Home / You Throw Like A Boy: Some Thoughts on Sexism

You Throw Like A Boy: Some Thoughts on Sexism

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Today is a day to blog against sexism, but I admit I am getting to it a little bit late since I just put my daughter to bed after a long day. Lisa McKay encouraged me to write on this subject, so this is my shot at acknowledging this worthwhile effort.

Do you remember hearing “You throw like a girl” during your childhood? I’ve been thinking about this all day as I went about my business, and it started to bother me more and more as the afternoon turned to evening and I drove to the babysitter’s to pick up my daughter. A statement like this is damaging on two levels: the person making it is denigrating females while also putting down the person on the receiving end (who more than likely is a boy).

This kind of attitude starts early in life. I have seen it countless times in the park, playground, or my own backyard. The truth is that boys and girls seem to play well together as long as it’s general play, like climbing on jungle gyms or swinging on swings. When it comes down to a game more defined by sex (jumping rope or playing baseball) the stakes seem to be suddenly raised. The boys shy away from the jump rope saying, “That’s for girls” while they are on the defensive if the girls show interest in the baseball game.

In my English composition courses, I like to use an essay called “One of the Girls” by Leslie Heywood when teaching the Example Essay. Ms. Heywood was a competitive track and field athlete and does an excellent job of highlighting the trials and tribulations that female athletes experience. While she admits “female athletes fight the same unrealistic images that everyone fights,” she also goes into grim detail how this leads them down the path toward the dangerous “female athlete triad” of eating disorders, exercise compulsion, and amenorrhea. We come to understand that the female athlete is under even more pressure (due to her gender) to be more than perfect and almost less than human.

I gain a good deal of satisfaction teaching this to my freshman classes by starting off with an example that unsettles the male students and sparks interest in the females. I say, “Imagine a tall, athletic female walks up to George Steinbrenner during spring training and says, ‘I want to pitch for the Yankees.’”

“Mr. Steinbrenner replies, ‘Yeah, you and everyone else.’

“‘Well,’ the female says, pounding a baseball into her glove again and again, ‘say I can strike out three of your best hitters in a row. Will you give me a job?’

“One of Steinbrenner’s people overhears this and senses it will be good for a laugh. Steinbrenner agrees and soon the female finds herself on the mound with Derek Jeter at the plate and Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield waiting in the wings. Jeter steps up to the plate and swings wildly at three fastballs. He walks away shaking his head. The guy with the radar gun tells Steinbrenner, ‘Every pitch was one hundred miles per hour.’

“Steinbrenner nods and points to Rodriguez, who steps up to the plate and is promptly fanned by the female. Steinbrenner watches intensely as Rodriguez walks away and Sheffield steps up. Three pitches later, Sheffield has struck out and walks back toward the dugout.

“Everyone is focused on the young female pitcher as she walks back toward Mr. Steinbrenner. She tosses the ball to him and he catches it. ‘Well, Mr. S., do I have a job?’”

The story stops there because then I throw it out to the class for discussion. My question is “Will Steinbrenner hire her or not?” Over the years the majority of the males in my class (years ago I used to say Jeter, Williams, and Martinez by the way) have become enraged at times as they discuss this story. One particularly stands out in my memory. He said, “Not that this would ever happen in a million years because a woman could never do that, but even if she did, there’s no way a woman could ever pitch in the majors. Just no way.”

The female students would engage their male counterparts in sometimes very heated discussions about this, but what really came across was that the males were actually very threatened by this scenario. It infringed upon their view of the sanctity of male domination, and not just in baseball, but in the world at large. The concept of a successful female major league pitcher didn’t just anger them; I think they were frightened by this and saw it as an undoing of their supposed superiority in all things.

So I do hope that we take the time to think about how sexism has shaped this world. Why does Hillary Clinton get such a thrashing from her critics, sometimes more brutal than anything a male enemy of our state would receive? Even the possibility of any female president shakes up the sexists who believe it will be the end of the world (though female leaders have proven now and throughout history to be very reliable and even downright successful in their tenure).

We owe it to every little girl in our country and the world to prove wrong the sexist agenda that portrays women as incompetent, incapable, and inferior. This kind of thinking has caused women to be oppressed by males throughout history, and it is obvious that in general men’s fear of women gaining power and independence has caused much misery and suffering for both genders.

It is about time to lift this antiquated veil of ignorance and shed light on women for what they really are and can be: the best of the best in almost everything that men can do, except for starting wars. Men have a lock on that one and probably always will; otherwise, everything else should be up for grabs and let the best man/woman win.

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About Victor Lana

Victor Lana's stories, articles, and poems have been published in literary magazines and online. His books 'A Death in Prague' (2002), 'Move' (2003), 'The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories' (2005), and 'Like a Passing Shadow' (2009) are available in print, online, and as e-books. His latest books 'If the Fates Allow: New York Christmas Stories,' 'Garden of Ghosts,' and 'Flashes in the Pan' are available exclusively on Amazon. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated on writing mostly fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as a faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with 'Blogcritics Magazine' since July 2005 and has written well over 500 articles; previously co-head sports editor, he now is a Culture and Society editor. Having traveled extensively, Victor has visited six continents and intends to get to Antarctica someday where he figures a few ideas for new stories await him.
  • Yeah, what’s this “throw’s like a girl” crap? EVERYONE AGREES that boys and girls are exactly neutral and have the exact same abilities and aptitudes. Anyone got a problem with that may be asking for a trip to the Death Camp of Tolerance. We’ll have no acknowledgement of this “reality” crap intruding on our perfect Candyland. Everyone knows that girls throw just exactly as good as boys. Capice?

  • Al,

    I’ve seen some great female ball players (in many sports) that would beat most guys easily. I wouldn’t want to step on the court with Venus Williams. Would you?

  • I think that Victor’s larger point, Al, is that we use the term ‘girl’ as a pejorative, when it shouldn’t be. Be that as it may, the fact is that males and females both have an extraordinary range of abilities and aptitudes, and neither sex should be pigeonholed because society has preconceived notions of who should be good at what.

  • One thing I find interesting is that there is such a focus to promote diversity in schools and workplaces under the belief that diversity makes “us” (whichever population might be in play at the moment) stronger, better, etc.

    At the same time there is a focus on trying to “knock down the barriers” that separate us and prove that “men” can do anything “women” can do and “women” can do anything that “men” can do (or again whichever populations are at the center of the conversation).

    I know I am speaking in some generalities and the subtleties of Victor’s point are not lost on me. I do think a mixed message is often sent, though. Embrace diversity as long as everyone is the same.

    I think there is a mistake in thinking equality is achieved in proving men can “knit” (or some other random behavior stereotypically associated with women) and women can “hit a major league curveball” (or some other random behavior stereotypically associated with men).

    Maybe I haven’t explained this well or I am all the wrong in the world.

  • I heard Jenny Finch struck out Piazza and a couple of other major leaguers…she throws like a girl!!! and she’s incredibly hot too!!!

  • DJ, diversity and equality are really different concepts to me. Equality doesn’t mean we’re all the same – it means that we are all afforded the same opportunities, which we may avail ourselves of according to our abilities, whether we are male or female. While it’s true that most women won’t qualify to pitch for the majors, neither will most men — but the idea that a woman who could qualify would be automatically denied the opportunity because of gender is what I find offensive.

  • dj’s just sore because he throws like a girl and he knows it.

    on the other hand, i watch shows on hgtv.

    ps. interesting article.
    pps. i agreee with lisa m.

  • Nancy

    Interesting that Al exactly displays the knee-jerk psychological anger & denial of a male facing a threat just in response to the story. Fear, thy name is Male.

  • Look at the PGA. They’ve attempted to let the best women golfers compete with the men and they just can’t keep up…

    I mean, even Laura Davies, who’s a big burly woman and can drive the ball a ton can’t keep up with even mediocre players on the mens tour.

    And there have been players on the tour that have come up with that attitude…Vijay Sing pulled out of a tourney in VA, I think it was last year, that Annika Sorenstam was playing in…said he wouldn’t play with a woman…probably afraid she’d embarrass him!

  • Correction, Sir Saleski: I throw like a fat, approaching middle-age man who never got out of T-ball. I’m also not really sore at all but more under the affects of allergy medicine and an absence of caffeine, which is why I might be denser than normal.

    Lisa, you raise a good point and it’s one I will take some time to consider. I don’t think I meant to suggest diversity and equality were the same thing, per se. I think there are connective tissues between the two but they are distinct. Re-reading my comment I can see how I might not have phrased things clearly.

    I think what I was trying to suggest (and did so inartfully) is there are a lot of people who do not define equality by the opportunity but rather the outcome.

    Maybe I should stop typing until I have had my soda or coffee. =)

  • very interesting topic! For the most part, I don’t think anatomy has all that much to do with skill. It’s the age old mind set of girls doing the jumprope thing. If they are never encouraged or shown how to pitch a ball, or drive a ball off a tee, well you see the point. Same with boys not learning how to (fill in the ‘typical’ female skill)
    Nothing wrong with boys doing ‘boy’ things, and vice versa – but given the chance, provided the person has the talent – they should be allowed to move along with the opposite gender in the same sport, career – etc.

  • But then again —

    When I’m in training with other women (karate) it is a weird and difficult thing to strike that woman. I have an easier time striking a male partner. Of course, some of this comes with trust – there are some women I work with more often, that I know they can take certain hits – and again – if I’m working with a guy I dont’ know – I’ll be hesitant in striking him. Typically it’s more rank related though. I don’t like to go to hard on a lower rank – regardless of sex.

    And when I work with some of the kids – they maybe be brown or black belts – but they are still children – and I feel I should not go as hard with them. Even if I see them take hard hits from our instructor – I have a hard time doint that myself

  • Maybe your male students don’t like being lectured about sexism. The example of a woman pitching as well as MLB players is far-fetched, as one student pointed out.

  • The example of a woman pitching as well as MLB players is far-fetched,

    Maybe so, but the point is still valid. I think the students could stand a fresh perspective

  • I think some people are missing the whole point here. I’ll put it succinctly as possible:

    As the father of a four year old girl, I don’t want her to be limited in any way. She should never be told “You can’t do that because you’re a girl” (whether it’s joining a sports team, a chemistry club, or running for class president).

    That’s it simply and clearly. If she wants to try out for the baseball team and doesn’t make the cut because of lack of talent, that’s fine; however, it’s not fine if someone says she is restricted by her gender.

  • I think I got your point Victor – and it was well made – but I just got thinking about the whole gender thing, and had those thoughts rattling around, stuff I”ve noticed in my own training.

  • Y’all are tying yourselves up in such exquisite knots trying to deny reality. Yup, Venus Williams could six kinds of kick my ass- to which I would happily admit and submit. Yup, there are some girls who are superior athletes to some particular boys. But back in reality land, even a Williams sister would not be competition to a top male tennis player.

    There are exceptions like the Williams sisters to prove the rule, but girls are in some ways limited physically, and it’s not because mean ol’ Al is holding them back. It’s not really a perjorative against women to accuse a guy of “throwing like a girl.” It’s not a moral failure that a girl has less physical prowess with a baseball. Girls have their advantages, too.

    In short, it’s just damned silly to try to repress reality and make us constantly second guess and censor ourselves to avoid some silly PC offense. Even if you send all us neanderthal hillbillies to the Death Camp of Tolerance, girls will stil never, ever be able to throw balls as well as boys. Your little social construct of reality just ain’t going to change biology.

    Oh, and I just LOVE this comment #8: “Interesting that Al exactly displays the knee-jerk psychological anger & denial of a male facing a threat just in response to the story. Fear, thy name is Male.”

    Yes, Miss Nancy has me all figured out. I’m SO ANGRY. I deny, I will NOT accept how all them girls can throw balls better than me. I indeed fear and loathe the superior equality of females.

  • Equality for men and women really means “equity” for all. The late Shirley Chisolm, the great black female politician from here in New York City, once said that she faced a great deal more oppression and obstacles as a woman than as a black person.

    I believe that every child should have the right to aspire to be anything he or she wants. We are avoiding the main issue which is this: women do not get the same opportunities as men simply because of their gender, NOT because of their qualifications. This is, in my humble opinion, simply a disgrace in 2006.

    If the female pitcher could actually strike out three Yankees like in the above scenario, what would be the harm of inviting her to spring training? If she could consistently win ball games, why not put her on the 25 (man?) roster?

    And as for tennis, have we forgotten Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs? Why not have some huge tournaments with Venus Williams vs. Andre Agassi and Maria Sharapova vs. Andy Roddick?

  • If a girl actually could pitch competitively to the men, do please make her an MLB pitcher. Who said otherwise? That’s a straw man.

    I find it unlikely that such a thing would happen, but I’d be a BIG fan of a gal who could seriously run head to head with the guys like that. Such things do happen once in a while.

    In the meantime, you seem to be proposing that we all go around pretending that such things are the norm. You seem to insist that it’s sexism and prejudice simply to acknowledge REALITY.

  • Duane

    Victor: We owe it to every little girl in our country and the world to prove wrong the sexist agenda that portrays women as incompetent, incapable, and inferior.

    I’ve always thought of women as displaying a bit of superiority when they don’t waste their time on sports.

    And, of course, there will always be a subset of women who can throw a ball like a man, some that can run like a man, some that can lift weights like a man. Some have facial hair like a man, too. This is supposed to be a good thing? I prefer women who are womanly. Weird, huh?

  • Steve

    This discussion reminds me of the expression –
    ‘The exception proves the rule’.

  • Al, you actually hit on something I don’t think you intended to (my opinion). What the hell is “womanly” in your estimation? Is it to wear a burqua and use a squat toilet in deference to men who can take a leak anywhere they want? Is it “womanly” to walk a few steps behind a man to show inferiority? What the hell is “womanly” if it is another way to say that a woman is not equally on the level of a man.

    Let’s take it on another level. What is “manly” to most of us? Having sex with so many women (whom we call sluts) but seeing ourselves as just asserting our “manly” nature?

    I think there are too many prerequisites and they are antiquated at best. You know what is “manly” to me? Treating a woman as my complete and total equal. Try it some time; it really is amazingly normal.

  • MCH

    “Yup, Venus Williams could six kinds of kick my ass- to which I would happily admit and submit.”
    – Al Barger

    I finally agree with something Al Barger wrote.

  • MCH, what I would like to see is Al in the ring with Ali’s daughter. The profound ass-kicking that he would receive would be a delight for male and female alike.

  • Duane made the “womanly” comment, not Al.

    It’s not putting women in a burqua to state that generally, men are bigger and stronger than women.

    We have Title IX in schools to give female students opportunity to play sports.

    If Laila Ali can knock out some guy in the boxing ring, that’s great, but I don’t kid myself that since we’re both women and she did it, I can do it too.

  • Yes, Sister Ray, you’re right that female students have the opportunity to play sports in school: on girls’ teams. I’d like to see girls be able to try out and make the male teams if they’re good enough. Give them the option. If they can strike out the boys, hit as many baskets, score as many touchdowns, or hit as many homeruns, why shouldn’t they be on the team?

    Conversely, boys shouldn’t be ostracized or intimidated to explore areas that are not traditonally male. Wouldn’t we all be happier if we could do what we want to do and not what society says we should do?

  • MCH

    Re Victor’s #24;

    Yes, wouldn’t that be fun to watch…but it would never happen, being against the code of “Words speak louder than action”…

  • Why does a girl need to try out for a boys’ team if there is a girls’ team? If the goal is opportunity to play, in that scenario she has one. Why does she need to play on the boys’ team at all?

    If there is no girls’ team (for example, many schools do not have girls’ football teams) I can see making the case girls should be allowed to compete for an opportunity to play.

  • TA Dodger

    I understand what you’re trying to say with this article, but I think you could have picked a better example of using some varient of “woman” as an insult.

    How about one man calling another man a “bitch” or a “pussy” if he is perceived as weak or unmasculine? Notice that women are never insulted with terms that mean “man.”

    TA Dodger
    a girl who can’t throw

  • Now Victor, I like you and all, but you’re just so completely blindered by your frankly nonsensical egalitarian ideology that you’re just being SILLY. Yeah, a daughter of Muhammed Ali could absolutely put the hurt on ME, but even she- perhaps the top female fighter on the planet- probably wouldn’t last a round in the ring with ANY professional level male.

    I appreciate not wanting to hold women back artificially by telling them they can’t do things that they can- but it’s wrong about a dozen different directions to insist that people pretend that reality doesn’t exist, and to pretend that men and women are the same. They are not, and they have in some ways significantly different aptitudes, abilities and interests as a matter of genetics. That’s the facts, Jack.

    People sometimes use the phrase “you throw like a girl” because girls by and large clearly and obviously cannot throw as well as boys. It’s just foolish to pretend otherwise. No woman in the land is physically capable of actually competing in equal competition at the professional level of baseball, or such would be my estimation of reality. I would be highly impressed if a woman came along who could prove me wrong, and I would be happy to eat my words.

    And I find it difficult to believe that you honestly think that my view of women is in any way similar to wicked Muslims oppressing women. If there’s anyone oppressing women through their physical abilities, it’s God who made them weaker and more physically vulnerable. Wasn’t my idea.

    I’m not trying to promote some strictly defined idea of what is properly “masculine” and “feminine,” but your PC re-definition is, frankly, ridiculous and just wrong. You can say you define a dog as something that purrs and says meow, but it’s still a pussy.

  • Dan

    “Will Steinbrenner hire her or not?”

    Of course he would. She probably wouldn’t need such a stellar performance. If she could get a 100mph fast one across the plate, she would probably get hired just out of sheer novelty. If Steinbrenner was too stupid to take advantage of her talents, other managers would jump at the chance.

    It’s like tilting at sexist windmills to think otherwise.

  • The real sexism here from my viewpoint is the apparent idea of Victor’s that little girls are so fragile that a little phrase like “throws like a girl” would ruin their competitive ability. If there’s a girl who does NOT throw like a girl, then I’d expect her to take such comments as a challenge. Throw like a girl? I’ll show you!

  • Al, are you familiar with the line “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” from Hamlet? Well, oddly enough, I think it applies to your commentary.

    Equity is equity: it has no race, religion, or gender.

  • No Victor, I don’t see how that Hamlet quote in any way applies to me. However, Hamlet was the source of my domain name, and that quote might apply to your little egalitarian worldview “There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

    What’s this “equity” crap? There’s one thing of striving to have equality under the law, but that doesn’t mean that men and women are equal in nature. It doesn’t mean they have equal aptitudes, nor necessarily the same interests.

    And again, it’s pretty insulting to womankind to act like the least little mundane passing implicit acknowledgement of such things ie throwing like a girl is enough to hold them back. YOU are the one here treating them like the weaker sex.

    Whereas on the other hand, I would be a big advocate in particular of encouraging independence and strength for all. If’n y’all get to Indiana, I’d be happy to get together with you and start teaching your girl how to shoot a gun. Packing a pistol in her purse- and having the training and confidence to be able to handle it- would be a lot more valuable to her than throwing a damned baseball in the first place.

    I’m just saying that my kind of womenfolk aren’t meek little wimps who will be easily discouraged. Whereas on the basis of articles like this, I would more expect a daughter raised by you to give up and sit there all hurt cause some mean old guy said that girls can’t do this or that.

    Hopefully your girl is made of tougher stuff than that, and won’t allow herself to held back by her loving Daddy’s nonetheless foolish lefty ideological baggage.

  • Al, your comments (#34) prove my argument in comments (#33): you’re protesting way too much.
    Of course, you’re entitled to your POV as much as anyone is. Peace and happiness, man!

  • It’s all good, Brother Victor. However, I’d characterize YOUR column and comments as more the “protest” here. I’d call my comment 34 more clarification, but I think we’ve both pretty well explained our positions by this point.

  • I dunno, Victor, I gotta side with Mr. Barger here. I remember being on patrol at French Hill in the northern end of town, me and my carbine and blue cop’s uniform. This little thing from the Border Patrol (in khaki), with her M16 slung over her back, started making conversation with me. And then before continuing on her way to her post she slapped me on the back.

    Man! That hurt like a bitch!! I didn’t dare show any pain, and just smiled at her, but that little thing was nobody to mess with.

    Could she throw a baseball 100 mph? Who gives a crap? Let’s just say I wouldn’t want to have to have a violent argument with her.

    There ain’t nothing wrong with wanting the sky as the limit for your daughter. And there is nothing right with discriminating against women in pay or status on a given job or in opportunities in the job market, etc. Maybe one day your daughter will be floating around up there in a spaceship while you’re kvelling with pride. But she is a girl, and she has functions you don’t.

    If you really want to insult a woman, tell her she gives birth like a guy.

  • Ruvy, your line “If you really want to insult a woman, tell her she gives birth like a guy” is about one of the best I’ve read that sums up the male-female situation. Thanks!

  • Oh Ruvy- you’re breaking my heart. How could you be so cruel? I wanted to give birth to a child, and now you’re telling me that I couldn’t do it as well as a woman. Look, it’s not my fault that I’m a man. Plus, men and women should be equal. I do NOT appreciate you discouraging me like this. Why are you such a sexist?

  • TA Dodger

    well, I support your right to have babies

  • Thank you for your support, TA. In response to your comment #29, I might still confess to a lack of proper automatic outrage at all uses of the terms “bitch” or “pussy.” Depends a lot on how they’re used. Note for starters that never would it be a perjorative to call a woman a “pussy.” That seems to be only an insult as applied to a man. It’s not an insult in the same way to say that a woman has one- they’re SUPPOSED to.

    Also, I fear that I risk my credentials as a gentleman in the necessary service of properly praising the wondrous skills of Sinead O’Connor, who is as good a singer as there is.

    But that doesn’t properly pay tribute to her skillz, so I find myself saying stuff like that Sinead O’Connor is the singingest bitch walking the Earth.

    To whom might I plead for forgiveness for this sin against womankind and all of humanity?

  • I too support Al’s right to have babies, but I bet he won’t want us to call him Loretta.

  • Actually Victor, if I could have a baby, Loretta would be just fine- or you could call me “June” or “Dolly.” Just don’t call me Natalie Maines.

  • Great post! And it is very telling that “girl” remains (in many arenas) still a term of abuse.

    But men won’t ultimately be able to keep women out of “male” sports. How can you justify the restrictions on an individual’s earning capacity and opportunities just because of gender discrimination?

    And imagine the first woman to play football (soccer) for Manchester United. British football clubs have for some years been chasing players from East Asia because of their potential marketing power. Just imagine the marketing power of that woman.

    The clubs, and equal opportunity laws, will make it happen.

  • Problem is Natalie, women and men are not in fact equal. “Equal opportunity” under the LAW we can work on, but for women to be GOOD enough to play professional soccer or football they would have to not be chicks.

    Your problem isn’t the law, nor mean ol’ Al: it’s GOD. If you can get the courts to apply their demands for equal opportunity to the deity, then women might start qualifying as firemen and football players.

    Now, I can imagine some of your more pinko courts presuming to make such a presumption of jurisdiction. Perhaps the famous San Francisco 9th District Court of Appeals would make rulings demanding that God make men and women equal, ordering a re-design offering women equal physical strength to men- and giving me the ability to have a baby.

    The obvious problem, of course: How are they going to enforce their edict?

  • TA Dodger

    Re: #41
    Al, I followed this link you included in your first response to this post, and I think calling Sinead O’Connor the “singingest bitch walking the earth” is probably the least of your problems. I’d be more concerned with the fact that you refer to women who get abortions as “whores” and gay men you don’t like as “fags.”

    To be honest, I’m not sure you’re too concerned with your credentials as a gentleman.

    Also it would be pejorative to refer to a woman as a “pussy” just like it would be pejorative for me to call you a dick.

  • TA, I’m sitting on the sidelines enjoying the comments, but I had to give you the award (nothing substantial but the recognition) for best comment for this post. Thanks!

  • TA, you have absolutely no just cause for being offended (#46). You carefully take the two words “whore” and “fag” out of context to pump them up. You’re carefully not getting the point of what I’m writing.

    It obviously does not apply to every every woman who gets an abortion (and I emphasize that I am pro-choice). Nonetheless there are irresponsible whores, dumb slut titty dancers getting multiple abortions. I might have to tolerate this, but it is totally appropriate to express moral disapproval of such behavior.

    That is certainly NOT a sign of prejudice or generalized disdain for womankind, and it strikes me as less than honest to try to paint it as such. I was making a pretty clear distinction there, and with the Act Up group, and I find it hard to believe you read the story and didn’t get that.

    “Bad form” as Dustin Hoffman’s Captain Hook would say.

  • Scott Butki

    Victor – Excellent piece. And this is exactly the type of discussion I aspire to have when I start teaching. What grade do you
    teach? It is interesting to watch those reactions.

    I recently did some student teaching in a primary grade. As part of a lesson democracy I asked the students who wanted to
    vote on something to stand. Everyone stood. Then I told the girls to sit down.
    I asked, “Ok, how does that make you feel, the idea that you can’t vote because you’re a girl?”
    I explained about women’s belated right to vote and had them talk and write on the question: Should girls be allowed to vote?

    I Was pleased they – even the boys – not only said yes but some said the girls are nicer and smarter and might make better

    Now if only they would hold on to those positions as they get older….

  • You’re going to be a great teacher, Scott (judging from your little experiement). I’ve taught all levels (4th grade to 12th grade and most recently at the college level) and there is so much you can do with this kind of topic.

    Here is another little experiment you might enjoy. It goes like this:

    Tell the class they’re going to choose a class president. Have everyone write down on a piece of paper the name of a person he or she wants to nominate. You collect the papers and go through them, discarding this one and that while saying, “No, this one is out. This one too.”

    Finally, when the class is going crazy about why some were disqualified, you say, “Those people can’t run for president because they have blue eyes.” Wait for the reaction. You’ll love it!

  • Scott Butki

    Thanks, Victor.

    Yes, I did an experiment like that too to teach a class about discrimination.
    I recreated the classic experiment where some are
    given something special while others are not.

    Then as some are outraged and others feel guilty I ask all of them to try to express what they are feeling.

    Second grade, fourth grade and sixth grade students – each in separate experiments by me – all had smart things to say.

    The only problem.. it’s so well known that in each case one student would say, “Oh you doing the thing where some get something and the others dont but later we all get it?”

    Um, you be quiet.

  • Scott Butki

    Dang did I kill the conversation?

  • No, Scott, it’s just I don’t stay on top of the posts after a time. You’re always going to have one or more students who thinks he/she knows what’s happening. Throw a monkey in the wrench and change the dynamics somehow. It will still work if you keep it fresh.

    Example: a science teacher I know starts off one class a year by showing the students three test tubes filled with liquid (one orange, one blue, and one yellow).

    He tells them that the orange and blue are chemical solutions and the yellow is a urine sample. Before the class is over, he drinks the urine sample. After all the screaming and yelling, he reveals it was only lemonade. The aim is to think about observation and experimentation (and have some fun too).

  • Scott Butki

    Oh my god, that is too funny!

  • Scott Butki

    I want to try to revive this one since it was such a great piece.

  • If you’ll excuse me, I’d just like to submit two thoughts. One, I am in the army and there is a female in my squad who is quite good at doing physical training. she runs her two miles faster than most men I know and she does more pushups, however(!) despite all this she cannot manage the simplest of carries for wounded comrades. The weakest male in my squad can do every lift no problem and although they may not be able to run as fast or do as many pushups, I know who I would want with me if I were wounded.
    Last: As a student of karate and a member of the army I’ve met my share of tough people. However, the single toughest was a woman teaching Goju Ryu karate. This woman could flatten you with a glance and was truly dedicated to her art. Out of all the people I might end up fighting, she might be the last I would ever try to take on.

  • that was so ngood

  • Mint

    I was with you until “women… can be: the best of the best in almost everything that men can do, except for starting wars.”

    That is a bigoted statement despite the fact that in the past men may have been the best at starting wars.

  • You can call it bigoted, but the spirit of the statement is clearly true, even to you. So, if you want to continue to identify your ego with the the assigned gender roles, you will continue to be offended by the truth.

    The masculine gender role has been an indoctrination into might and power.

    Example 1

    Example 2

    Women: I don’t recommend attempting to be “equal” by adopting the view that developing proficiency in things men do is the way to go about it. Though, of course, you are fully capable of doing all that, why would you want to?

  • Gender roles aren’t assigned; that would require an assigner.

    At the stereotype rather than specific individual level, men and women are different.

  • There is an assignor–the culture.

  • That could only be true if “the culture” existed outside of humanity. It seems to me that culture reflects human thought not creates it, otherwise social evolution would not be possible.

    The culture will – and does – change as people change and clearly things are progressing over time; that is the nature of evolution after all.

    That said, I don’t think a true equivalence of men and women is either possible or probably even desirable. Surely if they were exactly equivalent, then gender would have become irrelevant?

  • Cindy, a good discussion re: the concept of gender as cultural concept is in the Donna Haraway book I linked to way earlier. I believe you ordered another book by her as well. Some of her thoughts on the subject might be pertinent to this discussion.