August 06, 2008

The Debate: Gender and Science

Adam and Eve by Raphael, 1509

I'm ever-ready for a healthy debate about Gender, even a debate that's high-falutin' and high-brow and so far over my head I need stilts to read the transcript. That's fine with me. I have a dictionary and I'm tall like my grandma.

Down here on ground zero, people are always debating sex differences, though it's usually when Mom wants help washing dishes or Dad needs to plow the field. Who gets asked to help? The son or the daughter? How come boys are asked to drive tractors since insurance statistics prove girls are safer drivers. Besides, I never met a burnt saucepan yet that couldn't use some elbow grease fueled by hefty testosterone.

Even in my mid-fifties, the male versus female debate continues to rage. I've been thinking about gender ever since wondering why I had to wear a skirt in the wintertime when boys were safely bundled in Levis. The answer grown-ups gave me? Just 'Cuz. But even daring to think about 'why' set the stage for asking 'why'---which led to lectures about doing femininity well or getting myself in trouble with the gender police. Not that parents and leaders realized they were reinforcing rules that were completely arbitrary---they insisted girls wore skirts Just 'Cuz God Said So and nobody ought be questioning God's Rules. Certainly not a cute little upstart like myself.

By the time I went to University in 1970, enough girls had complained about frozen thighs that the dress code changed. Suddenly, the world was my oyster---I was allowed to wear pants! But there was a hitch: only if my pants were part of a pants suit. Levis were still forbidden. Levis were for boys and pant suits were for girls and that's the final word on covering legs.

A few rebel-types snuck into lectures with their father's cast-off jeans on and risked being fined for disobediance. Finally, (though it didn't happen when I was in college) girls were granted Levi Status because their persistent rebellion was more trouble than it was worth.

In 2008, girls take wearing jeans for granted. They have no idea my dangerous behavior bordering on anarchy, chaos and social destruction, set the cogs in motion for them to avoid tonsilitis in the wintertime. Although I gotta say, I'd like to remind these liberated young women that panties are not supposed to hang out over the top of their britches. Why not?

Just 'Cuz. 
Just 'Cuz or Just Cause? That's a question worth pondering. 
The Science of Gender and Science: 
by other psychologists: Nora S. Newcomb, David Haig, Alison Gopnik, Diane F. Halpern 

If you have the time and the interest, read through the excellent commentary about this Harvard Debate. I think it's important to take advantage of Internet access and educate ourselves whenever we can. And don't be intimidated by academic/scientific dialogues and theories.

If you don't understand some of the psyche terms, refer to the 
Psychology Glossary linked on my blog. It's like learning another language which we're all capable of doing if we make the effort. Ight-ray?



  1. Well, I know all about them "skirt" days. I went to catholic school from the age 7 until senior year.From 2nd grade to 8th we had to wear skirts WITH KNEE SOCKS! So, we girls wore shorts underneath to at least keep our behinds warm even if our knees were turning purple, which they did.

    By high school we got smart. It was finally allowed during 10th grade to wear tights. The jocks of the school would were their jock pants underneath the skirt until it was time to sit in class.

    I was always sent to the office because I wore a sweater of red underneath my uniform/white shirt and black tight instead of blue. Why? because that is what my mother bought me and we didn't have much money.

    Oh it goes on and on. We were not allowed to wear red, just navy blue and white. When I came back to live in my home town I found that the school has now included the color red...for which I painfully was sent to the office almost every other day.

    I think my favorite part of all this was at the end of the day . All the kids were a mess. Pony tails lop sided, marker stains on shirts, brown knees and socks sagging. I mean they could put the uniform on us, crisp in the morning but by the end of the day the human inside had broken free. Everything was dog eared and lived in.

    I have never enjoyed the stereo type ~ rebel. Why? Because to question rules is most of the time common sense and NOT a play at resisting authorities.

    It is a good thing that females are not linear thinkers because it takes real invention to create ideas to meet her needs of warmth with in the system.

    I'll be reading the debate.

  2. About the commentary/debate.

    I believe the nurture has more to do with what is unavailable for the female sex as well as the male sex. Even if females scored lower on the spacial and males scored lower on the "mind task" just to give the opportunity to growth in those areas for individuals who remain under developed would be a big step. This way we are not increasing the differences of the sexes by separating one group talking apples and other, oranges.

    I think the problem lies in not what one is taught but how we learn / how one is taught. Meaning women don't learn spatiality because it is presented in linear fashion. I teach spatiality to men and women and I teach women differently than men. THIS IS KEY! So this statement above can be applied to all sciences.

    "we would do much better to concentrate on understanding how to educate effectively"


    When they take the time to figure this out ...getting closer to "Maximizing everyone's cognitive ability should be the important goal" will be possible.

    Although I see both sexes as being lacking in opposite skills. things have been structured culturally to further the extremeness of what they are asking is which came first the chicken or the egg...I say who cares it is with in our power to graduate and examine and explore not just define divide and remain stuck/locked in a pattern that doesn't allow humans to grow & experience. this again would be a legacy and fault of a culture dominated by patriarchal management & thinking.

    So, I have to hand it to those women who have been able to interpret the male stylized education enough to get into the field in order to put a foot down and question (influence).

    When i was little girl..getting to know space was fairly difficult seeing as the boys took over the block station. So, i would watch them play commander and shoot to destroy with in the realms of Block building.

    Near the end of the time spent at assigned play stations I would run over to do a minute of blocks by myself. I didn't want to contend with the tirade of the boys who were like savages (less mature on a social level). But I did want to build.The same thing happened on the bars.

    One of my better experiences was going to all girls high school. It was all about being female. we could get done what needed to be done with out having to claw through the male ego system. We girls could be students and not dates. What a relief.

    What does this point to..male superiority ..entitlement and patriarchal culture.

    I am glad some one is questioning education rather than focusing on the differences of the sexes. We will not get close to any truth about the distinction between the sexes as long as females are expending their energies merely to survive in a male dominated world.

    This is all about educating women and not merely including them in the male educational system. It is also about educating males in a fashion that includes respecting the rights of others.

    The old saying "boys will be boys" is the grand entry to entitlement. Then there is the other side where girls are not allowed to be little girls or human. this would be the grand entrance into the education system of my time.

    We wonder why females are cut off from spacial awareness? we put them in dresses and tell them not to let their panties show??? That is one big spacial restriction and it begins with the body.

    anonymous eyes


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