- Posted December 29, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Hardwired or trained?
Are we raising our boys to be aggressive, dominant and violent and teaching our girls to be submissive, empathic and expressive, or is it just how they are genetically wired?
Most of us do not waste a minute distinguishing between males and females starting at birth, by the pink and blue blankets we assign to them, and it pretty much starts from there with gender stereotype toys, dolls and cooking utensils for girls versus big trucks and swords for boys. Are boys and girls drawn to different toys, activities, and behaviors, or do we force it on them? Is it due to gender-specific marketing or genetics?
We are told that there are innate differences between males and females; differences in color recognition, mathematical abilities, spatial skills, tendency toward aggressive behaviors, and other things, but overwhelming number of studies find that most, if not, of all these abilities, to a great degree, are shaped by the society’s expectations!
In large part, most of us train our kids to fit in according to the rules of the society since out-of-norm activities and behaviors will harshly label a girl as a tomboy and a boy as a sissy.
Consider emotional expressions, for example. No doubt that everyone experiences feelings and emotions, however, girls have an easier time talking about their feelings, seemingly because they are expected and encouraged to do so from early on. On the other hand, most of us would frown upon and forbid a boy who shows signs of vulnerability and displays strong emotions, instructing him to be a “big boy”!
How about academic differences in males and females? Wall Street Journal noted in a profile of Barres, “Although more men than women in the U.S. score in the stratosphere on math tests, there is no such difference in Japan, and in Iceland the situation is flipped, with more women than men scoring at the very top.”
In fact, as Cordelia Fine, a researcher at the University of Melborn, points out in her book, Delusions of Gender, although neurological differences between genders do exist, "It is flexible, malleable and changeable". She stresses, "Many of the studies that claim to highlight differences between the brains of males and females are spurious. They are based on tests carried out on only a small number of individuals and their results are often not repeated by other scientists. However, their results are published and are accepted by teachers and others as proof of basic differences between boys and girls.”
Therefore, it seems that our behaviors, thoughts and feelings are not prisoners of our biologically assigned gender and genes. Behavioral and intellectual differences, by adolescent years, are not exclusively hereditary, they are learned!
Perhaps it is time to drop phrases like” boys will be boys” every time we notice an aggressive act in our boys, and comments like “don’t be a sissy” if our male child dares to express his emotions.
As Lisa Eliot, an associate professor based at the Chicago Medical School pointed out, "There is almost nothing we do with our brains that is hard-wired. Every skill, attribute and personality trait is moulded by experience."
It goes without saying that aggressive and violent behaviors develop in both genders due to many different factors, however, the factor of genetics and heredity can no longer be solely blamed. It seems that our behaviors, thoughts and feelings are not prisoners of our biologically assigned gender and genes. Behavioral and intellectual differences, by adolescent years, are not exclusively hereditary, they are learned! Perhaps it is time to drop phrases like” boys will be boys” every time we notice an aggressive act in our boys, and comments like “don’t be a sissy” if our male child dares to express his emotions.
It goes without saying that aggressive and violent behaviors develop in both genders due to many different factors,