Two quotes about how students deal with gender.

Forcing Kids To Stick To Gender Roles Can Actually Be Harmful To Their Health

Pereira observed both boys and girls regulating their behavior in potentially harmful ways in order to adhere to gender norms. For instance, even girls who enjoyed sports often avoided physical activity at school because they assumed it wouldn’t be a feminine thing to do, they worried they might look unattractive while running, or they were mocked by their male peers for not being good enough. The girls also put themselves on diets because they believed desirable women have to be skinny.

“All of the girls were within very healthy weights, but they were all restricting their intake of food in some way. So what we’re really talking about here is 14-year-old girls, whose bodies are changing and developing, depriving themselves at every meal,” Pereira said. “In the extreme, that can lead to things like eating disorders. But even for the women who don’t reach the extreme, it can be very unhealthy for them.”

Meanwhile, the male participants in the study all faced intense pressure to demonstrate the extent of their manliness, which led to what Pereira calls “everyday low-level violence”: slapping and hitting each other, as well as inflicting pain on other boys’ genitals. They were encouraged to physically fight each other if they were ever mocked or offended. They felt like they had to drink unhealthy amounts of alcohol because that’s what a man would do. And they were under certain mental health strains, too; struggling with anxiety about proving themselves and suppressing their feelings, all while lacking a strong emotional support system.

From The Myth of Mars and Venus, by Deborah Cameron:

What is happening to [boys and girls between the fifth and sixth grade] is that they are beginning to participate in an emerging ‘heterosexual market.’ Although they are still pre-adolescent, and in most cases not yet interested in sex as such, their interest in the trappings of adult heterosexuality is driven by what Eckert points out is an overriding social imperative among children: the need to demonstrate maturity by moving away from the ‘babyish’ behavior of the past…

Thought both sexes are engaged in this project, it changes the girls’ lives more profoundly. Boys cultivate a more adult masculinity through the same activities that were important to them before- for instance, sporting activities that show off their physical strength and athletic skill. For girls, on the other hand, cultivating a more adult femininity means replacing the activities and accomplishments of childhood with a different set of preoccupations. In particular, they abandon physical play: instead of using their bodies to do things, they start to focus on grooming and adorning them. They watch boys’ games from the sidelines, or as Tannen notes, ‘simply sit together and talk.’

2 thoughts on “Two quotes about how students deal with gender.

  1. oopster74 October 2, 2015 at 02:54 Reply

    In the film “Bridget Jones Diary”, the character that Bridget describes as “an American stick insect”, says to Hugh Grants character “I thought you said she was thin”. Now I’m probably not the only one to think that Bridget is thin, she certainly looks a healthy weight, but, Rene Zellweger who plays the character of Bridget Jones had to actually gain weight for the role. Now I know that this is supposed to be funny, playing on the neuroses of the Bridget character, but it’s “funny” because of our attitudes to weight and looks etc. If we’re ever to change society for the good, it’s the next generation we need to do it with.

    For the past few weeks, I’ve watched a Channel 4 program called “It was alright in the…60’s, 70’s, 80’s”. I don’t remember a lot of tv from the 70’s, but I do from the 80’s. Watching these 3 programs, I remember thinking most things were fine at the time, but watching now, the number of times I was thinking “omg! I can’t believe they did that!”, and it wasn’t always the obvious things. I never had a problem with Jim Davidson’s friend “Chalky”, as I never saw that as being racist, as he was talking about his best friend, who wasn’t the sharpest tool in the box, but in the 60’s program, they had the “Child of the year” show, and there was one girl, couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8, dressed as a “bunny girl”, complete with cigarette tray, and I was all “what the fuck!”. I guess I’m saying that what we thought of as acceptable years ago, we don’t now, but it’s only when we look back 10 or more years, that we realise how many have changed (not always for the better though).

  2. […] Source: Two quotes about how students deal with gender. | The Prime Directive […]

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