Boys Are Easier – A young adult’s thoughts on gender

by mindfulhub on August 4, 2018 · 0 comments

First published at Kayleighmichael.com

If you had told teenaged Me that I would be with a man who loves cars, who cares about politics, who likes to keep his body as hairless as possible and who sometimes says things like, “Every woman needs a dishwasher” (I corrected this immediately, by the way, come on), I would say “you crazy.” But, here we are. I’ve been meaning to get on paper some musings about what is to be male, female, and both or neither, and as it’s all the rage to talk about gender in open forum, I feel obligated to do so here. From reading Emily Nagoski’s, Come As You Are, a volume on female sexuality which relies heavily on science and squashes the societal implications of sex for women, I think I finally have the jumping off point I need.

It is not, no matter what they tell you, “easier” or “simpler” to be male than it is to be female.
Gasp, but, Kay Kay, how? Women have periods and have babies and have all these pressures! Well, I do plan on examining some of the psychic implications of menstruation, as they’ve manifested in my life in another soon-to-come post, so stay quite tuned. However, I will briefly argue that when one’s life,hormones, emotions, fall into a cycle and one is predictive and healthy about that cycle, it makes life easier. You know when your body image plummets, and Rice Crispie Treat commercials make you sob, and every joke is insulting, that maybe it’s time to ready the diva cup and take a walk and buy some chocolate. You are in rhythm with the moon and the tides and the seasons, as you have been since puberty. It’s not new, and it’s still you. This is in many ways easier, I think, than the absence of this.

Dr. Nagoski explains, in the very start of her book, how fetuses develop to become, most of the time, male or female. It’s complete with diagrams, people. One fascinating thing I must have missed in Health class is this: we start off exactly the same, and then–she uses fraternal twins as an example–there is a “hormone wash” in utero; the female is unaffected and keeps developing as if nothing happened. The boy begins to turn into a boy, that is, the would-be vagina begins to close, seal, and stretch and the testes begin to form, as they do, on the outside. I thought this was like a Holy Grail of scientific information, and I can’t believe I didn’t learn it til thirty.

My nephew, James, was born with eyelashes forever and huge hands. The family all said these were “Quarterback hands.” But, I said this: “Or maybe he’ll be a pianist.” It’s just too easy, I think, to raise boys to be butch, and girls to be pretty. So I try to provide options. Though, my niece looks just like me, blue eyes and all, so it’s hard even for me to deflect the urge to tell her she’s beautiful. But it’s early, yet. I’ll find other things to compliment her on, I’m sure. For now it’s: “Wow, nice growl.” Or “That’s some good eating you’re doing.”

She goes on to use some math (think in bell curves) about sexual preferences–from standard mojo to total kinks–and another golden nugget of info shined in the light: there are more differences among these in all men and among all women than there are between the two genders. Needless to say, I had a flashback to every girl-talk I was ever a part of. Most of my girlfriends are markedly freakier than I am, and some still are perhaps too vanilla to “even.” And when I first met my partner I thought we had relatively equal sex drives, but as time went on, it came to be that mine was higher, and he said, “It should be the other way around.” Well, to that, I say “Nah.” And, “Show me your sources.”

And now I’m thirty years old and a half, so obviously everyone I know is getting married, buying houses, having babies. My brother and his friend group are the squad from which I hear the most about the baby-raising life. He has one boy and one girl, and pretty much everyone else has girls. The birthday parties are electric with pink dresses and dolls and high-pitched squeals. I observe and take note, writer-style, of how each baby is spoken to, taught to share, negotiated with, etc. And for the most part, it’s relatively equal. That is, when boys are that young, we are still very gentle with them.

My nephew, James, was born with eyelashes forever and huge hands. The family all said these were “Quarterback hands.” But, I said this: “Or maybe he’ll be a pianist.” It’s just too easy, I think, to raise boys to be butch, and girls to be pretty. So I try to provide options. Though, my niece looks just like me, blue eyes and all, so it’s hard even for me to deflect the urge to tell her she’s beautiful. But it’s early, yet. I’ll find other things to compliment her on, I’m sure. For now it’s: “Wow, nice growl.” Or “That’s some good eating you’re doing.”

Anyway, as I may have mentioned before on this platform, I took a class in grad school, called “Growing up Male in America” and it really changed my perceptions on boys for the better. Our professor was the assistant coach for the football team, so needless to say, the room was filled with some Testosteroney breath and thick necks. But as the class rolled on, he asked them about the last time they cried, and made them massage each other, and I loved every second of it. Again, we as women are “allowed” these feelings and affections quite freely, all the time. Even if sometimes we get asked, “Is this just your PMS?” or called over-sensitive, I will take that shit any day. In the emotional realm, our lives are made easier by society.

And so, with this smattering of images I do invite you to be a little more neutral with the boys in your life, and offer them opportunities to express emotion. No more White Knights, no more, “Protect me.” Much more “Help me with the dishes, and tell me about your incompetent boss a little more.” They need outlets, releases, too. Boys are no easier to raise, sleep with, relate with, emotionally predict, or talk to. I know this from countless conversations I have had with a deep voice somewhere in the dark. We are all human, all/mostly normal and complex and all could use some critical questioning of the “truths” we were raised to believe about sex and gender.

 

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