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?