Those Horrible Boys
Those mean, horrible boys! They are sexist straight from the childhood while the good, patient girls are not sexist at all. See, for example, the following story:
A popular exercise among High School creative writing teachers in America is to ask students to imagine they have been transformed, for a day, into someone of the opposite sex, and describe what that day might be like. The results, apparently, are uncannily uniform. The girls all write long and detailed essays that clearly show they have spent a great deal of time thinking about the subject. Half of the boys usually refuse to write the essay entirely. Those who do make it clear they have not the slightest conception what being a teenage girl might be like, and deeply resent having to think about it.
The only conclusion we can draw from the story is that boys are infected by sexism at a much earlier age than girls and that these boys will continue spreading sexism throughout their lives. Of course, the story acquires a completely different meaning if we consider the following:
1. “Male students are consistently less likely to graduate from high school with a diploma. Nationally, the gender gap in graduation stands at nearly 8 percentage points. Females also earn diplomas at higher rates within every racial and ethnic group examined, with the largest disparity (more than 13 percentage points) found among black students.”
2. Male students are much less likely to exhibit an interest in the Humanities subjects both at school and in college.
3. And as a professor of languages and literature, I can assure you that getting the very few male students we manage to attract to the Humanities to write anything on the subject where they need to imagine something quite impossible is a losing proposition every single time.
Conclusion: the suggestion that boys “resent” thinking specifically about what it means to be a girl is ridiculous. Boys generally do worse than girls in high school and they have less interest than girls in the Humanities disciplines in college. As an educator with over two decades of experience in teaching, I am convinced that the “deep resentment” these boys experience has nothing whatsoever to do with girls. Boys are socialized towards the “practical,” “useful” disciplines. As a result, an “imagine something outlandish” exercise is a task they see as a complete waste of time.
Let’s remember that the burden of being a provider for a bunch of other people and finding one’s gender identity through that is still almost exclusively male. Keeping that in mind, I’d also be quite resentful if, instead giving me an education that would allow me to be a good, reliable provider, my time would be wasted on the “imagine you are a big blue balloon” exercises.