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"But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny" --Mark 12:42

How the actions of this poor widow challenges a slightly irreverant, Linux-using, business school educated Christian. And his money.

Should we pretend boys and girls are the same?

Sometime before kindergarten, I learned the difference between boys and girls. Then, when I was in college, all of my sociology friends told me that my “social constructs” about the differences between boys and girls were incorrect. Not only were the wrong — they were also hurtful.

The very things that my preschool teachers taught me about gender (”big boys don’t cry”) was harming society. The sociology majors passionately flung study after study at me. Their premise was that boys and girls are basically the same. It’s society or “socialization” that leads to gender differences.

How about Nature?

We have made strides in unfettering men and women from “gender stereotypes”.  Men can become nurses, with only a few muffled giggles.  And women can become doctors.  Gender inequities in these professions are (or were) easily attributable to societal notions of “gender roles”.

However, the pendulum seems to have swung too far.  Today, we deem any inequality to be a societal problem.  Bring up the possibility of natural differences between men and women (or God forbid, innate intellectual capabilities) and you’ll be tarred and feathered like former Harvard President Larry Summers.

“You can be anything you want”

Sometimes it’s good to lie to kids.  Let them believe that they can grow up and change the world.  If all children who hears this try a little bit harder to achieve their dream, then it’s a worthwhile lie.

Maybe it’s like that for boys and girls.  If we pretend that they’re all the same — even if it’s not true — will we be making this world a better place?  Or are we just replacing one societal lie with another?

One Response to “Should we pretend boys and girls are the same?”

  1. One of the biggest lies we are told growing up is that we can be anything we want to be. While that is a great thought, the truth is more likely to be you can grow up to be anything within grasp of your potential.

    While there is the issue of gender, for example, I don’t care if a 5′2″ 110 lbs woman is a firefighter; she just better be able to execute the job of running into a burning building and saving my life just as the paradigm of a firefighter would be able to.

    Similarly, I don’t think anyone would want me as an NASA astronaut or an NFL wide receiver due to my native vision and non-paradigm height, respectively.

    I think the key is to dissociate potential with gender. Forget the firefighter example. Think of a mathematician. There is no reason why a woman could not be as great mathematician, if she has the potential to think abstractly for higher order mathematics.

    With that said, I have met some women who could definitely fit the paradigm of a firefighter, with the requisite strength needed to pull a person out of a building, etc. They tended to play volleyball or softball or field hockey and were quite athletic. They had the strength, which probably came from a higher density of muscle fibers than the average female, and perhaps the average person. More importantly, there was something else: the ability to push oneself, to excel, to compete.

    If you forget socio-economics, there is only one limitng factor - genetics. We are inherently born not equal. So the very notion of treating unequal people equally is not optimal.

    Schools should do a better job of identifying where a person’s potential lies instead of treating everyone equal, because people are not created equal. Do I hear “Gattaca”?

    The movie Gattaca illustrates while providing a counterpoint to my notions.

    To assess the will, the desire of an individual is an incredibly difficult task to accomplish. The only way you can determine such an attribute is to place kids in situations where their mettle is tested. In that movie compare Ethan Hawke and Jude Law’s character.

    Desire/determination/will vs. Genetics.

    So therefore, I assert there are two factors. Genetics and “Ganas”/Desire/Will.

    Through science we are getting a better idea about genetics, but will we ever be able to find out what lies in the heart of a man or woman or to find out if a person has the ability to push oneself to one’s potential?

    BUT, I will go as far to argue that perhaps the determination is a personality trait, which may indeed be influence by one’s genetic code. That is another discussion, however.

    Haar. One thing is for, professional sports scouts would love to find that magic formula!

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