For centuries, the core belief that men and women are vastly different in some ineradicable biological way was a pillar that sustained patriarchy.
The dominance hierarchies of patriarchal societies, in which all social power structures from the family to government were run by men, were seen as a logical expression of a natural order.
Women’s inferior social position was widely accepted as predestined, a consequence of their relative physical weakness; Their soft female brains were thought to be primed to nurture and serve others rather than assume leadership roles.
But while we’ve laboriously moved toward a more equal society in which gender parity is the goal, gender studies have attempted to overturn that assumption. To the degree that it is heretical in some feminist circles to express the belief that gender differences that remain uncomfortably persistent (eg, expressing aggression) are the result of something other than social conditioning.
I have long wholeheartedly agreed with this cheerful denial of biological essentialism. until I had children. One of my children is a boy and the other is a girl. For me, seeing them grow and interact with the world is a daily refutation of the notion that gender is strictly a social construct.
Of course, it’s not impossible that I unintentionally treated them differently, inadvertently reinforcing gender stereotypes. And even if I hadn’t, they don’t live in a hermetically sealed bubble. The world at large plays an important role in reinforcing behaviors that are typically “boyish” or “girlish.”
And yet, since their very first weeks and months, many important individual traits and behaviors between them have steadily drifted apart along the gender lines.
Of course, it can hardly be said that one mother’s anecdotal experience has settled what remains one of the most enduring debates in the social sciences. Nor does it reflect the wide variety of human gender expression. But it did something for me as a parent.
I would be the first to defend the idea that biology is not destiny. Like many parents of my generation, I avoid the restrictive binaries of pink and blue clothes and toys. But while it may not reflect the political mood of the moment, I suspect raising my children properly means accepting and even acknowledging how these gender differences affect who they are.
As a parent of boys, this is a particular challenge in a society where masculinity has become a dirty word. But it’s a mission that’s critical, according to social mobility researcher and writer Richard V. Reeves.
his new book Of boys and men describes in somber terms the crisis men face today. We’re so used to talking about and contemplating male privilege that it’s easy to overlook the tremendous challenges faced by boys just growing up.
It starts at school, says Reeves, who points to the education gap in the UK, where 58 percent of degrees are awarded to women. And this discrepancy is widening.
He points to recent social changes in education, the workforce and, by extension, the family, which are partly due to better representation of women and partly to technological changes such as the artificial intelligence revolution that are making it difficult for men to adapt .
The result is worrying, he says. More and more men find themselves struggling in school and struggling to find employment. Those things, he said The times, “Has implications for relationships, marriage, family structure, all of which need a new script for masculinity.”
Reeves has advocated throwing out the term “toxic masculinity,” which he says stigmatizes boys and men into believing that their masculinity is inherently problematic.
Instead, he calls for a new, more prosocial model of masculinity.
The first step, he says, is to recognize that there are some inherent differences between men and women.
“Especially when raising boys and girls, it’s important to be aware of these differences, not to elevate them, but to make them less important in a way,” he said.
“We don’t make the differences disappear by imagining that they don’t exist. We reduce them. We quiet them down by being aware of them and helping girls and boys and men and women deal with them so they become less important.”
After millennia of oppression, it may sound a bit bold to ask women to slow their march toward hard-won progress so the men can keep up in the background.
For generations, women have been pushed to put male needs and desires ahead of their own. The constructive discussion of the topic of male well-being in society also serves feminist interests. For it is about shaping future generations of men who can be willing allies in the quest for equality.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/theres-a-new-battle-of-the-sexes-and-this-time-men-need-help-42032690.html There’s a new battle of the sexes – and this time men need help