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"The End of Men" & gender wars revisited

Chicago's NPR station, WBEZ, has an interview with Hanna Rosin--author of The End of Men: And the Rise of Women--posted and it covers a wide range of topics on parenting the genders, analysis of her arguments on the book tour, etc..

Gender issues, particularly related to parenting...and particularly men and the parenting of boys...have caught my attention since we covered it in fairly great detail when I got my psychology degree in 2002. (Professors Dohrmann and Glass, hey!) I won't cover the actual book here or many of the same issues I've visited frequently. 

A few things, however, jumped out at me as a SAHD reading the Q&A. 

My concern about raising my sons has more to do with teaching them to meet whatever demands school places on them without making them frustrated or miserable or think they have to be just like girls. I try to be realistic — I can't make my sons into people they're not. I think the "William wants a doll" fantasy of the '70s is a proven failure. But I can't put my head in the sand and pretend that school does not demand a level of organization and verbal acuity that doesn't come 100 percent naturally to them
I'm a little offended. Ok, maybe a lot offended. It's a sexist, untrue statement that speaks more to personality traits than gender differences. My daughter could be a complete messy slob. As far as I know, there's not even a stereotype that one gender is more organized than the other, is there? I've seen just as many women's closets scattered with scores of shoes as I have men who keep their tools on a variety of neatly labeled hooks in the garage. Ladies, how often do you check your oil and tire pressure?

We may be talking gender differences here, but not in this way...that's my point. Guys will be organized about the things that get them going just as easily.

The fallacy here is that school requires a level of detail and attention that guys aren't capable of. Again, old territory here, but the problem is that our current school climate is slanted against boys. The decline of physical activity. The need to sit still. The need to learn in a non-hands on way. The need to learn things free of applications and uses.

Our culture has, indeed, left boys and men behind. But the misinformation here is that it has to do with (sexist) female superiority...or that men have refused to keep up. The real problem is that we have--correctly--done what we can to help girls and women while not working with equal effort to make sure our boys and men have the opportunities and environments they need to achieve. Education and workforce advances aren't going to come from some throwback to male-dominated culture...not what I'm arguing at all.

My larger point with parenting boys is that we need to set the table for them. Expecting our boys to show up in today's classroom or in today's job prepared to execute "like a woman" is just as ridiculous as asking women to behave like men in the workplace.

Nor am I going to argue that we need separation...I'm not sure I approve of separate standards for men and women. More like what we need is to remember the strengths of each gender more in the learning, hiring, or even relationship process.

It's about learning what makes individuals tick and then adjusting our expectations to match their strengths and weaknesses.

Athletes, you know what I mean. You don't ask a sprinter or a weightlifter to run distance. And you don't ask a hockey goalie to gracefully do a triple on the ice.

The problem isn't gender per se. The problem is that in focusing on helping our girls we've forgotten that one size does not fit all.

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