Thursday, October 26, 2006

France Huang's article on "What’s the difference between boys and girls?"

YE4A- Frances Huang Mei-Tzu 1094100030 2006/09/27

A great number of books have been published to cater for the need to understand the opposite sex. Women say “Men are from Mars!”, but men say “Women are unreasonable!” One side of the human beings tries to understand the other side of their counterparts from their own viewpoint or bias. No wonder men and women sometimes get even more confused when they wish to understand each other in a face-to-face position. In those books, gender differences are crowned with superficial stereotypes and myths. I don’t quite agree with the ideas in those books, even though I must admit males and females are in fact not the same, both mentally and physically. The stereotypes tend to categorize all the men or women into one single type. However, there is not any single person identical to another, like no one has the same finger prints as anyone else do.

In this essay, gender differences are discussed in a more rational way. Boys and girls are no longer facing each other from the Mars to the Earth. I will interpret what the author means by “gender neutrality” as “there is no such a gender divide for boys and girls, and they are free to be what they actually are, like there is no strict line for what he should play with or how she should behave.” On the other hand, the term “gender inappropriate” confines boys and girls to the expectations that the society and culture impose on them. They are educated to think or behave in certain “appropriate” ways. Personally, I think that “gender neutrality” and “gender inappropriate” are the production of humans’ cultural and social behaviors. Men and women are naturally different and no one can deny that it is true. We don’t have to persuade ourselves that men and women are not that different or try to prove that men and women are equal. Besides, even though women are all female, it doesn’t mean that all the women are the same. Don’t forget, every man and woman has unique characteristic, there is no need to draw a line on gender-specific colors or toys.

Conventionally, Barbie dolls are girls’ toy and boys love to watch Godzilla movies. That’s the ruler in parents mind when they decide what to get for their children. I partly agree with the author’s point of view. I notice that, very often, parents will get things that belong to “the right gender”, especially for boys. Boys who are interested in “girls’ things” will worry their parents and might be concerned strange. Parents, as I know, rarely agree to buy a Barbie doll for their son. One the contrary, girls who like to play with toy cars are less worrisome to their parents. For example, my own niece is a beautiful girl who doesn’t like to wear dresses or skirts. From she was young child, she wanted to wear T-shirts with Pocket Monsters on them. She is girlish and looks girlish, but she doesn’t like girlish things. Her parents don’t see this as a problem, though it is sometimes annoying that she refuses to wear the skirt hemmed with lace I buy for her. (See, this is the gender expectation I have on her!)

In short, I don’t think that playing with “inappropriate toys” will be a great impact on a child’s future gender development. When I was young, I preferred watching Godzilla to playing with a Barbie doll. I did have a Barbie doll, but after I shaved off all her hair, I threw her away. Now I am a mature woman who is not confused with my own gender at all. After all, children are curious and they should have the rights and chances to explore the world around them.

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