Sunday, September 03, 2006

Size 11 Camaros & Wire Kalashnikovs

Going back to that Right on the Left Coast post on gender-neutral schooling, I see that one commenter made an attempt to object to the school's policies by presenting this anecdote:
We have friends of whom the husband is a closet conservative and the wife is a raving liberal loon. When she had her first child, a daughter, the kid was only dressed in gender neutral colors and never allowed gender specific toys. When her second child was born, a son, she did the same thing. Until the husband found the kid in the closet saying zoom zoom zoom to a shoe. And using a coat hanger as a gun. Sorry, the genders are different.
What, exactly, is this supposed to demonstrate? Nobody's denying that "the genders are different", they're just saying that we ought to be cautious about predetermining how individuals' senses of gender identity develop.

Even a hard-nosed genetic determinist (fatalist, even!) like me can concede that while it's typically unwise to fight the forces of deoxyribonucleic acid, it's usually not any better to take for granted what those forces are.

Back to that anecdote in particular, is the idea supposed to be that boys are somehow hard-wired to want to play with cars and guns? Given that homo sapiens have been around for at least 200,000 years and that cars have been around for less than 0.08% of that time, that seems somewhat implausible. Much more implausible, I think, than the theory that the boy in question picked up the idea of simulating automobiles from somewhere in his environment.

Most plausible of all, however, is the theory that an internet commenter who refers to one of her "friends" as "a raving liberal loon" would fabricate a story in which a child is found "in the closet" simultaneously pretending that shoes are toy cars and that coat hangers are toy guns.


Thinker said...

What do you think the "loon" and the left coaster would have to say about matriarchal societies?

Rebecca C. Brown said...

Thank you again, Paul, for intelligent commentary on what shouldn't be such a big fucking deal. Of all the ways to screw up your children, I don't think telling them that they're unconditionally loved, independed of their adherence to gender norms, is a big one.

A matriarchal society (and exactly how many societies are there where women are as dominant as men are in ours?) is just as objectional as a patriarchy, assuming that single-gender dominance leads to discrimination and unequal treatment. For whatever reason, though, there don't seem to be any cultures where men are treated as poorly and unequally as women are in most societies.

Let me clear up a little misunderstanding: feminists don't hate men; they hate inequality.