The Anti-Boy Bias

Monday, October 4, 2010

From the time I gave birth to my first son, I quickly learned that I was proliferating the less-preferred gender. Rarely has a week gone by since then that I haven't been reminded of society's bias toward testosterone and those who are full of it. After my second son was born, someone commented to me: "you had the wrong baby". Following the ultrasound, where we discovered we were having boy #3, the typical response I heard was "Awwwww." As in: "you poor thing."

Of course I wanted to have the experience of raising a daughter. As a little girl, I used to play with my doll and daydream of my future with a house full of sugar and spice and everything nice. As a young adult, I warmed up to the idea of "one of each" or maybe "two of each". Instead, I got "three of one." Not once have I ever doubted that God knew exactly what he was doing in charging me with the responsibility of raising young men. But I have to admit that sometimes the anti-boy sentiment can be a little much. And it's so accepted. Especially in the school system.

Consider this: At our first back-to-school night's this year, the staff was being introduced to the audience of parents. As the woman at the microphone went down the list, she made sure to point out that one class of 18 had 13 boys. "And won't that teacher need to have a lot of patience?!," she said as the crowd burst into laughter.
Last week we went to a middle school open house. We arrived late and the parents had already been dismissed to visit their student's classrooms. The only authoritative- looking person I saw was at a PTA volunteer sign-up table. When I questioned where we were to go, she said: "Well if you have a girl then I'm sure she brought her schedule home for you. But if you have a boy, then you probably need to go in the office and get his." What??? Even if it is true, why is it necessary to make such statements?

I don't want to sound like "sour grapes" because, quite honestly, I had the same attitude before I became a mother of sons. I grew up in a female dominated family and spent a lot of time with my sister and girl cousins. Our neighborhood had a 5 to 1 male to female ratio and all outdoor play was dominated by any activity ending in "ball". The boys always got their way. I babysat a lot of boys but all that did was reinforce my desire for an overdose of pink. Yet, based on my own parenting experience, I have found many reasons to celebrate the differences between boys and girls. I just wish others could do the same.

To make sure this wasn't just me having a little pity party, I did some research into the anti-boy bias of which I'm speaking and found a few books written on the subject. Two authors that I stumbled upon both identified the school system as having the biggest influence on this attitude. Funny how this is where I've felt the bias the most. In her book Save the Males: Why Men Matter. Why Women Should Care, Kathleen Parker states: "Fourteen years isn’t long to roam the earth, but boys learn early that they belong to the “bad” sex and their female counterparts to the “good.” For many, their indoctrination starts the moment they begin school and observe that teachers (who are, for the most part, females) prefer less rambunctious girl behavior."

In Bringing Up Boys, Dr. James Dobson says: "Almost every authority on child development recognizes that schools are typically not set up to accommodate the unique needs of boys. Elementary classrooms, especially, are designed primarily by women to fit the temperament and learning styles of girls." In Dobson's book he quotes psychologist Michael Thompson, author of Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys. Thompson expresses his concern about how boys are being treated in the classroom. He said, "Boys feel like school is a game rigged against them. The things which they excel--gross motor skills, visual and spacial skills, their exuberance--do not find as good a reception in school."

So maybe it's just not me. I am the first to admit that boys can be more challenging to raise--and teach. But that doesn't automatically mean girls are superior. We are all created equal. Just not the same. Now wouldn't that be a good lesson to include in the textbooks?


4 Responses to “The Anti-Boy Bias”

Teri C said...

You should read "Why Gender Matters." Now, I have no clue who wrote it cuz I perfer not to read. BUT it was a good insight and I do think of it often in my class. I feel there are more boys who are the "I won't do it" types as to girls who will "do it" but just with little effort (when talking about a task to perform.) But I have also learned that the insight on the world I get from a boy's point of view is SO much more real and straight as to the girls' gigglines, i love boys, text constantly and catfight attitudes that change with the wind. Sometimes, I think I was born the wrong gender, but we know HE doesn't make errors, so perhaps being such a boy on the insight helps me see the love boys have on the inside. You just have to read them differently. As for disliking -- they come in both genders. And even THAT usually stems from the parent. But I'm just sayin....:-)

Jeremy Saunders said...

I have not come across this as much personally. I guess cuz i am asian and in our culture, boys are precious! Nothing like raising future MEN. I would not exchange my boys for anything in the world. They are compassionate and thoughtful and make me laugh. I feel bad for moms who do not have that opportunity and have always been jealous of moms who only have a house full of rowdy boys!!!! You are so blessed!

Stacy said...

Ditto Dana! And God forbid you get one with a flare for the Arts or one who's a solid right-brained learner!
Boys lacking strength in Math and Science have their entire intellect measured and are second class citizens in the education system.
Boys are awesome!!!

Jenn said...

I have to disagree with your saying that boys are harder. They seem so, but really girls are no picnic either. I have 4 children, 3 girls and a boy, and my 2nd daughter is a menace, always fighting, yelling back, kicking and throwing huge tantrums constantly. My other 2 girls and my son don't even do that! Raising them wasn't easy, but was not as challenging as my 2nd girl! So you can't say boys are 'harder'. It's on personality, character, and especially the parenting. But I agree with the anti-boy sentiment. I wanted both genders and was so thrilled to hear their genders on the ultrasound. Funny with #4, I wanted a boy since I didn't have one and was so happy, but that happiness ended due to my anti-boy family :(. With my girls, I got alot of sweet comments like "aw a baby girl" "Enjoy buying pink!", "So lucky to have a girl!", when we announced excitedly that we were having a boy we got terrible comments "poor you" "what a pity" "a boy? ugh!" and the one that killed me most "get rid of it". It made me cry because it seemed that my unborn little boy was worthless, and because of that it sort of made me wish he was a girl even though I wanted a boy. Worse part is he's a lovely 3 year old now and my family don't care for him, and my nephew (brother's son). But w/ all the girls around, they act like they won the jackpot. Even when he was born, they never visited, asked about him or offered to babysit. With my girls, they were always calling to see how they were doing, always offering help and giving advice. With my boy..nothing. They spoil my girls with love and affection, giving gifts and taking them to places, but with my son, they treat him like he never existed and leave him out, and they never give any gift, and they do, it's a shitty cheap gift that you get from the dollar store. It hurts so much and my son is noticing it too. He had silently cried to me before asking why people don't like boys! It hurts and I f*cking hate this anti-boy ordeal! My precious son doesn't deserve to be neglected b/c of his gender. I love all my children and I want them to be treated's a shame we have to endorse this. Thank god I found this, I needed to vent it out.