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How do you define gender?


MercyA
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2 minutes ago, SlowRiver said:

People who are really into these kinds of identities, in my experience, are quite happy to say they can be temporary.

 

Well...I think that's not necessarily so. There are certainly a lot of kids trying on identities, and it's not unusual to hear of kids changing around with some frequency, and you'll see it on their social medias as such, and those labels change. But, for other people who feel it deeper and more persistently, it can be a point of frustration and contention when they hear people say that it's temporary, particularly with the ace label, because there can be an undercurrent that they will change their mind if they just have the right person to change it, and people bristle at that. It's similar to the trope that lesbians sometimes have to hear from men who think that they can change a woman from lesbian to straight 🙄.

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2 hours ago, LMD said:

Yeah, and leaving the clitoris off diagrams. Way to be sex positive - if by sex positive they mean 'available for use by a male'

Wow...i didn’t know that was done. 

That’s one of my favorite organs!

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19 minutes ago, KSera said:

Well...I think that's not necessarily so. There are certainly a lot of kids trying on identities, and it's not unusual to hear of kids changing around with some frequency, and you'll see it on their social medias as such, and those labels change. But, for other people who feel it deeper and more persistently, it can be a point of frustration and contention when they hear people say that it's temporary, particularly with the ace label, because there can be an undercurrent that they will change their mind if they just have the right person to change it, and people bristle at that. It's similar to the trope that lesbians sometimes have to hear from men who think that they can change a woman from lesbian to straight 🙄.

But is there some sort of evidence that not feeling sexual attraction is a similar kind of thing to having a sexual orientation mainly towards male or female? And that it is very commonly a lifelong thing that can't be changed? Because if it's not a similar mechanism, or similarly often persistent over a lifetime, it's not actually the same kind of thing, and it may well be a perfectly reasonable thing to say.

Libido is often something that changes significantly over a lifetime, and unless there is a medical reason to think it won't why would anyone just decide to take it on as some kind of permanent identity label? 

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25 minutes ago, KSera said:

Well...I think that's not necessarily so. There are certainly a lot of kids trying on identities, and it's not unusual to hear of kids changing around with some frequency, and you'll see it on their social medias as such, and those labels change. But, for other people who feel it deeper and more persistently, it can be a point of frustration and contention when they hear people say that it's temporary, particularly with the ace label, because there can be an undercurrent that they will change their mind if they just have the right person to change it, and people bristle at that. It's similar to the trope that lesbians sometimes have to hear from men who think that they can change a woman from lesbian to straight 🙄.

It does kind of bug me to hear ace or demi ID's compared to gay and lesbian struggles. 

Yes, there is social pressure to pair up, but c'mon, I've said to my kids, being gay was ILLEGAL. 

I'm yet to see any laws on the books criminalizing the desire not to have sex, or to get to know one's partner before sex. 

I find it a bit disrespectful, and very appropriative. 

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4 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

It does kind of bug me to hear ace or demi ID's compared to gay and lesbian struggles. 

Yes, there is social pressure to pair up, but c'mon, I've said to my kids, being gay was ILLEGAL. 

I'm yet to see any laws on the books criminalizing the desire not to have sex, or to get to know one's partner before sex. 

I find it a bit disrespectful, and very appropriative. 

Yes.  There have also long been socially accepted ways to be celibate.  ETA: And *getting to know your partner before sex* has actually been the social norm or the social ideal in much of western culture for quite sometime.  We have tended to shame at least women who are willing to engage in casual sex.  

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7 minutes ago, LucyStoner said:

Yes.  There have also long been socially accepted ways to be celibate.  

sure, one could be a nun. But it must be difficult for a young person today to acknowledge that they have no interest in sex, in this sex-saturated culture. I think some will be happy to have a label because this sort of legitimizes their non-existent sexual desire. It probably alleviates the feeling of being deficient and lacking. If being asexual is a thing, they don't need to be fixed because they're not broken. It removes the pathology.

 

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1 minute ago, regentrude said:

sure, one could be a nun. But it must be difficult for a young person today to acknowledge that they have no interest in sex, in this sex-saturated culture. I think some will be happy to have a label because this sort of legitimizes their non-existent sexual desire. It probably alleviates the feeling of being deficient and lacking. If being asexual is a thing, they don't need to be fixed because they're not broken. It removes the pathology.

 

Sure. 

Which is not the same as removing baked in discrimination against you in law.

I do find it odd, however, that asexuality is apparently increasing in the young - that runs counter to our evolutionary biology, which sees libido highest in young, sexually mature humans. 

Basically, I don't care about ppl choosing not to have sex. It's not like it has any great implications for their physical wellbeing. It's pretty much my identity - if that's how I thought - at the moment, so I'm not anti ace. More just...ok...whatever. 

 

 

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4 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

I do find it odd, however, that asexuality is apparently increasing in the young - that runs counter to our evolutionary biology, which sees libido highest in young, sexually mature humans. 

Do we know whether it is actually increasing or whether having a specific label for it just makes it easier for young people to admit that they don't care about sex?
I suspect there is probably also a counter-cultural component involved that is a backlash against our society's saturation with sex.

(ETA: It can be painful for an adult woman. I shudder to think how much grief they give you as a teen. No, not wanting sex isn't illegal, but I don't want to imagine the bullying.... teens are vicious)

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1 minute ago, regentrude said:

Do we know whether it is actually increasing or whether having a specific label for it just makes it easier for young people to admit that they don't care about sex?
I suspect there is probably also a counter-cultural component involved that is a backlash against our society's saturation with sex.

True, we don't. 

I think it's mostly a backlash phenomenon. 

I'd imagine that asexuality as a stable trait across the lifespan is relatively rare, just because, as mammals, it doesn't make sense for it to be common. 

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1 minute ago, Melissa Louise said:

I'd imagine that asexuality as a stable trait across the lifespan is relatively rare, just because, as mammals, it doesn't make sense for it to be common. 

I tend to agree.
Most persons who choose the ace label are quite young; chances are it may be a temporary thing for them. (For older women who find themselves in this situation, I am not so sure)

Of course there is also the possibility that libido is affected large-scale by the hormones and hormone mimicking chemicals that flood our environment. We have no idea what all this residue is doing to our bodies.

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42 minutes ago, regentrude said:

sure, one could be a nun. But it must be difficult for a young person today to acknowledge that they have no interest in sex, in this sex-saturated culture. I think some will be happy to have a label because this sort of legitimizes their non-existent sexual desire. It probably alleviates the feeling of being deficient and lacking. If being asexual is a thing, they don't need to be fixed because they're not broken. It removes the pathology.

 

I get that but not all orientations have experienced or continue to experience the same level of oppression. Not all social pressure is the same.  

Demisexuals, sapiosexuals, asexuals do not need to fear criminal charges, chemical castration or physical violence.  It wasn’t that long ago when Alan Turing was prosecuted.  To this day in some parts of the world gays and lesbians still face criminal charges to say nothing of physical violence and harassment that can and still does happen in even very progressive places.  

My brother was, not two weeks ago, harassed downtown and called nasty names by three men in a car while he was walking alone because he was perceived as being queer.  My brother is physically disabled- being yelled at by a group of men in a car feels dangerous because it is dangerous.  Being asexual or demisexual doesn’t, to my knowledge often attract that kind of attention and it’s not going to get you arrested in Russia or Nigeria either…that is what I mean when I consider it a bit appropriative for people to liken every sexuality they can conceive of with being gay or lesbian.  

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There is some argument in social anthropology that homosexuality only came to exist as an identity because homosexual activity wasn't allowed, either legally or socially in the mainstream. Many cultures don't have a concept of it even though they may have lots of people having sex with people of the same sex.

And there are also questions about whether sexuality is as biologically fixed as we have tended to say over the past 30 years or so. Apart from outliers who seem to experience changes for no apparent reason, there are also significantly variable pattens of behaviour across cultures, where in some it seems to be clearly a cultural practice rather than some sort of fixed orientation. So it looks like there is some capacity in human beings for movement in this area and we don't really understand how any of it works.

Nonetheless, labels like demisexual really seem to be quite a different kind of thing, more like a code for describing a persons sexual interests. It's much more evident when you look at the list of these kinds of descriptors, they become very specific. 

They seem about as useful as saying "I'm attracted to husky fellows with beards but I don't go to bed with people other than my husband, - and some of them are close to that specific. Having a code for that sort of thing might be fine, except thatpeople seem to treat them with a weight, in terms of identity and also in terms of being some kind of characteristic that needs to be affirmed, that they don't merit and isn't particularly healthy.

Edited by SlowRiver
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4 minutes ago, SlowRiver said:

There is some argument in social anthropology that homosexuality only came to exist as an identity because homosexual activity wasn't allowed, either legally or socially in the mainstream. Many cultures don't have a concept of it even though they may have lots of people having sex with people of the same sex.

And there are also questions about whether sexuality is as biologically fixed as we have tended to say over the past 30 years or so. Apart from outliers who seem to experience changes for no apparent reason, there are also significantly variable pattens of behaviour across cultures, where in some it seems to be clearly a cultural practice rather than some sort of fixed orientation. So it looks like there is some capacity in human beings for movement in this area and we don't really understand how any of it works.

Nonetheless, labels like demisexual really seem to be quite a different kind of thing, more like a code for describing a persons sexual interests. It's much more evident when you look at the list of these kinds of descriptors, they become very specific. 

They seem about as useful as saying "I'm attracted to husky fellows with beards but I don't go to bed with people other than my husband, - and some of them are close to that specific. Having a code for that sort of thing might be fine, except thatpeople seem to treat them with a weight, in terms of identity and also in terms of being some kind of characteristic that needs to be affirmed, that they don't merit and isn't particularly healthy.

I’ve seen some people advance the notion that at least for sexuality, the Kinsey scale would be more meaningful information than the various identity labels that have become hard to parse.  

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I am 45 years old.  I have never had a crush, never experienced sexual attraction, never experienced sexual desire or pleasure.  I have a good marriage, but it was very much a conscious decision to do things for the desire of emotional and social companionship and because I wanted children.  

I've come to believe that for me, it's just who I am and how I'm wired, the same way other people are gay or straight.  

Don't quote, might delete.  

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When I became aware that it was likely how I was wired and not just a temporary thing, it was distressing for a long time, because there was no label at the time.  I went from doctor to doctor to counselor to counselor asking, "Could I just be asexual?" thinking I had coined the term, and everyone said that wasn't a thing.  When I first heard someone else use it, around 2010, when I was in my 30's, it was a huge relief.  

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It’s so odd that people would say it didn’t exist - I’ve seen the term asexual in use as long as I’ve been aware of sex.  I can imagine that being told that it didn’t exist would be very hard for people who experience it.  

I didn’t feel strong sexual attraction until I met my husband.  Though, because of my trauma history I can’t be sure that it wasn’t part of that for me.  It’s not uncommon for CSA survivors to either be hyper sexual or absolutely put off by it entirely.  It took me a long time to feel safe.  For over a decade into our marriage, in the earliest moments of wakefulness before I was fully aware of myself, I would not infrequently startle to see my husband in bed and demand to know who he was.  That has abated.  Waking me trusted him, sleeping me trusted no one.  

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2 hours ago, SlowRiver said:

But is there some sort of evidence that not feeling sexual attraction is a similar kind of thing to having a sexual orientation mainly towards male or female? And that it is very commonly a lifelong thing that can't be changed? Because if it's not a similar mechanism, or similarly often persistent over a lifetime, it's not actually the same kind of thing, and it may well be a perfectly reasonable thing to say.

Libido is often something that changes significantly over a lifetime, and unless there is a medical reason to think it won't why would anyone just decide to take it on as some kind of permanent identity label? 

It’s on a different dimension than orientation. One can be asexual, but attracted to men, women, or both. Or there can be no romantic attraction either. The permutations seem almost infinite at this point. 

2 hours ago, Melissa Louise said:

It does kind of bug me to hear ace or demi ID's compared to gay and lesbian struggles. 

Yes, there is social pressure to pair up, but c'mon, I've said to my kids, being gay was ILLEGAL. 

I'm yet to see any laws on the books criminalizing the desire not to have sex, or to get to know one's partner before sex. 

I find it a bit disrespectful, and very appropriative. 

I think a lot of people who are ace are also gay. I agree it’s a whole different thing. It’s definitely considered an identity among many of those professing it though, but this conversation does make me consider if that really makes sense (is it just a measure of libido, with those who are ace being near the zero end of the scale, or is it something else?) My dc flies their ace flag along with their pride flag. They have experienced pain because of it, because they find it’s hard to find a partner when you’re ace, and they’d dearly like a partner. 

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I’m not sure why your dd couldn’t have it both ways — there is no reason you can’t compliment a person for her intelligence and her sense of humor and how great she was at a sport or a hobby, but also frequently tell her how beautiful she is. I agree that focusing only on physical appearance is a bad idea, but hardly ever mentioning it might lead your dd to believe that you’re not complimenting her because she isn’t attractive enough. I’m sure your dd looks lovely a lot more often than on special occasions, so what’s the harm in telling her she looks great in her new outfit on any normal day, or that her new eyeshadow brings out her beautiful eyes, or whatever?

I disagree 100% to all of this, but most especially “...frequently tell her how beautiful she is.” Ugh. Just no. 

For one thing, it amounts to pressure. It amounts to a person - females more-so - thinking they will be less praise-worthy if/when they look less beautiful than they did before. Any number of things happen to make that true: stretch marks, dental problems, grey hairs, sun effects on the skin, a bad bout of acne, and on and on, not to mention that literally everyone loses some classic elements of beauty as they age. 

Plus it’s just a strange thing to frequently compliment your child on because they didn’t do anything to make a nice combination of genetic features happen to fall into place. It’s also troubling when (as I did) you grow up with three sisters. Because someone is going to have the most-attractive arrangement of genetic features and someone is going to have the least. If you constantly compliment prettiness in your four daughters, one of those girls will think she is the least pretty and one will think she is the most. 

Also, back to the point about pressure. My mother did not only say I was beautiful a jillion times before breakfast, but she also lauded my talents and brains and how well I conformed to “the image of Christ”. To do this to your kids is pressure. It leads to perfectionism and desperate fear of withdrawal of approval - ask me how I know. 

For my own kids, and my daughter in particular, there is no chance at all of them thinking that since mom didn’t say how beautiful/handsome they are a dozen times a day, they maybe aren’t good-looking at all. They will get tons of social feedback on how pleasing they are to look at, not to mention they will look in the mirror and will draw a conclusion based on what looks back. I think most kids view compliments from mom as dubious anyway. 

My mom means to boost me; I’m sure her heart is in the right place. But I don’t like it. She is always assessing me, always measuring me up. I really dislike it. She tries to get other people to see me that way, too, which I hate. 

And now I’m going to post this and go to bed, but pages have gone by and for all I know we’re now talking about how monkeys behave in captivity or something. 

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Just now, KSera said:

It’s on a different dimension than orientation. One can be asexual, but attracted to men, women, or both. Or there can be no romantic attraction either. The permutations seem almost infinite at this point. 

I think a lot of people who are ace are also gay. I agree it’s a whole different thing. It’s definitely considered an identity among many of those professing it though, but this conversation does make me consider if that really makes sense (is it just a measure of libido, with those who are ace being near the zero end of the scale, or is it something else?) My dc flies their ace flag along with their pride flag. They have experienced pain because of it, because they find it’s hard to find a partner when you’re ace, and they’d dearly like a partner. 

I'm sorry they have experienced pain 🙁 Relationships are hard, and wanting a platonic relationship really narrows the dating pool. 

I don't think it makes sense for it to be an identity, as such, any more than any other difficulty we experience with relationships, causing us pain, is an identity. But I also don't usually think about it much one way or the other. 

 

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2 minutes ago, Quill said:

I disagree 100% to all of this, but most especially “...frequently tell her how beautiful she is.” Ugh. Just no. 

For one thing, it amounts to pressure. It amounts to a person - females more-so - thinking they will be less praise-worthy if/when they look less beautiful than they did before. Any number of things happen to make that true: stretch marks, dental problems, grey hairs, sun effects on the skin, a bad bout of acne, and on and on, not to mention that literally everyone loses some classic elements of beauty as they age. 

Plus it’s just a strange thing to frequently compliment your child on because they didn’t do anything to make a nice combination of genetic features happen to fall into place. It’s also troubling when (as I did) you grow up with three sisters. Because someone is going to have the most-attractive arrangement of genetic features and someone is going to have the least. If you constantly compliment prettiness in your four daughters, one of those girls will think she is the least pretty and one will think she is the most. 

Also, back to the point about pressure. My mother did not only say I was beautiful a jillion times before breakfast, but she also lauded my talents and brains and how well I conformed to “the image of Christ”. To do this to your kids is pressure. It leads to perfectionism and desperate fear of withdrawal of approval - ask me how I know. 

For my own kids, and my daughter in particular, there is no chance at all of them thinking that since mom didn’t say how beautiful/handsome they are a dozen times a day, they maybe aren’t good-looking at all. They will get tons of social feedback on how pleasing they are to look at, not to mention they will look in the mirror and will draw a conclusion based on what looks back. I think most kids view compliments from mom as dubious anyway. 

My mom means to boost me; I’m sure her heart is in the right place. But I don’t like it. She is always assessing me, always measuring me up. I really dislike it. She tries to get other people to see me that way, too, which I hate. 

And now I’m going to post this and go to bed, but pages have gone by and for all I know we’re now talking about how monkeys behave in captivity or something. 

And then, otoh, you've got my middle daughter who has grown up to resent that I didn't tell her how pretty she is, sigh. 

I put it in the category of mums can't win. 

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Just now, Melissa Louise said:

And then, otoh, you've got my middle daughter who has grown up to resent that I didn't tell her how pretty she is, sigh. 

I put it in the category of mums can't win. 

Well that could be true: moms can’t win. 

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39 minutes ago, Quill said:

I disagree 100% to all of this, but most especially “...frequently tell her how beautiful she is.” Ugh. Just no. 

For one thing, it amounts to pressure. It amounts to a person - females more-so - thinking they will be less praise-worthy if/when they look less beautiful than they did before. Any number of things happen to make that true: stretch marks, dental problems, grey hairs, sun effects on the skin, a bad bout of acne, and on and on, not to mention that literally everyone loses some classic elements of beauty as they age. 

Plus it’s just a strange thing to frequently compliment your child on because they didn’t do anything to make a nice combination of genetic features happen to fall into place. It’s also troubling when (as I did) you grow up with three sisters. Because someone is going to have the most-attractive arrangement of genetic features and someone is going to have the least. If you constantly compliment prettiness in your four daughters, one of those girls will think she is the least pretty and one will think she is the most. 

Also, back to the point about pressure. My mother did not only say I was beautiful a jillion times before breakfast, but she also lauded my talents and brains and how well I conformed to “the image of Christ”. To do this to your kids is pressure. It leads to perfectionism and desperate fear of withdrawal of approval - ask me how I know. 

For my own kids, and my daughter in particular, there is no chance at all of them thinking that since mom didn’t say how beautiful/handsome they are a dozen times a day, they maybe aren’t good-looking at all. They will get tons of social feedback on how pleasing they are to look at, not to mention they will look in the mirror and will draw a conclusion based on what looks back. I think most kids view compliments from mom as dubious anyway. 

My mom means to boost me; I’m sure her heart is in the right place. But I don’t like it. She is always assessing me, always measuring me up. I really dislike it. She tries to get other people to see me that way, too, which I hate. 

And now I’m going to post this and go to bed, but pages have gone by and for all I know we’re now talking about how monkeys behave in captivity or something. 

Well, I guess we will have to agree to disagree.

I grew up in a family that has always complimented each others’ appearances, and we all turned out just fine. No pressure. No competition. Lots of self-confidence. No worries that anyone is assessing us and no worries that we won’t measure up. 

And I totally disagree with you that it’s “strange” to compliment our children on their looks. Who cares that they didn’t “do anything” to look the way they do? Why would that matter? In our family, it would be very strange not to compliment our own kids, and our friends and extended family all seem to be the same way with their kids, as well. We compliment them on all kinds of things, like how smart they are, how funny they are, and how they did such a nice thing for someone, or any number of other things. Heck, we compliment each others’ kids, too. It’s normal for us. And really, there is no pressure. There is nothing to “live up to.” It’s just kindness — and if I think my kid, or one of my nieces or nephews, looks great today, of course I’m going to tell them. Why wouldn’t I? 

I feel kind of sorry for your mom. I’ll bet she has no idea that you feel any resentment toward her, and that you feel like she is assessing you or measuring you up or putting pressure on you. She probably just loves you so much, and she would think you were beautiful no matter how you looked. 

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45 minutes ago, Quill said:

I disagree 100% to all of this, but most especially “...frequently tell her how beautiful she is.” Ugh. Just no. 

For one thing, it amounts to pressure. It amounts to a person - females more-so - thinking they will be less praise-worthy if/when they look less beautiful than they did before. Any number of things happen to make that true: stretch marks, dental problems, grey hairs, sun effects on the skin, a bad bout of acne, and on and on, not to mention that literally everyone loses some classic elements of beauty as they age. 

Plus it’s just a strange thing to frequently compliment your child on because they didn’t do anything to make a nice combination of genetic features happen to fall into place. It’s also troubling when (as I did) you grow up with three sisters. Because someone is going to have the most-attractive arrangement of genetic features and someone is going to have the least. If you constantly compliment prettiness in your four daughters, one of those girls will think she is the least pretty and one will think she is the most. 

Also, back to the point about pressure. My mother did not only say I was beautiful a jillion times before breakfast, but she also lauded my talents and brains and how well I conformed to “the image of Christ”. To do this to your kids is pressure. It leads to perfectionism and desperate fear of withdrawal of approval - ask me how I know. 

For my own kids, and my daughter in particular, there is no chance at all of them thinking that since mom didn’t say how beautiful/handsome they are a dozen times a day, they maybe aren’t good-looking at all. They will get tons of social feedback on how pleasing they are to look at, not to mention they will look in the mirror and will draw a conclusion based on what looks back. I think most kids view compliments from mom as dubious anyway. 

My mom means to boost me; I’m sure her heart is in the right place. But I don’t like it. She is always assessing me, always measuring me up. I really dislike it. She tries to get other people to see me that way, too, which I hate. 

And now I’m going to post this and go to bed, but pages have gone by and for all I know we’re now talking about how monkeys behave in captivity or something. 

I'm inclined to agree with this.

In general, I try to follow the advice of growth mindset researchers who recommend praise be directed towards things within a child's control not outside of it and towards effort more than outcome.

When I do praise appearance I try to make it more about things the child has some control over--"that outfit looks really nice on you" (child made an effort to put together a nice outfit), "you did a nice job with that makeup/hairstyle/(etc.)"--things that reinforce the idea that the kid has some control over presenting a nice appearance. I'm also fond of "I love your smile." I grew up with a mother who both never praised and who thought that trying to meet social expectations in dress and grooming was nonsense--there are all sorts of extremes and I'm trying to find a moderate middle ground.

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2 hours ago, regentrude said:

I tend to agree.
Most persons who choose the ace label are quite young; chances are it may be a temporary thing for them. (For older women who find themselves in this situation, I am not so sure)

Of course there is also the possibility that libido is affected large-scale by the hormones and hormone mimicking chemicals that flood our environment. We have no idea what all this residue is doing to our bodies.

I think this is a huge factor, as strong or stronger than social influence. On sexuality as well as gender identity. I don't have a lot of data at my fingertips to back up that opinion, but it's something I mean to research more when I have the time. A google search will bring up a lot of articles on the effects of endocrine disruptors in humans and in other animal species. I can't imagine that it has no impact on the things we've been discussing in this thread. 

 

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As to calling girls beautiful, I'm sure it's possible to overdo it, but on the other hand, different kids are going to respond differently to the exact same treatment/language.

I don't go on about my kids being beautiful, but occasionally I am struck by some aspect of their physical beauty, so I say so.  I probably am the only person saying so.  And kids do care about their appearance, especially at an age when it's common to feel unattractive even if you aren't.  Furthermore, I am sure my sassy kids would tell me if they found it annoying.  🙂

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9 minutes ago, maize said:

I'm inclined to agree with this.

In general, I try to follow the advice of growth mindset researchers who recommend praise be directed towards things within a child's control not outside of it and towards effort more than outcome.

When I do praise appearance I try to make it more about things the child has some control over--"that outfit looks really nice on you" (child made an effort to put together a nice outfit), "you did a nice job with that makeup/hairstyle/(etc.)"--things that reinforce the idea that the kid has some control over presenting a nice appearance. I'm also fond of "I love your smile." I grew up with a mother who both never praised and who thought that trying to meet social expectations in dress and grooming was nonsense--there are all sorts of extremes and I'm trying to find a moderate middle ground.

I think the way you’re handling it is great! 

My issue was that Quill said she only compliments her dd’s appearance on special occasions, and I didn’t understand why she would withhold sincere compliments at other times. 

If your kid does her makeup beautifully, I don’t see why it would be wrong to comment on it. If she looks great in her new outfit, again, why not tell her? If her hair looks particularly nice or she did a great job on her nails, a quick little remark about it is just being nice. I know Quill will disagree, but I think positive comments like that help a kid build confidence and self-esteem. 

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10 minutes ago, SKL said:

As to calling girls beautiful, I'm sure it's possible to overdo it, but on the other hand, different kids are going to respond differently to the exact same treatment/language.

I don't go on about my kids being beautiful, but occasionally I am struck by some aspect of their physical beauty, so I say so.  I probably am the only person saying so.  And kids do care about their appearance, especially at an age when it's common to feel unattractive even if you aren't.  Furthermore, I am sure my sassy kids would tell me if they found it annoying.  🙂

I think that’s perfect. You know your daughters care about their appearances and you want them to feel confident that they look good, so when you notice something attractive about them, you tell them. It’s not like you have to constantly gush over every little thing. 

I have always done that with my ds, too. (And like your kids, he definitely would have let me know if he found it annoying, too! 😉 )

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1 hour ago, Melissa Louise said:

And then, otoh, you've got my middle daughter who has grown up to resent that I didn't tell her how pretty she is, sigh. 

I put it in the category of mums can't win. 

 

1 hour ago, Melissa Louise said:

You have a point, though. Maybe ppl just shouldn't go as far as I did the other way. 

There’s still time to start slipping in little compliments here and there... 😉 

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I just wanted to say thanks to everyone participating in this thread, my views on all of this are still evolving so it has been really interesting to read.

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7 hours ago, LMD said:

I also still 'see' my dh as the boy I fell in love with, even though I can see the lines and less hair, it's like the image merges with the memory mirage and the collective history overlays it to boost the love feeling.

This reminded me of the time we were able to attend a much beloved church after not being there for awhile.  During the announcements, the elder made a little announcement about "the silver-haired gentleman and his wife here for a visit."  

We looked around to see who these visitors were--and were shocked to realize it was us.  Up to that moment, I would have sincerely said my husband had brown hair.....  but in reality, it *was* completely gray.

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7 hours ago, regentrude said:

Do we know whether it is actually increasing or whether having a specific label for it just makes it easier for young people to admit that they don't care about sex?
I suspect there is probably also a counter-cultural component involved that is a backlash against our society's saturation with sex.

(ETA: It can be painful for an adult woman. I shudder to think how much grief they give you as a teen. No, not wanting sex isn't illegal, but I don't want to imagine the bullying.... teens are vicious)

There seems to be solid evidence that fewer young people are having sex. It seems especially prominent in some countries like Japan, where people are just giving up on sexual relationships. 

Societies obsession with the whole thing is a salient pint IMO. If we reflect back there was a period when many people expected that most women weren't that interested in sex, especially young women. Lots of women objected to that, but I suspect it probably reflected the reality for a certain group of people. 

It seem to me though that some of this could just be made less of a problem if everyone didn't feel they had to talk and think about their sex lives all the time, or their sexual interests.

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5 hours ago, Catwoman said:

I think the way you’re handling it is great! 

My issue was that Quill said she only compliments her dd’s appearance on special occasions, and I didn’t understand why she would withhold sincere compliments at other times. 

If your kid does her makeup beautifully, I don’t see why it would be wrong to comment on it. If she looks great in her new outfit, again, why not tell her? If her hair looks particularly nice or she did a great job on her nails, a quick little remark about it is just being nice. I know Quill will disagree, but I think positive comments like that help a kid build confidence and self-esteem. 

I never said that. I said I completely disagree with “telling her she is beautiful frequently.” I tell my daughter, “I like that color lipstick on you,” and, “your hair looks good with those blonde highlights,” and, “that outfit is very flattering.” Those compliments are different from endlessly saying, “You’re so beautiful,” and “You’re the prettiest girl at school,” and, “You always look gorgeous everywhere you go.” 

I just finished reading (on audio) the book The Price of Privilege. In the book, the author, Madeline Levine, PhD, talks extensively about how affluent parents are more likely than lower economic status parents, to pressure kids into perfectionism by “complimenting” them. (She doesn’t go into beauty as much, IIRC, but driving them on to being “the best” at whatever is important to the parents is common.) I could relate completely to that, though my family was not affluent. 

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3 hours ago, SlowRiver said:

It seem to me though that some of this could just be made less of a problem if everyone didn't feel they had to talk and think about their sex lives all the time, or their sexual interests.

I have been wondering about this since the topic of asexuality came up. I kept thinking "how would people know?"

I was single and did not date much well into my 30s. I did a lot of things with friends and coworkers but I never brought a date along; for all I know, people may have made certain assumptions about me. But except maybe with closest friends, I didn't discuss my sex/private life with anyone. I could have been asexual for all anyone knew. It wasn't relevant to our relationship, so why would I talk about it with them?  Why would high school kids be talking about it? 

 

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23 minutes ago, marbel said:

I have been wondering about this since the topic of asexuality came up. I kept thinking "how would people know?"

I was single and did not date much well into my 30s. I did a lot of things with friends and coworkers but I never brought a date along; for all I know, people may have made certain assumptions about me. But except maybe with closest friends, I didn't discuss my sex/private life with anyone. I could have been asexual for all anyone knew. It wasn't relevant to our relationship, so why would I talk about it with them?  Why would high school kids be talking about it? 

 

Why wouldn't they? Where I went to school, "You're frigid" started before most of us had even started puberty. If calling yourself asexual can sound edgy, unique, or at least non-offensive and therefore not bringing the down the ire of whoever you're rejecting, why not employ the term?

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42 minutes ago, Rosie_0801 said:

Why wouldn't they? Where I went to school, "You're frigid" started before most of us had even started puberty. If calling yourself asexual can sound edgy, unique, or at least non-offensive and therefore not bringing the down the ire of whoever you're rejecting, why not employ the term?

OK, I am not trying to be dense (just comes naturally) but I don't think I'm following.

Are you saying that if a person asks another person for -- what exactly? sex? -- rather than just saying "no thanks" they say they are asexual? Which presumably lessens the sting of rejection and/or avoids angering the person being rejected?  

I really hope I am getting this wrong. 

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47 minutes ago, Rosie_0801 said:

Why wouldn't they? Where I went to school, "You're frigid" started before most of us had even started puberty. If calling yourself asexual can sound edgy, unique, or at least non-offensive and therefore not bringing the down the ire of whoever you're rejecting, why not employ the term?

In highschool I went from being called frigid to sl*t in about 10 seconds flat. Talk about not being able to win!

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1 hour ago, marbel said:

OK, I am not trying to be dense (just comes naturally) but I don't think I'm following.

Are you saying that if a person asks another person for -- what exactly? sex? -- rather than just saying "no thanks" they say they are asexual? Which presumably lessens the sting of rejection and/or avoids angering the person being rejected?  

I really hope I am getting this wrong. 

If you really aren't interested in anyone, and most of your friends are gay or bi or trans, I could see where identifying as ace would both take pressure off and let you identify more closely with a peer group. Because if you're ace, likely people will stop asking. 

 

Although it may not work. One of the teens in my life is very strongly Lesbian-and has found that little makes you more attractive to teen boys than explaining that you simply are not wired to be interested in them at all. 

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Most. Tiresome. Eternal. Truth. Ever:

15 minutes ago, Dmmetler said:

...One of the teens in my life is very strongly Lesbian-and has found that little makes you more attractive to teen boys than explaining that you simply are not wired to be interested in them at all. 

Honestly, what is UP with this???!!

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I know I'm old, but it wasn't like this in my high school.  The majority of teens were not coupling up, and of those who were, the majority were either abstinent or pretending to be abstinent.  Since there was no norm of open sexual behavior or intentions, there was absolutely no need to discuss sex or sexuality at school.  There were plenty of other things to keep us occupied.

I have gotten used to the idea that this is now a topic kids discuss, but I am not used to the idea that kids can't be comfortable defaulting to either "I'm straight" or "I'm not into that right now."

I really thought it was totally normal and OK that I never had my first date until college (age 17), and that I never had urges or fantasies related to my high school classmates.  And frankly, I still think it's well within the range of normal.

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37 minutes ago, Dmmetler said:

If you really aren't interested in anyone, and most of your friends are gay or bi or trans, I could see where identifying as ace would both take pressure off and let you identify more closely with a peer group. Because if you're ace, likely people will stop asking. 

 

Although it may not work. One of the teens in my life is very strongly Lesbian-and has found that little makes you more attractive to teen boys than explaining that you simply are not wired to be interested in them at all. 

OK, then, thanks for explaining. Re the bolded: this is not that surprising to me, actually. Several years ago a friend told me that at her daughter's high school, the best way for a girl to get a boy interested in her was to be seen making out with another girl. 🤦‍♀️

18 minutes ago, SKL said:

I know I'm old, but it wasn't like this in my high school.  The majority of teens were not coupling up, and of those who were, the majority were either abstinent or pretending to be abstinent.  Since there was no norm of open sexual behavior or intentions, there was absolutely no need to discuss sex or sexuality at school.  There were plenty of other things to keep us occupied.

I have gotten used to the idea that this is now a topic kids discuss, but I am not used to the idea that kids can't be comfortable defaulting to either "I'm straight" or "I'm not into that right now."

I really thought it was totally normal and OK that I never had my first date until college (age 17), and that I never had urges or fantasies related to my high school classmates.  And frankly, I still think it's well within the range of normal.

So, I am old, graduated from high school in 1974. Certainly there were teens having sex - my school had a day care center on campus so teen moms could more easily stay in school. And of course there were gay and lesbian kids though of course at that time they were quiet about it. But for the most part, people were not talking about their sexuality or activity. Oh, you know, there'd be whispering in the bathrooms and I'm sure boys did their share of bragging to their buddies. But in general, it just wasn't a thing. I know things have changed a lot in the ensuing years, but I had not realized that high schoolers pretty much had to claim a sexual identity in order to just get along. 

I think acceptance is a good thing, of course, but this apparently forced openness does not seem like progress to me. 

 

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17 minutes ago, SKL said:

I am not used to the idea that kids can't be comfortable defaulting to either "I'm straight" or "I'm not into that right now."

You left out “I’m gay.”

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20 minutes ago, Pam in CT said:

Most. Tiresome. Eternal. Truth. Ever:

Honestly, what is UP with this???!!

They all think they're special and it just takes a special guy to "convert" a lesbian?  like, she doesn't know what she's missing? Uggh.

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2 minutes ago, KSera said:

You left out “I’m gay.”

No, I didn't leave it out.  Apparently "I'm gay" is very much welcomed in high school now.  "I'm straight" is apparently a reason for suspicion, at least in some environments.

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2 minutes ago, regentrude said:

They all think they're special and it just takes a special guy to "convert" a lesbian?  like, she doesn't know what she's missing? Uggh.

To be fair, straight girls are also like that with gay guys.

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7 hours ago, marbel said:

I have been wondering about this since the topic of asexuality came up. I kept thinking "how would people know?"

I was single and did not date much well into my 30s. I did a lot of things with friends and coworkers but I never brought a date along; for all I know, people may have made certain assumptions about me. But except maybe with closest friends, I didn't discuss my sex/private life with anyone. I could have been asexual for all anyone knew. It wasn't relevant to our relationship, so why would I talk about it with them?  Why would high school kids be talking about it? 

 

In my observation, high school kids spend more time talking about identities and orientations now than they are spending actually dating.  I’ve also observed this expectation that if you have a crush, you have to work up the courage to confess it to the person, at which point you either get rejected or you become a couple.  I’ve suggested to my son and my nieces and nephew that maybe, just maybe, you could just ask someone you are interested in to do something fun, I dunno, like go to a movie (so passé!) and then see if things progress as friends or maybe more.  If that’s too much pressure, maybe arrange a small group activity.  Nope.  That would apparently be weird.  It’s less weird to just spill your guts and get explicitly rejected.  The only girl my son has had a crush on in the last couple of years identifies as asexual and everyone knows it and yet, his friend group still pressured him to confess this crush.  Same thing when a gay friend had a crush on him- people in the group urged that boy to confess his crush to my son.  I’ve seen this same pattern with the other teens I know and a friend has observed it in her daughters’ friend groups as well.  I don’t remember this from when I was a kid.  I remember guys asking me if I’d be at a certain party or if I would like to get a cup of coffee or go somewhere.  I personally appreciated being able to say yes or no to a cup of coffee  or movie rather than a confession of their innermost thoughts.  

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49 minutes ago, LucyStoner said:

In my observation, high school kids spend more time talking about identities and orientations now than they are spending actually dating.  I’ve also observed this expectation that if you have a crush, you have to work up the courage to confess it to the person, at which point you either get rejected or you become a couple.  I’ve suggested to my son and my nieces and nephew that maybe, just maybe, you could just ask someone you are interested in to do something fun, I dunno, like go to a movie (so passé!) and then see if things progress as friends or maybe more.  If that’s too much pressure, maybe arrange a small group activity.  Nope.  That would apparently be weird.  It’s less weird to just spill your guts and get explicitly rejected.  The only girl my son has had a crush on in the last couple of years identifies as asexual and everyone knows it and yet, his friend group still pressured him to confess this crush.  Same thing when a gay friend had a crush on him- people in the group urged that boy to confess his crush to my son.  I’ve seen this same pattern with the other teens I know and a friend has observed it in her daughters’ friend groups as well.  I don’t remember this from when I was a kid.  I remember guys asking me if I’d be a certain party or if I would like to get a cup of coffee or go somewhere.  I personally appreciated being able to say yes or no to a cup of coffee  or movie rather than a confession of their innermost thoughts.  

Thank you for the explanation. While I must say that the methods we used during my high school days were less... straightforward, this seems like a setup for humiliation. And it seems very limiting. 

So I guess things like getting to know people, maybe engaging in a little flirting to gauge interest, that's right out now? 

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8 hours ago, LMD said:

In highschool I went from being called frigid to sl*t in about 10 seconds flat. Talk about not being able to win!

It was literally just one way of many boys had to harass girls ( and sometimes, for girls to do the harassment of others lower on the totem pole).

It's misogyny. No-one was calling to he boys either slur. 

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