Admittedly I have only read one article by Jonathan Kay. For all I know, he’s won Nobel Prizes in multiple disciplines in his spare time from writing Pulitzer-Prize-winning articles about the national debt, programming open-source software, working as a UN translator and directing and starring in a Broadway musical about his life. However, judging from this article, he is clearly the stupidest man alive.
Buckle up, ladies and gentlemen and miscellaneous ruffians, this post is going to be a long one.
I wish this well-meaning fellow [the genderless baby Storm's father] could have attended my 7-year-old daughter’s birthday party at a pottery and painting studio last week. There, he would have seen 10 little girls, all of them sitting quietly at a table, studiously creating beautiful little masterpieces. The boys, meanwhile, took about 30 seconds to slop some paint onto a ceramic dinosaur or car — and then spent the next hour chasing each other around the facility, occasionally hauling one another to the ground so they could act out professional wrestling moves they’d seen on Youtube.
Not that the boys weren’t “creative.” One of them had been given a cheap video camera from his parents, and spent 10 minutes taking footage of the (unoccupied) toilet in the studio bathroom. This pint-sized Truffaut had a cheering section: The boys assembled around him found the documentary project to be the most hilarious thing in the world, and some became literally incontinent with laughter (ironic, no?) as they took turns passing the camcorder from hand to hand watching and re-watching the footage. Occasionally, the girls would look over at the boys — much as well-dressed diners in a fancy restaurant might gaze out a window to watch hobos fighting over a liquor bottle in an alley — and then sighed and returned to their artistic labours.
As any (normal) parent can attest, such vignettes are entirely typical of parties featuring young boys and girls — who generally are so different in their behavior as almost to compose different species. Stocker is entirely wrong: There is no other single datum of information about a young child that will tell you more about his or her temperament, interests, energy level and maturity level than his or her sex.
You heard it here, first, ladies and gentlemen! Boys don’t like art! Boys like toilets! Boys’ dislike of art is why we don’t have any famous male artists, like Vermeer and Vincent Van Gogh and Marcel Duchamp and like ninety percent of artists throughout history what the fuck dude are you seriously this much of a moron.
Seriously, Jonathan Kaye, I know you can’t perpetrate degrading stereotypes against women anymore, because those feminists, politically correct mayors of Nofunnington that they are, will be all up in arms. But that doesn’t mean you can perpetrate degrading stereotypes against men, either.
Both men and women are equally capable of running around, enacting professional wrestling moves and thinking toilets are the funniest thing ever. Both women and men are equally capable of sitting quietly and painting stuff. Some people, like me, are capable of neither painting things nor finding the humor in toilets, and so I suppose are forced to wander the earth rending our clothes and mourning our lack of an appropriate gender.
And frankly it is just as insulting to male people to assume that girls create masterpieces and boys go “ahahahahahaha bathrooms” as it is to female people to assume that boys create masterpieces and girls think about their hair.
But that’s a distraction from Kay’s main point. Let us take an exciting adventure into the exotic land of Confounding Variables. What are some possible explanations for “boys and girls act different” than “because biology”?
First, children are really good at picking up at expectations of them. For instance, every girl’s toy aisle is a pinksplosion, and yet pink was not a color associated with girls as little as a hundred years ago. I cannot think of a single good explanation for this beyond “girls are told they’re supposed to like pink so they do.” Sociological research suggests that gender role conditioning occurs from teachers and peers in kindergartens– for instance, boys and girls play dress-up almost equally when they’re three, but almost no boys play dress-up by age five. (Jonathan Kaye suggests that gender couldn’t possibly be socially constructed because he tried to get his girls to play raquetball, which would be a lot more convincing if (a) his girls grew up in a single room isolated from all peers and popular culture except him and (b) he wasn’t clearly a sexist fuckhead.)
Second, girls tend to be friends with girls, and boys tend to be friends with boys. This is enforced by social pressure, both active (“ewww, girls have cooties”, “do you liiiiiiiike him?”) and passive (if you have mostly female friends, and all your friends have mostly female friends, the new people you meet are mostly going to be female). Therefore, the girls are going to want to spend time with their friends, who are other girls, and the boys are going to want to spend time with their friends, who are other boys.
Third, when I was a little girl, my recreation looked a lot more like “hitting my sister with sticks and pretending it was a sword” and “sulking because I had to be Princess Leia when we played Star Wars when I wanted to be Darth Vader” than quietly painting vases. I mean, I played with dolls and pretended to be a mom too, and we played Historically Accurate Tudor Princesses (lots of head-chopping), but I also pretended to be a time-traveling ninja spy. There is no room for time-traveling ninja spies in this theory, which is a clear flaw in any theory. Which is to say: there are girls who laugh at toilets and boys who paint. Where are they in Kay’s scheme?
Oh no! Jonathan Kay suggests. You see, gender-non-conforming people exist. They’re just all gay and transsexuals.
Depicted: a happily married straight man.
I love it when I can win an argument with My Chemical Romance pictures.
Also, there are a fuckload of lipstick-wearing lesbians in pearls and high heels, trans men that are as femmey as you please, weightlifting gay men and makeupless trans woman in blue jeans (particularly since trans people often have to enact gender roles they don’t actually conform to so the doctors will give them hormones and surgery). I mean, I’m a gender-non-conforming bisexual genderqueer, and the queer community in general is more accepting of gender nonconformity, but that doesn’t mean everyone who falls under the QUILTBAG umbrella is gender-non-conforming, and it certainly doesn’t mean that being QUILTBAG causes gender nonconformity.
I’m not saying that the genders (or for that matter the sexes) have no differences. Male-bodied people and female-bodied people have different brains, and it would be surprising if that extra X or Y chromosome didn’t make any changes to the person’s brain structure; trans people have also reported some personality changes that come with taking hormones. However, we honestly don’t know enough about neurology to be able to state, conclusively, what the differences are or how large they are– especially given the well-documented effects of social conditioning. Throwing up your hands and saying it’s all biological is, frankly, moronic.