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Gender Matters
Heretical Thoughts, Courtesy of Time

Could it be that boys are different from girls…and that that’s OK? Christina Hoff Sommers has a good piece in Time about The Mask You Live In, a new documentary arguing that an unhealthy standard of masculinity (“never cry or show your feelings”) is what gives rise to violence, like the school shootings that have been far too common over the past decade. Against this, Sommers points out that some level of aggression and emotional reserve is biologically natural for men:

The title and content of the film suggest that masculinity is a cultural creation. That is only marginally true. A lot of typical boy behavior, such as rough-and-tumble play, risk taking and fascination with gadgets rather than dolls, appears to have a basis in biology. Researchers have found, for example, that female monkeys play with dolls much more than their brothers, who prefer toy cars and trucks. Are male monkeys captive to a “guy code”? A recent study on sex differences by researchers from the University of Turin, in Italy, and the University of Manchester, in England, confirms what most of us see with our eyes: with some exceptions, women tend to be more sensitive, esthetic, sentimental, intuitive and tender-minded, while men tend to be more utilitarian, objective, unsentimental and tough-minded. We do not yet fully understand the biological underpinnings of these universal tendencies, but that is no reason to deny they exist.

She goes on to point out that there are better ways to meet the challenges of excessive male aggression or depression than by attacking masculinity as such. One issue the Sommers piece raises is what role, if any, men have in a culture that views all “masculinity” as simply a mask men are forced to wear. If men and women are roughly the same in all respects, separated from each other only by the “masks” of arbitrary, socially imposed gender characteristics, then is a man just a woman who lacks the ability to bear children? Is a unruly boy just a deficient girl? Is that all we are supposed to make of gender?

Sommers’ piece provides a forceful antidote to that kind of thinking. As such it will probably horrify the professional gender equalitarians, but we for one welcome these heretical thoughts.

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  • Kavanna

    Every few years, the postmodern media goes through one of these moments where it’s seized by doubt and common sense breaks out — for a few minutes.

    Meanwhile, the strange school shootings of the last decade or two have little to do with “masculinity” and everything to do with mental illness and our increasingly weak system for dealing with it. PC ideologues and “advocates” for the mentally ill have brainwashed many with the lie that the mentally ill are not more prone to violence than the general population. In fact, certain types of mental illness are strongly associated with violence. Then there was the emptying out of institutions for the mentally ill — bad enough — followed by the disastrous application of HIPAA to the mentally ill — making it difficult for families, social workers, and the police to keep track of such people and prevent them from getting violent.

    Incidents with violent, mentally ill people happen frequently all around the country. But they’re never reported nationally — unless a firearm is involved. Then it’s treated as a “gun” problem, instead of what it is: a problem with the mentally ill.

    • Corlyss

      “Incidents with violent, mentally ill people happen frequently all around the country. But they’re never reported nationally — unless a firearm is involved. Then it’s treated as a “gun” problem, instead of what it is: a problem with the mentally ill.”
      Agree completely. The phenomenon is a world issue, not just a US issue. However, the reportage on the incidents, esp. among the world MSM, is a function of that MSM’s decision to report no incidents where guns have actually saved lives. For those reports you have to go to very local print media and the NRA. Pity. Just another example of where the facts are kept from the voters in (usually successful) attempts to silence dissent and produce a specific legislative outcome favored by the liberals/Progs/Dems.

  • TommyTwo

    “Could it be that boys are different from girls”

    I stopped reading right there. I have had it with your ciscentric binarism!


  • Corlyss

    “We do not yet fully understand the biological underpinnings”
    Probably has to do with the genes of survivors.

    • free_agent

      “We do not yet fully understand the biological underpinnings”

      That’s really pretty comic. Most of these sex-differentiated characteristics are known to be directly affected by the “sex” hormones.

  • El Gringo

    The boys in question are part of a generation of men being raised by women. Boys brought up by single mothers and grandmothers and taught by female teachers. Boys learning masculinity as taught by feminists. And here we two competing views on what it means to be a man…written by women.

  • Anthony

    Discussion may be more complex and nuanced (with all due respect); around Title IX (and this is in no way denigration but observation) U.S. cultural dynamics have inclined less favorably towards boys and generally boys have struggled with changing cultural and economic conditions since. It’s not just biology and /or neurological peculiarities. for additional perspective see:

  • free_agent

    “an unhealthy standard of masculinity … is what gives rise to violence”

    “The title and content of the film suggest that masculinity is a cultural creation.”

    More importantly, it suggests that masculinity is a cultural creation and that the current creation of masculinity is evil and must be changed. And as always in these analyses, the standards for males must be made much more like the current standards for females.

    • El Gringo

      Women make up the majority of the population. Boys are reared by their mothers and spend their formative years being taught in a matriarchal educational system. And yet, somehow, these boys are learning a “toxic” form of masculinity from…somewhere?

  • Fred

    Academic feminists have one important thing in common with the Christian fundamentalists they despise. Neither believes in biology.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    A study of young children found that young boys would emotionally bond by sitting side by side and talking about things they had done together, or planning things they wanted to do together. Little girls were found to emotionally bond by sitting face to face, and talking about anything and everything and their feelings. So the instinctive male method of bonding was action focused, and the instinctive female method was verbally oriented. With such a wide divergence in methods of emotional bonding, any attempt by modern cultures to force both men and women into the same mold is doomed to failure.

    The Human Genome of 23 chromosome pairs is identical for men and women except for men having a Y chromosome in place of one of the 2 X chromosomes of women. This means that men and women have a 2.2% divergence in their Genome’s. It is said that a chimpanzee has 99% of the same genes as a man, such that a Man is closer genetically to a male chimpanzee, than a Woman, and a Woman is closer genetically to a female chimp than to a Man (genetic differences exaggerated for effect). Makes you go “Hum”. This is why trying to understand the opposite sex often seems like you’re talking to an alien from another planet. If we couldn’t breed with them, the genetic differences alone would classify them as different species. Taking the major physical differences into consideration you would have, the muscular and robust Homo Penisisus and the slighter and bottom heavy Homo Boobsrus.

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