Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Are girls really in crisis? part two

Part one is here.

Having rained all over the idea that there is anything particularly new about the supposed crisis for girls, I cannot go so far as to say there is nothing happening here.


The technology is just a red herring.

The danger facing girls is other girls!

 You can see it right in the article. Read this, for example:
 Schoolgirls develop ranking systems on the basis of “hotness,” resulting in guaranteed misery for the girl with the lowest ranking. 
No one who has even the vaguest memories of their own school days can seriously pretend to be surprised by this. Girls compete for sexual status, it's something they have always done. And the winners have always sought to hurt the losers.

I know, someone is already saying, "Listen Jules you're being a sexist jerk if you don't think boys also do nasty things to one another." And oh yes, boys do compete for status (but not sexual status so much). The difference is that no one pretends otherwise.

We have been telling girls anything but the truth which is that from day one other girls are in competition with them. Yes, there is friendship, love, mutual support and all the rest but even the nicest other girl will see you as her rival.

When Dr. Sax says that the problem is that "our culture pushes girls to define themselves in terms of how they look," he is speaking the worst kind of nonsense. There is no culture in the history of humanity that hasn't done this.  The problem is that our culture has been telling girls that they are morally superior beings: that they are naturally cooperative and nurturing, that they have special friendships—best friends forever—that are deeper, more lasting and more meaningful than anything boys do. This is all nonsense.

What is more, no one has been pretending that the more freedom you give boys the better. No one has been sitting back watching boys fighting, stealing and vandalizing and saying, "Gee I wonder what evil social influence or technology is  causing these poor innocent boys to act in such an uncharactersitic way." Everyone grasps that boys need limits and controls.

What boys and girls are is children and adolescents who need adults to train them in being morally virtuous adults.

1 comment:

  1. Jules, I agree with you that technology is a red herring. Its simply the newest venue to play out something that has always existed. I also agree with you about the cultural lie that tells girls that they are morally superior. The scary thing is that they--and so many adult women--believe it. I'm not sure if this has been a reaction by some extremists to the oppressive aspects of a patriarchal system, or if there are other things at work. The other scary thing is that Dr. Sax's thesis will resonate with graduate school professors who will teach it as fact, thus influencing the next generation of teachers and other professionals. My only hope is that there are enough sensible people out there who will listen to it and then dismiss it, but maybe I'm being naive.