I’m loving the conversations going on re: my last post. Here are a few:
From Delicious Cake
I’ve always thought that a majority of the so-called differences between men and women are largely cultural constructs. (Even differences that are considered innate, like brain structure. We are treated differently from the moment of birth, different things are expected of us—just think of the effect that can have on a developing brain). Stories like this author’s point not only to our culture’s different expectations of boys and girls, but to its lingering misogyny as well. When a girl likes “boy things” it is often seen as a sign of strength and independence, and is encouraged. When a boy likes “girl things”? It is a sign of weakness and needs to be stomped out.
Growing up as a “tomboy” (with a sweet Fisher-Price plastic tool set that my parents totally let me use to hammer real nails) I never felt any shame for my interests. They were a source of strength in a difficult childhood. But the boys I knew who showed any interest in toys or activities that were deemed feminine were ridiculed and humiliated. It made them targets. Masculinity is celebrated in our culture. Femininity is a weakness that must be overcome.
Revolt. Revolt, every child. Find what it is you are and embrace it. We are the librarians, and we will fight for your right to grow.
And to add onto that, it leads boys to start making fun of “girl things” to defend themselves- to clutch at weak reasons for why they’re denied these things.
They reason it’s denied because it’s bad, and because it’s a “girl thing,” and in this way, simply, irreversibly, “girl things” become “bad things.”
It’s weird because even as a girl, in elementary school “girly” things were pretty much shunned. And anyone acting “girly” was also shunned. I grew up with this idea and to this day can’t stand anyone calling me “girly” or doing “girly” things. It’s not bad to be a tomboy, but I don’t think it’s right to say that acting like a girl is bad.
I just generally dislike that “girly” is bad and “manly” is good. Doesn’t make sense to me.
And the message that media sends when it says “We can’t have a female lead because women identify with male leads, but men don’t identify with female leads” is that men are such craven failures of people that they can’t identify with another human being because of sex bits and a skirt. It is also saying that women are less than men: that a male character can transcend boundaries in his humanity, in his worth. But a female character is first and foremost a female, the sex-class, the lesser half, and fundamentally inscrutable to men.
And in that way it contributes to sexism; because men simply can’t understand women because they are so different and so much less. And that contributes to violence on women, because when there is a they and it is okay, it is encouraged, it is required to think of them as other and not quite the same, not quite human, it becomes okay to hurt them.
We don’t live in a void; media does not come from nowhere; everything is linked; all roads intersect one other.