Monday, March 07, 2011

21st century neurosexism limiting choices for children on International Women's Day

Today is apparently International Women's Day. I thought such events were all about the idea of improving the lot of women and girls by getting rid of gender inequality and stopping gender-based discrimination. Back in the olden days when I was young, feminism was all about changing the world so that no one misses out or loses out simply because of their gender. But these days, the types of people that I would have expected to be anti-sexism, people like women, teachers and middle-class authority figures, seem to be positively promoting discrimination based on sex. These days the latest fad is to believe that females have a female type brain, and males have male type brains, and this biological difference means the sexes behave differently, have different abilities and deficits, and desire different things from life. Boys want to go campin' and fishin' in the wild with hairy fatherly role models. Girls would prefer to stay in the city and paint their nails at sleepovers with girlfriends. We have academics and pop psychology book writers such as Prof. Simon Baron-Cohen to thank for popularizing these ideas.

Never mind that in our midst we all see many people who don't or can't or won't fit the stereotypes. Tomboys, effeminate lads, same-sex attracted people, cross-dressers, nerdy ladies who love to write code, nurturing men who love to care and cook. I guess we can all go to hell in today's intellectual climate. The only type of diversity that we officially celebrate these days is ethnic diversity. So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that today the government high school that our child attends is holding an incursion that is promoted as a bit of fun, a visit from a fashion designer. This school activity is only for female students. This is certainly not the first single-sex school activity held at a co-ed high school that I have heard of. Such discrimination is apparently not at all frowned upon these days. Our politically-aware child asked me Am I allowed to say "sexism"? Well, if you can't say "sexism" on International Women's Day, then when can you say it?

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