Getting a tiny bit feminist on the teacher's ass!

(365 Posts)

I didn't raise my voice. I didn't unshave my legs or anything.
It just so happened that DS and I bumped into his class teacher at the playground this afternoon and we had a pleasant chat; the teacher turns out to have DC of her own, of a similar age to DS. She mentioned something about girls being very different to boys. I very very gently said that this was in fact rubbish and suggested she read Delusions of Gender, and added that I thought every teacher should read it as a lot of the stuff about gender difference you hear these days was not only wrong but dangerous...

I'm going to be 'one of THOSE mothers' forever, aren't I?

monsterchild Wed 20-Feb-13 00:50:56

Yes, yes you are.

But I will be too, so here's to us!

ripsishere Wed 20-Feb-13 00:51:00

Why, yes you are.
I haven't read the book, nor am I a teacher. I do think that boys and girls are very different in terms of behavior, socializing, learning, playing...

BigAudioDynamite Wed 20-Feb-13 00:51:28

i agree with you
how did she respond?

CloudsAndTrees Wed 20-Feb-13 00:51:45

But quite often, girls are different to boys. When you work in a classroom, differences between the genders does tend to stand out.

Of course there are many many exceptions, but the majority of boys and girls being different doesn't have to be seen as a bad thing.

BubblegumPie Wed 20-Feb-13 00:55:41

Rip and Cloud the way society treats boys and girls and the expectations placed on them are different, how do you know that those differences are innate and not just socialised?

abbierhodes Wed 20-Feb-13 00:56:51

I haven't read the book. I am a mum to both sexes, and an experienced teacher in a mixed school. Girls are different to boys. No book will convince me otherwise, I prefer to judge on actual human experience.

It may be nurture rather than nature, but they are still very different.

CloudsAndTrees Wed 20-Feb-13 00:58:20

Because it happens so often in so many similar ways in children from vastly different parents and from such a young age.

squeakytoy Wed 20-Feb-13 00:58:43

I would have thought a teacher with far more expertise in observing a lot of children would be able to make an informed opinion with the need to read any book..

Males and females ARE different, without social conditioning or any other intervening factor.

ICBINEG Wed 20-Feb-13 00:58:43

cloud it is a bad thing indeed if they are only different because people have driven them to be different...if they were different naturally that would be fine...but different due to societal pressure to conform to the ideals of gentleman like and ladylike behaviour sucks ass.

Teachers should realise that it is their job to negate the shit that pours in from the outside world telling kids what they should be like. It is damaging and they should play an active role in encouraging kids to find out how they really are not what society tells them they should be.

ripsishere Wed 20-Feb-13 00:58:50

My post was based solely on my experiences. I've met children from six different countries.
I would say that similar differences are present in all cases despite societal expectations.

Angelfootprints Wed 20-Feb-13 00:59:07

I think a teacher who has worked with many , many boys and girls over the years will be perfectly knowledgable and qualified over the differences and similarities between the genders.

Actually she didn't go 'Oh shut up you nutter' or anything, she said it sounded interesting. And I didn't want to rant too much, so I spared her my other usual comment that I offer people who have one DS and one DD and therefore insist that boys and girls just are different - which is that people who have more than one child of either gender often find that their children are different...

ICBINEG Wed 20-Feb-13 01:00:14

squeaky prove it!

Show me a society in which children of both genders are treated exactly the same and in which they still display broadly different characteristics?

Oh there are none are there? So you know that the differences in primary school children are due to nature not nurture how?

squeakytoy Wed 20-Feb-13 01:00:24

And I would expect a teacher to teach my child according to the curriculum, and nothing more.

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Wed 20-Feb-13 01:00:25

That's certainly the case for me, SGB. My younger daughter is rambunctious and stubborn and physically foolhardy and loud. Basically, all the things which, should she have been a boy, would have made me think "gosh, boys really are different, aren't they?".

abbierhodes Wed 20-Feb-13 01:02:12

I have more than one child of each gender. The boys are more different to the girls.

Angelfootprints Wed 20-Feb-13 01:02:21

So you only have one ds and this somehow gives you a much better insight to anyone else? confused

ICBINEG Wed 20-Feb-13 01:02:43

rip you have been to six different countries and there were massive differences in the societal pressures? Did this include the long lost land of the matriarchy? Or somewhere where the majority of hard labour is done by women? Or it is the men that are expected to dress up prettily to attract the women?

Where on the actual globe are these different countries?

bellabelly Wed 20-Feb-13 01:03:01

One of the things that has really shocked me about having two daughters (after having 2 sons) is how "girly" the girls are, despite us oh-so-carefully parenting them the same way we 'parented' their older brothers. To us, it definitely seems that gender differences are innate. The girls (twins) have had a lot of hand-me-down toys and indeed clothes from their big brothers (also twins). I really don't think we've treated them any differently. And yet, the girls are so different from their big brothers. It's quite hard for my feminist self to handle, actually!

Rip: there is absolutely not one single culture in existence that doesn't expect different things from male and female children and, to an extent, punish and pressurize the substantial minority of children who don't fit gender stereotypes.

CloudsAndTrees Wed 20-Feb-13 01:03:37

A teacher that can see the differences is not telling children what they should be like.

It is perfectly possible to respond to a child as a person rather than as a gender, while at the same time still being able to recognise that there is a strong tendency towards stereotypes.

I actually think teachers work better when they do that, instead of trying to treat everyone the same.

ICBINEG Wed 20-Feb-13 01:05:33

How daft do you have to be to think:

I have a boy and a girl and they are different.

Therefore the difference must be due to gender!

Nope. That's not how it works. Less than 5% of your genetic code has anything at all to do with gender. That leaves the other 95% perfectly capable of making differences in personality traits...

Some people are quieter, some are more physically active, some are vainer, some are more aggressive, etc etc etc. But kids don't grow up in a vaccuum, and when they are surrounded by messages telling them that this is what boys are and this is what girls are, they either conform (often if they have the personality traits considered more appropriate to their sex) or they rebel (if they have the personality traits considered more appropriate to the opposite sex) - and sometimes they suffer for doing so.

DD is a boy, according to all the cliches. Physical, likes cars and trucks, hates sitting still. Why do we shove children into little boxes? Let them be.

abbierhodes Wed 20-Feb-13 01:07:31

I think this woman being a teacher is a bit of a red herring. It's not like she's making the boys do woodwork an the girls do knitting.

If she notices differences between her students, and this helps her to communicate effectively with them then this is good. Conversely, if she sees differences where there are none, and treats one gender worse than the other, this is bad.

There's nothing so far to suggest that this view has in anyway affected her teaching.

ICBINEG Wed 20-Feb-13 01:07:33

cloud of course the teacher should treat them as individuals. So what point is there in stereotyping at all?

So they notice that more girls do X than boys. Now what? Split the class into boys and girls activities?

That doesn't help what is the point even noticing these things if you are then going to treat with each individual separately?

ICBINEG Wed 20-Feb-13 01:10:55

Changing your communication style to match with the stereotyping only serves to reinforce it.

Like dressing science up in pink and glitter and high heels which has been shown to discourage women rather than encourage....because it rams the self-same stereotyping down their throats that was stopping them from taking science in the first place.

No teachers need to put the counterbalance to bulshit societal pressures, not ust passively ignore them.

MechanicalTheatre Wed 20-Feb-13 01:12:05

High five to you OP.

squeaky I am in a class for 25+ hours a week with 30 small children. Do you really expect me to just deliver the curriculum (whatever the hell it may be these days)? Like it or not, teachers are human, children are human and there will be social interaction going on all the time.

From the books I choose to the children I pick to give answers to the colour of sticker I had out, social norms will be reinforced all the time.

Booyhoo Wed 20-Feb-13 01:13:27

oh SGB! i did laugh when i saw that it was you that had titled this thread.

i honestly didn't know you had a 'tiny bit feminist' setting! grin

If you are a woman, have a look at your hand. Is your ring finger longer than your index finger? If it is you probably have a larger amount of testosterone than average. You may be an average better at sports, like sex, be more aggressive.

Is that helpful to know? Probably not.
Neither is saying gender is wildly important. No pink aisles for the short fingered are there?

ICBINEG Wed 20-Feb-13 01:15:30

mechanical how do I get my DD in YOUR class? (we have a while to figure this out...she isn't two year).

CloudsAndTrees Wed 20-Feb-13 01:15:47

There isn't a point in noticing, but noticing happens without even thinking about it.

It's no different to noticing that someone is wearing a jumper you own, or that someone has their arm in plaster.

ICBINEG Wed 20-Feb-13 01:20:35

If I lose it one day and rearrange all the under threes clothes in sburys by colour instead of gender...will they lock me up?

Am so sick of having to get DD clothes that say BOYS in big letters all over the sick of asking how exactly a T-shirt is not suitable for a girl to wear...or for that matter why a frock is any less suitable for a boy to wear than a girl (NB IMHO frocks are not suitable wear for anyone under any circumstances).

ICBINEG Wed 20-Feb-13 01:21:38

clouds but it wasn't ust noticed, it was commented on. To a parent. If that isn't going out of your way to reinforce a stereotype then what is?

ICBINEG Wed 20-Feb-13 01:21:59

Not appropriate at all.

CloudsAndTrees Wed 20-Feb-13 01:30:23

She mentioned it. I have no idea in what context so I don't know if it was appropriate or not, but it seems a big leap to me to say that someone who has made an idle comment in the name of pleasant chit chat has gone out of their way to reinforce a stereotype.

That seems like a massive leap for you to make to me.

ICBINEG Wed 20-Feb-13 01:31:23

I mean you could look at children aged 5 and come to the conclusion that girls intrinsically prefer to wear dresses more than boys. But the reality is that none of the boys will even have tried it, where as the girls will have been in and out of dresses for 5 years already.

So do people really think that somewhere on the X chromosome there is a bit that encodes for liking dresses?

Or do we think that the fact only girls are exposed to dresses may slightly be skewing the outcome?

Why in seven hells would you think it is different for anything else that we perceive as different?

Boys like blue and girls like pink? Well if you switch the colours from birth you would get the opposite affect (we know this from recent history).

Girls like flowers, boys like tractors? See above regarding the fact that boys get given tractors on clothes, books, toys and girls get given flowers on clothes, books, toys...

Girls are studious and boys like to blow off energy? Well if you reward those stereotypical behaviours differently for boys and girls then of course you generate the difference.

In my place of work it is blindingly obvious that being arrogant is seen as an advantage for men and a disadvantage for women. The same old stereotypes being played out in the adult world that manipulate our children.

SmeeHee Wed 20-Feb-13 01:31:58

I agree that our society has different ideas and expectations of boys and girls.

I also agree that the way we respond to girls and boys is different from a very young age and obviously does influence the way they develop, which has a profound effect on the people they become.

However there are significant differences in the physiology of males and females (brain structure and function; hormone production and effects within the body) and there is plenty of research which shows that there are differences between boys and girls and there is some truth in many of the gender stereotypes, irrespective of societal pressures.

I haven't read Delusions of Gender but
I now intend to! I do try not to treat the pupils I teach differently based on their gender or have different expectations of them, however I am confronted with the differences between the sexes every day!

ICBINEG Wed 20-Feb-13 01:35:36

smeehee it isn't surprising that teachers find differences....their parents have had 5 years to ensure their kids are mini replicas of their own stereotypes....

It is so very damaging.

ICBINEG Wed 20-Feb-13 01:36:46

Do schools enforce different clothing for boys and girls? I mean I have seen dresses on the shelves but are all options open to both sexes?

lisianthus Wed 20-Feb-13 01:42:38

[High fives SGB] that is a really good book, too. It is fascinating and a little terrifying in that it shows the research on how people putting girls into little boxes "because girls are different to boys, innit" limits girls' expectations and achievements in a surprisingly immediate way.

ICBINEG great posts.

CloudsAndTrees Wed 20-Feb-13 01:45:47

In my school all uniform is available to both girls and boys, but while lots of girls wear trousers, I don't think I've ever seen a boy wear a cardigan.

SmeeHee Wed 20-Feb-13 01:49:09

It is damaging, but I believe the evidence that shows there are differences between boys and girls, based on their physiology and irrespective of how we treat them, and think it doesn't help the argument to completely disregard this.

I also want the gender stereotyping pressures of society to stop so that everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential/make their own choices.

I should probably focus more on getting some sleep before I have to teach tomorrow. grin

KC225 Wed 20-Feb-13 01:56:59

I have twins - one boy, one girl. From day one everything was the same. They slept in the same cot, bathed together, ate the same food. When it came to toys, there were two prams, two trucks, two dolls, two trains etc. The wore similar (unisex) clothes as I hate the pale blue/pink stereotype. But as they have got older, I would say from the age of three, they are very different - not just personality wise which is to be expected. There are marked differences between girls and boys that I do not believe we have enforced. My husband and I talk about it all the time.

Not read the book as I feel I have lived with the real thing. I don't think what the teacher said was a negative thing, it was an observation at most surely.

ripsishere Wed 20-Feb-13 02:11:52

Fair point, in retrospect in virtually all the countries, boys were exposed to more manly stuff. My DD is like a boy with a fanny though. She isn't interested in what a lot of her friends are. She loathes pink and would sooner stick pins in her eyes than wear a dress.
I still stand by my argument though that boys are different to girls.

ripsishere Wed 20-Feb-13 02:12:48

When I say manly, I am talking about fishing, hunting with those big brown bird things.

MidnightMasquerader Wed 20-Feb-13 02:28:04

I love how defensive people get over this.

I have a DS and a DD. Still very young - 4 and 2 respectively. I have also spent quite a lot of time in a parent-led pre-school environment (Play Centre in NZ). Children are undoubtedly socialised differently.

We absolutely ostensibly treat our two children exactly the same, but even I - a lifetime, self-identified feminist - can see teeny, tiny minute ways that they're treated differently, even by us, their parents. Even seemingly inconsequential things which an un-questioning, un-analytical mind might not notice, all add up over a lifetime.

Of course children and socialised by gender - to deny this is to be wilfully obtuse.


AuntLucyInPeru Wed 20-Feb-13 02:50:18

YANBU. I have copies of Delusions to my mum and MIL (am on really good terms with both of them) and asked them to PLEASE read it. Both refused hmm. People don't like to have their social stereotypes challenged by reading some actual scientific research on the subject. Oh no. Anecdote is a much safer basis for decision making...

Nandocushion Wed 20-Feb-13 04:44:13

Males and females are very different, it's true. My daughter hates dolls, princesses, fairies and dressing up; my son loves pink, handbags, sparkles and hugging. Too bad teachers don't recognise these differences and celebrate them; instead they tell my son that pink is a "girl's colour", and convince my daughter that she should like cooking instead of science.

grin Nando.

One of the things I worry about is whether my well-meaning gender-neutrality is actually harmful. I put DD in whatever clothes are clean fit her and are task specific. So, Thomas boots for the beach, tunic dress and leggings for running around. They are roughly divided between gender neutral, 'boys' section clothes and 'girls' section clothes.

However, neutral as I am being, the parents of boys are not putting their boys in skirts and dresses. Am I unwittingly saying, "boys stuff is great so girls should wear it as well, girl's stuff is shit so boys won't wear it" or, as I hope, am I saying, "it's all nonsense"?

slightlysoupstained Wed 20-Feb-13 05:46:15

Puzzles me when people say "but we've treated DS and DD exactly the same and they turned out different". Unless you kept your kids in a box, they'll have had more influences than just you from day one.

If parental input was the be-all & end-all, second generation immigrants would only be fluent in their parents' language.

sashh Wed 20-Feb-13 06:01:50

* I do think that boys and girls are very different in terms of behavior, socializing, learning, playing... *

I'm a teacher and the only difference I see is the girls are more squealy sometimes. The way they learn is different because they may be more visual, or more kinesthetic learners.

Melanthe Wed 20-Feb-13 06:49:14

* KC225 *

^ I have twins - one boy, one girl. From day one everything was the same... I would say from the age of three, they are very different - not just personality wise which is to be expected. There are marked differences between girls and boys that I do not believe we have enforced. My husband and I talk about it all the time. ^

Can you elaborate KC225? What differences are there that are not personality, but gender differences? How do you recognise those differences as 'boy and 'girl' traits?

Melanthe Wed 20-Feb-13 06:50:04


I have twins - one boy, one girl. From day one everything was the same... I would say from the age of three, they are very different - not just personality wise which is to be expected. There are marked differences between girls and boys that I do not believe we have enforced. My husband and I talk about it all the time.

Can you elaborate KC225? What differences are there that are not personality, but gender differences? How do you recognise those differences as 'boy and 'girl' traits?

Repost because the font fail bugged me!

exoticfruits Wed 20-Feb-13 06:52:37

I find them very different- I don't know why it is taboo to say it. Why on earth do people have such angst about having a baby boy when they wanted a girl if there is no difference? Try saying that on a baby thread ' don't be silly- you are making a fuss over nothing- there is no difference'!

CheerfulYank Wed 20-Feb-13 06:54:42

Nah, YANBU. You didn't scream in her face or anything. grin

I'm not convinced that there aren't some inherent differences between the majority of male and female brains/psyches/whatever, but I am convinced that not everyone fits neatly into those categories and we need to be sensitive to that, and not think it's wrong or bad.

AIBU in that this clip always makes me laugh, then? smile

TheFallenNinja Wed 20-Feb-13 06:59:43

If a teacher of my children spent any of their time pushing any agenda other than the educational topic in hand I would be making plenty of noise about it.

Teachers should not be "conditioning" anybodies children but their own.

This is not to say I disagree with any particular agendas but given that we are constantly told that teachers have barely any time to teach the curriculum then I expect that to be the primary focus.

exoticfruits Wed 20-Feb-13 07:00:04

Of course not everyone fits neatly- they never do.

crazycanuck Wed 20-Feb-13 07:44:55

All those posters banging on about there actually being physiological differences between boys and girls really do need to read Delusions of Gender. She cites numerous studies that conclude that any measured physiological differences are VERY slight, and are actually amplified by societal conditioning.

Wolfiefan Wed 20-Feb-13 07:49:40

I agree Crazy but teachers need to work with the students in front of them. That finds what works for every student. It would be irresponsible for us to ignore differences or pretend they did not exist (whatever their cause.)
I have one of each. Vvvv different. How much is gender and how much is just that each of my kids are unique and special?

Wolfiefan Wed 20-Feb-13 07:51:17

But this was a casual conversation in the playground. The poor teacher was probably exhausted, on her way home and thinking about everything that still needed to be done once the kids were in bed!

Midori1999 Wed 20-Feb-13 07:55:23

I haven't read 'Delusions of Gender' but I think I may now, so thank you for that OP and YANBU.

I have three boys and one girl. (Have had three girls though) if I ever say anything about how my DD is different from her brothers or one of her brothers I get 'that's girls for you'. It really annoys me beyond all belief. DD is different because, well, she's different. She's also a whole person, not just a gender. I hate that already society is attributing behaviour or gender.

I have mostly brought my boys up myself and although I wouldn't say they've been treated gender neutrally, they've all had do Los, kitchens, hovers etc, things that some families would think we're 'for girls' and I've never taught them anything like boys don't cry or have to be brave or any of that rubbish. Yet DS2 was recently embarrassed to tell me he likes My Little Pony and the idea that this is embarrassing for a boy must have come from society, because it certainly hasn't come from me. Sadly, he doesn't feel this is something he wants his peers to know and I feel I have to respect that, although I wish he didn't care what they think. Perhaps when he is older. sad

cory Wed 20-Feb-13 07:55:49

I don't know about inherent differences. All I know is that some of the differences which my English friends assure me are inherent are ones I knew nothing about when I grew up in Sweden. No doubt if I moved to Saudi Arabia, I would find that there are far more "inherent" differences than we ever knew about in the UK.

TheFallenNinja Wed 20-Feb-13 07:59:07


Yep. And probably weary at people who, when she expresses a view, being told (however gently) that it is rubbish.

Teachers (like many professions) must have a smile sweetly and nod on agreement for these situations, it's good customer service.

FrameyMcFrame Wed 20-Feb-13 07:59:56


Children are all individuals, gender stereotyping is wrong and goes on far too much in schools. It's actually really bad for boys as well as girls.

Startail Wed 20-Feb-13 08:00:06

At primary age there is one finder mental difference, girls mature earlier than boys.

In a KS1 class this can be very noticeable.

Yes, I have two incredibly different girls, but they are still not as loud and physical as most boys.

I haven't read this book, but I will look it up now. It's a subject that interests me greatly.

Things are getting slightly better I feel (my sister was not "allowed" to do technical drawing as a subject at school because she was a girl....she's in her 40s) but there's still a long way to go. It does seem to be more acceptable for girls to be "tomboys" than for boys to be "girly". That saddens me in a way, because as another PP mentioned, it seems to reinforce that there's something intrinsically inferior about wanting to be girly.

ChestyLeRoux Wed 20-Feb-13 08:04:59

I work with younger children and dont believe its innate for one second.By the time they have got to primary they have been socialised that way.

desertgirl Wed 20-Feb-13 08:06:00

I have one of each and they are in many ways the opposite of the stereotypes. (DS is more nurturing, more actively pushed wanting to go to dance classes, more into reading etc rather than charging aroundn etc). What I have noticed is that (a) I feel more self conscious about DS acting 'like a girl' than about DD acting 'like a boy', though I try not to show it, and (b) there is far more external pressure on DS not to do things because they are 'girly' than the other way round. Even on Mumsnet far more people talk about their DD being a tomboy than their DS being whatever the reverse is.... Why then is the perception that it is girls who suffer more from social conditioning?

ChestyLeRoux Wed 20-Feb-13 08:06:09

Also for girls not being as loud and physical of boys ahahhahahaha I wish that was the case!!

cory Wed 20-Feb-13 08:07:14

I believe there may well be inherent differences that show up in a statistic material.

And naturally, at a given stage in their development, some things are going to be more noticeable: a 10yo girl who has reached puberty may well come across as very different from a boy of the same age who is nowhere near that stage in life. So a school teacher who only sees children between 9 and 11 may well feel these differences are greater than someone who follows the same group of sibling from birth to adulthood.

But as CheerfulYank says, not everybody is going to fall neatly into categories.

desertgirl Wed 20-Feb-13 08:08:47

Bit of a cross post sorry, takes me ages to type on phone!

MrsWolowitzerables Wed 20-Feb-13 08:11:41

*I haven't read the book. I am a mum to both sexes, and an experienced teacher in a mixed school. Girls are different to boys. No book will convince me otherwise, I prefer to judge on actual human experience.

It may be nurture rather than nature, but they are still very different.*

^ This ^

RedHelenB Wed 20-Feb-13 08:13:16

Naando - no way do I believe that any teachers that were trained after me ( and probably before!!) would be telling girls to cook & telling boys not to wear pink!!

wigglesrock Wed 20-Feb-13 08:13:25

I have 3 daughters and all 3 of them are very different from each other - how they play, what they play, what they like to do etc. In fact my family is all female heavy.

You probably got an eyeroll from the teacher when you left but I'm sure you can cope with that grin

ChestyLeRoux Wed 20-Feb-13 08:15:03

Im going off years of experience to and completely disagrer,however its because I see them much younger where they dont havr to conform yet.

hellsbells76 Wed 20-Feb-13 08:16:26

I am also one of Those Parents: school ran a session on 'Your Child's Developing Brain' a while ago run by an outside company which spouted all this innate gender-difference bollocks with lots of sciencey diagrams and I was bloody INCENSED (especially as they were very careful not to allow any time for questions or any chance for us to challenge what they were saying). Emailed head to complain (including link to Delusions ;) ) and she turned out to be a bit of a feminist too - told me the company had misrepresented the content of the session to her, she'd been shocked bh it herself, and that they wouldn't be invited back grin

TheSmallPrint Wed 20-Feb-13 08:18:19

I have two boys who are very, very different, I am sure if one had been a girl we'd put the differences down to gender. I was told by a friend of mine that my calm, polite DS was not 'normal' for a boy whereas her loud bullish DS was. hmm

I am firmly in the camp that there is a lot more to us than our gender, and being a woman in a very male industry I see those ridiculous stereotype every day.

hellsbells76 Wed 20-Feb-13 08:19:24

Everyone banging on about how your children are completely different - anecdote /= data. Delusions of Gender is excellent, and very readable, and will show you just how much your children are being socialised into their gender roles despite your best efforts.

MidnightMasquerader Wed 20-Feb-13 08:23:04

I find them very different- I don't know why it is taboo to say it. Why on earth do people have such angst about having a baby boy when they wanted a girl if there is no difference? Try saying that on a baby thread ' don't be silly- you are making a fuss over nothing- there is no difference'!

Girls and boys are different because we treat them differently; not because they inherently are different.

Some (not) all women want girls so that they can do girls things to them. You know, dress them up in pretty frocks, brush their hair (which they've grown long), take them shopping and to ballet lessons.

Yes, they could do all these things with their sons as well... but ... interestingly, they don't. Do they?

ErikNorseman Wed 20-Feb-13 08:32:34

I have one child, a boy, who shows both 'male' and 'female' typical traits. I like to think that it's because he's an individual. He loves cars, sure. He notices makes and models and remembers them, when I can't. He told me that my tyres needed air (they did). But that is because his father loves vehicles and he wants to be like his father, and his father has instilled a fascination
He also loves to sit and read, or colour, or craft. Because his mother likes to do those things. As he has been at nursery for a few years he has been socialised into more 'male' behaviours and that will get more entrenched when he goes to school. I remember my brother being very 'girly' before he went to school because he wanted to be like me. It's so impossible to judge what is innate personality and what is socialisation.

desertgirl Wed 20-Feb-13 08:33:19

Midnight Masquerader, I took DS to ballet lessons until peer pressure made him give up - he still does Highland and jazz dance..... It isn't always the mums!

LucilleBluth Wed 20-Feb-13 08:34:39

I have two boys and a girl.......and I love me a good ole read from the feminist section of the book shop ( currently wading through Vagina by Naomi Woolf) BUT I do think there are some innate differences just from my observations of being a mother for the past 11 years.

I also think there is a hell of a lot of social conditioning going on, and I think it's getting worse. For example at Christmas I tried to source a dolls house for 2 yo DD, most of them look like barbie threw up on them, pink plastic crap (I just wanted something durable, not one of those intricate Victorian jobbies) anyway I ended up with what is possibly the only dolly house with a blue roof, I got it from e bay, it's a 15 year old Little Tikes one, quite gender neutral and fun.

HollyBerryBush Wed 20-Feb-13 08:36:58

For every opinion there is a polar opinion.

The differences are obvious, even at a young age - its due to hormones.

Nature will always triumph over nurture in the end.

The second article is on the CAH hormone, a study of girls born with enlarged clitoris and fused labia, surgery to correct at a young age and also given corrective hormones to bring the CAH levels down to a standard level. All showed male traits and were more aggressive, 'boy like' if you will. Those girls were gender stereotyped into female, but they were still exhibiting the sterotypical male behaviour of enhanced physical, spatial, mathematical skills.

Now why would that be? Hormones. Babies have hormones too. As shown by the girls in link 2, who had abnormally high CAH and were medically engineered and sterotyped into traditional females.

You can try to make your little boy like pink spangly things all you like, but by 18 months he'll have a natural gravitas towards trucks, and vice versa. Well, 99% of the time they will define their own gender - and I know there are going to be anecdotal stories about boys liking dolls and girls liking cars because there is always someone who is different.

I cant find the study - a Scandanvian one - where babies were given gender neutral toys and clothes for 2 years, then let loose in a room with gender specific toys. The girls gravitated towards dolls, houses, prams etc and the boys towards lego and cars.

SmeeHee: Please do read the book, as it deconstructs all this supposed 'research' on how different the genders are.

As to DS teacher, she made the comments in an 'unofficial' setting ie we met her in the park, and she was talking as another mum not a teacher. I don't actually want to go into too much detail just in case she's a MNer which would be hugely awkward...

seeker Wed 20-Feb-13 08:43:15

This is interesting. I think that it it wrong, and counter productive, to ignore the fact that by the time they get to school they are different. There are two tasks, really. The first one is to change society so that we stop socialising boys and girls to be different from before birth. If this is going to happen, this is a long term goal.

The second one is to deal with th fact that this generation we are dealing with now have been socialised that way. There is a difference between a teacher saying "oh, they are so different arn't they, bless their little mud paddling/doll hugging socks" and a teacher saying "Yes, they are different, and this school is going to do it's damdest to show them that despite what the world tells them in this school, they are not going tonbendefined by gender"

My dd went to a girl's school from year 7 to 11, and was used to arguing, debating, speaking up, doing physics, doing stuff. She's been in a mixed 6th form since September, and regularly rants about how the girls have suddenly become quiet and compliant, and the boys take up all the room. She's got a meeting with the head after half term to talk about it.

So the differences are there. They shouldn't be, but they are. And we deny it at our peril.

Oh, and anyone on this thread uses the word "feisty" I will explode.

exoticfruits Wed 20-Feb-13 08:44:31

I took DS to ballet lessons. I was also a single mother and before he had access to any one else or TV he made guns from toast and could make very good gun noises at the back of his throat (I am anti guns) I have a friend who has a boy and a girl 14 months apart-she wasn't having 'any of this conditioning nonsense' -she ended up with a girly girl and a very boyish boy.
You always know that if someone is bringing up a child to be non gender stereotyping it will be a boy and they wanted a girl!
You can do what you like with your DD-if you don't let her have pink it will be fine if she agrees but if she likes pink-she likes pink!
I can't see why people can't just relax and go with the child-rather than their own fixed ideas.

dikkertjedap Wed 20-Feb-13 08:46:45

How arrogant OP. Why don't you become a teacher? You may be able to change the world, eh?

PessimisticMissPiggy Wed 20-Feb-13 08:47:40

YANBU. Thanks for highlighting the book - I've just ordered it to read.
My FIL is always going on about the differences between men and women so hopefully I can pass it his way when I'm done!

BoundandRebound Wed 20-Feb-13 08:48:13

This is where the feminist ideal breaks down for many people.

There are physiological, psychological and hormonal differences between the genders that does not make one more important than the other but does mean that the mode of each gender is different in quite discernible ways.

Of course there are a large number of children either side of the bell curve who exhibit more of the characteristics generally attributed to the opposite sex but it is not just social conditioning that brings the difference, it is innate,,

But it is wonderful that we are different and our children are different. it is something to celebrate not hide away from or think that it makes our daughters in this society less equal.

Treat each child as an individual and you can't go wrong

MidnightMasquerader Wed 20-Feb-13 08:48:24

And yet if a boy 'likes pink' he's inevitably gently persuaded out of it... wink

Sorry, but I just won't be persuaded that girls and boys are treated exactly the same...

penelopepissstop Wed 20-Feb-13 08:53:21

Good for you OP.
My DS current teacher has daughters, and it shows in the blatant way she favours girls.
She frequently yells out the boys but the girls get away with pretty similar stuff - it goes unnoticed.
She's a pretty good teacher so I keep my gob shut, but I have noticed.

mercibucket Wed 20-Feb-13 08:57:17

Mine are different, but I expect this difference is then reinforced and amplified by me and wider society.
I was quite amazed at the difference in type of play though. Luckily, I have actually seen other little boys play with playmobil or else I would wonder why it even existed.

HollyBerryBush Wed 20-Feb-13 09:02:13

midnight teenaged boys love pink - my eldest doesnt own anything that isnt pink, pink, I am informed, is the new black!

BlackholesAndRevelations Wed 20-Feb-13 09:03:14

As a teacher and mum of both genders, boys and girls are different in my experience. A good teacher knows this and knows how to reach both boys and girls, knowing what appeals to each gender. I know I'm generalising but I've taught for almost ten years so I've known a fair few children. There are always exceptions of course; "tomboys", and quiet studious boys who prefer to play with dolls or play at teachers etc. I suppose I don't know how they've been nurtured at home but I do know that mine are treated exactly the same. My son's favourite toy is the doll pushchair; he walks round in play high heels and bracelets yet he is so much more laid back, chilled, and physical than her. She's a princess through and through entirely of her own design.

larrygrylls Wed 20-Feb-13 09:03:31

Well how about a read of this:

or this:

or this:

The one book "Delusions of Gender" written by a psychiatrist, with no qualifications in neurology, is far from the last word on this subject.

LimeLeafLizard Wed 20-Feb-13 09:08:00

I spared her my other usual comment that I offer people who have one DS and one DD and therefore insist that boys and girls just are different - which is that people who have more than one child of either gender often find that their children are different...

I often find myself saying this too! Usually after they have commented that I have three 'the same'. Er, no, they are all very different actually.

GobblersKnob Wed 20-Feb-13 09:08:30

I have a boy and a girl, they are both very different, this is because they are different people.

Ds is quiet, gentle, sensitive. Dd is loud, manipulative and slightly obsessed with guns and death.

CoalDustWoman Wed 20-Feb-13 09:09:23

There is one study from Delusions of Gender that always sticks with me. If you prime females to acknowledge their sex by having a tick box at the top of the paper, they do worse on maths tests than if they aren't primed. As a group, of course.

Still blows my mind.

larrygrylls Wed 20-Feb-13 09:12:48


When I see a result like the one that you have highlighted, it really makes me wonder about the research. I really struggle to believe it is true. I don't believe someone approaches a test differently merely by ticking a box, UNLESS there is something else going on. I would really like to dig into the original of that piece of research to look at the methodology and the stats. Normally when you get a really bizarre result, the experiment is not statistically significant, not repeatable or there is more to it than meets the eye.

If true, it is remarkable. But I would not take incredible results on trust without lookiing further.

LapsusLinguae Wed 20-Feb-13 09:24:53

Cordelia studied Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, followed by an M.Phil in Criminology at Cambridge University. She was awarded a Ph.D in Psychology from University College London. Between 2002 to 2011 she held research positions at Monash University, the Australian National University, then Macquarie University.

[ from her website]

Those who have brought up DC of the opposite sex - did they watch TV? Think about the male/female roles on CBeebies. I had a friend who said their DD liked looking in the mirror and it did not come from her. I picked up a princess comic with pictures of mirrors/brushes etc and said "look at this!" - "oh said my friend".

bowerbird Wed 20-Feb-13 09:25:36

Larrygr was really shocked at the middle link on Scottish education, which seems to have accepted wholesale the idea that girls and boys are just different. BTW it appears it was pretty much based on the Baron-Cohen study, which has been completely discredited.

OP, I totally support you. I'm one of those mothers too. Long may we be a pain in the ass!

LapsusLinguae Wed 20-Feb-13 09:25:43

~"Oh" said my friend

larrygrylls Wed 20-Feb-13 09:33:29


So, has the neurological community accepted the book by Cordelia Fine? I don't think so. It is a feminist cri de guerre but when psychologists start critiqueing neurologists, you know they are way beyond their sphere of competence.

There is a lot of research in the other direction and the three links give their own links to proper peer reviewed studies. There are very few studies which give absolute answers, especially in such a controversial field. However, Cordelia Fine is writing a popular book propagandising an agenda. To pretend it is the last scientific word in the argument of sexual neurological differences is bizarre.

Wingdingdong Wed 20-Feb-13 09:37:41

So what do the Delusions of Gender fans make of Pink Brain, Blue Brain, then? Written by a feminist neuroscientist who intended to show that the genders are the same, it actually ends up concluding that differences are hard wired in our brains due to hormones, etc. e.g. Boys get a sudden surge of testosterone at around 4 or 5. Not much you can do about that.

It's particularly interesting because Eliot argues that we should not ignore the differences but exploit them to achieve full potential. If girls and boys learn better in different environments then we should ensure that they have access to those environments. This goes beyond such superficialities as "DD plays with trains" or "DS likes dressing up as a princess" to the core of how children learn; studies demonstrate boys tend to do better in short bursts interspersed with physical activity; girls tend to do better in longer activities with social interaction. Sure there are exceptions - that's why the word 'tend' is used!

Fwiw, my DD's favourite toys include her train set. However, she plays with it in a very different way to the boys at nursery/playgroup (3/4 yos). She constructs narratives, people take the train to go on journeys, the trains talk to each other. The boys bash them together, stage crashes and see how fast they'll go. Do I say that boys and girls are the same based on DD's love of trains or do I say they're totally different based on the activity rather than object? Or is there a spectrum, with gender tendencies rather than absolutes, and these should be catered for rather than denied outright if we really want to get the best out of and for our children, whether girls or boys?

Btw, DS's favourite toy is a baby doll. He particularly likes banging it on the head with a hammer then kissing it better. No idea what that means!

VenusRising Wed 20-Feb-13 09:38:27

There are huge differences in men and women SGB, and this is why men are paid 20% more for doing the same work.

That's the only reason I can see for the pay gap?

LapsusLinguae Wed 20-Feb-13 09:45:27

I'm hoping the fact that the only man on the thread seems to want to put women off Cordelia Fine's book will be counter productive and those that haven't read it will be intrigued!

I'm not sure who has said the book is "the last scientific word".

I would urge everyone to re-read what seeker wrote.

"this school is going to do it's damdest to show them that despite what the world tells them in this school, they are not going to be defined by gender"

seeker - good on your DD for raising this issue. Does she have some ideas to change the situation? Get teachers to think about class discussion being more gender balanced?

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 09:47:53

'Baron-Cohen study, which has been completely discredited.'

By who?

The current research suggests that male/female brains are wired very differently, however I doubt that feminist theorists will be having their 'Ricardian Moment' anytime soon.

Just as an aside, I would no more want a feminist teaching my sons than a Scientologist, extreme christian or BNP candidate.

juule Wed 20-Feb-13 09:48:09

"There are always exceptions of course; "tomboys", and quiet studious boys who prefer to play with dolls or play at teachers etc. "

Of course there will be "exceptions" because childrenare different.
I could say "roses are red....but of course there will be exceptions"

HandbagCrab Wed 20-Feb-13 09:48:25

It wouldn't matter if there were innate differences between men and women if we didn't live in a hierarchical, patriachical society where any difference between men and women (whether nature, nurture or imagined) is used to show that men are better than women and should therefore get paid more, have more opportunities, do less shitwork and generally be valued more for the 'traits that are male' that they embody.

Personally, I don't agree that males and females are so different that one can draw a line down the middle but anecdotally I can see they are socialised and conditioned from birth to have certain clothes, toys and experiences that would create slight differences which will be magnified over time.

juule Wed 20-Feb-13 09:49:56

By the age of the subjects of the study male/ female brains might very well be wired differently due to environmental influences. Are there differences at birth?

seeker Wed 20-Feb-13 09:52:57

Lapsus, they have regular visiting lecturers coming into the school. She's going to ask if the school will fund a speaker on this issue-she's got a few names to offer. And she is going to suggest some workshops for new year 12s next year. It's an all boy's school with a mixed 6th.But think she wants to find out whether the school see it as a problem or not before she plans her next move!

LapsusLinguae Wed 20-Feb-13 09:53:51

Wingdingdong in pink brain blue brain the author shows that there is massive range amongst boys and amongst girls and yes there are measurable differences between the tops of the bell curves for certain things but loads of overlap. <sorry been a while since I read>

Also lots of things measured come after a few years of socialisation.

When people think characteristics are set at birth they are less likely to look at ways of broadening them in their charges. However the brain is plastic. So encourage those who have been playing Lego (statistically more boys) to do crafts and vice versa.

<As an aside how is it natural to like cars etc mechanical vehicles have not been around long in evolutionary terms!>

AbigailAdams Wed 20-Feb-13 09:53:55

I often wonder why some people are so invested in believing that men and women are so different. What is in it for them?

seeker Wed 20-Feb-13 09:55:14

"Just as an aside, I would no more want a feminist teaching my sons than a Scientologist, extreme christian or BNP candidate."

Not sure what to say to that. What on earth do people think feminists are!

AbigailAdams Wed 20-Feb-13 10:05:34

Perhaps Sigmund would like her daughters to grow up and still be considered less than men seeker. <shrugs> each to their own.

landofsoapandglory Wed 20-Feb-13 10:06:58

I worked with a teacher, very temporarily, who had very strong views about how boys and girls were different. She'd say " you'll never find a boy who likes writing"hmm, my DS1 was the county young writer of the year at that time! She'd tell me girls weren't as good at maths! I found her views appalling and tod the HT so when I left.

I don't buy the girls and boys are different rubbish. I have 2 boys, they are very different. My sister and I are poles apart, it is people who are different.

Dahlen Wed 20-Feb-13 10:09:10

I have a DD and a DS. I have tried to bring them up to believe that while men and women are biologically different, there is nothing they can or cannot do simply because their gender determines it so (save perhaps pregnancy and lactation).

I am very, very aware of this and constantly reinforcing it. I am fighting a losing battle. I simply cannot undo all the pressure my DC get from their friends, my friends and family, teachers and group leaders (albeit well-meaning), TV (even though they are limited quite severely by most people's standards), even their bloody reading material from school/library. Most people aren't even aware they are doing it.

To some extent I think we have to accept that conforming to social norms is a fundamental element of having a successful life, and gender norms are part of that. Until such time as the world is ready for complete 100% gender neutrality, encouraging children to step out of those norms can run the risk of making life significantly more difficult for them. Unfortunately, though, it requires some brave souls to do just that to redefine what is 'normal' and improve things for everyone else.

I've resigned myself to the fact that my DD is likely to end up conforming to notions of femininity in terms of appearance, but as long as I can bring her up to realise that her worth comes from herself (not what she looks like), that she can choose any career she likes (regardless of whether it's traditionally male or female dominated), and that it will be possible for her to have children and a career as long as she manages to either earn enough to go it alone, or chooses a partner who will support her choices and not expect her to default to secondary-earner position just because she's a woman (although if she wants to do that, that's ok too).

seeker Wed 20-Feb-13 10:09:46

As I said. It doesn't actually matter in the short term whether boys and girls are hardwired or socialised to be different. The fact remains that by the time they arrive at school they are different- anecdotes about individual children notwithstanding. And what we do about that is crucial.

Why is it so wrong to think males and females are different? "Different" is not the same as being unequal.

larrygrylls Wed 20-Feb-13 10:11:49


"Wingdingdong in pink brain blue brain the author shows that there is massive range amongst boys and amongst girls and yes there are measurable differences between the tops of the bell curves for certain things but loads of overlap. <sorry been a while since I read>"

Well, of course. Both statistically and anecdotally we should all know that some girls can run faster than some girls, despite men obviously being faster than women. So, if you cannot see that is going to more than extend into slight (but important) neurological differences, then you are clearly missing something.

The point of these studies, one hopes, is to work with what one has to get the best out of every individual, be they female or male. And also to provide schooling appropriate to to each individual. Any agenda is not helpful in this regard.

I don't understand why so many people are determined to deny differences between men and women, despite it being fairly clear, both anecdotally and scientifically. Different is not better or worse, it is merely different.

As an amusing aside, it is amazing how many people on this thread have boisterous daughters and shy and introverted sons. I have not heard a single person on the "gender neutral" agenda admit to a boisterous son and a "girly" girl. Surely there must be one?!

Dahlen Wed 20-Feb-13 10:15:34

Larry, my DD likes to play with cars and climb trees but is convinced she has to do this wearing as much pink and glitter as possible. If that's not social conditioning, I don't know what is.

My DS OTOH is about as typically 'male' as it's possible to get, apart from his proclivity to do it wearing a pink tutu (unless other boys are around of course, and then 'girly stuff' is 'eww').

drjohnsonscat Wed 20-Feb-13 10:16:01

My DS (3) went to the dr this morning for his jabs. He got two stickers for bravery which he chose - one car one and one flower one. He loves cars but he doesn't yet know he's not supposed to love flowers. On the way home he saw a friend and showed him his stickers - the friend said "why did you get a girl one?". DS had no idea what he meant.

People are always saying to me "oh they are so different aren't they?" about my girl and boy but actually, no they are not really. They like playing with the same toys - especially the train set, they like acting out stories, they fight over the scooter. Neither of them are really into balls. They are both currently wearing pink nail polish.

Other people will have different stories about how their girls and boys are really different but children are different. You did the right thing OP but people are determined about this so those of us who do not have those very different boys and very different girls will just have to smile and ignore.

seeker Wed 20-Feb-13 10:18:08

"Why is it so wrong to think males and females are different? "Different" is not the same as being unequal."

Unfortunately in this context it does. Which is why it is an issue which needs to be addressed, not ignored.

drjohnsonscat Wed 20-Feb-13 10:20:33

Also agree with dahlen.

The problem is not that they are deemed to be different but that they are both restricted from fulfilling their own personalities by social conditioning. My son wanted the flower sticker and now he knows he shouldn't have chosen that one. A minor thing but it spills over into every area of life and becomes very limiting.

The one thing I am grateful for is that my son is exposed to "girl things" because he has a big sister and he really enjoys those things (nail polish, putting on plays and making up stories, sticking glitter on things) and my daughter is exposed to "boy things" because she has a brother and she really enjoys those things (the train sets they make together, the tussling they do together, the races they have). Hopefully that will do something to keep their horizons wide open - but it will be a drop in the ocean compared to the conditioning that happens elsewhere.

Tanith Wed 20-Feb-13 10:25:06

Boys and girls are different in some ways and I feel that forcing them to be the same can be equally damaging.
I've looked after a lot of very young children. Although I would say that more boys prefer physical play and girls are more likely to prefer drawing, for example, they aren't restricted or denied in any way.
I look after a very lively, rough and tumble boy who has always loved wearing dresses from the dressing up box and whose favourite colour is still pink. He is much more likely to charge about, playing football than he is to putting the dollies to bed: the essential point is that he has equal access to both, as do all children here, regardless of their gender.
Very interesting that, even though his parents have actively encouraged a pink, glittery, girly interest, he is still a lively, energetic boy who loves football and playing with other boys.

Some is nurture, a lot is down to hormones (that infamous testosterone surge that turns 4 year old boys into wrestlers, for example wink).

drjohnsonscat Wed 20-Feb-13 10:26:29

Also I notice that when I am at school waiting for the nursery gates to open, the boys are permitted to run around and be much more vigorous than the girls ever were (I stood on the same steps with my girl 3 years previously). My natural instinct is to calm my son down at this point because it's an urban school with a narrow pavement and it's dangerous but also because they are going into school and I don't want him to be all over-excited and silly and then have to go in and sit down quietly in assembly.

But I've given up trying because all the parents of boys just let it happen and much as I don't like the social conditioning, I also want my son to be part of a group of friends. Meanwhile the parents of girls are holding onto their hands and waiting patiently for the doors to open.

Some people would say that parents of boys do this to accommodate boys' naturally more physical natures but I have not observed this in my own children. Indeed I observe quite a bit of physicality in girls getting suppressed. What I have observed is that the boys are, very very subtly, given more leeway to be physical.

larrygrylls Wed 20-Feb-13 10:27:17

"My DS (3) went to the dr this morning for his jabs. He got two stickers for bravery which he chose - one car one and one flower one. He loves cars but he doesn't yet know he's not supposed to love flowers."

Well, I am afraid I am at the same stage as your son. I love flowers and plants, my wife has absolutely no interest. I didn't know I wasn't "supposed" to love flowers.

As to my own sons, they are clearly boys in many ways. The way they compete for every little thing, their attention span, the way they need a lot of exercise to behave decently. On the other hand, they are always wanting to try dresses as "dress ups" and love smearing themselves with my wife's make up. My 3.9 year old also loves pretending to be pregnant and is obsessed with babies. I think liking certain colours and certain toys is almost certainly social conditioning, all young children clearly love pink for instance and glittery things, boys are just conditioned away from it. On the other hand, the more important things of how children play and how they learn could well be (and I believe are) more ingrained according to sex. Again these are two bell curves with plenty of overlap, but that does not mean they fit one curve.

I would certainly point out what most girls and boys do but I would also tell them that what they like is what they like and it is personal and not up to anyone to tell them.

We need to treat everyone as individuals but, particularly in education (where boys are struggling at the moment), if teaching has to be done in large classes, and if there are general rules as to how to optimise boys' and girls' learning experiences, I think we would be mad to ignore them inn favour of an agenda.

Miggsie Wed 20-Feb-13 10:29:02

Interestingly - priming works in terms of race as well as gender - they tested white men playing basketball - they did fine with a white instructor, then they brought in a black instructor and all the white men immediately did worse - they think it is due to the American stereotype that "white men can't jump". The study was repeated with combinations of black/white and they found that once primed with the stereotype of "white men can't jump" performance by white men dropped and the black men went up.
This has led to theorising that the reason blacks in America do better at sports than academic work is that it is expected that black men will be good at sports - not intellectual stuff. Despite there being no reason that a black man can't study at university rather than do sports.

If this works through race then it will work via gender, girls are expected to be quiet and not like maths - so, strangely this happens. - all my reading and studying on the subject has led me to believe that there are far more similarities than differences between men and women and boys and girls - but societies are obsessed with looking at the differences.

100-200 years ago it was scientifically "proved" that - women can't learn Greek - their heads would explode. Reading fiction would cause brain fever in women, if a woman was in an orchid house her libido would be so inflamed she would be a danger to herself (!!!!!!) and that women couldn't be doctors because their brains were not big enough to learn all that was necessary. They also were deemed incapable of composing for orchestras - although composing for the piano was ok - why????? Also, 100 years ago girls were all dressed in blue and boys in pink - so that is a totally artificial construct as well.

Nearly all the differences that have been proved turn out to be wrong.
Genes have been shown to contribute only 50% or less of a person's personality - and in the genes only 5% is different for the sexes - so the actual differences your gender genes are making are 5% of 50% - which is not a lot. Family birth order will actually contribute more to personality development than the sex of the child.

Miggsie Wed 20-Feb-13 10:32:42

BTW - boys struggle in education because the behaviours rewarded/expected in young boys - running, shouting, being physically boisterous - are totally unsuited to sitting learning in a classroom setting.
Whereas all the behaviours rewarded in young girls - being nice, sitting still, being quiet, being obedient - are the perfect skills to learn in classroom setting. So girls start with the massive advantage of having already learned to sit still and pay attention.

When girls were not taught alongside boys it didn't show up. Only boys were educated and they got physically punished for being rowdy - so they learned by coercion. We have now skewed the teaching and education models to work with quiet, obedient children who don't need physical punishment to learn - which ironically, is the girls.

Branleuse Wed 20-Feb-13 10:34:08

i have two boys and a girl and theyre all just different. I think the actual girly stuff and boysih stuff is just whats pushed onto them. They all go for what society likes them to go for - ie my daughter loves to think shes princessy, but tbh, my boys have all played with dollies too and my daughter gets rough with the boys and is definitely the most coordinated one.

People are different. Boys and girls are different, but no more than two girls are different or two boys are different.
Any difference between the sexes can be seen between two people of the same sex

AbigailAdams Wed 20-Feb-13 10:35:08

"Boys and girls are different in some ways and I feel that forcing them to be the same can be equally damaging. " Nobody is suggesting that at all. In fact why do you think that. Children are all different to each other so in fact pushing children down the pink princessy or climbing trees route depending on their sex is damaging.

AbigailAdams Wed 20-Feb-13 10:37:44

"he is still a lively, energetic boy who loves football and playing with other boys." Well obviously! Who doesn't at that age? Running about expending energy is what children do. Would he run around with girls playing with balls if only girls were around? Very probably. Would girls be playing football if all their peers were. Very probably.

rollmopses Wed 20-Feb-13 10:44:16

Boys ARE different to girls, men are different to women. Why oh why does everything and everybody have to be ever so same and equal etc?
Why can't people stop making issues where there are none.
We are all different, some are smarter, some are dumber, some are pretty, some are ugly etc ad nauseam.
SGB, you are BU and one of 'those' mothers.

KellyElly Wed 20-Feb-13 10:44:55

Surely the fact that boys and girls have different hormones in itself makes them different? You are basing your knowledge on one book and then trying to enforce your opinion (and that's what it is, it's hardly an irrefutable scientific fact) on someone who has a different opinion. Sounds pretty arrogant to me OP.

larrygrylls Wed 20-Feb-13 10:46:56

Yes, a lot of people do like to ignore the role of sex hormones on brain development, both in utero and growing up, when it obviously does play a role.

Lovecat Wed 20-Feb-13 10:47:06

Well thank God for Larry coming along to the thread to explain it all to us...hmm

I'm actually on the second chapter of "The Gender Delusion" at the moment and finding it fascinating. I would agree that by 5, most children will have been exposed to so many social influences that yes, most of them will conform to gender stereotypes. DD is fairly ungirly (likes many things that she has been told are 'for boys' like Dr Who, trains, science, the colour blue & Lego City, and savagely critiques toy ads that only show boys playing with a toy) but she still likes having long 'princess' hair, dressing up and watching Barbie films <parenting fail for any gender - the appalling computer animation in those things is horrendous!>.

Mrs TP, is that thing about the fingers actually true? In that case, why am I so shit at sport?? confused grin

AbigailAdams Wed 20-Feb-13 10:47:33

"Boys ARE different to girls"..."We are all different..." Slight conflation of arguments there!

"Surely the fact that boys and girls have different hormones in itself makes them different?" Why would that make them different. Obviously there are sex differences, no-one is denying that. But why would hormones make you like football or princesses?

silverfrog Wed 20-Feb-13 10:47:57

this really bugs me.

I have 2 dds, and one ds (a baby still).

dd2, as a toddler/young child was loud, demanding, loved racing around, favourite colour red, and everything bright/noisy. none of this pastel malarkey, or sitting still doing puzzles for her. she did wear dresses out of preference (have you any idea how hard it is to find bright red dresses? pink was hated, as were flowers) - this was a sensory issue as she didn't like the feel of trousers around her waist.

then she went to preschool.

and was repeatedly told her clothes were 'too pretty' to spoil painting/playing outside; was told by the girls she must be a boy (she had shortish hair, and liked doing 'boys games'). told by the boys she couldn't be a girl because she didn't like pink/didn't play with dolls etc.

she was really quite unhppy for a while - she couldn't understand why she was being told she wasn't a girl, when she knew she was. she had me telling her everyday that I didn't care what happened to her clothes (in terms of paint spills etc), but was told differently by the person in charge at school. she got the message she was meant to take more care if she was wearing something 'pretty' than if she was wearing a t shirt and jeans.

she started liking pink to fit in ith her peers - she still prefers red and brighter colours when she is being honest with herself, and I hope that one day she will be strong enough to be honest with her friends too.

all this came from school, and other people's expectations of her. she had no notion that she was not 'supposed' to like boys games before she started school. if anything, she probably had rather more 'boys toys' than 'girls toys' at home. she certainly had never been told not to run about/climb trees/paint/glue/whatever because she was wearing a dress angry

I have repeatedly had words with her teachers. there is only so much they can do, of course, since a lot of the attitude is also coming from the other children.

but it has been truly eye opening as to how much pressure and expectations are put upon very small children.

now I have ds too. people repeatedly ask me if being a mum to a boy is any different from being a mum to girls - ds is 7 motnhs old! so far, he has slept not a lot (like most small babies), drunk a lot of milk (like all small babies), babbled a bit (like all small babies), and weed and pooed a lot (like all small babies) - where exactly is this difference supposed to come into play? and yet there are people at every turn desperate to put any slight (perceived) difference down to the fact that he is a boy.

he is at the lovely piercing shriek stage - I have lost count of the number of times people have said he is being loud because he is a boy - if that is the case, how come both my girls also had the same loud piercing shriek phase (along with most babies I have come across)?

I do not understand this desperate need to fit everythign into neat little boxes, especially since the labels for those boxes are social contructions in the first place.

NutellaNutter Wed 20-Feb-13 10:49:25

YABU. Have had a girl and a boy myself and they are indeed both different, even though they are both outgoing and confident. It's something that goes right down to their cells. Definitely nature not nurture.

seeker Wed 20-Feb-13 10:51:18

"n trying to enforce your opinion (and that's what it is, it's hardly an irrefutable scientific fact) on someone who has a different opinion. Sounds pretty arrogant to me OP."

How unfeminine of her..........!

MummyPigsFatTummy Wed 20-Feb-13 10:54:29

I am just starting to read Delusions of Gender and am already getting depressed for DD(3). She will almost certainly be going to a mixed junior school and I can see her being subject to the sort of educational stereotyping reflected on here and elsewhere in society. I was at an all girls school throughout my education and there simply was no suggestion, at school at least, that girls were naturally good or bad at anything. As a result, some of us excelled in maths and sciences - others veered more towards the arts. But I have no recollection of any implication that, as a girl, I should be avoiding maths or the hard sciences.

I worry about DD though because even at nursery she is getting "Boys do this - girls do that" messages which she is bringing home with her and I can only see this getting worse when she goes to school and the kind of prejudice about boy/girl differences which is demonstrated on this thread and elsewhere starts to affect what she thinks she SHOULD be interested in rather than what she maybe actually is interested in.

However, I do realise that as parents DH and I can try to reinforce the message that she can do anyhting she wants to and sets her mind to. I do think that reading books like Delusions of Gender at least opens your eyes to the conditioning children are receiving all around them and helps you to think about how you might start to counteract that.

A long way round of saying good on you OP and I hope I have the confidence to take a similar line in the future - I am planning to speak to DD's nursery about what they do to counteract boy/girl stereotypes (or at least to avoid reinforcing them).

KellyElly Wed 20-Feb-13 10:54:55

But why would hormones make you like football or princesses? That's just gender-stereotyping. That has noting to do with the many complex differences in emotional and personal development that differ between the sexes!

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 20-Feb-13 10:58:14

Wingdingding - I feel like you and I must have read entirely different versions of Pink Brain, Blue Brain. As I read it, the central thesis was that there were differences -small ones with very low d-values (difference in means divided by standard deviation - otherwise known as broad bell curves which mostly overlap). And because gender stereotyping kicks in so early (Elliot references studies with parents treating babies quite differently - e.g. the "how steep a ramp do you think your baby can tackle, compared to what it can tackle when supervised by a nursery nurse who doesn't know his/her gender?" experiment) and the brain is very plastic early on, it's impossible to work out how much of the small differences are down to nurture and how many down to nature. But because the brain is plastic, parents and teachers can choose either to massively enhance gender differences, or to compensate for them. Most of Elliot's "treat them differently" suggestions are actually suggestions as to how to compensate for socially conditioned differences in experience - for instance, if little boys tend to arrive in school with lower fine motor skills than their
female peers, because the little girls have been encouraged to spend hours drawing and stringing beads while the boys were being encouraged to kick a football around, the boys will be disadvanted. But you can compensate for this by encouraging them in activities which emphasise fine motor skills. Likewise, if the only way you can get your little girl to play with lego (which will develop spatial ability) is by buying her a set of pink lego, then do it (even if you hate pink). Now, while I'm aware of postmodern literary theory which says there is no such thing as authorial intentions or a single interpretation of a text, I think that this is hogwash in this instance, and that you've simply wildly misunderstood the book. I suggest
you might want to re-read it.

Larry - the tick box test has been replicated loads of times and in loads of different contexts. It applies to any group socially perceived as being inferior. You can mess up a very able group of black students' performance by getting them to fill in an ethnicity questionnaire first, it's even been done by simply having the teacher tell a group of primary children that blue eyed children are better at maths than brown eyed children - then giving them a maths test - hey presto, the brown-eyed children under perform.

And yes, I do take this stuff very personally. I was the little girl who went through school liking climbing trees and being good at maths, and having to struggle against the system to be allowed to choose the academic subjects I wanted (biology was compulsory because I was a girl). And if there's anything that's like a red rag to a bull, it's the suggestion that this might be down to me having been exposed to too many foetal androgens - as if my personality isn't my own, but is some sort of biological freak of nature. Nope, I'm only part of a wide spectrum of women from the very girly to the very tomboy-ish, and there's nothing wrong with where I am on that spectrum, thank you very much.

Angelfootprints Wed 20-Feb-13 11:06:49

Do people on here also object to fact our Western culture teaches and conditions us to be different to other cultures?

Is this also dangerous? How should we address this?

ukatlast Wed 20-Feb-13 11:06:57

I used to spout the 'boys and girls are the same nonsense', it is all environmental (pink toys etc) my twenties.
My sister-in-law put me right and I was amazed she thought differently as would otherwise agree on most things.
Life in the male-dominated workplace and now in middle-age having two boys, having been brought up in a family of girls myself....makes me ashamed to have ever held that view.
It is so naive...of course men and women; and boys and girls are different. A lot of what happens is genetic (even down to health), environmental conditioning does play a role but it is not the whole picture by any means.

I was also amazed at the 'maternal instinct' which overwhelmed me after the birth of my first child - admittedly later in life - I agree men need to be involved in their children's care but I am not convinced that they get a hormonal rush making them want to do it regardless...there's a reason women get the maternity leave as it were.
It is not unfeminist to concede that genetics do make a difference, just realistic.

coraltoes Wed 20-Feb-13 11:11:22

Poor teacher was probably just making polite conversation...

AbigailAdams Wed 20-Feb-13 11:14:15

"But why would hormones make you like football or princesses? That's just gender-stereotyping." Yes it is isn't it!

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 20-Feb-13 11:15:35

Angel - well for a start it's not a good analogy, because there are no biological differences underpinning that sort of cultural difference. And (for what it's worth) I would challenge both an old-school imperialist "western culture is inherently better" and an extreme relativist "look it's just what their culture does, not our place to comment (over, say, FGM)" viewpoint for the crap they were.

I'd be interested to know the backgrounds of the posters on this thread. My guess is the women who're happy to accept that "there really are differences, it's obvious, innit?" are those whose interests, career paths, and so forth happen to fit rather neatly with social expectations about what count as acceptable gender roles, where as those women questioning the idea that it's innate and pushing the position that social conditioning (whether by parents, teachers, other children, adverts..) plays a massive role are those who've had to struggle against gender expectation to be allowed to do what we wanted to in life.

simplesusan Wed 20-Feb-13 11:17:17

This is a very interesting topic and i agree with SGB.

I have 3 dcs, 2 dds and a ds.

I have witnessed first hand how differently the sexes are treated.
Myself and dh have been in the unfortunate position of hearing parents tell young boys to stop crying on the sports pitch and "If I see you get upset I will hit you and give you something to cry about." There is noway that the same parent (father) would have spoken to his young daughter that way.
I have also heard parents tell boys to stand up to their opponent and hit/kick them! Again I doubt if they would be telling a daughter to do the same.

All my 3 children are different. However regarding clothes, dd1 loves it as she can now wear ds' clothes.
They both tend to wear cross gender items such as chinos, vans, converse, sweaters, all in bright burgandy, green, red, blue, purple type colours.

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 11:19:12

'Perhaps Sigmund would like her daughters to grow up and still be considered less than men seeker. <shrugs> each to their own.'

Actually Abigail, I would like my sons to grow up without being indoctrinated that they are less than women, responsible for all evil in the world, expected to do women's dirty work and then be called benevolently sexist bastards for doing so.

I would like them to not be shafted by the family courts, to not lose their income, their home and their children and be able to do fuck all about it.

I would like them to be taken seriously if they experience DV, and not feel shame and be mocked for reporting, given that men experience 40% of DV...

And it would be nice if my sons could actually run around play fighting with sticks without some misguided know it all stating that they do that because they've been indoctrinated since birth and it's got nothing to do with biology.

But hey <shrugs> each to their own.

AbigailAdams Wed 20-Feb-13 11:19:42

What we are saying KellyElly is that until you strip back the social conditioning there is no way of knowing what differences (if any) there are between children of different sexes. Hormones may make no difference whatsoever or certainly less difference that gender stereotyping. And the hormone argument usually means that women are disadvantaged in someway.

BoneyBackJefferson Wed 20-Feb-13 11:20:04


"Teachers should realise that it is their job to negate the shit that pours in from the outside world telling kids what they should be like."

Actually my job is to teach, the clue is in the name. I am not some sort of "shit filter", the reason for this is becasue your definition of shit is different to somebody elses.

seeker Wed 20-Feb-13 11:22:11

That's good, sigmund.

Because that's exactly what feminists want for their sons too!

AbigailAdams Wed 20-Feb-13 11:23:06

Yeah right Sigmund. Because men are always doing women's dirty work for them hmm. And violence isn't gendered at all. And no-one ever takes DV against men seriously (just look at any DV on women thread on here and it just ends up talking about DV on men). And if they did 50/50 childcare before the split then they'd get 50/50 childcare after the split.

Sorelip Wed 20-Feb-13 11:23:32

I'm reading Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph. Is he talking rubbish?

I haven't read Delusions of Gender, but I will now.

Dahlen Wed 20-Feb-13 11:23:47

I thought it was a given that teachers were responsible for upholding good principles about diversity and equality and 'every child matters' etc.

AbigailAdams Wed 20-Feb-13 11:23:54

But yes. What seeker says too. In fact feminists would like to see less violence all round. If that is OK with you.

larrygrylls Wed 20-Feb-13 11:23:57


But, regardless of who holds what opinion, there is only one scientific "truth". And that is, probably, that we have two different but strongly overlapping bell curves. Those saying "men and women are the same and it is ALL down to social conditioning" are as wrong and simplistic as those who believe "men like football, girls like dolls". It is clearly somewhere in the middle, the only interesting discussion is where in the middle the truth lies, which is very hard to answer.

Why would it offend you if part of your personality was due to more of one hormone in the womb than the other? We are all a product of our genetics and chemical environments.

edam Wed 20-Feb-13 11:25:08

I think what this thread shows is that many people are wedded to the 'girls and boys are different, they just are' claim and no actual facts will convince them otherwise.

There's been research where babies were dressed in blue, or pink. Adults treated the same baby very differently when it was dressed in a gender-stereotyped colour. They were gentle and cuddly with the babies they believed were girls and far rougher with boys, and made claims about how the baby displayed gender stereotypical behaviour.

Even if you explain that 100 years ago, pink was 'for boys' and blue 'for girls' so clearly a liking for pink is not an innate gender difference. There are still scientists trying to prove it is. There was a study a couple of years ago 'proving' this and claiming it was down to girls collecting berries in hunter-gatherer societies. Clearly they hadn't noticed that berries aren't pink (and not all red either) and hadn't bothered doing any desk research to see if pink had always been associated with femininity.

Isn't that a striking example of gender stereotyping - that scientists who are meant to do proper unbiased research are so conditioned by society they didn't bother to check their initial assumption, but went out and found what they claimed was evidence to confirm it? (In Edwardian times, pink was thought to be boyish as it was regarded as a pale red and therefore associated with aggression and male traits, blue was girlish because it was a calm colour.)

People will notice traits that confirm their prejudices and ignore those that don't. They will encourage girls to do X and boys to do Y right from birth. And then claim all this social conditioning proves girls are like this and boys are like that.

The problem is that seeing the world through this gender lens confines and restricts children. It means girls are discouraged from being scientists, even if they have a natural flair in that direction. And boys are discouraged from going into childcare even if they have a natural talent for it.

coraltoes Wed 20-Feb-13 11:27:19

Lurcio, Im one who believes there just are differences that occur betweenthe genders, and yet I work in a typically male job: city trading, where personality traits needed tend to be those associated more with men. I do not think all girls are one way and all boys another, but something from a very early age seems to develop differently in boys to girls. Why do girls seem to develop language, communication, role play whilst boys develop more "physically", with movement, speed, etc?

Let me say I am totally aware differences exist within genders, there is no such thing as a typical boy or girl...I'm just curious as to why they develop so differently even just as tiny toddlers.

Do I need to download this book perhaps?

edam Wed 20-Feb-13 11:28:22

People aren't saying men and women are all the same. They are saying individuals are individuals and we shouldn't limit them with gender expectations. We should let children be children and enjoy quiet play when they feel like it and physical play when they feel like it, not encourage one and discourage the other.

edam Wed 20-Feb-13 11:30:05

Coral, that's because from being a newborn babies are exposed to gender stereotyping, which encourages boys to be loud and aggressive and girls to be quiet and caring. Some people manage to defy expectations. Many conform.

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 11:31:33

'Yeah right Sigmund. Because men are always doing women's dirty work for them . And violence isn't gendered at all. And no-one ever takes DV against men seriously (just look at any DV on women thread on here and it just ends up talking about DV on men). And if they did 50/50 childcare before the split then they'd get 50/50 childcare after the split.'

Men have ALWAYS done women's dirty work for them. Violence is totally gendered, men by far experience the most violence. If DV towards men was taken seriously there would be refuges for men:

"There are over 400 publicly funded refuges for abused women and their children, but none specifically for abused men and their children, although five of the women’s refuges do allocate about 11 places for men and their children on an ad hoc basis. Generally, however, women’s refuges prohibit any men or older male children from the premises."

This, in spite of men accounting for 40% of DV cases.

Saying that the childcare should be 50/50 is ridiculously simplistic, and in a lot of cases, completely unworkable.

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 20-Feb-13 11:31:49

Larry - it's the way the bell curves are interpreted by journalists (and some educational professionals) who don't understand statistics that worries me. They read the bit about differences in the means of the populations, and immediately think that we have two delta functions a long way apart! They never think about standard deviation.

Hence (let me pick an example where boys are disadvantaged by this sort of thinking) thread on here which start "my son still isn't talking at 2.5 years old". You will get loads of respondents saying "that's ok, boys talk later than girls", perhaps lulling the worried parent into a false sense of security, when in fact the correct answer is "ok, there's a small difference in the mean age at which boys and girls talk, but your son is now so far into the tail of the distribution that you should be getting him checked out by a professional."

And no, I have no problem with being a product (in part) of genetics and chemical environment (as well as being in part a product of social factors, education etc. - and it is, as Lise Elliot points out, incredibly difficult to design clean experiments which will tell you which part is more important). What I do have a problem with is the presentation of these differences - women with high testosterone levels are somehow weird, not proper women.

Dahlen Wed 20-Feb-13 11:35:51

I remember reading an interview with a post-op female-to-male transsexual. He was talking about how his perception of the world changed as he made the transition. He said the most startling phase was when he began having testosterone injections, and that he was completely astounded at how different the elevated levels of testosterone made him feel. Basically, he felt much more driven to pursue what he wanted, sometimes quite aggressively, and was much more likely to feel anger than despondency when denied something.

I thought that was very interesting. It does rather imply that certain traits are chemically controlled.

However, on thinking about it a bit more we are talking about someone who learned and internalised their responses to gender conditioning as a female. Someone who hasn't had the benefit of a childhood treated as a male to become acclimatised to the presence of testosterone and to learn what to do with those feelings brought about by it. Which again comes down to conditioning, doesn't it.

My gut feeling is gender, like sexuality, is probably a spectrum rather than a binary thing. Certainly in my life I've had periods where I am much more feminine than at other times. This is partly adaptation to society, partly my own feelings at the time. Sometimes I really like being female and think it confers me an advantage. Other times I feel it restricts me dreadfully and I get very angry about it. I suspect many other women, and men, feel the same.

We are all human first before we are male or female, and if gender didn't matter in terms of how we behave and what we do I suspect the world would be a much nicer place. I suspect we will always attempt to differentiate between the sexes though (in terms of appearance, if nothing else) simply because of the biological imperative to mate.

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 20-Feb-13 11:37:53

Incidentally, does anyone know of any research into how the gender stereotypes held by researchers influence what they "see" when they do field work? I know there's a lot of stuff on this in primatology (Donna Harraway, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy). It always strikes me as interesting, because someone might look casually at my small son playing with his cars and think "typical boy, playing with cars" without listening to the dialogue which makes it clear that the cars are people in his mind and he's practising social interactions with them. (They had a tea party in the dolls house recently. Then a lorry came along who was too big to fit in. So - in a spirit of inclusivity - the cars decided they would have a barbecue in the garden so the lorry could join in smile).

seeker Wed 20-Feb-13 11:38:44

Sigmund- yes men are far more likely to suffer violence- overwhelmingly from other men. So surely you agree that it's a good idea to examine, from babyhood, the construct of masculinity that makes men violent towards each other?

thebody Wed 20-Feb-13 11:43:20

Good debate.

My 4 kids are all different to each other but the girls ( much younger than the lads) are defiantly tougher mentally and physically. I don't mean stronger as in physical strength but they make far less fuss over colds etc.

kim147 Wed 20-Feb-13 11:45:39

As a teacher, it is interesting to observe how children interact and work in the classroom. It's also really important to be aware of the hiddenc curriculum - all the subtle messages we give off to the children and also really important to ensure that all children are given the chance to speak, take part and not to dominate in discussions.

Men have ALWAYS done women's dirty work for them.

What does this mean?

sweetestB Wed 20-Feb-13 11:47:03

I look after a nearly 3 year old boy since he was a newborn. His parents are artists and in fact his dad in in a very ' feminine' profession. Most of their friends are homosexual. There was never any pressure for this boy to be boyish. He always had my daughter for a playmate and at my house were always surrounded by 'girly' stuff.
However he turned out to be your 'typical' boy.
He loves anything to do with transport toys, dinosaurs, wild animal, everything else.
His favourite colours are green and blue

However he is also very gentle and not too much boisterous. yet.

So this is my research based only on this one child
Didn't read the whole thread tough

Those of you so insistent on upholding gender stereotypes - what are you going to do when one of your DC expresses a clear desire for something that's the 'wrong' gender? Whether it's your DS wanting Barbies for his 6th birthday or your teenage DD insisting she wants to study physics, are you going to deny your child something vitally important to him/her on the grounds of bad science and prejudice?

coraltoes Wed 20-Feb-13 11:59:00

Really?! Stereotypes from newborn? I can't think of any gender specific toys or books we had for dd, colours were all primary, we did a fair bit of rough play and soft, we read, and threw balls, and painted, and sculpted and climbed and built tunnels... Yet she gravitates towards more role play led playtime, reading, no real rough and tumble.

Lottikins Wed 20-Feb-13 11:59:28

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

coraltoes Wed 20-Feb-13 12:01:31

Fascinating thread!

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 20-Feb-13 12:03:02

Coral - interesting. From what I've heard the city is a hypermasculine (for want of a better word) environment. Do you think there's any possibility that a woman in your firm would be likely to internalise the gender stereotypes of those around them in order to fit in? That they'd play up to some sort of "well most women are fluffy and girly, but I'm an honorary chap" sort of role? I know I've found that a tempting niche to occupy in the past in some circumstances - e.g. when first starting out rock climbing in the mid 80s when I was one of only two women in the university club: as a mature postgrad a decade later at a different university, I found it a refreshing change to be in a club which was nearer to 50/50 where one could just be an individual. With a greater awareness of feminism, I hope I'd resist adopting the "honorary chap" role now, but it can be very difficult in some circumstances.

Re stereotype threat, someone posted this very interesting link on one of the feminism discussions:

coraltoes Wed 20-Feb-13 12:12:26

Lurcio, no I don't think I do adopt a honorary bloke role, but I do at times demonstrate the kind of aggression and tenacity that one wouldn't readily attribute to women in the workplace. I do think that is just my own personality (I am bloody punchy) and I've just found my "fit" with a team. Perhaps growing up, this side of me was kept more in check as it wasn't really fitting of a nice young lady starting out, but now I am well established in a career it has seen me progress faster than my "softer" female colleagues as it is a trait management (mostly male) can relate to and are happy to promote. Does that make sense?

Had I been a more gentle lady I'd probably have been overlooked for a few of my promotions.

seeker Wed 20-Feb-13 12:19:21

Are people really saying that babies aren't being stereotyped from birth? No pink and blue baby grows then? No "pretty little girl" or "strapping bouncing boy?" No "ooh, he's a proper little bruiser" "she's such a little sweetie"?

silverfrog Wed 20-Feb-13 12:29:17

it would appear so, seeker.

which is absolutely not my experience. I have lost count of the number of times people have commented that, for eg, ds is wearing something pink, or told that he is doing X because he is a boy (or not doing Y because he is a boy) and so on.

If it really didn't matter to these people what ds wears (which is what they say), then why feel the need to comment on which hat ds is wearing, or point out that there is a flower/bird/something else apparently 'girly' on his t shirt. he is 7 months old, and doesn't give a stuff, fgs. not the case with everyone else, it would seem.

edam Wed 20-Feb-13 12:29:45

Coraltoes, did you read my post about the experiments that have been done that show people treat babies very differently when they are dressed in pink or blue? The same baby gets a completely different response if you dress him or her in blue than if you dress him or her in pink. Gender stereotyping definitely begins at birth. However much the parents think they are not giving the child messages about acceptable behaviour and character traits for their gender, the rest of the world certainly is.

rollmopses Wed 20-Feb-13 12:34:25

I DON"T want my boys brought up playing with dolls, dressed in pink etc. I want my boys to be boys.
I absolutely refuse, in the name of some idiotic cider socialists' agenda, to manipulate my children to be 'like everybody else, Uber-equal and diverse'. Bugger off.
My children are fabulous individuals and very much boys. Hallelujah.
I can't stand feminine men nor can I abide severely butch women.
Tis' world of ours needs two sexes to keep on being populated with Homo Sapiens Sapiens.
Genders need to keep their differences.
We are not equal nor ever will be, in any sense. Some are always bigger/better/faster/smarter/ than you. Some smaller/worse/slower/dumber than you. Get used to it.
All individuals are different by bleeping definition.

Scorpette Wed 20-Feb-13 12:34:54

No, SGB is talking total sense as usual grin

I also agree with everything ICBINEG says.

Without outing myself, this is what I know acedemically/professionally: sex, gender (and sexuality as part of it) are really different from what most people believe them to be. So much goes on hormonally before the end of the first trimester that influences the whole shebang (this is why homophobes are so fuckwitted, as sexuality is determined by normal biological processes in utero), as well as a very tiny percentage of genes playing a part. True gender difference is very slight, such as some girls being more drawn to sociablr activities very young and some boys walking earlier/being a bit more physically advanced. However, these are purely to do with small amounts of brain chemicals affecting cerebral activities and have zero bearing on any sort of truth about gender.

Children ARE genderised from birth. Even when parents try to keep things as gender-neutral as possible, virtually everything a child experiences from birth reinforce gender stereotypes and codes, be it how grandparents treat them to the subtlest things on tv, say (I once saw an episode of Show Me, Show Me about washing and Poi was on her knees doing all the pretending to wash and Chris was just singing and watching. Even that trivial example gives a child a gender message). By the time kids get to school, gender codes are so entrenched that yes, girls will generally behave like X and boys generally like Y and teachers, as well as everyone else, will see these differences as the 'truth' about gender difference.

Incidentally, for posters saying that their DC seemed to not have much gender identity when toddlers but seemed to gravitate towards stereotypical things for their gender when they got to 3, this is not proof of gender stereotypes holding true, it is because this is vital stage of understanding one's identity and place within the world that makes you feel 'normal'. This is why children aged 3-6 will be very rigidly and crudely stereotypical and think the opposite sex is stupid and gross, etc.

People see the results of lifelong genderisation and call it proof of these differences being innate and seem incapable of seeing the immensely bigger picture to it all. Nothing comes about fully-formed in a vacuum. Everything a person is, however young they are, is a result of conditioning and experience from the moment they were born (in fact maybe before, as children of women who were highly stressed throughout pregnancy are often prone to elevated levels of stress and anxiety as adults, even with a very calm upbringing). And everything is also down to interpretation: identical behaviour in a boy will be seen as something else in a girl. Not only does this teach children how to genderise themselves but it means that people blind themselves to the truth of what they are witnessing. I just don't get how people can not see all this. How can an adult believe children just come out with gender identity?!

The sad thing is, every one of us who points out these scientifically proven and long-known facts won't convince the people with their heads in the gender sand, as it's easier to cling to lazy assumptions and sterotypes that require no effort to think about, affirm and encourage. It's like when you point out to religious homophobes that the part of the Bible that condemns homosexuality also condemns eating shellfish and wearing mixed fibres as equally heinous acts - they refuse to let the logic enter their brains because it challenges them to confront beliefs they hold that make them comfortable (however silly or unpleasant).

Scorpette Wed 20-Feb-13 12:37:38

Rollmopses, if all individuals are different by definition, why do you insist that your boys must be boys and can't wear pink and play with dolls? Surely by refusing these as possibilities for them you are actively preventing them from being individuals as you are only offering them a limited and rigid range of how to form their identity?!

Like all kneejerk frothers, you make no sense.

MechanicalTheatre Wed 20-Feb-13 12:38:54

How is shoving people into a gender box "individualising" them, rollmopses ?

seeker Wed 20-Feb-13 12:41:02

"We are not equal nor ever will be, in any sense. Some are always bigger/better/faster/smarter/ than you. Some smaller/worse/slower/dumber than you. Get used to it."

Absolutely. Not sure I'm happy that boys should always be in the former category and girls in the latter, mind you............

rollmopses Wed 20-Feb-13 12:42:27

And individuality in enforced in your little bubble exactly how? By forcing blue dinosaurs down little girls throat and pink tutu's, for boys. Or is your little world all gender neutral and lovingly beige?
Such utter drivel, my dear.

seeker Wed 20-Feb-13 12:46:03

Rollmopses- I'm wondering if you saw my post earlier about my dd's experience at an all girls's school and the change she saw moving to a mixed 6th form? It's not just about pink and blue- it actually has an impact of how boys and girls access education. You presumably want your daughters to have equal opportunities with their brothers?

drjohnsonscat Wed 20-Feb-13 12:46:37

DON"T want my boys brought up playing with dolls, dressed in pink etc. I want my boys to be boys.

Oh my Lord. I hope you never come across my boy. He's amazing and you are very narrow.

MechanicalTheatre Wed 20-Feb-13 12:47:39

I don't shove anything down anyone's throat. I just don't insist that boys wear blue and girls wear pink and boys do maths and girls do English.

MummyPigsFatTummy Wed 20-Feb-13 12:49:09

I find rollmopses post interesting where he/she says: "Some are always bigger/better/faster/smarter/ than you. Some smaller/worse/slower/dumber than you. Get used to it."

Interesting how "bigger/faster" (typically male characteristics) are grouped with "better/smarter" whilst "smaller/slower" (typically female characteristics) with "worse/dumber". A little unconscious sexism? And even if rollmopses doesn't mean it that way, which is probably the case, it is still there in all of life, telling us and our DDs we are less than men (not just different) and always will be.

I grew up feeling somehow, as a girl I was considered inferior to boys (other than in relation to the messages I received from my all-girls school) - that was culturally driven and I intend to do what I can to prevent DD growing up with that belief too.

MummyPigsFatTummy Wed 20-Feb-13 12:49:56

Oh x-post with seeker

rollmopses Wed 20-Feb-13 12:50:44

Are you saying, that until the Gender Neutral idiocy came to be the slogan to the bleeding lefties, there has not been a single person who could be called an Individual? That all women have always been, as seeker so kindly points out 'smaller/worse/slower/dumber...?
Just because you are women, you are destined to be slow and dumb?
How sad. I wouldn't want to live under your rock.

Really interesting thread, SGB. Apologies if anyone has mentioned this above, but have you come across Gender Trouble by Judith Butler? That book, as far as I know, really marked the beginning of theorists looking into gender as a social construct, regulated by social discourses rather than being a biological fact. It's a great book. Butler writes: "there is no gender identity behind the expressions of gender; ... identity is performatively constituted by the very "expressions" that are said to be its results.” I would agree that each of our own 'versions' of masculinity and feminity, or anything in between, are not inherent within us from birth, but are developed through social conditioning. And this doesn't necessarily mean indoctrination or aggressive coercion of children into certain gendered roles, but rather that propagating ideas of what 'masculine' and 'feminine' mean are so deeply ingrained in our societies that we don't even realise when we're 'performing' certain gendered roles, or think about why we do it.

I wasn't brought up with pink, shiny, 'girly' things in my home. My parents were pretty much hippies. As a child, most of my friends were boys and I wasn't into Take That or crop tops with big hearts on them from Tammy Girl. I was happy enough in primary school, but in secondary school I soon saw that I was never the girl boys fancied, and I felt alienated and ugly. When I was 16, I decided to go for the 'girly' thing hammer and tongs (fake tan, highlights) and yes, that's when boys started to notice me. But it wasn't me. I grew out of all that pretty quickly, but maybe had to try it to see that it wasn't for me. I'm now happily married (to a fake tan hating man), I love baking and shopping. I also still love trains and getting my hands dirty, as I did when I was wee.

No child should ever feel guilty as they grow up because they don't feel they conform to the gender stereotypes (however subtle) which society sets out. Equally, no parent should ever feel guilty for letting their child conform to 'girlishness' or 'boyishness.' My DSis babysits for a woman who lets her 8 year old DS wear dresses (in public). This woman gets blasted for this by her peers on a regular basis. She started to cry when my DSis told the wee boy he looked awesome when she first met him, and asked him about his outfit, because nobody had ever reacted to him in that way before, as if there was nothing strange about him. I can see the mum's perspective, but can see equally the concerns of those who worry about him getting bullied.

It's important to investigate and engage with your own understanding of what gender means, and know that it's not the same for everyone. More power to you for recommending that book to the teacher. You were not aggressive or preachy and, if she's a committed educator, she should be interested in any discourse surrounding children's socialistion.

MechanicalTheatre Wed 20-Feb-13 12:52:57

rollmopses your inability to argue without reverting to highly emotive language somewhat denigrates your argument.

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 20-Feb-13 12:53:37

Coral - sounds like you and I have similar personalities, and it's definitely a career advantage in a lot of male-dominated work places, though some studies have suggested there's a bit of a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't problem: some studies have shown that while women who don't push for promotion/pay rises are (not surprisingly) ignored, those who do get dismissed as ball-breakers. Recent research is a bit more nuanced:

But the fact that you and I manage OK (or in my case, did pre family) doesn't negate the general feminist point that by rewarding this personality trait you may be missing out on a lot of good people (of either sex) who aren't pushy (obviously this won't apply where push is the main criterion for doing the job well - but there's a lot of jobs where being good at the job has sod all to do with how pushy you are but promotion prospect still hinge on it). And that maintaining this level of competitiveness is damn hard once you have a family making demands on your time, energy and sleep patterns (it's ok if you're a high flyer who can afford a nanny, but that doesn't help those who can't). And I think it's fair enough to question some of the underlying assumptions of masculine workplace culture - for example, is a long hours culture really driven by the needs of the job or is it acting as a mechanism to demonstrate corporate loyalty above all other considerations? - this, for instance, is (I think) a quite good evidence-based management study of why a long-hours culture is counterproductive when viewed objectively as an efficient (or inefficient) way of getting work done. (A bit off topic from the main thread, which is about gender stereotyping, but relevant insofar as SGB has just pointed out that how we raise our children has big impacts on what they go on to achieve - and a gentle bookish child of either sex may have a lot of career doors closed, not because they can't do the job, but because the workplace environment surrounding that job requires a certain personality type).

seeker Wed 20-Feb-13 12:56:39

Rolmopses- do you think you could discuss things without being so rude?

Did you see my post about gender and access to education? Presumably you want your dd's to have the same opportunities as your sons?

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 20-Feb-13 13:02:19

Seeker - I had exactly the same experience as your daughter, going from single sex 0 levels to a mixed 6th form. How depressing nothing has changed for the better in 20 or 30 years!

It was also very interesting re. level of aggression. Our physics teacher was a very gentle woman who would never have got us through the syllabus if I hadn't devoted a lot of my energy to keeping the class on track and not allowing my peers to mess around. I remember thinking at the time that it was a bloody good job I found the physics easy as I simply wouldn't have had the mental energy to manage the class and study if I'd found physics hard.

rollmopses Wed 20-Feb-13 13:03:16

Oh give me strength.
Who in their right mind chooses subjects to study - based on gender. Idiots, that's who.
ALL children should take physics, chemistry, math, biology, geography, history, several foreign languages, literature, music etc. etc.
It's called basic education.
I shudder in horror thinking that just because one is a girl, one should not read physics? Or because one happens to be a boy, literature is off limits.
How very odd and frightening way of thinking.

DesiderataHollow Wed 20-Feb-13 13:06:17

I was walking past the parallel classroom (same age group, but 15hours nursery provision rather than childcare) to the room my son is in, (I'm based in the same school) and got chatting to the teacher about the display she was putting up.

I said that the drawings were a lot more detailed than anything DS2 (who is one of the oldest in his year group) could manage, and wasn't it strange how they all developed differently.

She then asked me to see if I could spot something about the more detailed drawings, it took me a while, but without exception, the "better" drawings were all by girls. The boys were all still either wildly scribbling or putting arms coming out of tthe tops of heads.

To me, that shows a trend that needs more investigation. Why would it be that girls develop that kind of fine-motor control and observation earlier than boys generally? Could that be nurture rather than nature?

drjohnsonscat Wed 20-Feb-13 13:06:20

you just chose that your boys shouldn't play with dolls because they are boys.

You are the one deciding things based on gender.

seeker Wed 20-Feb-13 13:07:05

I'm very proud of dd for trying to do something about it. One of the things she pointed out to me during a late night rant(!) was that her subjects attract the more thoughtful, sensitive boys- (philosophy and theatre studies) - so she is wondering how much worse it is in the traditional "boy" subjects like physics.

It is depressing that it hasn't changed. Every generation seems to say "oh, well, it takes time".......

MechanicalTheatre Wed 20-Feb-13 13:08:46

rollmopses yes, that's what we're saying. No-one actually thinks "I am a girl so I can't do engineering" but that is what happens time and time again, just subconciously.

So glad you're on the same page as us.

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 13:08:56

DD's generally have more opportunities than DS's. Girls outperform boys at school, and there are more female graduates than male.

Women are even about to be (already are?) given jobs purely for being women, with quota's and suchlike.

Women are bolstered and carried and encouraged and supported every bloody step of the way. It's bloody embarrassing.

I heartily wish feminists would stop portraying us as incapable victims and allow us to achieve on our own merit.

Fact is, most women like to pootle along, doing our thing in life without being told that we need to 'empower' our daughters every 5 minutes, and shoehorn them into jobs they have no fucking interest in.

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 20-Feb-13 13:09:47

Yeah, sigmunde, that'll be why there's still a 30% pay gap hmm

MechanicalTheatre Wed 20-Feb-13 13:12:23

And why, when women have children, their careers basically never recover.

seeker Wed 20-Feb-13 13:15:49

That's why there are only 4 women in Cabinet, then?

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 13:17:38

If you want to earn the same, don't leave the job market for years. Have your baby and go back a few weeks later, like every other woman does that doesn't want to be left behind. Why don't you ask successful businesswomen what they did? Unless they were working for themselves, I highly doubt they took much time off.

Harsh, but it's a fact. Stop expecting employers to subsidize you financially for you own life choices.

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 13:19:47

Maybe there are only 4 women in the cabinet because they were the only ones good enough for the job, or that wanted it enough.

I suppose you could introduce women only shortlists...oh yeah, Harriet Harman already did and Dave Cameron implemented it. Great.

seeker Wed 20-Feb-13 13:19:55

"Women are even about to be (already are?) given jobs purely for being women, with quota's and suchlike.

Women are bolstered and carried and encouraged and supported every bloody step of the way. It's bloody embarrassing."

Could you say a bit more about these to statements? And show some evidence?

rollmopses Wed 20-Feb-13 13:22:11

SigmundeFraude - fantastic post, summarises all that's wrong with the current society as far as gender is concerned.

coraltoes Wed 20-Feb-13 13:22:51

Hmm careers DO and CAN recover post children...mine has. I work for a forward thinking company who recognise working parents have different needs and address these in order to retain talent.

Lurcio, yup fine line between tough woman and ball breaker. Still prefer it to being overlooked, but should never be a case of either or.

coraltoes Wed 20-Feb-13 13:24:03

Sigmund, I took a whole year off, I am on the the best paid women in my company, I have not suffered. Some companies are not run by idiots.

amalur Wed 20-Feb-13 13:29:20


I am one of those mothers too. Many people in this thread have spoken extremely eloquently about conditioning so won't add to that.

In my own experience, I was born and brought up in the Basque Country (North Spain), in a culture that is closer to a matriarchy (without being one) than the rest of the neighbouring cultures. I never really noticed the effect of growing there until I came to live here. I was never told that I had to be anything because of my gender, nor were my brothers. It wasn't perfect, my parents fulfilled the stereotypes mostly but the messages for us were just to be the best that we could be and these were mirrored across our (basque) society in general (lots of spanish influence still, which at that point was deeply sexist). I didn't see getting married/having children as an objective, just as something you do as you go along doing other things in your life, like other women around me did.
Within a few weeks of arriving here I was told (by a man) that I had it easy, if I couldn't get a job in London, I could just get married and have children. A girl told me that I could get my boyfriend to pay for me and keep my own money for my little luxuries. I was surprised, as I never thought on these lines, and as far as I could remember, none of my friends back home had spoken on those terms.
With time I realised how relentlessly women and men are pressured to conform here, to be pretty or a lad, to be a bit of an airhead and giggly or butch, the blonde bimbo jokes, the inescapable stereotyping. It is not surprising that our children grow into what society tells them to be, it seems such an uphill not to.
If gender stereotypical traits were innate, I wouldn't have been so surprised by all that categorising, but I was. It must have been that the social conditioning I was subjected to was different.
I am married now, at home I do the DYI, sort out the computer, do the accounts. I dress in very feminine dresses with high heels and put make up on. My DH does the creative stuff, most of the childcare, tells stories, likes football and will get rid of spiders. We believe in division of labour according to strengths, not along gender lines. We hope our DDs will get some of that.
I don't think anyone against gender stereotyping is saying everyone is the same, but actually that everyone is different and that gender doesn't explain the innate differences more than hair colour could. I believe parenting would be easier if we talk about our children being children rather than insisting they are "girls" and "boys".

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 13:30:29

Not really, I think I was perfectly clear in my statements there.

There is a whole wealth of info out there about the cosseting of women. Suggest you go google it, like I did.

MechanicalTheatre Wed 20-Feb-13 13:32:05

SF So there were only 4 women good enough for the job, and women in general are not good enough to be in the cabinet? Because it's not like this is some new and shocking thing, that women are underrepresented in politics.

And if women AREN'T good enough to be in cabinet, maybe we need to start asking questions about how women are being educated or about the culture of being in politics that means women aren't suited to it.

HandbagCrab Wed 20-Feb-13 13:32:38

If men want men's refuges, then they can fund them and set them up. Y'know like the women did.

If men want to meet the same standards women do at school and university then they need to work harder in the current system to do so. Y'know like the women did.

If men feel that quotas (if they actually exist in the uk) unfairly promote women over men then they need to work harder and smarter to show they are the better candidates. Y'know like the women did.

If men feel that maternity leave is unfair and unequal then maybe they could campaign for it to be parental leave that either parent could take.

If you're happy pootling around sigmund then why are you bothering your pretty little head with all this talk about issues bigger than the cleanliness of your front step? I'm sure there's some washing that needs doing or a neighbour to be gossiped about?

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 13:33:54

'Sigmund, I took a whole year off, I am on the the best paid women in my company, I have not suffered. Some companies are not run by idiots.'

Yes, you were carried. Lucky some companies can afford to carry you, a lot can't.

coraltoes Wed 20-Feb-13 13:34:41

SF,surely you understand that isn't about cosseting women but removing barriers to promotion?! Two enormously different things! Women for YEARS have enabled men to progress at the sacrifice of their own careers, this is merely addressing the balance.

rollmopses Wed 20-Feb-13 13:34:55

Yes, there are companies, that recognise individual ability and make their decisions based on that. Too many, however, pass over the CVs with large gap in them.
It is a reality that taking years off to look after children, can and often does, end one's career. Not for all, though.
One must decide what is the better choice for one's family after children are born, to stay home and, highly likely, end one's high-paying career. Or go back to work immediately and miss out being with children.
Grim reality but one that's not a surprise to anybody.
If fathers took years off work to look after children, do you think they could step back where they left off. No. Their career, as they knew it, would be over.
Not much gender difference there.

coraltoes Wed 20-Feb-13 13:37:56

And for those men who have children and life changes not a jot... Who carries them? Oh yeah...women.

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 13:38:01

'And if women AREN'T good enough to be in cabinet, maybe we need to start asking questions about how women are being educated or about the culture of being in politics that means women aren't suited to it.'

It would be a far more balanced discussion, if we also accepted the fact that a lot of women simply don't want it.

coraltoes Wed 20-Feb-13 13:39:27

I'd also imagine my firm views it more as "investing" in their future leaders and success than "carrying"... But that's semantics.

I worry when I read of mothers having such views... What sort of victim mentality they instil in their sons.

MechanicalTheatre Wed 20-Feb-13 13:39:36

Women don't want it? Evidence?

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 13:40:17

'If men want to meet the same standards women do at school and university then they need to work harder in the current system to do so. Y'know like the women did.'

The current system favours girl's methods of learning, a big reason why boys are failing. This is fairly common knowledge.

Angelfootprints Wed 20-Feb-13 13:41:16


So if there are no differences between men and women , and gender is irrelevant why do you promote the idea that only men fund and set up male refugees? I thought gender shouldn't matter so why should it this case?

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 13:42:39

'And for those men who have children and life changes not a jot... Who carries them? Oh yeah...women'

Again, this is a choice. This is the choice my DH and I have made.

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 13:45:37

'Women don't want it? Evidence?'

There are 4 women in the cabinet.

coraltoes Wed 20-Feb-13 13:46:06

A choice for you, not for everyone

coraltoes Wed 20-Feb-13 13:46:39

I'm going to assume you've not studied logic Sigmund.

MechanicalTheatre Wed 20-Feb-13 13:47:52

Pff. So your evidence that women don't want something is that they are under-represented?

I hope you're not planning on doing a phd any time soon.

Angelfootprints Wed 20-Feb-13 13:49:13

Its a bit sad people are resorting to personally attacking SF for not holding the same views as them.

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 13:49:33

No I haven't. Have you studied 'real life'?

coraltoes Wed 20-Feb-13 13:51:26

Haha sadly yes.
My logic point was "there are 4 female cabinet members = therefore women do not want it" ... Not a personal attack.

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 13:53:02

Bingo! Bingo! It's It's like a form of Godwin's Law. At some point during a 'discussion' with me, feminists will begin to sneeringly comment on my education of lack thereof. It's happened so many times now.

Thanks Angel btw...

MechanicalTheatre Wed 20-Feb-13 13:56:13

It has nothing to do with your education and everything to do with your faulty thinking. I'm sorry that you took it as a slight on your education, it wasn't meant like that and I would never slam someone for their lack of education (I'm not particularly well-educated myself and certainly don't have a phd.)

It's like saying "women don't have the vote = women don't want the vote".

Just because something doesn't happen doesn't mean that people don't want it.

seeker Wed 20-Feb-13 13:57:16

If slaves really wanted to be free.......

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 20-Feb-13 13:58:41

Re. maternity leave. All employers are legally obliged to provide is statutory maternity pay. They can recover this from the government. That some employers choose to pay occupational maternity benefit suggests to me that they've done some sort of cost-benefit analysis and decided that the benefits of retaining a highly educated, highly trained woman's services outweigh the costs of the occupational maternity pay.

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 14:00:32

MT - thanks for your explanation, I understand.

MechanicalTheatre Wed 20-Feb-13 14:04:09

Thank you for being so gracious, SF. I'm a bit mortified reading my post back, because I can see how it looks.

HandbagCrab Wed 20-Feb-13 14:04:31

Angel, women's refuges are for women to flee from dv. As most women are in heterosexual relationships then logic tells us the violence perpetrated upon them will have been done by a man. I can fully support that a women's refuge should just be for women (and their children of either sex) as it is a refuge. I would also fully support men's refuges where men and their children can flee violence perpetrated by their female partners. I can see why dv refuges would be gendered and why we would support this. It was women that set up women's refuges though because they saw the need and put the effort in to make it happen. I would want men to be involved in the setting up of men's refuges. How can I as a woman understand truly what a male victim of dv would need from a refuge? Why would I expect a man fleeing to a refuge to stay in a place run by and set up for women?

Sigmund, it is only recently that females have overtaken males in the world of education, prior to this males outperformed females. If this was still the case, what would you think? If we put things back how they were and boys still outperformed girls at school and university, would that be ok?

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 14:04:59

No, don't be, it's fine...really smile

AbigailAdams Wed 20-Feb-13 14:10:29

Sigmund said wayback "Violence is totally gendered, men by far experience the most violence." Yes I know. I was being sarcastic. Of course violence is gendered. But in a different way to the way you portrayed. Men are far more likely to be the perpetrators and women are far more likely to be the victims of violence.

coraltoes Wed 20-Feb-13 14:12:05

Lurcio, you've summed my point up perfectly there about mat leave. It is the LONG game for employers, not all about short term gains

Angelfootprints Wed 20-Feb-13 14:12:44

What about the women who have been abused by another woman?

Why couldn't a woman work behind the scenes or even fund a mens refuge? (I do know two man effected by dv, I don't see why my empathy should run any shorter due to their gender).

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 14:14:39

'it is only recently that females have overtaken males in the world of education, prior to this males outperformed females. If this was still the case, what would you think? If we put things back how they were and boys still outperformed girls at school and university, would that be ok?'

If it was still the case, then that would be as unacceptable as girls outperforming boys now.

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 14:16:25

'Men are far more likely to be the perpetrators and women are far more likely to be the victims of violence.'

I would say that men are more likely to be both the perpetrators AND the victims.

AbigailAdams Wed 20-Feb-13 14:16:28

Just to clarify I meant women are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrator.

MechanicalTheatre Wed 20-Feb-13 14:16:40

Why do you think it's unacceptable for girls to outperform boys in education, but not for men to outperform women in the world of work?

ONe of the reasons girls now outperform boys in education (in terms of exam results) is that they have stopped marking girls' work down. GIrls' exam results used to be downgraded because it was WRONG for girls to do better than boys and would mean the end of the world.

seeker Wed 20-Feb-13 14:22:48

Sigmund- did you see my question- as men are far more likely to be both the victims and the perpetrators of violence, why are you so opposed to examining the construct of masculinity which means men hit each other?

larrygrylls Wed 20-Feb-13 14:23:09


"Sigmund, it is only recently that females have overtaken males in the world of education, prior to this males outperformed females. If this was still the case, what would you think? If we put things back how they were and boys still outperformed girls at school and university, would that be ok?"

No it wouldn't. So why is it OK for girls to outperform boys? And don't give me sexist tripe about working harder. When boys outperformed girls, big efforts were made to change the system and they clearly worked. Many, however, are clearly contented to educate their sons in a system where they are disadvantaged.


I do think, however, that girls are somehow put off hard sciences in mixed schools. That should also be addressed. The statistics for girls taking physics A levels in mixed schools are terrible.

larrygrylls Wed 20-Feb-13 14:24:07


"ONe of the reasons girls now outperform boys in education (in terms of exam results) is that they have stopped marking girls' work down."

So your working hypothesis is that girls are intellectually superior to boys?!

HandbagCrab Wed 20-Feb-13 14:28:01

sigmund how do we make it 50/50 completely equal then? And how do we ensure that it translates to equality of opportunity for all boys and girls, whatever they want to do? Because it feels like at the moment, the girls might outperform at school and university but once they're in the world of work it swaps around again. Is this fair? Girls are better at school and boys are better at work? Would this work as a genders are different, deal with it, response?

angel I'm not saying they can't or shouldn't, in fact I said I would support a men's refuge. What I was trying to articulate is that we as women cannot set up a refuge for male victims of dv without input from men, male survivors of dv etc. as they would be the best judge of what would meet their needs. I feel that is an empathic response to this particular group. As for the female victim of female dv, I suppose it would be up to her if she felt safe in a women's refuge full of women, or whether something else might suit her better. She wouldn't make the other women in the refuge feel unsafe though so it wouldn't be an issue in that respect.

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 14:29:02

Angel, there is a long way to go (I feel) before female on male DV is considered anything like as important as the other way round. The government pours (or poured, not quite so much now due to the recession) millions into women's shelters. Men get virtually nothing, so essentially they are starting from scratch and asking for financial support from a public that has no understanding of how prevalent female on male DV is, and still consider it a joke.

I watched a kids show the other day and a teen girl slapped a teen boy hard across the face. Perfectly acceptable to put this on TV it seems. I don't need to point out how unacceptable this would be if it was the other way round. My 5 year old was watching this (until I switched it off), what was it telling him? It's OK if a girl hits you, she can do it with impunity, it's a joke.

This attitude has been part of society for a very long time, and plays no small part in why funding for men's shelters is woeful.

I also know men who have experienced DV, but would never dream of reporting it. I also know women who have experienced it. One dropped charges, the other saw him in court and locked up.

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 14:30:52

'Sigmund- did you see my question- as men are far more likely to be both the victims and the perpetrators of violence, why are you so opposed to examining the construct of masculinity which means men hit each other?'

I'm not opposed to it seeker. I do feel that, largely, it is a class issue, as was reported in the latest Home Office statistics.

cory Wed 20-Feb-13 14:31:49

I certainly know why dd is outperforming ds by a good few miles

it's because his group of (male) peers don't think it is cool to make an effort, whereas her group of (female) peers rather does

also because a boy who plays up in class will get laughs and admiration whereas a girl who plays up will be seen as a sad case

rather in the same way as a boy who sleeps with a lot of girls will be thought attractive and successful, whereas a girl who sleeps with a lot of boys will be labelled a slag

social expectations, m'dears

MechanicalTheatre Wed 20-Feb-13 14:33:18

SF - that is anecdotal evidence that means nothing. I know plenty of women who've been beaten up who have never reported it.

My ex's mum has been beaten to the point of hospitalisation for decades.

Women are far more likely to be badly beaten than men. Half of this is just by sheer dint of being less physically strong and not having been brought up knowing how to swing a punch - if I decided to beat up my partner, I wouldn't get very far.

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 14:33:41

'I do think, however, that girls are somehow put off hard sciences in mixed schools. That should also be addressed. The statistics for girls taking physics A levels in mixed schools are terrible.'

I don't know a great deal about this to be honest larry. If this is the case then yes, of course this should be addressed. During childhood, a level playing field is important for both, I do believe that.

HandbagCrab Wed 20-Feb-13 14:34:54

larry I never said it was ok for girls to outperform boys so kindly take your inflammatory and unnecessary language (sexist tripe indeed!) down a notch.

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 14:35:06

'SF - that is anecdotal evidence that means nothing. I know plenty of women who've been beaten up who have never reported it.'

Do you think that men or women are more likely to not report?

cory Wed 20-Feb-13 14:36:21

rollmopses Wed 20-Feb-13 12:34:25
"I DON"T want my boys brought up playing with dolls, dressed in pink etc. I want my boys to be boys.
I absolutely refuse, in the name of some idiotic cider socialists' agenda, to manipulate my children to be 'like everybody else, Uber-equal and diverse'. Bugger off.
My children are fabulous individuals and very much boys. Hallelujah.
I can't stand feminine men nor can I abide severely butch women."

So what if you happened to have given birth to a feminine boy or butch girl? Would you manipulate or would you not? Would you accept who you are or declare you just couldn't stand people like that?

ICBINEG Wed 20-Feb-13 14:37:02

If you want your DS to do better at school maybe you could do worse than dress him pink and clamp down on any non-ladylike behaviour from a very early age.

Horrible as I find the idea that girls suffer this sort of restriction of what behaviour is acceptable more than boys, it must be a factor in what enables them to out perform boys in the class room.

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 14:38:05

'ONe of the reasons girls now outperform boys in education (in terms of exam results) is that they have stopped marking girls' work down. GIrls' exam results used to be downgraded because it was WRONG for girls to do better than boys and would mean the end of the world.'

That's interesting. I recently read an article (currently searching for it) that stated that girls are now marked up and boys are marked down.

larrygrylls Wed 20-Feb-13 14:38:09


"If men want to meet the same standards women do at school and university then they need to work harder in the current system to do so. Y'know like the women did."

Can you explain the above comment then please? You seem to be implying no systemic changes need to be made in education and boys just have to work harder.

I think that kind of comment is plain sexist.

drjohnsonscat Wed 20-Feb-13 14:38:09

Larry, this:

ONe of the reasons girls now outperform boys in education (in terms of exam results) is that they have stopped marking girls' work down."

is just a fact. SGB doesn't say what the cause of girls' outperformance is but she is actually just stating a fact. I don't suppose her working hypothesis is that girls are intellectually superior to boys. Everything she's said on this thread leads me to believe she thinks it's the conditioning of boys and girls that means girls outperform at school. Don't worry though - it does them no favours in the long run.

MechanicalTheatre Wed 20-Feb-13 14:38:54

SF - I really don't know. How can we possibly know? And I don't think the kind of speculation of "who is more likely" helps either side.

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 20-Feb-13 14:40:05

The different exam outcomes issue is complex. Back when I started university the received wisdom was that women were conscientious but dull 2.1 plodders and men either had the brilliance to get 1sts or were too busy doing other stuff (rugger, debating club etc) so got 3rds. My tutor (female prof) campaigned very hard for blind marking in my subject, and, guess what, the discrepancy in marks disappeared.

More recently there's been an argument that the new course-work oriented style of assessment favours girls, because they're conscientious whereas flaky, disorganised but intrinsically brilliant boys (seeing a common thread here, anyone?) do better with exam based systems where they can muck around for 2 1/2 terms then get down to business in the last few weeks in one concentrated push (disclaimer - this latter mode is actually my personality type too, and last time I checked, I was a woman).

Now I don't think that it's that boys are intellectually inferior to girls. I think that it may be an instance of gender stereotypes damaging men as well as women (a fact that any decent feminist I know acknowledges). Boys are socialised to mess around - boisterous behaviours dismissed as boys-will-be-boys, quiet behaviours criticised as girly. Then we wonder why they don't have the mental resources to knuckle down through several drafts of a piece of coursework, or plan their time. (Fwiw, as another example of gender stereotypes harming men, I'm doing a benefit gig this weekend for mental health provision among ex-servicemen and women - the suicide rate among soldiers who've seen front line service is enormous, because we have a macho culture that pushes the military as an exciting career option for boys, uses them as cannon fodder in ill-thought out, politically motivated wars of dubious legality, then offers them no support after leaving. I hope, by the way, that it's obvious that the target of my criticism is politicians and senior military strategists, not servicemen and women themselves, who do a difficult job requiring bravery I couldn't come close to).

DreamingofSummer Wed 20-Feb-13 14:42:15

<<One of the reasons girls now outperform boys in education (in terms of exam results) is that they have stopped marking girls' work down. Girls' exam results used to be downgraded because it was WRONG for girls to do better than boys and would mean the end of the world.>>

And when you post stuff like that you destroy any crediblity in your argument.

Public exams are marked anonymously

cory Wed 20-Feb-13 14:42:18

As outlined in my earlier posts I believe conditioning has a big part to play in the underperformance of boys.

Ds can get laughs and kudos for being the class clown in a way that dd probably can't. Girls go "oh, isn't he cute?" and the boys think he's funny. A girl in that position would probably be pitied and a little despised.

Ds also looks round society and sees that men often land on their feet, tend to earn more than women and hold more important posts- so he feels far less urgency than she does when he looks at the future.

I'd be delighted if he worked harder, but I can't see what his teachers can do unless he has a serious change of attitude.

drjohnsonscat Wed 20-Feb-13 14:43:21

There is a bit of a tendency to argue that women need to change their behaviour at work to get on and to fit the mould that has been predetermined by a male workplace (hence go on assertiveness training courses). But that we should change the education system to fit boys' apparent need to run around and not sit down and listen (not that I accept these traits are boyish traits at all - my boy is perfectly capable of sitting down and listening because I taught him to, as is my girl).

Any suggestion that the workplace should shift to meet the "characteristics" of women is greeted with derision, as is any suggestion of quotas although that's effectively what the downward marking of girls' exam results in the 11 plus was.

larrygrylls Wed 20-Feb-13 14:43:34


If you are better educated, it does you HUGE favours throughout your life. Unless you are merely measuring life success in terms of average income (which is another discussion), education is one of the best things any parent can give any child.

I am not sure it is all conditioning. It may be but it also may be hormonal etc. Boys tend to like learning for exams, girls more for projects. Hugely simplistic but a proper answer would take pages. As a generalisation, I think it is true. And there are good teaching methods for boys and for girls. At the moment, they tend to suit girls.

As for SGB, if she had mentioned marking work down as an explanation for girls' underperformance, I would take your point. As she is using it an explanation for why they now outperform, the only inference is that she believes that they are intrinsically brighter.

drjohnsonscat Wed 20-Feb-13 14:44:29

Dreaming of summer it is a fact that when the 11+ was universal, girls' exam papers were marked down for fear of filling out grammar schools with girls.

cory Wed 20-Feb-13 14:44:40

Lurcio just said it: "Boys are socialised to mess around - boisterous behaviours dismissed as boys-will-be-boys, quiet behaviours criticised as girly."

That's ds. And it's not just about our expectations as parents, it's about his teachers, his schools and- far more important- about his peer group.

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 14:46:40

'sigmund how do we make it 50/50 completely equal then? And how do we ensure that it translates to equality of opportunity for all boys and girls, whatever they want to do? Because it feels like at the moment, the girls might outperform at school and university but once they're in the world of work it swaps around again. Is this fair? Girls are better at school and boys are better at work? Would this work as a genders are different, deal with it, response?'

You can't make it 50/50, but it would be good for it to be close. Boys and girls do have equality of opportunity. Again, it's down to personal choice.

Most women seem to do extremely well in their given careers. If you're talking about the pay gap, if a man and a woman do the same job, start at the same time, and don't take a break, they will earn the same.

Actually, women out earn men initially, it's when they drop out to have children that the pay gap appears, unless they get back to work quickly (or work for a large employer than can afford to carry you).

ipadquietly Wed 20-Feb-13 14:46:41

I'mm not going to get into the argument whether they're different, but it really pisses me off when the curriculum is changed 'to make it more boy friendly' (i.e. more hands on; more FUN). Grrrrr......
I hate the implication that girls don't need to have fun when they're learning.

drjohnsonscat Wed 20-Feb-13 14:49:45

Agree of course that education is hugely important. But having an equal place in the adult world of work is also important.

FWIW, I did really well at my all girls school. I only found a problem when I went to university and got completely overlooked by the male tutors in favour of definitely below average male students. I was amazed. I had never realised this would happen. I thought it was all about my ability. 25 years into my work life, I can see the bias started there and has not abated.

I do think that potentially schools could do with having more male teachers (DCs school has plenty but I think that's fairly unusual) but otherwise I don't see my son facing the bias now that I faced when I reached university. But then he really isn't one of these fabled "run around, can't listen, needs different sort of teaching" boys.

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 20-Feb-13 14:52:35

Not so, Sigmunde. Where I work, pay at the same grade is different for men and women (a historical legacy of long pay scales). In universities, it's not just that there are more male professors than female ones because women have opted out of the fast stream by having children. Men are paid more than women at each level - lecturer, senior lecturer, reader, professor. As far as I am aware from reading discussions in management magazines and looking at ONS statistics, this is mirrored across every employment sector. In fact, it tends to be worse in the private sector where employment contracts have gagging clauses preventing you comparing your pay with your colleagues. There may be a legal right to equal pay, but in actual fact women are paid less for doing the same job.

HandbagCrab Wed 20-Feb-13 14:56:28

Larry according to my super quick googling, girls started to outperform boys in 1996 generally. So there have been hundreds of years where boys outperformed girls, and 17 years where we have seen the opposite. I did my gcses in 1996 and it was all exam based apart from drama and a maths project, no drafting and redrafting of coursework and I had male teachers in most of my subjects.

If I as part of this female cohort unintentionally outperformed the boys then at what point did I sexistly stop a boy from achieving what I did? How was my female cohort's success anyway an impingement on the success of the boys in our classes?

cory Wed 20-Feb-13 14:56:47

Looking at my own workplace it seems clear that the young academics who have been kept for years on temporary contracts (while that was still easy) or only given part-time jobs or jobs for which they are heavily overqualified are almost exclusively female. There are women in high places, too, but when it comes to the lower end of the market there is always a sense about male academics that "we can't expect him to stay under these terms" that seems to be lacking for female colleagues.

It would be easy to blame it on childbearing, except a fair few of those women have never had children and do not intend to. So it is difficult to see how childbearing can have wrecked their individual careers. Some have very impressive publishing records, but appointments these days are often about expectations of ability to bring in money, and when it comes to these rather vague expectations, men seem to do rather well.

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 14:58:29
cory Wed 20-Feb-13 14:58:46

should have said "junior academics" rather than "young academics". If you are female, it is easy to remain a junior academic for a very long time.

nickelbabe Wed 20-Feb-13 15:01:38

gender neutral nursery in france

same in sweden

someone on page 1 said that their boy-girl twins were showing differences when they were 3 - that was interesting - when they were 3 means that they'd had 3 years of interacting with other people outside of the family home that don't share the same views.
It's definitely ingrained into the children from outside sources.

cory Wed 20-Feb-13 15:02:41

What that survey did not show is whether work of the same quality was marked down by female teachers or whether boys got lower marks because they worked less well for female teachers.

If ds is getting more recognition for work genuinely done for a male teacher, then I would of course be happy with that. But if he works less hard for a female teacher "because she's not as good as a man", then I'd rather he paid the price for that. It's not an attitude I want him to take into the workplace.

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 15:13:49
larrygrylls Wed 20-Feb-13 15:15:21

"If I as part of this female cohort unintentionally outperformed the boys then at what point did I sexistly stop a boy from achieving what I did? How was my female cohort's success anyway an impingement on the success of the boys in our classes?"

I don't understand this at all. It is the teaching and examining that has started to favour girls, not what any individual student achieves or doesn't. And the argument of 100s of years vs 17 years probably means little to a poorly taught boy in today's education system.

cory Wed 20-Feb-13 15:21:15

But do we know it is always a poorly taught boy and not a boy who is working less hard because he is more complacent, larrygrylls?

what I notice with undergraduates, particularly first years, is that there is very little difference in actual ability, but that young men have a tendendy to think they are doing better than they are and don't really believe they are going to fail until it is too late, whereas young women often believe they have failed until the actual mark is shoved under their noses.

It is very rare for a male student to contact me to say that he is struggling and needs extra reading suggestions, but I get a few female students doing it every semester. And naturally, this pro-active and realistic attitude helps their studies.

I think this might well be about social conditioning.

larrygrylls Wed 20-Feb-13 15:28:52


No, we know very little about the whys because you are dealing with huge populations and the marginal differences are really quite small. However, I could well imagine old crusty male profs making a similar argument about why boys did better, when they did.

And I don't think boys are all poorly taught either. I do think, however, that on the margins, we have moved from a pro boy education system to a pro girl education system. I don't think we need a seismic shift but I do think that we should question why boys do less well and try and adjust the way they are taught in order to address it.

I was never a "couldn't sit still and concentrate" type of guy, either. On the other hand, I fear my sons are, especially one of them (they are 3.9 and 2.3, so plenty of time to change yet). There is no way they have been conditioned that way, though. They know we value them sitting, concentrating and listening and so does the older ones' pre school. As for peer pressure, it is a moot point whether you consider that conditioning or inate sexual difference.

I am keen to see that they are taught according to how they learn best as individuals and I am not sure the current attitudes in the state sector will suit him that well.

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 20-Feb-13 15:29:54

That's interesting, Sigmunde. I don't know the reasons behind it, but could speculate that it's to do with the changes in exam performance we've been discussing. And as you'll have noticed upthread, my personal take on exam performance is that it's an instance of gender stereotyping harming boys. (Incidentally, I am the mother of a DS, and one of my worries for him growing up is how to get round the peer pressure that will undoubtedly be aimed his way to be one of the lads and play up - peer pressure which I tend to blame more on the "men behaving badly/loaded" strands in popular culture than on the evils of feminism in demanding that women get a fair deal).

Dahlen Wed 20-Feb-13 15:31:41

• Boys are under-performing in education at the moment.

• This is agreed by researchers to be because our education system is set up to work best with children who are able to sustain concentration and apply themselves consistently.

• Most working environments also require staff to be able to sustain concentration and apply themselves consistently.

• Employers are currently reporting that today's school-leavers lack the skills and application that they desire.

Logical surmises from this
Discipline in schools is less enforced than it used to be, allowing boys to behave in a more rambunctious fashion that would never have been allowed say even 30 years ago. I don't think it's a coincidence that the change in educational fortunes has happened at a time where boys are no longer penalised in a school environment for behaving raucously. If they are allowed to do so instead of being made to learn self-control and concentration, of course they're not going to do as well.

We could take the approach that this isn't fair on boys because mainly they don't learn as well that way, but boys were learning that way up until very recently. It's only since girls have overtaken them that the idea that boys might learn differently has been touted.

Employers want employees who can concentrate and apply themselves, so maybe it's boys behaviour (or rather our social expectations of male behaviour) that needs to change. I am frequently amazed at the level of bad behaviour displayed by many boys at my DC's school that has nothing innately to do with them being male but everything to do with bad parenting and lame excuses such as "boys will be boys". There are enough well-behaved boys and adult men out there to prove that this is claptrap.

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 20-Feb-13 15:36:47

Larry - it's important to remember we're talking about differences averaged across a whole population as a statistical phenomenon. You and I may go to a lot of trouble to ensure our boys learn to sit still and concentrate, but there are parents out there who see running around, back-chat to the teacher, etc. as signs of their son's masculinity. And, as Cory points out, our behaviour as parents is a small part of the equation (and sadly becomes smaller with time) - peer pressure is a huge influence on children.

This is one of the reasons I hoping I'll manage to teach him to think for himself (while getting across the most important underlying values of treating human beings equally and trying to see the world from their perspective as well as your own) rather than trying to instil into him carbon copies of my beliefs. That way he'll be placed to resist peer pressure in its more stupid forms (I hope).

HandbagCrab Wed 20-Feb-13 15:37:28

Makes perfect sense to me larry My cohort were the ones that started the girls outperforming boys at GCSE era and I was pointing out that this was in the time of end of GCSE exams for most subjects (English, Maths, Science, MFL, Humanties etc) and most of my teachers were male. How did this set up favour girls over boys? I'm confused as I didn't do much coursework or have special lessons in 'soft' subjects which apparently favour girls or have exclusively female teachers who couldn't teach boys.

BoneyBackJefferson Wed 20-Feb-13 15:40:06


"'ONe of the reasons girls now outperform boys in education (in terms of exam results) is that they have stopped marking girls' work down.' is just a fact."

Unless they have changed the definition of the term "fact" it is no a fact.

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 15:40:25

'I am keen to see that they are taught according to how they learn best as individuals and I am not sure the current attitudes in the state sector will suit him that well.'

These are my thoughts too. My DS's are coming up to 6 and 4, and my eldest much prefers experiments outside and hands on exercises to sitting inside. I'd imagine that both boys and girls do really. The problem is that DS wants to be 'hands on' ALL the time, and finds the sitting still/concentrating part more difficult. He's a bright boy and doing OK, but he could be doing better if work was more practical.

I've helped out now and again, and have noticed that the girls (aside from one or two) don't really have this issue, whereas about half of the boys do. I don't really have the same issue with my youngest, as he's a focusaholic, he never stops bloody focussing..takes him hours to draw something because it has to be just right.

Angelfootprints Wed 20-Feb-13 15:52:07

"What I was trying to articulate is that we as women cannot set up a refuge for male victims of dv without input from men, male survivors of dv etc. as they would be the best judge of what would meet their needs"

Then this blows the basic premises out if the water that there are no differences between the genders.

If there really was no difference at all, we wouldn't need a male input (what should the sex matter?) as surely the only thing that should qualify us to input is the fact we are human?

cory Wed 20-Feb-13 16:21:27

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 15:40:25
"'I am keen to see that they are taught according to how they learn best as individuals and I am not sure the current attitudes in the state sector will suit him that well.'

These are my thoughts too. My DS's are coming up to 6 and 4, and my eldest much prefers experiments outside and hands on exercises to sitting inside. I'd imagine that both boys and girls do really. The problem is that DS wants to be 'hands on' ALL the time, and finds the sitting still/concentrating part more difficult. He's a bright boy and doing OK, but he could be doing better if work was more practical."

But in the old Latin by rote and discipline by rod system, boys did outperform girls. So I am wondering whether boys are actually incapable of doing this- or have simply learnt that they can get away with not doing it...

fwiw my ds hates having to do practical things even more than he hates academic things. He only does well when he is forced to work. Which unfortunately is not a trait that is going to be cherished by modern employers.

cory Wed 20-Feb-13 16:22:53

"If there really was no difference at all, we wouldn't need a male input (what should the sex matter?) as surely the only thing that should qualify us to input is the fact we are human?"

That is a non consequitur. Noone is denying that there are societal differences- which might mean that the experience of a man suffering dv is actually quite different to that of a woman suffering dv.

larrygrylls Wed 20-Feb-13 16:29:20


I think boys really "like" being tested and put in competition with one another, which is really out of fashion at the moment. So, they will lsit and listen if they are allowed to make it into a game. If they don't feel that they can compete, then they won't sit and listen (and can get away with not doing it).

I am not sure I favour going back to giving test scores out in order but there has to be a happy medium. Also, boys like working under pressure but are less good at consistently concentrating, so exams suit them a lot better than project work.

I think that, going back a while, school started older, by which time most boys could sit and listen. When you start school early, I suspect some 4-5 year old boys lose critical ground which they struggle to recover later. I am really speculating here.....need some educationalists to either confirm it or properly refute it.

Angelfootprints Wed 20-Feb-13 16:32:42

So at what age should these societal differences begin to matter? When should we take them on board and when should we keep denying any difference?

HandbagCrab Wed 20-Feb-13 16:55:13

We don't live in a gender neutral world angel do we? If we did, perhaps our male sufferers of dv and female ones would be able to share a refuge (perhaps if things were different we wouldn't need dv shelters in the first place). Dv carries societal prejudice and different stigmas for men and women because we live in a gendered society IMHO.

I'm not worried that my ds is going to be massively discriminated against or not catered for in the classroom tbh. He is white, middle class, not disabled, no sen (that we know of) and English is his first language - which is how I imagine many of these sons are on here that people are weeping into their skirts about when imagining their bleak futures in the vaginaverse.

Angelfootprints Wed 20-Feb-13 17:00:15

No we don't, nor do I believe we should.

DreamingofSummer Wed 20-Feb-13 17:15:10


That's an assertion, not a fact unless you can quote the evidence

exoticfruits Wed 20-Feb-13 18:03:21

I grew up with brothers, I have 3 DSs and have lived in an all male household for over 20 years. Of course there individual differences, DS1 went to ballet, DS3 is artistic and would always spend ages drawing, they loved playing with a toy kitchen- I could go on and on BUT I find they think differently. I was always having to say 'but this is what women do' when they thought me odd. Now they have girlfriends it is like a breath of fresh air - they follow my thought patterns and I don't constantly have to explain,
If you watch boys playing the game is the thing- girls will chat and find out things about each other. My DS once spent a week doing activities with a boy he found he got on well with- he didn't even know his name at the end! A 14 yr old girl would have known the life history in that time!
Boys wrestle at every opportunity - for fun. The odd girl might like it but other girls won't like it- not because it isn't expected- just because like me - it is irritating! As an adult I had to leave the room and let them get on with it - it still irritates.
Everyone can find exceptions- I am talking about generalities.

cory Wed 20-Feb-13 18:13:54

There is also the point that lower marks at school may not represent an actual disadvantage later in life. Lots of things influence employers: numbers on a paper is only one of them.

The overconfidence of my male undergraduate, which prevented him from double checking the requirements of the class and getting a First, may actually help him to convince a future that he has more potential than his more diffident female colleague who did get a First. You would have to see the whole career trajectory of these two people to decide who has actually been disadvantaged.

cory Wed 20-Feb-13 18:14:52

"future employer"

exoticfruits Wed 20-Feb-13 18:38:26

And lots of boys don't fit the stereotype - I agree with the point this morning that boys take up a lot if the attention in the classroom and dominate debates - but mine didn't- they all got the same comments that I did at school - you need to speak up and take part. My DS is trying to get a job at the moment and the one thing he is poor at is 'selling himself'.
I think that a lot is down to personality.

exoticfruits Wed 20-Feb-13 18:46:40

A few years ago, in a staff meeting, we were moderating writing levels. It was year 1 and they had written stories about dragons. There was no other criteria- just a dragon. They did not know what others were writing. There were no names ( they were hidden on the back) so that we wouldn't be influenced.
After a while I realised that you could tell which were written by boys and which by girls. I was right every time, when we looked at the end. Any friendly dragons belonged to girls, any chatty dragons belonged to girls, any swords belonged to boys. People may not like it but it was what happened. I think they were very young to think 'I must have a fight' - they were at the age mentioned over stickers where they don't all realise that there is a 'boys' sticker.

exoticfruits Wed 20-Feb-13 18:51:51

Maybe girls are influenced by society because they liked it. I had access to all the boys toys- I was happy to climb trees, play at cowboys and Indians, roller skate etc , but most of my brother's toys left me cold- I loved my dolls. I liked sewing and knitting and still do- I don't see why this is second class and I should have been encouraged down more boyish routes. Early on I was really pleased to be a girl- it seemed much the best deal to me.

Angelfootprints Wed 20-Feb-13 18:59:16

"Maybe girls are influenced by society because they liked it"

I would say thats very true for me and agreed, I dont like the inference this makes me, (or anyone else) inferior.

CheerfulYank Wed 20-Feb-13 19:07:37

My best friend is always going on about gender being a social construct, etc...and then talks about how, when she has two children, she wants girls. Or gay boys. confused

I think it's a spectrum, and the majority of people do fall somewhere in the "traditional gender traits" area, due to hormones and brain chemistry, whatever. But not ALL do, and we need to be respectful of that.

It's damaging for anyone to force gender stereotypes on children, but it's, IMO, also damaging to act as though there are NO innate differences. Children are not born blank slates, gender wise. That poor man who killed himself after being raised as a girl, for instance. sad

Angelfootprints Wed 20-Feb-13 19:09:49

Which man Cheerful? shock

orangeandlemons Wed 20-Feb-13 19:21:35

I hold feminist beliefs, and used to think that boys and girls were the same, until I became a teacher.

20 years teaching in a mixed secondary, and I do think they are different. I teach both textiles and graphics. Graphics is usually 85% boys, and textiles is usually 100% girls. Same teacher, same kids, same expectations. Textiles is the only subject across the country that has such a low number of male entrants that they fail to register nationally. This is despite national and school programmes to recruit more boys.

Make of it what you will....

CheerfulYank Wed 20-Feb-13 19:30:28

David Reimer, Angel.

Angelfootprints Wed 20-Feb-13 19:36:13

What a horrible story Cheerful sad

This cements to me there are inherent differences. Perhaps not quite as extreme as socitety makes there to be, but your right -to deny any differences at all is damaging.

Scheherezade Wed 20-Feb-13 19:36:25

Wow, a lot of the posters on here seem stuck in the 70s.

Clinical Neurology has proven biological differences in terms of the structure and function of the male vs female brain.

Behavioural psychologists performed dangerous experiments trying to prove gender is a social construct. I can't remember the name of the case, but there was a famous one where a baby boy had his penis chopped off, the psychologists and parents tried to raise the baby as a girl. She later had a sex change, then killed herself.

cory Wed 20-Feb-13 19:38:14

I also think some children fall into traditional gender roles because they are people pleasers. In fact, I think that is true of both of mine, but it means their social behaviour is vastly different because they both want to fit in with the group.

Dd works incredibly hard to present an image of a mature, responsible, hard working and caring person, because that is what her peer group likes to see and she is afraid to lose friends if she appears different.

Ds in the meantime finds he can be popular by not taking school (or anything else) seriously, but just mucking around.

Same motivation, different results.

"Graphics is usually 85% boys, and textiles is usually 100% girls. Same teacher, same kids, same expectations."

How do you mean same expectations? Do the peer groups of those boys have the same expectations on them to do textiles? Surely not? Or do you think peer group expectations do not matter?

When I was at secondary we had a choice between textiles and woodwork. I was pretty bad at both but possibly marginally better at woodwork. So I chose textiles, because I felt if I chose woodwork I would need to be good at it to justify my decision; otherwise, people would be asking why I'd chosen it and make fun of me. Textiles were the default position so left me nothing to prove. The only girls who ever chose woodwork were the ones who were exceptionally good at it so had the confidence to make an unusual decision. Iirc no boys chose textiles.

orangeandlemons Wed 20-Feb-13 19:39:59

Also all my textiles classes are usually killing themselves to get A*. Graphics are happy to get a C. Same teacher, same expectations etc etc...

cory Wed 20-Feb-13 19:41:14

orangeandlemons Wed 20-Feb-13 19:39:59
"Also all my textiles classes are usually killing themselves to get A*. Graphics are happy to get a C. Same teacher, same expectations etc etc... "

But are they the same expectations from their peer groups?

CheerfulYank Wed 20-Feb-13 19:42:23

His name was David, Scheherazade.

nickelbabe Wed 20-Feb-13 20:14:27

I went to college to do an hnd in fashion technolgy.
there were 2 men in the group of 15ish. both were foreign.

obviously society had different constraints.

orangeandlemons Wed 20-Feb-13 20:21:52

Good point Cory! I think their peer's expectations may be slightly different, but they seem much much more laid back and more relaxed than the girls. Also occasionally ( alas very occasionally) a group of boys can turn very competitive and strive to beat each other to get the highest marks, whereas the girls tend to help each other and support each other more.

Actually, the main thing is, the emphasis on gender difference is only important if it's hierarchical. If males and females were equal, stupid people wouldn't be so frightened about blurring the lines. The whole obsession with boys are this and girls are that is based on the idea that what is masculine is right, normal, praiseworthy and what is feminine is inferior. So the little girl who wants to do 'boy' things is generally indulged, the little boy who wants 'girly' things is regarded with suspicion and fright, or punished. Just think about the words 'tomboy' and 'sissy' and the connotations they hold.

exoticfruits Wed 20-Feb-13 22:11:57

I can't see why any of it is important. When you give birth you have no idea what you are getting- and you have to respond, support and nurture the child that you have, and not the one you want. I know many people who do not meet their parent's expectations. I have a friend who is a country person, no interest in appearance, clothes- never wears a skirt and loathes shopping. Her mother was a real townie and wanted a DD to go shopping with, she was still trying to buy her a dress when she was an adult.
You have parents who refuse to dress their girl in pink and yet they get one who adores it- other parents who go overboard with pink and their DD rejects it all.
I brought up my DCs the same- they are as different as can be- I don't see how you can make a DC into something they are not without causing a lot of unhappiness.
Although you can't stereotype them- they don't fit in lots of ways- I can tell you that it is very different from living in a house with females.

exoticfruits Wed 20-Feb-13 22:17:31

I don't see why we don't like boyish characteristics- they are frowned on ( unless done by a girl and then it seems praiseworthy!) Somehow society now seems to not only look down on boys doing 'girly' things but even in girls doing 'girly' things! I get the distinct impression that it is better for a girl to make something out of wood than to make it from wool - despite the fact that many love knitting.

Piemother Wed 20-Feb-13 22:26:30

Yanbu ive read the book grin

whateveritakes Wed 20-Feb-13 22:28:48

As a nanny I looked after many girls that thought they were boys. Didn't give a crap about clothes, could play fight stand up for themselves, liked the boys toys and were no different in terms of likes and dislikes or attitudes.

But you could always tell they were girls because they just weren't as "simple". They had thoughts linked to feelings that could only be resolved through turning a feeling into thoughts. Girls have many layers and boys whilst having deep feelings can just move on.
That's my sweeping generalisation on the debate.

exoticfruits Wed 20-Feb-13 22:45:55

I agree that it isn't what they do- it is how they feel and think. Can anyone tell me that they have a 14yr old DD who spends a week with another like minded girl doing activities and yet not know their name, anything about their family, how they were spending the rest of the summer? Who can then look at you as if you are odd when you ask a few questions and look perplexed and say 'but why did I need to know?' ! It isn't as if my DS is silent- he is the one who talks nonstop - about things that interest him. My DSs can never answer simple questions like 'did Josh have a good holiday?' because, apparently, it is nosy to ask. While I accept that thousands of boys would ask and know - I bet that nearly all girls would- and if they don't tell you it isn't because they don't know- it is because they choose not to tell you.

exoticfruits Wed 20-Feb-13 22:49:34

In general men have a hard time emotionally because they keep problems to themselves- if I have problems I either find a friend to discuss it with or a group of people ( female)

I was under the impression that there is good, well respected evidence that male and female brains are 'wired' differently, from birth and before? With a vast overlap and variation.

FWIW, I have 4 boys and they are all different, but all very much Boys grin.

SigmundFraude Wed 20-Feb-13 23:22:13

You're not wrong Pacific, there is plenty of up to date research stating that.

My 2 boys are completely different. Although they both like toilet humour, I'm trying to put the kibosh on that one!

feckwit Wed 20-Feb-13 23:27:30

I've two of each, they are all very different but all very obviously girl or boys in terms of their emotional development.

IfNotNowThenWhen Wed 20-Feb-13 23:33:50

Boys and girls CAN be different, but their similarities are much more numerous than their differences. I think that is the thing to remember.
I hate when people make comments about " boys not being able to concentrate" or " girls being manipulative" . I have a boy who loves to draw, is very emotional, worries about what people think of him, but also loves playing ninjas and hanging on the monkey bars.
A lot like I was really.
I also have five siblings, ranging from ultra competitive barrister (sister), to nurturing uber parent.(brother). Of course, my sisters and I chat more on the phone, but its my brothers that remember birthdays, and are there when our parents are ill.People are complicated, and mixed up.
I have a lot more in common with one of my brothers, in terms of humour and outlook than with any woman I know. But then, one thing ( maybe the only thing) my parents did right, was to treat us all the same.
Also, in the olden days there just wasn't the gender based STUFF that there is now. I go to my friends house, and her two dds have so much frilly, pink, sparkly STUFF. Its all very seductive, and if I was 8 I would probably love all the butterflies and embroidered cushions, but it does foster a feeling of girlyness that I just dont remember from my childhood.
When I was a girl, I didn't have a canopied bed. I wanted to be Indiana Jones.

IfNotNowThenWhen Wed 20-Feb-13 23:42:47

Also, it shocked me when Ds went to nursery just how pervasive the whole " it's for girls" thing is.
Don't underestimate peer pressure. Ds refuses to like anything he considers " for girls". Unless he hasn't realised it isn't for girls yet. He loves playing at fighting , but when it comes to actual wrestling, he just giggles!

IfNotNowThenWhen Wed 20-Feb-13 23:43:46

Also, it shocked me when Ds went to nursery just how pervasive the whole " it's for girls" thing is.
Don't underestimate peer pressure. Ds refuses to like anything he considers " for girls". Unless he hasn't realised it isn't for girls yet. He loves playing at fighting , but when it comes to actual wrestling, he just giggles!

IfNotNowThenWhen Wed 20-Feb-13 23:46:51


CheerfulYank Thu 21-Feb-13 01:25:32

I agree, it is annoying. DS comes home from preschool saying things are for girls or boys.

I try to say "pink is just a color, colors are for everyone" or "dolls are just toys and toys are for everybody" but it's clear he doesn't believe me. Sigh...

Look, the main reason why I think this is a problem worth taking up with the teacher (who BTW has not AFAIK ever done or endorsed anything in school that I would consider harmful --it was the previous year teacher who gave DS a book I complained about--) is the vast numbers of DC being told that they can't have or do all sorts of things because 'that's for girls/boys'. It's so narrowing and negative and damaging for kids to hear that. And all the character traits that are considered good/bad or unusual/only to be expected but dependent on the gender of the child exhibiting them: that's horrible as well.

seeker Thu 21-Feb-13 06:51:40

And school should be, of all places, a place where you are not defined or constrained by your gender. And for that to be the case, teachers need to be really clued up on this stuff.

exoticfruits Thu 21-Feb-13 07:13:07

I don't think it is a problem at school - not in the early years or from the teachers anyway. I have always seen them all quite happy to play with the dolls or dress up. I agree that later the peer pressure will kick in- then you get the whole, ridiculous 'boys must like football' thing etc. as if it isn't possible to be a boy and have no interest whatsoever.
I think that parents are just as bad the other way. It's will happily take their girl out to the shop dressed as 'Bob the Builder' - many won't take their boy to the shop dressed as a fairy. They will call a girl 'feisty' if she claims trees- why can't a girl be 'feisty' if she loves a dolls tea party? It is a character thing- not what you like doing.
I do get fed up with all the people who want a girl - it generally turns out they want long hair, pretty dresses and an adult friend eventually to go shopping with. I always point out that there is no guarantee that a girl will fit any of these expectations. I can't see why you just don't respond to the DC you get and stop trying to turn them I to something they are not. It must be very wearing to be a girl who adored pink and frills to have a parent who is always disparaging and mean about it and equally wearing to have parents who insist your hair is long when it gets tangled and hurts in a comb and buy you pretty dresses when you want jeans and very short hair and don't want anything pink.
I think boys get it even worse- there is so much worry if they are a 4yr old with a favourite dolls pram! It is all very silly. The sad thing is that girls can have the whole range- even if some is labelled 'boys'( can't think why it should be) but boys are very much restricted to 'their' half.

exoticfruits Thu 21-Feb-13 07:43:00

The difference is nothing to do with what they do- it is how they think(with exceptions)
A good example is when I was a widow. When they were 5/6yrs I knew far more boys than girls. Boys are just very accepting- x's father was dead was fine for most, I suppose the majority liked a reason. It was girls who questioned me and they always got on to ' were you very sad, did you cry?' (Of course many girls didn't question)
With my DS we had to talk about it- and we did a lot. My DS was a talkative child, he used to follow me around talking, when it was irritating I used to think 'make the most of it - he will stop as a teenager' - he didn't and he hasn't as an adult- he is a great communicator. We went into how he died, why he died, how it could have been prevented etc but never once did he ask how I felt. I would imagine that he would just take it as read. However, if his present girlfriend turns out to be long term, and I get to know her well, I would imagine that we would discuss it one day and it is far more likely to be along the lines of 'how was it for you, how did you cope as a young woman?

Just as an aside boys do like toilet humour as someone said earlier- and you only have to watch someone like Stephen Fry to realise that some never grow out of it!

exoticfruits Thu 21-Feb-13 09:25:23

There are also always exceptions. It is like English spelling-we accept that there are exceptions to the rule and it is fine. We don't say that it is 'wrong', if it doesn't fit the rule and it should change, we just happily learn it and accept it as normal.
My ILs from my first marriage are a case in point-if I wanted to discuss anything emotional it would be with FIL because he was comfortable with it and on the same 'wave-length' -MIL is lovely but her emotions are a closed book.
There are certain characteristic that the majority of boys will have-none will have them all-and it is perfectly OK not to have any. The same with girls.
When you have your baby you have to be open minded-they may be on your 'wave-length' they may end up thinking entirely differently on absolutely everything-most are somewhere between. The relationship will be better if you accept them as themselves and don't feel the need to mould to what you happen to have wanted.

IfNotNowThenWhen Thu 21-Feb-13 09:45:11

I don't know exotic. In a way it seems like you are saying on the one hand that boys won't think about feeling etc, and girls will, and then also saying that actually there are always lots of exceptions to that.
In which case, maybe, the exceptions are so numerous and varied, that actually, the rule doesn't really apply anyway, because in the end people are all different, whatever their sex.
FWIW, when my dad dies, ds asked me a few times if I was sad and if I missed him. I know that is just one child, but that is my experience of little boys.
I do think that girls can be more socially confident with adults than boys at 5/6/7 but I don't know how much that is a function of what is expected of them.
At the end of the day, it shouldn't matter, as you say. I was a boy-ish girl. My brother is a girl-ish boy. No-one should be expected to fit into such a narrow expectation.

exoticfruits Thu 21-Feb-13 09:57:20

I have lived my home life with mainly men-there are general characteristics that are completely alien to me! This is despite the fact that I was a 'girlish' girl, but I don't think that you could call my brothers or sons particularly 'boyish' boys. My mother had been what people call a 'tomboy'.

exoticfruits Thu 21-Feb-13 10:01:49

My whole point is that you shouldn't have to fit in a narrow expectation-the parent shouldn't have any expectation at all! Too many parents have decided they are having a future doctor who will be a Christian -vegetarian-wait and see-you might produce an atheist farmer who breeds sheep for the table! And why does it matter if the DC is happy and doing as they wish?

simplesusan Thu 21-Feb-13 10:03:04

Good point made about being socially acceptable for girls to wear what some would call boys clothes and have an interest in male things. Not as acceptable for a boy to like pink, play with dolls, cooking utensils etc. All ok when they are toddlers but once they hit school age the influences kick in.
I don't know any boys who wear a dress for example and wear hair decorations.
I have know boys with long hair and I have heard negative comments about it mainly from men.
In the supermarket yesterday when I noticed the same toy, one was blue and orange, one was pink with petals on it. Guess which one had a picture of a baby girl on the front and which one had a picture of a baby boy on?

I would imagine it is difficult for anyone to buy the pink one for a boy although logically all babies should able to play with either.

My dd1 dances and has a good friend who dances with her. He is a boy. at school he is regularly bullied for it, called gayboy and allsorts. My friend tells the boys, and yes it is mainly boys, to grow up. She sites Diversity as role models which usually shuts them up. Even so it takes courage to keep dancing when you face that prejudice on a regular basis.

My DS has long hair and people sometimes comment on it negatively. DS loves his rockstar locks and why shouldn't he? But oh no, complete strangers have felt entitled to ask me if I'm not worried that 'people will think he's a girl'. When I respond, so what if they do? I get all sorts of shock faces.

IfNotNowThenWhen Thu 21-Feb-13 12:25:33

Oh God, yes, the STUFF that is genderised (possibly not a word) now is unbelievable.
I don't know about some people on here still living in the 1970's, and I don't really remember them, but even in the 1980's there just wasn't this divide between stuff for boys and stuff for girls.
Wellies, for example. You wore yellow ones, or blue ones, whatever your parents got you. I don't remember there being "girls" wellies.
In a local toyshop I saw packets of word fridge magnets. They had Girls words and Boys words. I kid you not.
The girls words were things like "cupcakes" and "lovely". The boys words were "jumping" and "pirate".
And you can bet if I had tried to get ds the "girls" words (not that I would, since words are just words!) he would have reacted as though I was trying to poison him "no, mum! They're for girls".
All this crap we are supposed to buy two lots of-the pink stuff and the blue stuff, is having a direct effect on the way children see themselves, and the way society sees them.
Meanwhile, people make vast profits out of this division of everything (hot water bottles, gardening tools, bucket and spades, you name it) into girls or boys STUFF.
I agree exotic, in that I don't think parents should try and mould their kids either way. I would never try and force ds to play with dolls because I think he should. Of course, his action man is not a doll. Oh no. wink

nickelbabe Thu 21-Feb-13 12:49:38

People are convinced that DD is a boy.
all the time.
she has almost no hair (can't do a lot about that!), but she wears clothes - sometimes boys', sometimes girls', sometimes neutral.
but because she's not swathed from head to toe in pink and dresses, everyone thinks she's a boy.

Angelfootprints Thu 21-Feb-13 12:52:14

Well despite dd1 always in pink and even with pink on her pram (gasp, shocking) people still thought she was a boy.

Far more worrying grin

persimmon Thu 21-Feb-13 13:00:09

I'm a teacher and there are marked, general differences between boys and girls.
But there are also a significant minority of startling exceptions to this every year.
Reading Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph has helped me (I hope) become a better teacher of boys.

persimmon Thu 21-Feb-13 13:01:22 also a significant minority..

larrygrylls Thu 21-Feb-13 13:27:55

I would try and steer my sons away from "girlie" toys but mainly because they are crap, rather than because they are made for girls. I think that if I had girls, I would also steer them away from a doll dressed in bright pink serving a 1970s style tea party. On the other hand, if I have offered them the choice and they choose a girls' toy, then they are welcom to it. When it comes to things like drinking cups, stacking toys or whatever, though, they get whatever is in front on the shelf, regardless of whether it is the the "boys'" or "girls'" version, the only difference being the colour.

All children are individuals but we all start from an idea of what a "typical" child is and then adapt if they are different. I can't see what is wrong with assuming one will have a typical boy, for instance, and then adapting if he is different from that. In the same way, I teach my sons that they will get married to a girl and have a family one day. Of course, as they get older, they will learn that there are exceptions to that rule and, if they show me they are one of them, I will adapt accordingly.

I must say that I have never seen a teacher trying to dissuade a girl or boy from playing with a toy because it is designed for the other sex. Of course, were that to happen, it would be wrong. On the other hand, observing, when out of the school setting, that boys are behaving like "typical boys" is not wrong at all.

mummytime Thu 21-Feb-13 13:37:21

Angel my children had that. DS head to toe in blue "what a pretty girl". Then DD1 head to toe in pink (and head band) "what a lovely boy".

Recently I fumed as I went to school for yet another discussion of my DDs behaviour, and it was intimated that if she was a boy some of it would be far more "understandable". She has also been called manipulative, which actually if you get to know her, is something she isn't really capable of but is maybe a value judgement as she is a girl.

Of course back in the 70s my boy cousins all had a doll, and pushed it in a pushchair, when my DS did the same in 2000 he was stared at as if it was odd.

IfNotNowThenWhen Thu 21-Feb-13 17:57:46

I read some of Raising Boys, and it made me ragey.
Everything in it applies to children. Letting them run around outside. Not using humiliation when punishing. Techniques to help them concentrate.
I couldn't see anything in it that didn't apply to kids in general.

IfNotNowThenWhen Thu 21-Feb-13 18:04:31

And yy to what mummytime mentioned about how her dd's behaviour would be more acceptable if she were a boy.
From the other side of it, quite often boys are allowed to get away with behaviour that they wouldn't if they were girls. Apparently they have trouble concentrating and sitting quietly.
Well ds can sit for hours drawing and reading comics. So can all his friends. It's a self fulfilling hypothesis, when teachers and parents use these maxims to teach/raise children.
It means that less is expected of boys in certain areas, and that girls are seen as prissy manipulative little madams, when if they were boys it would be written off as "high spirits"
We shouldn't spend our time hunting for differences. I mean, why bother?
All nt children at 6/7 should be able, and expected to, to sit still and listen at school. They should all spend time outdoors getting free play.
I'm sure we were all expected to be able to do those things as children.

CheerfulYank Thu 21-Feb-13 18:24:10

Yay to the genderizing of everything. Just another way to make a buck.

Used to be all children had red tricycles, yellow raincoats...but that's no good for companies as you can hand those things from brother to sister. Not enough consumption! Have to make pink flowered or blue dinosaurs on everything so that you have to buy them for each child.

And it's so arbitrary! Grasshoppers are for boys but ladybugs and butterflies for girls. Puppies for boys, kittens for girls.

CheerfulYank Thu 21-Feb-13 18:25:46

I meant yy, not yay!

exoticfruits Thu 21-Feb-13 19:17:24

Does anyone not think it rather strange that when I was young (and I am much older than the majority on here) girls and boys were separated e.g. girls did needlework, boys did woodwork and yet there wasn't all the pink merchandise? I don't recall ever having a pink dress, we dressed up in old adult clothes, wellies were black, my school shoes were black lace ups. I learnt to ride on a 'boy's' bike because that is what my grandfather happened to get hold of. (Incidentally why do we have bikes with and without crossbars these days when most women cycle in trousers?) No one would have suggested that girls needed different lego from boys.

exoticfruits Thu 21-Feb-13 19:18:16

Not very clear- I meant dressing up games were just adult old clothes that you were given.

slightlysoupstained Fri 22-Feb-13 07:34:53

exotic I think it's because marketers have realised that they can sell more by creating a "need", as CheerfulYank suggests if at least 50% of parents have to buy new for DC2 then more profits.

Tapping into stereotypes and supercharging them will get a stronger response than a more normal, realistic image.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 07:56:53

They can't supply a 'need' unless people buy into it. Obviously they do.
If businesses see a money asking opportunity they take it. I don't know the answer.
Girls are the preferred sex on MN - never once have I seen a thread saying 'I am so disappointed, I wanted a boy and I got a girl' and yet you get lots who are disappointed with a boy. Lots of us with all boys can say how affectionate they are, how artistic, how well they concentrate, how loving they are as adults etc and I don't think that we do anything to convince them. I can only imagine that is because they want the whole 'girly' thing and imagine lovely little smocked dresses, long hair to style, ballet shoes instead of football boots, a little friend etc and above all they see an adult DD that they will see regularly and go out with, and if not they will be on the phone daily, and once the DD has a child themselves they will bond as one! I can't see any other reason. I have been told, by a woman of course, that it is sad that I am missing out, and will never know,the mother/DD relationship. Ironically she has a pretty rocky relationship with her own DD! There seem to be huge expectations on a DD.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 09:17:27

Sorry iPad writes by itself! Money making not money asking!

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 12:04:15

The news today says that the Lego range for girls has powered a 25% surge in global sales. They are struggling to keep up with demand, despite the fact they have doubled production. It points out that it has attracted criticism from feminists - but, quite honestly, if you were on the board of the company you would be mad to stop producing it!

monsterchild Tue 26-Feb-13 14:07:14

Exotic, i have also notice the desire here for dds rather than dss. I have a ds and I couldn't be happier! Will he be a tied to momma's apron stings sort of boy and drive his DW (if he's not gay) mad with his calling me and being close to his parents? I can only hope!

Also, the Legos for girls, while too pink for reality, do get girls building and playing and that's a good thing. My Dsd buildt one of the houses, and when we rebuilt it after it was destroyed by a gigantic monster cat, she suddenly realized she could make anything she wanted out of the blocks and the fun has just started. It's great to see her interested in creating and designing a home!

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