Girls Can Be Boyish, But Opposite Not True
by John Lawrence, April 16, 2018
There's nothing girls can't do any more and be looked down on for it. For instance, they can engage in traditional boyish sports like baseball, basketball, even martial arts. They can wear boys' clothes. No big deal. They can go into the military and fight on the front lines. They can have a career as a boxer. The reverse is not true, however. Boys cannot wear girls' clothes without being frowned on. They cannot play with dolls. They cannot do flower arranging without being considered effeminate.
CNN did a wonderful article on this. It's by a mother whose son wanted to wear a My Little Pony sweatshirt to school. His mother had to explain to him that he would be looked down upon, maybe even bullied, for doing this. The little boy thought it unfair because girls could wear boys' clothing with impunity. The article goes on:
Meanwhile, there's still not a single traditionally feminine thing a boy can do that wouldn't raise eyebrows. A boy who likes wearing jewelry or makeup, twirling in a tutu or caring for baby dolls is at best the subject of conversations conducted sotto voce. At worst: a bully's target.
The tomboy phenomenon is more than 400 years old and has gone from outsider to aspirational to anachronistic over the course of the 20th century; the tomgirl remains a nonstarter. Describe a boy with a phrase that includes the word "girl" in it, and you're likely to make his parents' spines quiver, including those of many of the feminist dads I know
Parents are increasingly giving their daughters boy names like James and Finn; few among us would dare give our sons a girl name, because pity the boy named Jenn or Sofia. Girls fought and won the right to join the Boy Scouts; I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for boys to gain entry to the Girl Scouts.
So boys and men are still locked into toxic definitions of boyhood and manhood. It's still not OK for a boy to be girlish, but it is OK for a girl to be boyish. It's OK for a girl to have a "take charge" attitude. In fact it's encouraged. Girls are encouraged that there is nothing that they shouldn't aspire to most of which have traditional male values associated with them. They can be captains of industry, CEOs, Generals, Admirals, superheroes. However, it is still frowned upon for boys to be nurses or caregivers or flower arrangers, traditional girlie occupations. The key to the difference here is that traditional girl values, including playing with dolls, manifest the caring and loving attitudes that we traditionally associate with girls and women. Child rearing, clearly associated with women while the man "brings home the bacon", is associated with love and nurturing, not traditionally male values.
Women aren't having that any more. Instead of caring and nurturing children and people that need help like old people, girls are encouraged to enter the traditional male occupations that require aggressiveness and competitiveness. They are encouraged to be as ruthless as men. Men are still required to be as ruthless as they've always been so that the world we're creating is mono polar in terms of values. Only traditional male values shall prevail for both boys and girls, men and women.
This is especially true in the US which leads to the whole society espousing guns, fighting and warfare as solutions to every problem. May the best man or woman win. No one sticks up for the traditional feminine values of love and compassion and peace. American movies are all about violence and aggression. Wonder Woman will take out the bad guys just as well as any man could do it. The article states, "Girls have been told that they can do anything, be anything, and they largely can, without judgment. However -- and here's the catch -- that's true only if they are physically strong and career-oriented and eschew most of the traditional trappings of femininity. In short, they will gain respect if they act like boys."
Raewyn Connell, author of "Masculinities," said many teenage boys still feel as though they must avoid any signs of weakness or femininity. This, in turn, feeds homophobia, because gay men are associated with the parts of themselves that they feel they must suppress.
"With teenage boys, the search for respect and recognition often results in exaggerated displays of dominating masculinity: the football hero, the first guy in the peer group who smokes, the playground bully, etc.," Connell said. This is often accompanied by "a stark rejection of 'girl things.' "
Redefining masculinity would encompass making it manly to be nurturing, loving and care giving. It would make peace a dominant characteristic instead of war. It would encourage diplomacy and conflict resolution instead of fighting. In short it would require men to exhibit and display more of the traditional feminine attitudes. If girls can be more masculine and fierce with impunity, boys should be able to be and should be more understanding and accepting of themselves and others, less willing to fight as a means of resolving conflict. If the world is to become more peaceful, girls and women should stand up for the traditional feminine values instead of adopting male values and boys and men should be able to adopt a more traditionally feminine value system. Then maybe we can have peace in the world.