9.11.2010

Secret Clubs of Junior High

I was thinking more about the pedagogical theory of separating girls from boys to learn about puberty. Why is it that girls and boys are separated and taught about the facts of life in a homogenous environment? What is the theory behind separating the sexes instead of letting the girls learn about male puberty and the boys learn about girl puberty. Would there perhaps be less mystery and disparity between the sexes if we knew more about how each other experience growing up? What if girls could understand about how testosterone affects a boy's body and boys learned how estrogen affects a woman's mood? What on earth would happen if girls and boys had a greater understanding of each others biology? Would it be easier to understand gender if we had a more solid understanding of how hormones affect a body, any body? Can gender be freed from biological sex or is our culture too ingrained with what it means to be a boy and what it means to be a girl?

I was listening to the radio today and there were mothers talking about being out in public with their teenage 13/14/15 year old daughters. They were talking about how they would ream out an old man for looking at their daughter but if an older woman looked at their son they wouldn't say anything despite the fact that their sons were only 13/14/15 as well. So there is definitly and without question a disparity in expectations of how men and women are supposed to act and what sort of public interaction is acceptable between men and women particularly with respect to age. But there are some seriously harmful implications in this type of thinking.

These mothers made assumptions about the intentions of the men who were looking at their daughters. A man alone with a younger female child is too often looked at as a sexual deviant or criminal and a woman's instinct is to protect that child from the male sexual predator. Unfortunately this creates a problem. A long time ago I made a similar assumption about a situation where I observed a man talking to and playing with a young girl 3/4 years old on a jungle gym. I recognized the young girl's parents and warned them about the creepy guy hanging out with their daughter. Turned out to be the girls uncle. Oops. That incident made me realize that I had been conditioned to see men with young girls as criminals, creeps, and sexual predators. How are men then to interact with their children? How are girls or boys to learn about having a positive male role model when society has cast such a despicable shadow across any relationship a man has with a child? Particularly in this day and age of broken families and single parents, how can a father build a relationship with his child when people seem to be quick to label him a danger?

Would having had some understanding about the growing pains of each other help mend this distrust and fear that is experienced and spread throughout society? Is there a way to mend the rift between the sexes and come to some new understanding about gender? Perhaps if we all had to endure the same awful movies and learned a little more about the biology of each other we could come to understand a little more compassionately how every ones soul fits differently into their body.

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