"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)

(via liberalchristian)

Ellen on Bic’s new lady pens, made me LOL.

"…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

The Olden Days: Pink is for Boys

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.

Brontë Sisters Power Dolls

Interesting article on Sociological Images about the “Sworn Virgins of Albania.”

Rigid gender roles often inspire creative solutions.  Families in Afghanistan, for example, when they have all girls, often pick a daughter to pretend to be a boy until puberty.  The child can then run errands, get a job, and chaperone “his” sisters in public (all things girls aren’t allowed to do).  The transition is sudden and doesn’t involve relocation, so the entire community knows that the child is a girl.  They just pretend nothing at all strange is going on.  In fact, it’s not strange.  It happens quite routinely.

A similar phenomenon emerged in Albania in the 1400s.  Inter-group warfare had left a dearth of men in many communities.  Since rights and responsibilities were strongly sex-typed, some families needed a “man” to accomplish certain things like buy land and pass down wealth.

In response, some girls became “virgjinesha,” or sworn virgins. A sworn virgin was a socially-recognized man for the rest of “his” life (so long as the oath was kept).  Many girls would take the oath after their father died.

I would like to propose that the reason people react strongly to gender “transgression” has less to do with gender than it appears.  Rather, the example of gender shines a light on an even greater question of identity in general.  Is the self inborn or is it a cultural construct?  How much of who I am is innate and how much is sculpted by the era and the culture in which I live?  If my sense of self is in conflict with who you think I am, which one of us is right?

We– and by “we” I mean primarily people raised in Western culture, especially the United States– We like to think of the self as stable and consistent.  “If I just do enough introspection I can uncover the real, authentic me.”  But what “me” will I uncover?   Was I my “authentic” self when I was 20?  Or have I finally become my “authentic” self now?  Does that mean the self that I will be at 60 is less “authentic” than I am today? Or am I my “authentic” self when I am in a good mood?  When I am writing in flow?  Or god forbid, am I my “authentic” self when my nerves are frayed and I’ve just told off the clerk at the store for no reason?  How much of what I think of as my deep, inner self has actually been molded by the culture around me?  Is my subjective experience my “self,” or am I more who I am in relation to others?  When you start to really examine these questions, you might begin to conclude that we are all a bit identity fluid, we are all identity queer.

What if this self that I spend all my time reinforcing isn’t what I think it is? Depending on how you like to relate to the world, you will either find this notion liberating or frightening.

A follow up of sorts to my post on evolution being a pop psychological god.

They found that the gender difference in mate preferences predicted by evolutionary psychology models “is highest in gender-unequal societies, and smallest in the most gender-equal societies,” according to Zentner.

These results were confirmed in a second study based on mate preferences reported by 8,953 volunteers from 31 nations. Again, Zentner and Mitura found that there were fewer differences between men and women’s preferences in more gender-equal nations compared to less gender-equal nations.

Because increasing gender equality reduces gender differences in mate selection, these studies indicate that the strategies men and women use to choose mates may not be as hardwired as scientists originally thought.

"These findings challenge the idea proposed by some evolutionary psychologists that gender differences in mate-preferences are determined by evolved adaptations that became biologically embedded in the male and female brain," says Zentner.

Former President Jimmy Carter has urged religious leaders to repudiate teachings that he says justify cruelty to women.

Carter, a Nobel laureate and 39th president of the United States, described in an article in the British newspaper The Observer his “painful and difficult” decision in 2000 to leave the Southern Baptist Convention after six decades. 

Carter, who teaches Sunday school at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Ga., said the decision became “unavoidable” when SBC leaders adopted a new consensus faith statement “quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be ‘subservient’ to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.”

Carter said that went against his belief “that we are all equal in the eyes of God.”

"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