And building on my last post, here’s something from the UK.
This is about socialization. This article refers to a study of school children in Britain over a period of years that looked at gender stereotypes. Researchers surveyed children about their perceptions of which children were clever or well-behaved according to gender. The results were sickening,though expected. Researchers also tracked grades given to the children and noticed patterns of discrimination which mirrored the stereotypes the children expressed.
Doris Lessing noticed a broader pattern of this disparagement and that it was a form of discrimination ten years ago.
This is reminiscent of the attitudes that older women report girls used to face in generations past in schools and in higher education.
The gender of the teachers would have been a useful variable to study. It would have been interesting to see if the negative perceptions of boys influenced the boys’ self-perception when they were taught by male teachers. Perhaps with men in the classroom negative comments about boys and other socializing influences would be less convincing. But of course for that to have been studied it would have been necessary to find boys taught by male teachers, and they are nearly non-existent these days. This is disadvantage the girls in earlier times I mentioned above presumably did not labor under until they entered university settings.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE A SON IN SCHOOL:
1. Examine your own attitudes and perceptions for misandry, not only because you will pass your misandrist attitudes along to your sons but also because misandrist attitudes can blind you to misandrist actions and situations you observe.
2. Scrutinize your son’s classroom setting:
2.a. Disparate enforcement of norms – are boys punished more frequently or more harshly for misconduct than girls? Are boys graded lower for the same quality of work? Are boys stigmatized for behavior that is expected of and promoted in girls?.
2.b. Disparate valuations – Is misconduct more associated with boys punished more often or more harshly than misconduct most often associated with girls – i.e . are pushing, running around or loud talk punsished while tattling, dog-like compliance and lack of initiative, or crying are permitted or even celebrated as “more mature”? Are work assignments designed to accommodate girls more than boys? Remember this can negatively affect your daughters too, since these gender biased methods may not be best for them either.
2.c. Disparate outcomes – yes, what we are looking for is equality of opportunity rather than mandating identical outcomes, but in order to identify opportunities you often have only the outcomes to signal that there is a problem. Disparate outcomes MAY reflect disparate opportunities and that makes them a red flag, and since it’s your child and the stakes are high, you can’t afford to ignore a red flag.
3. Examine the teacher specifically and then go beyond that to then environment in the whole school. Indicators:
3.a. Patterns of which students get awards and recognition
3.b. School-wide patterns of discipline and punishment
4. Expect for find strongly pro-boy women teachers and rather misandrist male teachers. Yes, our children need affirmative action in their schools to achieve full gender parity among their teachers, but it is counter-productive to assume that all men will be good for boys and all women negative. It simply does not turn out to be like that, as you will find when you start looking.
5. Likewise do not expect fathers of other students to be allies. You will often find that it is the mothers of boys who are the most likely to fight this kind of discrimination against their sons. There may be lots of reasons for this but one certainly is that the fathers were subjected to this themselves – it’s not really all that new –and they will have accepted it. The mothers were probably unaware of this growing up even if they witnessed it every day, but then when its directed at their child, the mama grizzly comes out.
HOW THIS HURTS GIRLS
It’s obvious that boys are first order victims here, but that does not mean that girls aren’t harmed too. Here are some ways they are harmed:
1. Bigotry deforms your personality. Bigoted stereotypes of males will interfere with healthy relationships with brothers and husbands.
2. Failure to discipline girls for bad behavior will foster a princess attitude of immunity.
3. It also leaves the female victims of female aggressors less protected than if their aggressors are male.
4. A false sense of superiority will put them at a disadvantage in their work life (and probably already does, and probably accounts for a lot of their complaints of sexism in corporate and other settings in later life.
Does anyone really think this is happening only in Britain, or only among these children?