done on Nature Vs. Nurture. I was a total tomboy growing up, and yet I liked dolls and feminine things. My mom had no problem buying me Transformers, or buying my brother a Cabbage Patch Doll. Kids are all different, and they shouldn't be put in boxes. One of my favorite quotes is from Eddie Izzard, in his online biography. He realized that following the rules doesn't get you anywhere, so, "I thought fuck it. I'll be a transvestite."

  • Leila

    I actually think a lot of our differences are hardwired, and much of that, I believe, has to do with the hormone bath a baby gets in the womb, and then the different hormones they have throughout life. But there's still a billion exceptions to every "rule," and the differences between men and women in general are less pronounced than the differences can be between any two people of the same sex. And the problem comes when female subordinationists twist every general difference between the sexes, claim they are prescriptive instead of descriptive, and turn every "male" difference into a way to claim that's why they should be leaders, and every "female" characteristic as to why women must be subordinate. I believe God designed us to be different in general, and that's precisely why he gave us the earth to rule over TOGETHER – because it takes both men and women to do it in a balanced, healthy way.

  • http://www.ayoungmomsmusings.blogspot.com Young Mom

    LOVE th picture, so awesome. And he is adorable. :) Thanks for linking! :)

  • Anonymous

    As a Christian I believe strict gender roles are an insult to the God who created each unique individual. If you believe God created your child, with his or her unique personality, character traits, and interests, why you try to squash those out of the child? I don't get it at all, even though that is what I grew up with. Though maybe that is why I don't get it. Even though I was a very feminine child, I remember being furious that I wasn't allowed to do certain things or go certain places that my brothers were allowed to do. It still makes me angry that I was forced to miss out on a lot of things that should be a normal part of childhood. It was so much worse for my sisters who where tomboys and didn't fit at all into the little box my father was trying to stuff them into. Two of my sisters were very depressed and suicidal from young ages to the time they finally escaped from my parents clutches, one at 16 and the other at 18. From the time they were small they were constantly being punished for just being who God them to be. It was horrible to watch. I love the picture too! A few times my sisters dressed up a little brother in dresses–my parents didn't find out, but I can just see both my going berserk if had they found out. kateri @Dandelion Haven

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15172112981244682382 shadowspring

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