"I don’t think it’s terribly controversial to note that women, from a young age, are required to consider the reality of the opposite gender’s consciousness in a way that men aren’t. This isn’t to say that women don’t often misunderstand, mistreat, and stereotype men, both in literature and in life. But on a basic level, functioning in society requires that women register that men are fully conscious; it is not really possible for a woman to throw up her hands and write men off as eternally unknowable space aliens — and even if she says she has, she cannot really behave as though she has. Every element of her life — from reading books about boys and men to writing papers about the motivations of male characters to being attentive to her own safety to navigating most any institutional or professional or economic sphere — demands an ironclad familiarity with, and belief in, the idea that men really are fully human entities. And no matter how many men come to the same conclusions about women, the structure of society simply does not demand so strenuously that they do so. If you didn’t really deep down believe that women were, in general, exactly as conscious as you, you could probably still get by in life. You could probably still get a book deal. You could probably still get elected to office."
— Jennifer duBois, Writing Across Gender (via florida-uterati)
"…back in the days when English still had a real gender system, it assigned the word “woman” not to the feminine gender, not even to the neuter, but, like Greek, to the masculine gender. “Woman” comes from the Old English wif-man, literally “woman-human being.” Since in Old English the gender of a compound noun like wif-man was determined by the gender of the last element, here the masculine man, the correct pronoun to use when referring to a woman was “he."
— Guy Deutscher, Through the Language Glass
When I was pregnant and we chose not to share the sex of the baby (because we wanted a wider variety of clothes than all blue football-toting teddy bears or all pink ballerinas), I was asked, “How am I supposed to shop if I don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl?!” What an interesting interplay of technology, marketing forces, and social constructs!
The blog Pink is for Boys has an interesting article today featuring some slideshows of birth announcements and clothing choices for babies in the early part of the 20th Century. The various videos (two embedded and links to others) show that the blue and pink coding system was not the norm. In fact, male toddlers once wore frocks, I assume because it was easier to dress and change them.
"If you took all gay men and put them in a room and asked ‘How do you feel about this?’ I wouldn’t expect them to agree. So I wouldn’t expect my characters to represent gay men or bisexual men as a group. And I think that’s a problem with groups that are under represented, that when there’s a character that’s gay or when we didn’t have too many African-Americans on television, every time we saw them they were supposed to represent all people in that group, and they’re not. They’re just Ian and Paul."
— interview with author Laura Lee on the novel Angel on It Matters