Boys will be boys

Bianca Scofield

Last week we examined Martin’s study on gender in preschools. In Martin’s study, we can see that girls are restricted both verbally and physically. These restrictions eventually lead to society devaluing women’s voice and opinions as well as viewing women as subordinate and less capable. However, I believe that the preschool teachers in Martin’s study are causing much more harm to society by not restricting the boys physically and verbally. By not restricting boys at a young age as much as girls, society is creating an environment where boys think they are able to do what they please without consequences for their actions. This is in part why men are so much more violent and aggressive than women.

I would like to first relate this back to my own experiences with men. I don’t believe that women and men are that different from each other. I have had two long-term boyfriends and of course a couple guy friends and I know we have many of the same thoughts, goals, and feelings. However, I do vividly remember one of my first encounter with “Guyland”. Growing up I had two best friends: Brain and John. Unlike the playgroups that Adams mentions in her chapter, our playgroup was not separated by gender. Brian, John, and I were really friends since birth and we would do everything together. The activities we would do would not be limited by my gender because we generally played gender-neutral games such as hide-and-seek. Everyone used to call us “the triplets” because we looked similar and treated each other as though we were siblings (I have added a picture of Brain, John, and I as kids at the bottom). My immersion into Guyland occurred on the first day of kindergarten. At playtime Brian and John were at the Lego table with two other boys so I walked over to join. Immediately John turns to me and says, “No, you’re a girl”. I was shocked I had never been excluded before, but now in the presence of other boys I was no longer allowed to play with them. Still to this day, I am sometimes insulted in this very way. Any girl who has dated a guy can tell you that their boyfriend acted differently in front of his friends than with her alone. Sometimes the difference is night and day. Men act this way to prove to other men that they still have their manhood intact even if they have a girlfriend. This is my biggest pet peeve when it comes to men and was the start to many needless fights with previous boyfriends…

In regards to the articles, in my opinion men have a much more complicated and confusing gender identity than that of women. Now, don’t get me wrong, women, by all means, do not have it easy, as we discussed last week. Men just have a more fragile gender identity that they constantly have to protect. As discussed by both Kimmel and Adams, men protect their masculinity through rejecting all things society considers feminine and through violence and aggression. The only emotion that men are allowed to express is anger. Now when it comes to making and maintaining a family, men are often at a loss because they have been taught to be emotionless. To be a contributing member of a family and a father, a man needs to have emotions and to show those emotions to his children. However, when a man has been fully socialized into Guyland, he will most likely socialize his own children as well, creating a cycle that perpetuates gender inequality in society.

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notice the skirt (Martin)…

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Us now..

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One thought on “Boys will be boys

  1. Brittany Juliano

    Your personal stories are very relatable. I know the feeling very well that men will act shockingly differently around their group of male friends than with me. It has always frustrated me because it feels as though I do not know which of their personalities is real. “Boys and Men in Families” gave me a new perspective by stating explicitly that boys are socialized to think of masculinity as the opposite of femininity. I have read “Guyland” previously, which outlines the social pressures males feel from other males, but this second reading added the pressure felt from the home. Boys feel the pressure to deny their association with girls for fear of being perceived as girls themselves. Your example with the legos exemplifies this, and it truly is shocking how early this relationship between the sexes develops. Even scarier is the implication that a boy’s relationship with a girl only then exists in an ownership capacity. And you were only in kindergarten.

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