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TangoMan

Couldn't be that that's just what human beings do.

I certainly agree that there is something like "the human condition" that is at the core of being male and being female. Encircling "the human condition" are the biological features of being male and being female, which can extend to behavior and ways of seeing the world. These aren't by any means some platonic ideals but instead are values that have a range and are modulated by each individual's unique biology. Encircling all of the biology is the social construction of gender, which begins with the biological core and can shift along an axis so long as the social understanding of gender doesn't conflict with the biological basis.

The problem, as I see it, is when the social defintions are getting too far afield of biological limitations. Look at the canary in the coal mine - the changing roles of young women in the UK:

Teenage girls are now more likely than boys to drink, smoke, steal and take drugs, a survey has shown.

In a disturbing confirmation of the spread of the 'ladette' culture, it found violence, aggression and self-destructive behaviour has spread alarmingly among girls over the past 20 years.

While boys appear less likely to be drawn towards crime or drugs than they were, psychological and social problems are stacking up among teenage girls, who are now expected to compete on equal terms with boys for educational opportunity and jobs.

[ . . . . ]

Professor Colin Pritchard, who led the research, said: 'Girls now significantly smoke and binge-drink more than boys. They truant, steal and fight at similar rates, and start under-age sex earlier than boys.'

He said binge-drinking, which was admitted by nearly a third of girls in their early teenage years, drove other anti-social behaviour such as stealing, fighting, taking drugs and engaging in risky sex.

[ . . . . ]

In 1985 around half of all boys and girls drank alcohol on a regular basis. Last year the numbers had shot up to 68 per cent of boys and an astonishing 85 per cent of girls.

Because researchers in the 1980s did not believe binge-drinking could be a problem among young teenagers, they did not include the subject in their questionnaire. But in the contemporary study, 15 per cent of boys and 29 per cent of girls defined themselves as binge-drinkers.

Girls were far more likely than boys to have had sex: 31 per cent against 17.

When we take a stable system and try to institute a particular change there are always unintended consequences. We see this in genetics quite a lot. Consider what happens when we select for tameness, and only tameness, in foxes:

But that wasn't the only change. Breeding foxes to strengthen a single behavioural trait also brought about a wide variety of unexpected physical changes seen in many animals that become domesticated.

Their coat colour, used among wild foxes as camouflage, changed. Irregular splotches of white fur appeared in the domesticated foxes. Their ears became floppy, replacing the straight ones of wild foxes. Their tails began to roll, similar to those in some dog breeds. Their tails also became shorter as did their legs. And although the geneticists didn't select for size, the domesticated foxes were slightly longer on average. Their craniums also changed so that the males became somewhat feminized and both sexes became more dog-like.

Reproductive cycles were also affected. The domesticated foxes reach sexual maturity a month earlier than non-domesticated foxes do and give birth to litters that are, on average, one pup larger. Even the brain chemistry among the docile foxes changed. Compared with a control group, their brains contained higher levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter thought to inhibit animals' aggressive behaviour.

Note that I'm not arguing that changing social definitions of gender has this type of immediate evolutionary consequence. I'm using this example to illustrate that redefining gender roles has unintended consequences that the ideologues didn't account for.

Expecting men and women to be identical in all behaviors can lead to a divergence between the biological gender determinants and the social construction and when the spread is too wide there will be consequences.

The Happy Feminist

I don't see how the ladette example at all supports your point that "social defintions are getting too far afield of biological limitations." Isn't this just an example of so-called "ladettes" doing what the boys have always done? What biological limitations are you referring to?

As for unforeseen consequences, I am not at all impressed with that as a supposed fly in the ointment for so-called ideologues. In fact, that's really the point of my post. Sure, limiting the freedoms of certain portions of the human race may prevent crime and irresponsible behavior among those people. But is that really a good argument for limiting freedom for certain people -- and not others? The argument that if we only let men indulge themselves rather than women then we cut criminality and irresponsibility in the human race by 50%?

Ginger

There's a fantastic line from the series "Elizabeth I", in which Queen Elizabeth (Helen Mirren) tells one of her male counselors, "We women have forgotten more about cruelty than you men could ever remember." A perfect line.

Richard

>>> Like possibly Richard, who seems to believe that the only reason women and girls might be indulging in violence and mayhem is to be more like the guys. Couldn't be that that's just what human beings do.

Yes, I do think young girls are trying hard to act more like boys. You can see it in about every area of pop culture. Unisex today, for instance, is not so much “either sex” as it is traditionally masculine. The thrust of the British study is that girls are actually outdoing boys now in many “anti-social” (I hate that term) behaviors traditionally male-oriented. I see young women today defining themselves in terms of what it’s like to be male, rather than cutting their own female path. They’re trading in female for a monoculture based on men. It’s startling to see in an age where women think of themselves as more independent from men.

Richard

>>> "... limiting the freedoms of certain portions of the human race may prevent crime and irresponsible behavior among those people. But is that really a good argument for limiting freedom for certain people -- and not others?"

Oh, Happy. Are you seeing female crime as a Freedom Issue? You're coming very close to saying that girls have historically been set into the “bondage” of good social behavior, and that the essence of freedom is, or at least involves, crime. By this standard, some men, namely the habitual criminal offenders, are more free than other men, the ones who work hard and play by the rules. Are you really sure you want to go down that path? Does the feminist movement now envying high male crime rates? That is pretty freakish stuff.

The Happy Feminist

I see young women today defining themselves in terms of what it’s like to be male, rather than cutting their own female path.

What do you suppose this "female path" would look like?

You're coming very close to saying that girls have historically been set into the “bondage” of good social behavior, and that the essence of freedom is, or at least involves, crime.

Not at all. I don't think that good social behavior is bondage. I DO think, however, that girls and woman have been less free in general. Lots of cultural norms have combined to inhibit the freedom of girls and women across the board -- WHETHER FOR GOOD OR BAD BEHAVIOR. I am talking about things like restrictions on female movement (earlier curfews and more supervision than for boys, for example), restrictions on female earning power, restrictions on female physicality (discouraging or prohibiting girls from participating in sport), and a general encouragement to a more submissive, less assertive mode of thinking and behaving. Changing these things is a good thing because it puts women on an equal footing with men; just because bad female behavior is an unhappy byproduct of this greater freedom does not change the fact that freedom and equality for the girls and women is desirable for its own sake.

I also think it is wrong to impose a higher standard of obedience on one class of people than another, even if the result is a reduction in the crime rate of that more obedient class.

Does the feminist movement now envying high male crime rates?

I think I made it pretty clear in my post that I disapprove of violence and theft and anti-social behavior whether it is committed by men or women. No one is saying that crime by women is a good thing. (An evil act is no more or less evil simply by virtue of the sex of its perpetrator.)

bmmg39

What's good about this story is that it puts another dent in the stereotype (that shouldn't have lasted THIS long) that men are like x and women are like y.

tastatur

We have become so, so obsessed with appearances, to the point where (if the makers of such programmes as the above are to be believed) it would seem that “looking good” is the primary source of self-esteem, personal pride, etc. I suppose TV is to blame……

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