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I guess the main thing that tells me is that generally I was in my own little world when I was a kid and didn't pick up on a lot of pop culture or societal stuff that most other people just absorbed.

kinder, Thursday, 23 February 2012 03:50 (3 years ago) Permalink

This is really deeply part of the problem, that yeah, trying to get the ideas in books like Delusions of Gender into discourse is like pulling teeth - while I bet that if you tried to get a copy of, say, Women Are From Pluto, Men Are From Outer Space, you would find half a dozen copies in circulation. People are really deeply attached to these stereotypes.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Thursday, 23 February 2012 08:38 (3 years ago) Permalink

holding on to stereotypes of your own gender/sexuality seems almost like a comfort blanket for some people. it probably smooths certain situations. that, more than anything else, might be the biggest barrier to breaking down those stereotypes.

i had good friends in school who were female and physics/maths-leaning - including the girl widely acknowledged to be top of the year in all those subjects - i don't recall her feeling that being a girl was a barrier in any way. (but then we had a good proportion of female maths/science teachers, including the head of maths who was one of the most brilliant teachers i encountered, and did a lot to coax me through my own maths fear) (and also i genuinely don't recall any sort of pink-princess-girly-girly culture when i was growing up?!). i mean, there are so many environmental factors to consider as well - type of school, location blah blah blah.

also the type of student you are? if you're a straight-As pupil, male or female, you're going to develop an innate assumption that you should be good at every subject even if you don't have a feel for it (like, i stayed in the maths top set throughout school without ever really understanding any of it). if you're a middling student you might feel that your lack of feel for a subject might be down to gender?

hmmm i also just remembered that while many of the maths/science-leaning boys in our school went on to jobs in engineering, that girl i mentioned never did go into academia like she wanted, and is a school teacher now, and i'm not sure she's entirely happy with the way things turned out :/

lex pretend, Thursday, 23 February 2012 08:58 (3 years ago) Permalink

btw i am enjoying zora's posts but haven't yet been able to take them in *and* formulate a worthwhile response

lex pretend, Thursday, 23 February 2012 09:00 (3 years ago) Permalink

There honestly wasn't as much pink-princess-girly-girly culture when I was growing up. I know I'm about 10 years older than you, Lex, but I was very much a product of a 70s childhood when my mother's generation were coming from their consciousness raising groups and NOW meetings and actively trying to dismantle gender stereotypes in their own lives, as well as the lives of their kids. I think, on the whole, this was a good thing.

But also, on another level, childhood just hadn't been commercialised in the same way it has now. That there was one set of toys, everyone wore each others' handmedowns and that was that. And now toy companies realise that they can make twice as much money by selling a blue version and a slightly shitter pink version of the same toy, and so this stuff gets actively promoted.

It was one of the things that I noted in those books, that round about the age that kids start to notice that they Has A Gender, they become interested (usually, not always) in figuring out what it is, what it means, and how to (for lack of a better word) perform it. You can nudge kids into accepting gender roles, you can nudge them into wider ideas about gender. Apparently, one of the influential factors in developing ideas about gender is actually whether one has a closely aged sibling of a different gender. (That girls with a brother and boys with a sister tended to be more relaxed about gender roles.)

But yes, individual circumstances certainly play a role - and we're talking about averages, not absolutes here. "An average of 15% drop" can mean that some girls won't drop at all, and some girls will drop by as much as 30%. These things aren't that useful on an individual level because individuals in populations vary, that's what they do.

That yes, I had a protective influence because I had parents that said "your one grandmother was a mathematician, your other was a scientist, one of your great aunts was a code breaker at Bletchley Park, it would be very surprising (and you would bring shame on our family) if you turned out not to be good at maths" and lo and behold, I, too, do if for a living. But that does not mean that the stereotypes don't exist and aren't powerful to people who did not have situational factors like that.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Thursday, 23 February 2012 09:12 (3 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, I for one always wanted Merzbow's Music for Bondage Performance type stuff unpacked; and never trusted Whitehouse (hated the little I heard of their music anyway)...thing is no one seemed to bother to question, it just had this polarising effect (and w/music like that y'know..)

see, I think EV's defense of Whitehouse is OTM. There's a sense of humor/irony behind their aesthetic that seems pretty blatant to me compared to some newer noise musicians who flirt with the same imagery & are a lot more serious about it.

― Big Mr. Guess U.S.A. Champion (crüt), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Can you give me an example of this, btw? At the time I just thought it was a blatant apolitical free for all. Granted, all a very fine line which could get misinterpreted by idiots down the line but if you give 'em rope..

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 23 February 2012 12:06 (3 years ago) Permalink

I don't want to derail anybody's discussions, but this seemed like the appropriate thread for this - a great post at Jezebel about gendered marketing of LEGO products, and what happens when you switch the audio on the commercials.

A Full Torgo Apparition (Phil D.), Thursday, 23 February 2012 15:47 (3 years ago) Permalink

my own personal experience with gender/sci: both parents are highly educated with tons of graduate degrees, working in sci or health. my older sis ended up collecting master's degrees in the sciences. i was expected to excel in sci/math and i did, although i still had enormous anxiety about it. i tested better in sci/math than humanities when i did any sort of standardized testing. but my biggest class problems were always in sci and math. my honors chem teacher in HS used to say that i was really smart but i got in my own way.

i was never consciously aware of any discouragement or implication that i might not be great at sci/math--but it freaked me the fuck out. and i believe that it was partially due to gender bs that i absorbed, although i tried to reject it. (wearing men's clothes, etc)

JuliaA, Thursday, 23 February 2012 16:18 (3 years ago) Permalink

I had a young cousin once that posted on facebook that she did well on a math test once and it scared her.

Jeff, Thursday, 23 February 2012 16:20 (3 years ago) Permalink

been thinking abt gender and expectations of academic performance...

it seems to me that we've seen, over the last few decades, the emergence of new stereotypes regarding gender and things like general intelligence and ability in math/science. in characters like hermione granger and lisa simpson, we see a girl who easily excels her male peers in these areas, but who is comparatively straightlaced and "uptight". the "nerdy girl" is smart and academically accomplished but socially unskilled and often unhappy/dissatisfied. she is a stickler for rules and order, and is often seen as "annoying" by those around her, adults and children alike. she's basically a modern version of "bossy" and/or "goody-goody" midcentury female comic strip characters like lucy (peanuts) and margaret (dennis the menace), but much more sympathetic and clearly "bright".

the emergence of the nerdy girl runs parallel to a much remarked-on shift in american sitcom family dynamics, where adult male husband/father characters over the same few decades have become increasingly childlike, foolish and irresponsible, exaggerating in their television wives the same "straightlaced" and "uptight" rule-enforcing and behavior monitoring characteristics we see in characters like hermione and lisa. the sitcom wife is not typically (ever?) pictured as truly brilliant, especially not when it comes to things like math and science, but she is often, clearly, a good deal more sensibly intelligent than her husband.

in certain respects, the stereotype of the "less smart woman" is perhaps beginning to be traded out for "smarter, but less fun".

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Friday, 24 February 2012 15:51 (3 years ago) Permalink

i think we've also seen the emergence of an adult version of the nerdy girl character in stereotypical portrayals of the "corporate woman", a character who is typically portrayed as occupying a management position. she is extremely capable, but also rather ruthless and even cruel, a sort of evil twin to the "good" sitcom wife.

a lot of this stuff seems to reflect changing power dynamics in american society, and anxieties about the same.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Friday, 24 February 2012 16:17 (3 years ago) Permalink

This trope is at least as old as Jane Austen. It exists, but it's hardly a new development.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Friday, 24 February 2012 17:35 (3 years ago) Permalink

yeah, what i was going to say. thinking young maggie tulliver in mill on the floss

horseshoe, Friday, 24 February 2012 17:36 (3 years ago) Permalink

yeah, i'm not saying that any of this is newly invented (it's not, obviously), but these sorts of images do seem to have gained a fair amount of cultural prominence in the last few decades. in the states, anyway.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Friday, 24 February 2012 17:39 (3 years ago) Permalink

Well actually it was one of the principle objections to female education down through the ages! That educating women to use their minds will make them un-womanly and possibly sterile! This was a classic Georgian to Victorian complaint (I bet you could probably find it as far back as the Classical period.)

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Friday, 24 February 2012 17:41 (3 years ago) Permalink

yeah, but hermione, for instance, isn't exactly "unwomanly", and lisa clearly vaccilates on that point (probably depending on who's writing the jokes). in these characters and the contemporary sitcom mom/wife, intelligence is, to some extent, positively associated with femininity.

again, not entirely new ("sensible" sitcom wives and "smart, prissy" young girls go back quite a ways), but i see a greater and more positive emphasis on such characters than in the recent past. more thinking aloud than making an argument...

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Friday, 24 February 2012 17:49 (3 years ago) Permalink

and then there's everyone's favorite manic pixie dreamgirl!

sarahell, Friday, 24 February 2012 17:55 (3 years ago) Permalink

2 weeks pass...

I need to get back on track with my chapter précis, and then come back and demolish this fucker.

Also unknown as Zora (Surfing At Work), Thursday, 15 March 2012 17:44 (3 years ago) Permalink

4 months pass...

It is very interesting and stuffed with proper citations.

k3vin k., Tuesday, 7 August 2012 01:07 (2 years ago) Permalink


undermikey: bidness (Autumn Almanac), Tuesday, 7 August 2012 01:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

1 year passes...

I want to add additional gender options to a form that parents fill in about both themselves and their children. I'm not sure about the best wording.

A colleague who wants to write 'other' and have people write in what they want, but that is 1. not practical for data collation reasons - we need to automatize that - and 2. sounds dismissive to me. Is it? In any case I suspect she is not suggesting this from a place of inclusivity, but I can't be sure.

I suggested adding 'transgender' to the existing 'Male' and 'Female'. Would having just those three options be appropriate? Are there more that should be included? Re the children, another colleague suggested adding 'intersex' but I think parents of intersex children would tick the box corresponding to their child's presenting gender.

ljubljana, Friday, 4 April 2014 11:46 (11 months ago) Permalink

Please avoid "Other" at all costs. It's literally Othering as all hell.

The problem with suggesting "transgender" as a gender is that: 1) it erases the difference of M to F and F to M because "transgender" singular is not really the identity, "trans man" and "trans woman" are the identities. and 2) it disregards non-binary genders and 3) specifying out, if you are going to use "trans" you should really use "cis" as well, but that gets into the bad kettle of fish of forcing people to out themselves. There is considerable debate as to what you should call a third gender option. Personally, I like "non-binary" because there are differences between people who identify as "genderqueer" (both) or "agender" (neither) or something else entirely. Most people agree a third or maybe even fourth option is necessary, but there is disagreement on what it should be.

What is more important is how you phrase the question. The problem is, that the most inclusive language you can use "what gender do you identify as?" or "what gender do you present as?" are the questions which will most confuse cis people (also, ending questions with "as" = grammatically clumsy). I'm sure there are resources out there about good ways of phrasing this question, and a third option in an open and inclusive way that doesn't make cis ppl too upset? I will look for some.

Sorry, this is not a good answer, but basically, I'm mostly aware of what options to avoid, rather than what options are preferred.

Branwell Bell, Friday, 4 April 2014 12:14 (11 months ago) Permalink

Sorry for multiple posts, but this just occurred to me... the other consideration is, indeed, why are you asking the question? Because there are circumstances under which you are not looking for the person's gender, you are looking for their sex - very specific circumstances, usually involving medical treatment. In which case, M, F, Intersex would be preferred (and possibly some trans options). If you are just asking about gender, consider why you need to know gender at all.

Branwell Bell, Friday, 4 April 2014 13:13 (11 months ago) Permalink

the other consideration is, indeed, why are you asking the question?

^ not saying this has relevance to ljubljana's situation but lots of places collect info without thinking, I've tried to phase it out of records at previous employers

ogmor, Friday, 4 April 2014 14:36 (11 months ago) Permalink

Thanks, BB, that's extremely helpful. I really like the possibility of having a 'non-binary' option.

Currently there is no question as such - just 'Gender' and a list. I'll give that some thought.

Ogmor, you're right, we always need to keep an eye on whether we really going to use the data. I'd rather not say too much on here about the actual studies, but we're interested in parents' gender because of an interest in how that might correlate with the ways they do specific activities with their children. We're interested in children's gender both for that reason, and because there are established (but small) developmental differences in language and other cognitive development.

ljubljana, Friday, 4 April 2014 15:06 (11 months ago) Permalink

OK, that is a perfectly valid and reasonable reason to be interested in gender. (It's the "what gender should we ~market~ to you as" questions that really irritate me.)

Maybe use "non-binary" with some examples ("e.g. agender, genderqueer, genderfluid, bigender") so that cis people don't get too confused? It's too bad you can't use a freetext for gender, but I understand that would make data collection an absolute nightmare.

Branwell Bell, Friday, 4 April 2014 15:15 (11 months ago) Permalink

Why do you keep assuming cis ppl're going to be confused

sonic thedgehod (albvivertine), Friday, 4 April 2014 15:22 (11 months ago) Permalink

can you just put a blank space for people to write in whatever they want?

coops all on coops tbh (crüt), Friday, 4 April 2014 15:31 (11 months ago) Permalink

Our first "NOT AAALLLL CIS PEOPLE!!!!" comment. Yay!

Branwell Bell, Friday, 4 April 2014 15:33 (11 months ago) Permalink


sonic thedgehod (albvivertine), Friday, 4 April 2014 15:37 (11 months ago) Permalink

Omg, my co- worker who did not even bother coming to the meeting about re-doing the questions is fighting me on this and directing me to census categories. I suspect religious grounds are behind that. Nnnnnggggg. 20 emails and counting.

Crut - that would be great but would cause us probs with auto-categorizing the data.

ljubljana, Friday, 4 April 2014 16:08 (11 months ago) Permalink

Everyone agreed yesterday to change the question, bar the co-worker who skipped the meeting. We just needed to sort out wording. Today no-one except me is responding to her emails saying we mustn't add any other options. Her reasons: (bear in mind we are asking parents as well as children about their gender):

Again, I think g3ender should be m@le/fem@le. If there is a consensus to have third option, which I d0n't think there is, then the third opti0n should just be blank. I don't think w3 are in a position to get into terminology that is p0tentially confus1ng (children aren't usually transg3nd3r and p@rents don't necessarily choose a different g3nder for young childr3n). It becomes too pol1tical as well.

I responded to that by saying I disagree but would go along with the results of a vote, so please let's have show of hands. No-one responded, and the person trying to get the new questionnaire together has now asked our supervisor to decide. I think I know which way it'll go, unfortunately. I could still be wrong.

ljubljana, Friday, 4 April 2014 21:31 (11 months ago) Permalink

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