Last night I had another dinner with my in-laws-- my husband's parents, his sister and brother-in-law, and their two kids (my niece and nephew). The conversation turned to my nephew's recent soccer practice. One boy was struggling with his technique and the other boys taunted him with the epithets "girl" and "ball girl." The conversation focused on how well the boy had handled the taunting. He laughed and bowed and made jokes. No one seemed at all concerned at the use of the word "girl" as a term of ridicule.
I said, "What makes these boys think it's okay to insult girls?" It was as though a lightbulb went on in my 10-year old niece's head and she (no slouch on the soccer field herself) said, "Hey! That's right!" and everybody laughed. The fact is that even today it is often considered cute and appropriate for young boys to heap scorn and ridicule on the female gender.
Once when my nephew was in kindergarten, he picked up his sister's dolls and started playing with them. My brother-in-law swooped down, snatched the dolls from my nephew, and said, "You don't want to play with dolls, do you? That's a toy for girls" (voice dripping with scorn and contempt on the word girls).
These types of incidents are still so prevalent for children in our culture that people don't even notice it. As a result, children of both sexes often internalize a belief in the abject inferiority of girls. It saddens me immeasurably that children are still encouraged to completely dismiss the skills and talents of one-half of the human race and not think anything of it.