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How do you define gender?


MercyA
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8 minutes ago, SKL said:

I still don't see what's wrong with acknowledging / appreciating two different sexes/genders.

As several of us explained, it causes women to be viewed and treated differently in situations where sex/gender is irrelevant. You don't think it's wrong that a female doctor has to fight to be taken seriously?

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15 hours ago, regentrude said:

And as other previous posters mentioned, the early sorting by sex, girls vs boys, throughout school and in so many situations where this is in no way relevant, sets the stage.
Imagine we had a culture where it was absolutely taboo to reveal what sex your child is and where all kids were just raised gender blind... maybe then we would be a step closer towards eliminating this one aspect from all the interactions where it is completely unnecessary - pretty much anything that isn't related to medical circumstances or sexual relationships.

I think this is completely impossible, for two reasons:

The first being that human beings have thousands of years of evolution directed towards reproduction. We notice the sex of other people without even trying. And we think about that, and our sex, quite a lot, because most people are interested in sexual activity, particularly at certain points in our lives. Many (most?) young men and women are very interested in identifying themselves as prospective sexual partners, even if it's only n a small way. Men and women who interact, even with no intent of looking for a sexual partner, are often very aware of each other as sexual beings.

The only societies that I've even seen that manage to somewhat overcome that do so mainly by more or less segregation and rather strict codes on behaviour between the sexes. (I'll also say, my own first career was in a workplace where the jobs and uniforms were completely standardised - identical for all right down to underpants, and it actually seemed to increase the awareness of sexual difference.

The second problem is that much as the social constructionists deny it, there are behavioural differences at the population level that differ between men and women. People notice these and can't help but do so, no matter how much the culture tries to tell us it's not true. The brain is very much designed to pick up on those small but widely spread differences. And that kind of pattern recognition always influences our thinking.

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33 minutes ago, SKL said:

I still don't see what's wrong with acknowledging / appreciating two different sexes/genders.

 

 

21 minutes ago, regentrude said:

As several of us explained, it causes women to be viewed and treated differently in situations where sex/gender is irrelevant. You don't think it's wrong that a female doctor has to fight to be taken seriously?

And take home less pay.  Social gender differences make pay equity impossible in a fee for service system that rewards numbers and is, in theory, "gender-blind".

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4 hours ago, TravelingChris said:

I have always used Ms,  because I do not have the same last name as my husband.  We will have been married 36 years in september

Same for me, except married 32 years.

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2 hours ago, wathe said:

 

And take home less pay.  Social gender differences make pay equity impossible in a fee for service system that rewards numbers and is, in theory, "gender-blind".

Oh yes. In my community fine arts job, the previous director, a male with far less experience than I, was paid 37% more than I was in his first year on the job, and that was after I negotiated hard for more. the original offer was just offensively pathetic.

It had always been this way. At one point we lived near a university at which I was the only staff accompanist who could play a few particularly nasty Hegge and Barber pieces, and play them super well. But I was paid less for my services than the male pianists on staff who could not manage the same level of repertoire. 

Edited by Faith-manor
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3 hours ago, regentrude said:

As several of us explained, it causes women to be viewed and treated differently in situations where sex/gender is irrelevant. You don't think it's wrong that a female doctor has to fight to be taken seriously?

I think pretending there is no sex/gender at all goes from acknowledging that women should not be demeaned or diminished for being women to refusing to acknowledge that women exist at all.

To me this is no different than suggesting that the problem with racism is acknowledging that there are different colors. Being colorblind does not end racism. Denying who people fundamentally are is not going to end racism or sexism.  It just further diminishes them and denies reality.

Generally speaking I see no healthy benefit to society or individuals by denying objective reality.  I do not deny that my 4 year old female white child is any of those things.  It would not be just or loving to pretend that she is an adult with no sex and no color and no age and no size.  And reality is going to constantly fight against doing so. She cannot think or emote like an adult. She cannot reach my top cabinets.  She will have puberty.  And her skin will look different than some others.  NONE of these things are bad things or wrong things anymore than any other factual existence based on objective reality.  NONE of these things are reasons to treat her disrespectfully or in a demeaning bc manner or to restrict her education or career options.

It is not based on personal style.  So often it seems people are basing sex/gender on nothing more than personal style or personality - and that seems ridiculous to me.  A white male wearing a dress and a bra and “acting like a woman” - whatever that means - won’t make him a female anymore than him darkening his skin will make him a black person.

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3 hours ago, Dmmetler said:

And, having spent a good part of this week clothes shopping with a teen, I can say that stores that cater primarily to teens are starting to become less gender linked. Hot topic and H&M, for example, both classify clothes by type/style, not by gender, and will have a range of sizes. So, there will be different cuts of jeans on the same rack (and some will fit bodies that have hips better than others), but there isn't a division by gender labeled as such. 

I've seen this more and more lately as well, including stores like Old Navy and Target having some online clothing sections labeled "Gender neutral". That's pretty helpful. The idea of trying to buy my jeans or a button up shirt off a gender neutral rack gives me pause, though. I'm unlikely to fit in any jeans that a man would fit in, for various reasons. Some button up shirts would work, but not others. And the same would go the other way for a man. So, I guess I'm not one who would like all clothing to go this direction, just because it would take a lot longer to to find things that fit.

3 hours ago, SlowRiver said:

 I've been really startled by the extent the kids seem to see body modification as a healthy response

My trans dc and I have not been able to understand each other's perspective on this part. They don't understand why I would have a preference either way if their younger siblings have gender affirming surgery in the future (none are trans at this point, this is hypothetical). And on the other hand, I don't understand why they don't see that given a choice, I'd rather my kids be able to keep their bodies as healthy and whole as possible and not undergo major surgeries. I can see that it truly does seem like a neutral decision to them though, and they don't see why it wouldn't be just as good for someone to have a bilateral mastectomy as not to do so. It's interesting.

3 hours ago, SKL said:

I think the pendulum has swung way too far against "sexism," however that is defined these days.

Comparing it to the racism pendulum, which has started to swing back away from "colorblindness" (a correction most of us would agree with), I wonder when the sexism pendulum is going to swing back.

I'm a little confused here how we could be swinging too far against sexism? That suggests some degree of sexism is good. Which, in following with your second point, would make it sound like some degree of racism is good.

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13 minutes ago, Murphy101 said:

Denying who people fundamentally are is not going to end racism or sexism.  It just further diminishes them and denies reality.

I agree with this. That starts getting at a thought I alluded to earlier, but still don't have fully fleshed out. I find it interesting that opposite "sides" seem to be for color blindess/against sex blindness and against color blindness/for sex blindness. But when I think about it, I think the views align if you switch the word to gender rather than sex. Which means one view wants sex blindness but gender awareness, while the other wants sex awareness but gender blindness (though I think a lot of that latter group doesn't actually want gender blindness, but it helps their current talking points to pretend they do).

I don't expect anyone to be able to follow this post as these are half-baked thoughts, poorly stated 😂.

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3 hours ago, regentrude said:

As several of us explained, it causes women to be viewed and treated differently in situations where sex/gender is irrelevant. You don't think it's wrong that a female doctor has to fight to be taken seriously?

I do think that's wrong, but I don't see the solution being to erase genders.

Even if I thought erasing gender was positive, it will never happen.

Wouldn't it be better to focus on the real problem (respect of female professionals), which has a better chance of improving in our lifetimes?

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7 minutes ago, KSera said:

I agree with this. That starts getting at a thought I alluded to earlier, but still don't have fully fleshed out. I find it interesting that opposite "sides" seem to be for color blindess/against sex blindness and against color blindness/for sex blindness. But when I think about it, I think the views align if you switch the word to gender rather than sex. Which means one view wants sex blindness but gender awareness, while the other wants sex awareness but gender blindness (though I think a lot of that latter group doesn't actually want gender blindness, but it helps their current talking points to pretend they do).

I don't expect anyone to be able to follow this post as these are half-baked thoughts, poorly stated 😂.

I don't think it's so much gender blindness as that there has been decades of work towards gender/sex equality, and it hasn't happened, so let's try something else.  Because a lot of discrimination has nothing to do with physical organs and everything to do with gender roles.  I don't think gender blindness is ever going to happen for the same reason that racial blindness won't happen. Physical differences are visible. But at this point, there really isn't discrimination based on hair color or eye color in the same way there is of skin color and physical anatomy. It would be really nice for skin color and physical gender to end up at the same level as, say, being a brunette vs being a redhead.

 

Edited by Dmmetler
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Thinking about it, I’ve never seen boys and girls line up separately at school unless it was like the line for something that was segregated by sex (camp cabins, locker rooms, maybe cueing up to leave for sex ed). My K-12 education was at a lot of districts in WA state with little spates of time in Louisville and Orlando.  I haven’t noticed it when I have been in schools as an adult volunteer either.  Most of the time that kids are segregated by sex at school though that I have seen is voluntary sorting in the cafeteria or playground.  There were no “girls” or “boys playground” at my elementary schools but there were places the girls went and the boys went and unspoken rules about breaking that segregation.  The schools had no issue with me playing ball with the boys at recess- but not all the boys liked it and a lot of the girls thought I was a freak for not wanting to sit on the rocks and talk or whatever was the norm at each school.  

Edited by LucyStoner
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36 minutes ago, KSera said:

I don't expect anyone to be able to follow this post as these are half-baked thoughts, poorly stated 😂.

I appreciate your bravery in sharing half-baked thoughts, so I'll share mine. 

I am someone who considers themselves female, but doesn't consider that relevant to many of my interactions, in the same way that I consider myself straight, or Catholic, or married, or a mom, or a teacher, but wouldn't bring those things up in a job interview (well except the teaching one), or when buying dog food at Target.  All of those things are core parts of my identity, but that doesn't mean they need to be shared every minute.  

If I was in charge of the world, and unfortunately I'm not, I would want society to acknowledge that the work of childhood includes playing with our identity, and while there's truth in that play, it also reflects the fact that children and teens are still learning about the world, and we shouldn't expect or treat their childhood explorations as prophecy for the future.

I think we are already shifting our thinking this way with sexual orientation.  I think about my kid coming to me, when he was about 5 and telling me that he was going to marry Henry next door, and they would be daddies together.  Now, I'm not knocking Henry.  Henry is a very nice boy. And there was "truth" in what my kid told me.  It's true that he likes Henry.  It's true that he's a nice kid who is drawn to other nice kids.  It's true that my kid is very loyal and I suspect will one day find someone to be with for the rest of his life.  It's true that my son likes kids.  But there is also a lot that my kid didn't know at 5.  He didn't have any experience of sexual attraction, so he wasn't factoring that in at all.  He didn't have any sense of sexual orientation besides knowing that some families have two mommies, some have two daddies, some have one of each, so he probably thought those were his choices.  And since he wasn't allowed to cross streets, he probably thought he needed to choose someone on our block.  Given those parameters, Henry was an excellent choice, but statistically, it's unlikely that my son will grow up to be gay, and so will Henry, and that with all the fish in the sea they'll chose each other.  So, what did I say?  Did I say what my mother would have said which is "Oh my no, you can't marry Henry, what about Suzanne down the street?"  No, of course not.  I said "You and Henry would be amazing daddies.  Do you want to invite him over this afternoon?"  I gave an answer that said that I supported the vision he had, and honored it, but I didn't book a venue for the reception.  And when he came home 3 weeks later, infatuated with Julia at kindergarten because she ran faster than him on the playground, I didn't think he had been wrong about Henry, or mourn the change, or feel like he was "deengaged".  I just recognized that there was also truth in his love for Julia, like the fact that he might well pick a life partner who shares his love of sports.  

This is a long rambling way of saying that I wish we could treat gender the same way.  That if a little boy puts on a dress and asks us to be called "she", we can treat the child like a girl, without forecasting a future of the child as a woman.  That we can celebrate the exploration, and the now, and all the identities, and find the truth in them, and not trivialize them, while also not being surprised or making the kid embarrassed when they learn more about the world, and more about themselves, and learn how to reflect the truth inside them more precisely with words.

And in the meantime, I wish that we would shift, as a society, to seeing gender identity as something precious, and personal.  Not secret or shameful, but something that isn't always relevant, and that doesn't always need to be shared.  With more acceptance of gender neutral pronouns even when someone also uses he or she, and more structures that don't force someone to reveal their gender (e.g. not asking people to chose an honorific).  

It's probably not something I'll see in my life time, and I'm not sure how it translates into action on an individual level.  So, I have no advice, just a dream. 

Edited by BaseballandHockey
Because I couldn't keep pronouns straight, even while blathering on about gender.
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23 minutes ago, LucyStoner said:

Thinking about it, I’ve never seen boys and girls line up separately at school unless it was like the line for something that was segregated by sex (camp cabins, locker rooms,

I kept thinking this all through the discussions about lining up by sex, but didn't bother saying. I'm another that doesn't ever recall kids being lined up by sex.

13 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

And in the meantime, I wish that we would shift, as a society, to seeing gender identity as something precious, and personal.  Not secret or shameful, but something that isn't always relevant, and that doesn't always need to be shared.  With more acceptance of gender neutral pronouns even when someone also uses he or she, and more structures that don't force someone to reveal their gender (e.g. not asking people to chose an honorific).  

I liked your Henry/Julia examples. I think that's a perfect way to handle it. I've been trying to think how your paragraph above would work. Are you meaning sex would be known but gender identity would be personal, or are you meaning sex would be private? It seems like gender identity is the part that most people are trying to outwardly project, with sex becoming more private. Or maybe you mean that would change under this future system, and people wouldn't feel a need to project any gender identity. Though that also brings us to the above point that it's really sex that seems to be at the root of gender discrimination, so would that even help?

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4 hours ago, wathe said:

 

And take home less pay.  Social gender differences make pay equity impossible in a fee for service system that rewards numbers and is, in theory, "gender-blind".

This can and has been improved by government intervention. Currently, our government is working through pay equity: equal pay for equivalent work.  So in the past, male dominated jobs like policing made more money than female dominated jobs like nursing, because people argue there is more risk, or it was more difficult, etc. We now have a process that evaluates jobs based on  similar required skills, knowledge, experience, responsibility, demands, working conditions, etc. So just last year, the Teacher Aids (female dominated) just got pay equity with the customs officers (male dominated), and got a 30% pay raise throughout the country.

In addition, the government here mandates paid maternity leave for 6 weeks, and a full year off after a child is born with guaranteed equivalent job back. This is for both males and females. The impact of this is that there are a lot of 1-year fixed term maternity contracts that people can do that you see advertised all the time for good pay. There are some people who just go from maternity contract to maternity contract to get variety and interesting work.

This means that women here have better pay, and can just slip right back into their jobs. Their xx status does mean that they will have worked 1 year less than a xy for each kid they have (if they take the year), so there is still some impact to promotion, but it has definitely been lessened by these 2 government dictated approaches. 

 

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1 hour ago, KSera said:

 They don't understand why I would have a preference either way if their younger siblings have gender affirming surgery in the future 

My sister and I did experience breast feeding in a intense physical and psychological manner. Pleasure and euphoria, best I've ever had. My sister said it was the most profound thing she has ever done. Not true for all people of course, but the physical and emotional pleasure some of us experience is not discussed on the internet for kids to find. Can you imagine the uproar if you said that breastfeeding was as pleasurable as sex and lasts way longer!?!?  So many people want it to just be providing food, and at least in the USA want it hidden because it is viewed like going to the toilet. This could not be more false, and impacts how teen girls must view their breasts. 

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1 hour ago, KSera said:

I've seen this more and more lately as well, including stores like Old Navy and Target having some online clothing sections labeled "Gender neutral". T

Is this happening in the baby/toddler stores?  I ask because 15 years ago we were horrified to find that the clothing for the under 3s was not just colour differentiated, but design differentiated.  Girls clothing was form fitting with tights and snug tops and thin fabric. And boys clothing was baggy with elastic waists and thick fabric that caused them to fit baggy and stick out from the waist, and they also had loose fitting tops or bulky sweaters. The impact was that girl toddlers look tiny and boy toddlers look chunky.  This must cause people to treat the girls more delicately because they just seem more breakable because they look so small compared to the boys.  I was way more horrified by the cut of the clothing than the colours. 

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1 minute ago, KSera said:

I kept thinking this all through the discussions about lining up by sex, but didn't bother saying. I'm another that doesn't ever recall kids being lined up by sex.

I liked your Henry/Julia examples. I think that's a perfect way to handle it. I've been trying to think how your paragraph above would work. Are you meaning sex would be known but gender identity would be personal, or are you meaning sex would be private? It seems like gender identity is the part that most people are trying to outwardly project, with sex becoming more private. Or maybe you mean that would change under this future system, and people wouldn't feel a need to project any gender identity. Though that also brings us to the above point that it's really sex that seems to be at the root of gender discrimination, so would that even help?

So, I think that I'd like gender identity to be treated like marital status.  I don't see my marital status as something to be hidden.  I'm not ashamed of it.  I wear a wedding band.  The screensaver on my phone is a picture of DH and the kids.  But I don't lead with it.  I don't put it on my resume.  I tell my students my name is "Ms. . . " and not "Mrs. . . " If I found out that people, other than people who might be trying to date me, were speculating or gossiping about whether or not I might be married I'd kind of find it intrusive.  

So, I'd like gender to be the same.  I'd like to see honorifics either disappear, or be gender neutral the way "Dr." is.  I'd like a gender neutral pronoun to be the default until someone specifically says that they want something different.  That calling me "they" doesn't mean I'm nonbinary, it just means that my gender isn't relevant.  I'd like people to be able to wear whatever they want to wear, without other people speculating about their gender.  

And as far as sex?  I'd consider that medical information.  It's something that's private.  That you don't ask about.  It might be kinda of obvious.  A lot of my middle kid's medical information was pretty obvious.  We didn't hide the fact that he needed oxygen and couldn't walk.  We don't hide the fact that the other kids don't need oxygen and can walk.  But it still would have been obnoxious for a stranger to come up to me and start a conversation about it.  Or think they were entitled to know.  On the other hand, in contexts where people need to know, then I'd share pretty freely (e.g for medical stuff, asking a friend "Kid needs a new rheumatologist, do you know one?" Or for sex telling the babysitter "they tend to spray pee so keep that thing pointed down when you're changing them, or tell a friend "I need to borrow a tampon, do you have one?").

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1 hour ago, BaseballandHockey said:

I appreciate your bravery in sharing half-baked thoughts, so I'll share mine. 

I am someone who considers themselves female, but doesn't consider that relevant to many of my interactions, in the same way that I consider myself straight, or Catholic, or married, or a mom, or a teacher, but wouldn't bring those things up in a job interview (well except the teaching one), or when buying dog food at Target.  All of those things are core parts of my identity, but that doesn't mean they need to be shared every minute.  

If I was in charge of the world, and unfortunately I'm not, I would want society to acknowledge that the work of childhood includes playing with our identity, and while there's truth in that play, it also reflects the fact that children and teens are still learning about the world, and we shouldn't expect or treat their childhood explorations as prophecy for the future.

I think we are already shifting our thinking this way with sexual orientation.  I think about my kid coming to me, when he was about 5 and telling me that he was going to marry Henry next door, and they would be daddies together.  Now, I'm not knocking Henry.  Henry is a very nice boy. And there was "truth" in what my kid told me.  It's true that he likes Henry.  It's true that he's a nice kid who is drawn to other nice kids.  It's true that my kid is very loyal and I suspect will one day find someone to be with for the rest of his life.  It's true that my son likes kids.  But there is also a lot that my kid didn't know at 5.  He didn't have any experience of sexual attraction, so he wasn't factoring that in at all.  He didn't have any sense of sexual orientation besides knowing that some families have two mommies, some have two daddies, some have one of each, so he probably thought those were his choices.  And since he wasn't allowed to cross streets, he probably thought he needed to choose someone on our block.  Given those parameters, Henry was an excellent choice, but statistically, it's unlikely that my son will grow up to be gay, and so will Henry, and that with all the fish in the sea they'll chose each other.  So, what did I say?  Did I say what my mother would have said which is "Oh my no, you can't marry Henry, what about Suzanne down the street?"  No, of course not.  I said "You and Henry would be amazing daddies.  Do you want to invite him over this afternoon?"  I gave an answer that said that I supported the vision he had, and honored it, but I didn't book a venue for the reception.  And when he came home 3 weeks later, infatuated with Julia at kindergarten because she ran faster than him on the playground, I didn't think he had been wrong about Henry, or mourn the change, or feel like he was "deengaged".  I just recognized that there was also truth in his love for Julia, like the fact that he might well pick a life partner who shares his love of sports.  

This is a long rambling way of saying that I wish we could treat gender the same way.  That if a little boy puts on a dress and asks us to be called "she", we can treat the child like a girl, without forecasting a future of the child as a woman.  That we can celebrate the exploration, and the now, and all the identities, and find the truth in them, and not trivialize them, while also not being surprised or making the kid embarrassed when they learn more about the world, and more about themselves, and learn how to reflect the truth inside them more precisely with words.

And in the meantime, I wish that we would shift, as a society, to seeing gender identity as something precious, and personal.  Not secret or shameful, but something that isn't always relevant, and that doesn't always need to be shared.  With more acceptance of gender neutral pronouns even when someone also uses he or she, and more structures that don't force someone to reveal their gender (e.g. not asking people to chose an honorific).  

It's probably not something I'll see in my life time, and I'm not sure how it translates into action on an individual level.  So, I have no advice, just a dream. 

What does it mean to 'treat a child like a girl'? 

 

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1 minute ago, Melissa Louise said:

What does it mean to 'treat a child like a girl'? 

 

Honestly, with a little kid, it means what the kid wants it to mean.  So, if they say "I'm going to be a princess when I grow up" you call them "Princess  . . . " instead of "Prince".  It means if they ask you to call them "She" you do, although you probably keep "they" in the official documents in my fantasy world, for all the kids. 

My fantasy world has gender neutral bathrooms in schools, but if not, it means you let them use the one they want, even if it's not the one they used yesterday.

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Just now, BaseballandHockey said:

Honestly, with a little kid, it means what the kid wants it to mean.  So, if they say "I'm going to be a princess when I grow up" you call them "Princess  . . . " instead of "Prince".  It means if they ask you to call them "She" you do, although you probably keep "they" in the official documents in my fantasy world, for all the kids. 

My fantasy world has gender neutral bathrooms in schools, but if not, it means you let them use the one they want, even if it's not the one they used yesterday.

Playing with fantasies (princess) to me is treating a child like a child - not a girl like a girl. As the mum of girls, I definitely did not see the princess fantasy as normative. It's a function of the crappy Disney diet kids get more than anything. I think the idea that there is a 'way to treat a child like a girl' is sexist; what you're saying here, rather, is don't freak out if your kid plays with opposite sex stereotypes. Agreed. 

So in your imagined world, sex has no salience? We don't keep data on sex, for planning purposes, and we don't acknowledge things like some girls will need a way to manage early menstruation in those gender neutral  (mixed sex) toilets, and may prefer privacy from the opposite sex? 

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2 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

What does it mean to 'treat a child like a girl'? 

 

Yes, and what’s wrong with treating a female child like a girl?

The vast majority of female children will, in fact, grow up to be women. The vast majority of male children will grow up to be men. I’m not sure what benefit there would be to treating all children as being gender neutral. 

I mean, I’m not saying girls shouldn’t be able to do the same things boys do, or play with whatever toys they want to play with or whatever, but the idea that we should treat them as though they are some sort of neuter seems so odd to me. What’s wrong with calling a girl a girl? 

I know my opinion won’t be popular but I’m not sure that, in the long run, all of this encouragement toward being gender-neutral, or telling our kids they can pick their pronouns and choose their genders, is going to end particularly well. Frankly, I think it is entirely unnecessary for the overwhelming majority of kids, and I think it adds confusion where there would ordinarily be none. If a child is truly transgender, that’s a different situation and the kid certainly needs support, but most kids just aren’t transgender, and telling them that they can choose whether or not they want to be a boy or a girl (or neither!) seems both unnecessary and confusing to the child, and may be psychologically damaging to some kids, as well.

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2 minutes ago, Catwoman said:

Yes, and what’s wrong with treating a female child like a girl?

The vast majority of female children will, in fact, grow up to be women. The vast majority of male children will grow up to be men. I’m not sure what benefit there would be to treating all children as being gender neutral. 

I mean, I’m not saying girls shouldn’t be able to do the same things boys do, or play with whatever toys they want to play with or whatever, but the idea that we should treat them as though they are some sort of neuter seems so odd to me. What’s wrong with calling a girl a girl? 

I know my opinion won’t be popular but I’m not sure that, in the long run, all of this encouragement toward being gender-neutral, or telling our kids they can pick their pronouns and choose their genders, is going to end particularly well. Frankly, I think it is entirely unnecessary for the overwhelming majority of kids, and I think it adds confusion where there would ordinarily be none. If a child is truly transgender, that’s a different situation and the kid certainly needs support, but most kids just aren’t transgender, and telling them that they can choose whether or not they want to be a boy or a girl (or neither!) seems both unnecessary and confusing to the child, and may be psychologically damaging to some kids, as well.

Well, I'd say it's wrong to treat a female child 'like a girl' if that means you govern their behaviours according to a strict set of sex stereotypes. There are as many ways of being like a girl as there are girls. 

I don't, however, see the point in sex denial. Female children are female children. Their life experiences are going to share some commonalities. 

It's borderline offensive to me, having watched my son go through the hell of dysphoria, to see so much social attention focused on people without it. 

I don't know why parents would be so keen to inculcate ideas around the primacy of gender in their kids.

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I said this:
 

48 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

 

And as far as sex?  I'd consider that medical information.  It's something that's private.  That you don't ask about.  It might be kinda of obvious.  A lot of my middle kid's medical information was pretty obvious.  We didn't hide the fact that he needed oxygen and couldn't walk.  We don't hide the fact that the other kids don't need oxygen and can walk.  But it still would have been obnoxious for a stranger to come up to me and start a conversation about it.  Or think they were entitled to know.  On the other hand, in contexts where people need to know, then I'd share pretty freely (e.g for medical stuff, asking a friend "Kid needs a new rheumatologist, do you know one?" Or for sex telling the babysitter "they tend to spray pee so keep that thing pointed down when you're changing them, or tell a friend "I need to borrow a tampon, do you have one?").

I'm not sure how you leapt from that to this:
 

20 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

So in your imagined world, sex has no salience? We don't keep data on sex, for planning purposes, and

 

I allow all sorts of medical data to be collected on my children, and to be used in settings where it makes sense.  My kids' schools have data on when they received vaccines, and what they're allergic to.  For my kid with the 504, and my kid who had the IEP they had medical reports with medical diagnoses.   Their disability status was reflected in the way test scores for our schools were reported.  But their information is still considered private.  My child can choose to disclose, or I can choose to disclose on his behalf.  For example, when my oldest was younger I mentioned to his teachers that I wanted to know if he was getting winded at recess on high pollen days because he had allergies and asthma.  But it was my choice, and now it's his choice to share that.  It wasn't automatically shared. 

Similarly, as a teacher in a very diverse school, information about economic status is considered private.  Parents share documentation related to benefits with the school to determine free or reduced price lunch status, but as a teacher, I don't see that info.  We do home visits for all of the kids, I could probably make an educated guess, but I don't speculate, because I see that information as private.  We as a school also collect congregate data on how kids who receive lunch benefits perform relative to peers, but not individualized data, and we use that data to make changes in our practices.

20 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

we don't acknowledge things like some girls will need a way to manage early menstruation in those gender neutral  (mixed sex) toilets, and may prefer privacy from the opposite sex? 

I live in a place where gender neutral toilets are becoming more common.  I've never been in a place that had gender neutral toilets that didn't have either some or all private ones with a full door.  They might also have some stalls, but it's never 100%.  I would assume that people who want to manage their menstruation, or their colostomy bag, or just are shy pee-ers would use those, and that the people in the last two categories are probably really grateful.  I know that as a parent of a child of the opposite sex, who couldn't go into a bathroom without me, I was very grateful for this change in my community.  

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24 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

Well, I'd say it's wrong to treat a female child 'like a girl' if that means you govern their behaviours according to a strict set of sex stereotypes. There are as many ways of being like a girl as there are girls. 

I don't, however, see the point in sex denial. Female children are female children. Their life experiences are going to share some commonalities. 

It's borderline offensive to me, having watched my son go through the hell of dysphoria, to see so much social attention focused on people without it. 

I don't know why parents would be so keen to inculcate ideas around the primacy of gender in their kids.

Yes! That’s exactly what I meant. I don’t want to see restrictions placed on what girls can and cannot do, based on their gender, either. 

I think we can have it both ways. Girls can know they are girls and we can tell our daughters that they are lovely, beautiful girls, and those same daughters can run off and play with their dolls or their toy trucks or whatever they like.

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2 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

I said this:
 

I'm not sure how you leapt from that to this:
 

I allow all sorts of medical data to be collected on my children, and to be used in settings where it makes sense.  My kids' schools have data on when they received vaccines, and what they're allergic to.  For my kid with the 504, and my kid who had the IEP they had medical reports with medical diagnoses.   Their disability status was reflected in the way test scores for our schools were reported.  But their information is still considered private.  My child can choose to disclose, or I can choose to disclose on his behalf.  For example, when my oldest was younger I mentioned to his teachers that I wanted to know if he was getting winded at recess on high pollen days because he had allergies and asthma.  But it was my choice, and now it's his choice to share that.  It wasn't automatically shared. 

Similarly, as a teacher in a very diverse school, information about economic status is considered private.  Parents share documentation related to benefits with the school to determine free or reduced price lunch status, but as a teacher, I don't see that info.  We do home visits for all of the kids, I could probably make an educated guess, but I don't speculate, because I see that information as private.  We as a school also collect congregate data on how kids who receive lunch benefits perform relative to peers, but not individualized data, and we use that data to make changes in our practices.

I live in a place where gender neutral toilets are becoming more common.  I've never been in a place that had gender neutral toilets that didn't have either some or all private ones with a full door.  They might also have some stalls, but it's never 100%.  I would assume that people who want to manage their menstruation, or their colostomy bag, or just are shy pee-ers would use those, and that the people in the last two categories are probably really grateful.  I know that as a parent of a child of the opposite sex, who couldn't go into a bathroom without me, I was very grateful for this change in my community.  

Girls who want to manage menstruation. 

Can we please not invisibilise female experience? No male of whatever gender expression knows what it is like to have to manage your period while still in primary school. 

I hate the gender neutral loos in my local library. They feel unsafe. Interestingly, in the new build, they were behind a heavy door - since my first visit, that door has always been propped open. Women don't like being behind a heavy, sound-proofed door with stranger males. 

What worked a lot better was more provision - single sex stalls, family room, accessible loo, unisex single room. 

 

 

 

 

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6 minutes ago, Catwoman said:

Girls can know they are girls and we can tell our daughters that they are lovely, beautiful girls, and those same daughters can run off and play with their dolls or their toy trucks or whatever they like.

why the heck do we focus on "lovely" and "beautiful" for a girl?
Why are those the main qualities we emphasize for females? This is exactly the stuff I am talking about. Language has an impact.

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1 hour ago, BaseballandHockey said:

So, I think that I'd like gender identity to be treated like marital status.  I don't see my marital status as something to be hidden.  I'm not ashamed of it.  I wear a wedding band.  The screensaver on my phone is a picture of DH and the kids.  But I don't lead with it.  I don't put it on my resume.  I tell my students my name is "Ms. . . " and not "Mrs. . . " If I found out that people, other than people who might be trying to date me, were speculating or gossiping about whether or not I might be married I'd kind of find it intrusive.  

So, I'd like gender to be the same.  I'd like to see honorifics either disappear, or be gender neutral the way "Dr." is.  I'd like a gender neutral pronoun to be the default until someone specifically says that they want something different.  That calling me "they" doesn't mean I'm nonbinary, it just means that my gender isn't relevant.  I'd like people to be able to wear whatever they want to wear, without other people speculating about their gender.  

And as far as sex?  I'd consider that medical information.  It's something that's private.  That you don't ask about.  It might be kinda of obvious.  A lot of my middle kid's medical information was pretty obvious.  We didn't hide the fact that he needed oxygen and couldn't walk.  We don't hide the fact that the other kids don't need oxygen and can walk.  But it still would have been obnoxious for a stranger to come up to me and start a conversation about it.  Or think they were entitled to know.  On the other hand, in contexts where people need to know, then I'd share pretty freely (e.g for medical stuff, asking a friend "Kid needs a new rheumatologist, do you know one?" Or for sex telling the babysitter "they tend to spray pee so keep that thing pointed down when you're changing them, or tell a friend "I need to borrow a tampon, do you have one?").

Thanks for your thoughts!

I don't disagree with you, and I do find the idea of trying a language shift to break through some of those last, sexist, walls interesting. Your 2nd paragraph though, I'm struggling to understand how you're using the word gender. Is it really your gender that you want to be irrelevant? Or is it your sex and therefore their sexist assumptions that you want to be irrelevant?

Edited by LMD
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3 minutes ago, LMD said:

Thanks for your thoughts!

I don't disagree with you, and I do find the idea of trying a language shift to break through some of those last, sexist, walls interesting. Your 2nd paragraph though, I'm struggling to understand how you're using the word gender. Is it really your gender that you want to be irrelevant? Or is it your sex and therefore their sexist assumptions that you want to be irrelevant?

In the contexts that I mentioned, like a classroom, or a job interview, or a salary negotiation, I don't think either of those are relevant.  In other contexts, I think one or both can be relevant. 

To use the example of my sexual orientation or my marital status or my son's asthma.  I don't consider any of those things "irrelevant".  My marriage in particular is a hugely important part of my life.  I just consider it personal, information I should be able to control if I wish, and irrelevant to certain interactions.  

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10 minutes ago, regentrude said:

why the heck do we focus on "lovely" and "beautiful" for a girl?
Why are those the main qualities we emphasize for females? This is exactly the stuff I am talking about. Language has an impact.

My son is lovely and beautiful too. 

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13 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

In the contexts that I mentioned, like a classroom, or a job interview, or a salary negotiation, I don't think either of those are relevant.  In other contexts, I think one or both can be relevant. 

To use the example of my sexual orientation or my marital status or my son's asthma.  I don't consider any of those things "irrelevant".  My marriage in particular is a hugely important part of my life.  I just consider it personal, information I should be able to control if I wish, and irrelevant to certain interactions.  

When is gender relevant to anyone other than the individual?

(Using gender in two senses here - as an internal feeling state and as the stereotyped presentation that represents, softens or disguises the feeling state.)

For example, I am femme presenting agender. In what circs is that relevant? 

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24 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

I said this:
 

I'm not sure how you leapt from that to this:
 

I allow all sorts of medical data to be collected on my children, and to be used in settings where it makes sense.  My kids' schools have data on when they received vaccines, and what they're allergic to.  For my kid with the 504, and my kid who had the IEP they had medical reports with medical diagnoses.   Their disability status was reflected in the way test scores for our schools were reported.  But their information is still considered private.  My child can choose to disclose, or I can choose to disclose on his behalf.  For example, when my oldest was younger I mentioned to his teachers that I wanted to know if he was getting winded at recess on high pollen days because he had allergies and asthma.  But it was my choice, and now it's his choice to share that.  It wasn't automatically shared. 

Similarly, as a teacher in a very diverse school, information about economic status is considered private.  Parents share documentation related to benefits with the school to determine free or reduced price lunch status, but as a teacher, I don't see that info.  We do home visits for all of the kids, I could probably make an educated guess, but I don't speculate, because I see that information as private.  We as a school also collect congregate data on how kids who receive lunch benefits perform relative to peers, but not individualized data, and we use that data to make changes in our practices.

I live in a place where gender neutral toilets are becoming more common.  I've never been in a place that had gender neutral toilets that didn't have either some or all private ones with a full door.  They might also have some stalls, but it's never 100%.  I would assume that people who want to manage their menstruation, or their colostomy bag, or just are shy pee-ers would use those, and that the people in the last two categories are probably really grateful.  I know that as a parent of a child of the opposite sex, who couldn't go into a bathroom without me, I was very grateful for this change in my community.  

My bold, because I find this an interesting point to jump off from:

Economic status is irrelevant in how you treat students, but you could make educated guesses. You could make those guesses, I'm assuming, based on material facts that you happen to notice. You're not 'house blind' or 'sneaker blind' - you can tell the difference between the big house with styled furniture and a small apartment with a half-broken couch. You can tell the difference between sneakers from walmart just hanging together and sneakers from Nike that look like they haven't yet touched the floor. Because those things exist, because our brains recognize and categorize without trying. Now, there absolutely is prejudice against perceived poor people, and it sucks! It absolutely could be called dysphoria - a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life. Is it more helpful to recognize the actual economic state and give help in ways that meaningfully address the disadvantage? Or should we instead pretend there is no disadvantage, just make a rule to call all houses/apartments 'mansions'? How does that actually respect the persons lived experience, recognize their actual need, and potentially provide real life help?

How much more so for sex!

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3 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

When is gender relevant? 

(Using gender in two senses here - as an internal feeling state and as the stereotyped presentation that represents the feeling state?)

Dating for one example.  Many people incorporate gender into decisions about who to date. 

If the pronouns someone uses are a reflection of their gender, and you ask me to use she/her for you then I would consider that relevant to how I speak about you.

Clothing selections.  I have four female nieces, three of them choose to express their gender through choosing typically female clothing, and typically female jewelry, and I note that and keep that in mind when I select gifts for them. 

Probably other places.  

I would do the later two things, using she/her or purchasing dresses and earrings if someone whose sex was male asked me to as well.  

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13 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

In the contexts that I mentioned, like a classroom, or a job interview, or a salary negotiation, I don't think either of those are relevant.  In other contexts, I think one or both can be relevant. 

To use the example of my sexual orientation or my marital status or my son's asthma.  I don't consider any of those things "irrelevant".  My marriage in particular is a hugely important part of my life.  I just consider it personal, information I should be able to control if I wish, and irrelevant to certain interactions.  

I agree, I think feminists have done a lot of work to make the point that where sex is irrelevant, it should be treated as irrelevant. 

I'm struggling to think of any situation where gender is relevant where sex isn't. Do you have an example?

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1 minute ago, BaseballandHockey said:

Dating for one example.  Many people incorporate gender into decisions about who to date. 

If the pronouns someone uses are a reflection of their gender, and you ask me to use she/her for you then I would consider that relevant to how I speak about you.

Clothing selections.  I have four female nieces, three of them choose to express their gender through choosing typically female clothing, and typically female jewelry, and I note that and keep that in mind when I select gifts for them. 

Probably other places.  

I would do the later two things, using she/her or purchasing dresses and earrings if someone whose sex was male asked me to as well.  

People incorporate sex into their dating choices. Because humans have one of three sexual orientations. 

I think I am getting confused because where you use 'gender', I just use 'personal preference'. 

I prefer androgynous men. That's nothing to do with gender, to me. That's to do with heterosexuality and aesthetics. 

 

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4 minutes ago, LMD said:

My bold, because I find this an interesting point to jump off from:

Economic status is irrelevant in how you treat students, but you could make educated guesses. You could make those guesses, I'm assuming, based on material facts that you happen to notice. You're not 'house blind' or 'sneaker blind' - you can tell the difference between the big house with styled furniture and a small apartment with a half-broken couch. You can tell the difference between sneakers from walmart just hanging together and sneakers from Nike that look like they haven't yet touched the floor. Because those things exist, because our brains recognize and categorize without trying. Now, there absolutely is prejudice against perceived poor people, and it sucks! It absolutely could be called dysphoria - a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life. Is it more helpful to recognize the actual economic state and give help in ways that meaningfully address the disadvantage? Or should we instead pretend there is no disadvantage, just make a rule to call all houses/apartments 'mansions'? How does that actually respect the persons lived experience, recognize their actual need, and potentially provide real life help?

How much more so for sex!

At school, we are absolutely aware of socio-economic status. That's how we know which kids need free fruit each day, or sandwiches at lunch, or 'new' uniforms from the second hand clothing pool, or even, sadly, use of the school shower. Pretending it's not highly salient does nothing positive. 

 

 

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3 minutes ago, LMD said:

I agree, I think feminists have done a lot of work to make the point that where sex is irrelevant, it should be treated as irrelevant. 

I'm struggling to think of any situation where gender is relevant where sex isn't. Do you have an example?

I think both of my examples above, pronoun choices and clothing choices are places where gender might be relevant, but sex isn't.  

I think that for some people, gender is relevant and sex isn't in picking a partner.  For other people both or neither might be relevant.  

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30 minutes ago, regentrude said:

why the heck do we focus on "lovely" and "beautiful" for a girl?
Why are those the main qualities we emphasize for females? This is exactly the stuff I am talking about. Language has an impact.

Yes, it does.

Telling our daughters that they are lovely and beautiful helps them gain self-confidence. 

We should also be telling them how intelligent and capable they are. 

And we should be telling our sons how handsome and adorable they are, too, right along with telling them how intelligent and capable they are.

 

 

 

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Just now, BaseballandHockey said:

I didn't say sex wasn't also relevant.  That wasn't the question I was asked.  

 

Ok, so sex is salient ( in terms of sexual orientation - straight, bi, gay) and 'gender' is a personal, aesthetic preference that functions within the boundaries of one's orientation. 

I'm having a hard time here not seeing sex as the relevant factor in this example. 

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4 minutes ago, Catwoman said:

Yes, it does.

Telling our daughters that they are lovely and beautiful helps them gain self-confidence. 

We should also be telling them how intelligent and capable they are. 

And we should be telling our sons how handsome and adorable they are, too, right along with telling them how intelligent and capable they are.

 

 

 

My boy isn't handsome, he's gorgeous. The lashes! The ringlets! Man, he is a real cutie 🙂 He gets a lot more of that gushy, embarrassing mother-love than my girls. Poor girls. I was very busy praising their brains and work ethics. 

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I see no reason to think that attempting to be gender-blind or sex-blind is likely to be any more successful than attempts at color-blindness have been. Identifying the sex of people we interact with is just too fundamentally hard-wired into our brains.

I also doubt that transitioning to more gender-neutral language would decrease the actual significance we consciously or subconsciously attach to the sex of individuals. There's no Mr., Miss, Ms., or Mrs. Tanaka in Japan--they are all Tanaka San. But there are plenty of sex-based social and cultural differences in expectations and interactions. Same goes for China where "ta" serves as the third person singular pronoun for both males and females.

I think a degree of gender neutrality could be achieved in online interactions, but I don't think sex blindness is actually possible in in-person interactions.

We're not going to dismantle either sexism or gender stereotypes by pretending that humans are not a binary-sexed species.

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I have trouble not seeing sex as relevant re clothing either, beyond early childhood. 

I have two kids who sometimes dress in clothes opposite their sex. OMG - the $ I've spent on alterations!

Male and female bodies are different. 

Men's shirts big enough to fit female breasts are, on more petite women, too long in the body and the arm. Pants often don't fit female hips. Conversely, women's clothing isn't a great fit for narrow-hipped, flat chested boys. 

 

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11 minutes ago, LMD said:

My bold, because I find this an interesting point to jump off from:

Economic status is irrelevant in how you treat students, but you could make educated guesses. You could make those guesses, I'm assuming, based on material facts that you happen to notice. You're not 'house blind' or 'sneaker blind' - you can tell the difference between the big house with styled furniture and a small apartment with a half-broken couch. You can tell the difference between sneakers from walmart just hanging together and sneakers from Nike that look like they haven't yet touched the floor. Because those things exist, because our brains recognize and categorize without trying. Now, there absolutely is prejudice against perceived poor people, and it sucks! It absolutely could be called dysphoria - a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life. Is it more helpful to recognize the actual economic state and give help in ways that meaningfully address the disadvantage? Or should we instead pretend there is no disadvantage, just make a rule to call all houses/apartments 'mansions'? How does that actually respect the persons lived experience, recognize their actual need, and potentially provide real life help?

How much more so for sex!

I think that you want to make what I'm calling "personal" into "irrelevant".  I don't see that as the same thing. 

My students' economic situation is their information.  It's personal. The official designation as free, or reduced, or full pay lunch (In the US this is how kids are classified) is stored in their record, but it's not visible to me.  It's in the computer that the lunchroom staff access.  

And although I can't see that information, I see other things.  We offer a home visit for every child.  Most families say yes, and I can tell the difference between a large house with many bedrooms, and a small apartment in public housing.  Some families say no, which is their right because it's personal information, and we invite them to choose another location.  Often we meet at the library.  

And I use the information that I have from these visits in various ways.  For example, if I have a kid who seems hungry at school I might feed them, but if they stay hungry and they're coming from a house that costs more than mine, I might say something to the parent like "they're often hungry first period, perhaps it's a growth spurt, maybe more breakfast is in order", whereas if I know that family is struggling, I might just buy some extra food and let the child know, if they need something they can go in this drawer and help themselves.

But I don't make that information visible to students.  I don't, for example, sort the kids into groups by that info. I don't make graphs in math class about how may bedrooms are in your house.  Students are welcome to make that information visible themselves.  They can write and share a poem about their trip to Maui or the frustration of being evicted.  But that sharing comes from them.

Similarly, I do think that schools should collect information about sex, and use it to analyze data and look for patterns of discrimination.  And I as a teacher, will probably know the sex of most of my students.  I teach high school, so even if kids are fully clothes there are some pretty strong clues like changing voices and breasts.  I don't think kids should be pressured to hide those things, but if a kid chooses to wear a binder, or dress in a way that makes it less clear, I also don't think I should pressure them to make a declaration.

In the classroom, if a kid has a physical need related to their sex, then I'll solve that.  I keep pads and tampons, and extra underwear and extra uniform pants in my classroom, and have rescued many girls.  If I see even the slightest hint that a student who might be a girl needs them, I'll offer.  My students are also welcome to refer to themselves as girls or boys or men or women.  They're welcome to write a poem about how their new baby cousin is the only other girl in their generation and they were excited when she was born.  

But I can do all of that without using gender specific pronouns until they're requested.  I can do all of that without sorting kids.  It's not that their sex and gender are "irrelevant".  It's that they're "personal". 

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17 minutes ago, Catwoman said:

Yes, it does.

Telling our daughters that they are lovely and beautiful helps them gain self-confidence. 

We should also be telling them how intelligent and capable they are. 

And we should be telling our sons how handsome and adorable they are, too, right along with telling them how intelligent and capable they are.

 

 

 

YES!

Tell all of them all the nice words!

show and tell...

how many of us had the mismatch of languages of love? The person who’d drive through a hurricane because we wanted a McFlurry but couldn’t say, “I love you, gorgeous?”

or the person who’d rub our back for hours but wouldn’t do the dishes? 

And with kids...our own kids...it’s even more important to show and tell and do and give...

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4 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

Dating for one example.  Many people incorporate gender into decisions about who to date. 

If the pronouns someone uses are a reflection of their gender, and you ask me to use she/her for you then I would consider that relevant to how I speak about you.

Clothing selections.  I have four female nieces, three of them choose to express their gender through choosing typically female clothing, and typically female jewelry, and I note that and keep that in mind when I select gifts for them. 

Probably other places.  

I would do the later two things, using she/her or purchasing dresses and earrings if someone whose sex was male asked me to as well.  

Gender and dating, what do you mean by gender here? Surely sexual attraction and compatible personality are the main drivers. I can see using gender markers (gender here being the expected stereotypical accoutrements for each sex) to signal your interest - when I wanted to attract my partner I would wear more feminine clothes and maybe make up. Perhaps some males prefer to do the same thing? Things like gait, broadness of shoulders & pheromones add (or detract) from the attraction between two people. I don't think you can go very far down the dating path before sex becomes intensely relevant!

Pronouns, well, I don't really understand. I don't think calling a female 'they' will override sexism - especially not for the rest of the female 'she's.

Clothing selections, maybe. In the 'all girl clothing must be pink, frilly and impractical' sense then yes, I agree. We were those very annoying parents who refused to allow the pink/princess explosion. Anecdote: at about 3 years old my dd was a flowergirl in a wedding (dh's side of the family), and dh fought his mother tooth and nail on stupid, slippery, impractical, expensive for a one off occasion, shoes. Do you know what they compromised on? Pink (to match the dress) converse.

I really liked the 'reverse sexist' article where all boys we're treated like a disney prince... of course I can't find it now! 😠

However, male and female bodies are different and clothing cuts to fit differently, accessible to deal with different body functions (menstruation and breastfeeding come to mind) and more or less flattering. We could all wear plain, loose clothing to equalize us, I suppose, but people will still notice the (mostly) smaller humans are the one who can be impregnated. If my son wanted to wear a dress, well I'd probably teach him to sew his own, because my sons aren't waif-framed and female cut clothing would look silly on his male shoulders! A lot of the time clothing is either (or both) functional or costume. Feminists have been fighting forever for female clothing to be more of the former and less of the latter - the great pockets revolution of the noughties! 😄

I guess what I'm saying is that the intersection of sex and what some might think of as gender is complex. I don't understand how one could both elevate gender but negate sex.

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5 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

I think that you want to make what I'm calling "personal" into "irrelevant".  I don't see that as the same thing. 

My students' economic situation is their information.  It's personal. The official designation as free, or reduced, or full pay lunch (In the US this is how kids are classified) is stored in their record, but it's not visible to me.  It's in the computer that the lunchroom staff access.  

And although I can't see that information, I see other things.  We offer a home visit for every child.  Most families say yes, and I can tell the difference between a large house with many bedrooms, and a small apartment in public housing.  Some families say no, which is their right because it's personal information, and we invite them to choose another location.  Often we meet at the library.  

And I use the information that I have from these visits in various ways.  For example, if I have a kid who seems hungry at school I might feed them, but if they stay hungry and they're coming from a house that costs more than mine, I might say something to the parent like "they're often hungry first period, perhaps it's a growth spurt, maybe more breakfast is in order", whereas if I know that family is struggling, I might just buy some extra food and let the child know, if they need something they can go in this drawer and help themselves.

But I don't make that information visible to students.  I don't, for example, sort the kids into groups by that info. I don't make graphs in math class about how may bedrooms are in your house.  Students are welcome to make that information visible themselves.  They can write and share a poem about their trip to Maui or the frustration of being evicted.  But that sharing comes from them.

Similarly, I do think that schools should collect information about sex, and use it to analyze data and look for patterns of discrimination.  And I as a teacher, will probably know the sex of most of my students.  I teach high school, so even if kids are fully clothes there are some pretty strong clues like changing voices and breasts.  I don't think kids should be pressured to hide those things, but if a kid chooses to wear a binder, or dress in a way that makes it less clear, I also don't think I should pressure them to make a declaration.

In the classroom, if a kid has a physical need related to their sex, then I'll solve that.  I keep pads and tampons, and extra underwear and extra uniform pants in my classroom, and have rescued many girls.  If I see even the slightest hint that a student who might be a girl needs them, I'll offer.  My students are also welcome to refer to themselves as girls or boys or men or women.  They're welcome to write a poem about how their new baby cousin is the only other girl in their generation and they were excited when she was born.  

But I can do all of that without using gender specific pronouns until they're requested.  I can do all of that without sorting kids.  It's not that their sex and gender are "irrelevant".  It's that they're "personal". 

Are other physical features such as the color of their skin also "personal"?

Have attempts at being color-blind--not talking about skin color or race--diminished the impact of these things on people's lives and experience?

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But what is meant by keeping gender personal? Keeping the subjective feeling of identity, that plenty of people don't have in the first place, personal? 

I just think this is all unbearably complicated. 

We all have one of two sexes. There are population level differences between the two sexes, and some of these lead to specific provision for one or the other sex. 

All of us are subject to a degree of sex-stereotyping, which should be challenged where it constricts. 

Some people experience distressing dysphoria about their sexed body, and where this persists, and they make changes to their body to live as if they were the other sex, they have a transexual identity. 

We all have a sexual orientation. 

All else is personal preferences based on personality or aesthetics. 

That's it. That's all we need. This cultural obsession with gender identity is bizarre. 

 

Edited by Melissa Louise
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59 minutes ago, regentrude said:

why the heck do we focus on "lovely" and "beautiful" for a girl?
Why are those the main qualities we emphasize for females? This is exactly the stuff I am talking about. Language has an impact.

Thank you! This is the sh%t I have endured. My piano skills were never relevant, being skinny, and delicate, and beautiful, and all this extraneous @#$$%%&-&%$# that boys don't have to be was oppressive and disgusting.

Words are weapons. Focusing on physical traits for females just denigrates them. It is gross and wrong. 

It is like that scene from "The Emperor's New Groove" and the narcissistic prince goes down the line of females presented like cattle at the auction and dismisses them one by one for various physical flaws and stops at the last one and says, "Let me guess, you have a great personality". All done with disgusting disdain.

Which was in actuality every damn day of my life in college fighting for the right to be known for playing a Rachmaninoff and NOT for my looks.

I am still pissed as hell that I was forced to remove my tuxedo and put on the back-up, emergency evening gown for my senior recital. Because apparently according to the chair of the music department, the world was going to hell in a hand basket because I thought my performance should be judged on the dame merits as my friend and colleague, D, instead of how well I did in the evening gown competition.

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7 minutes ago, maize said:

Are other physical features such as the color of their skin also "personal"?

Have attempts at being color-blind--not talking about skin color or race--diminished the impact of these things on people's lives and experience?

Yes.  

That's an excellent example.  

I'll give an example.  At my school, parents get a notice telling them that their kid's teacher will be Mr. or Ms. So and So.  Parents of elementary school students who are new to the school will regularly call and complain that they don't want a male teacher.  It's an issue every year.  

I can guarantee that we have parents at our school who would prefer white teachers.  But we don't send home a notice before the start of the year announcing that the teacher is white or black, so we don't get similar calls.  Teacher's race isn't hidden.  Teachers can share information about their heritage and background.  But it's up to them because it's personal information.  

Similarly, if a child comes into school, and maybe they have some features that imply that they might be a boy, and a gender neutral nickname, and they're wearing a dress, people will ask questions, or look up information in the file, and try to figure out the child's sex in a way that they wouldn't for race, or that if they did, other people would tell them to cut it out. 

This isn't about being gender-blind or sex-blind.  My school isn't race-blind.  We talk about race a lot, in fact.  But you can talk about race, and not about the race of an individual who doesn't choose to be talked about in that way.  

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18 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

I think that you want to make what I'm calling "personal" into "irrelevant".  I don't see that as the same thing. 

My students' economic situation is their information.  It's personal. The official designation as free, or reduced, or full pay lunch (In the US this is how kids are classified) is stored in their record, but it's not visible to me.  It's in the computer that the lunchroom staff access.  

And although I can't see that information, I see other things.  We offer a home visit for every child.  Most families say yes, and I can tell the difference between a large house with many bedrooms, and a small apartment in public housing.  Some families say no, which is their right because it's personal information, and we invite them to choose another location.  Often we meet at the library.  

And I use the information that I have from these visits in various ways.  For example, if I have a kid who seems hungry at school I might feed them, but if they stay hungry and they're coming from a house that costs more than mine, I might say something to the parent like "they're often hungry first period, perhaps it's a growth spurt, maybe more breakfast is in order", whereas if I know that family is struggling, I might just buy some extra food and let the child know, if they need something they can go in this drawer and help themselves.

But I don't make that information visible to students.  I don't, for example, sort the kids into groups by that info. I don't make graphs in math class about how may bedrooms are in your house.  Students are welcome to make that information visible themselves.  They can write and share a poem about their trip to Maui or the frustration of being evicted.  But that sharing comes from them.

Similarly, I do think that schools should collect information about sex, and use it to analyze data and look for patterns of discrimination.  And I as a teacher, will probably know the sex of most of my students.  I teach high school, so even if kids are fully clothes there are some pretty strong clues like changing voices and breasts.  I don't think kids should be pressured to hide those things, but if a kid chooses to wear a binder, or dress in a way that makes it less clear, I also don't think I should pressure them to make a declaration.

In the classroom, if a kid has a physical need related to their sex, then I'll solve that.  I keep pads and tampons, and extra underwear and extra uniform pants in my classroom, and have rescued many girls.  If I see even the slightest hint that a student who might be a girl needs them, I'll offer.  My students are also welcome to refer to themselves as girls or boys or men or women.  They're welcome to write a poem about how their new baby cousin is the only other girl in their generation and they were excited when she was born.  

But I can do all of that without using gender specific pronouns until they're requested.  I can do all of that without sorting kids.  It's not that their sex and gender are "irrelevant".  It's that they're "personal". 

I really appreciate your willingness to converse here, thank you. I know this topic can get a bit prickly, please know that I am not trying to attack you, I'm trying to understand the thought process. You and others on this thread have given me a lot to think about!

I Hear your point abput personal vs irrelevant. When I said irrelevant I meant 'irrelevant for how one should be treated in this interaction'

I guess my question is, in a sexually dimorphic species we have many secondary sex characteristics which we naturally recognise. I wonder why or how that could realistically be personal information? And how did pronouns become the most relevant thing about interacting with a person?

 

Please note - I haven't said a word about whether I personally would/would not use pronouns. I'm interested in the theory and the why at the moment.

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