Kaoru wrote:Can I suggest that the "I think like a woman", "I think like a man" thing is flawed? The continuum that is our mind is "masculine" or "feminine" or anywhere in between. Woman and Man aren't states of mind. But I do understand that most people don't ever think of this. Perhaps that is because most masculine minds are in male bodied people and most feminine minds are in female people.
I'm still not convinced that there is such a thing as a masculine mind or a feminine mind or something anywhere in between. I certainly accept that people can have a gendered sense of identity. That it is possible for a boy, or a child with male genitalia, to believe or feel that he is a girl, or vice versa, and that those of us born with a sense of identity that matches our genitalia don't necessarily think about it in that way, because it doesn't occur to us. But to conflate that sense of identity with a gendered "mind" or way of thinking is, in my view, problematical.
Kaoru wrote:And I think of course that this has evolved since caveman times.
Mostly, women are capable of childbirth, men are not. So, women give birth while the men with their strong upper body do the hunting. This has given rise to many associated traits that mostly are not actually gender specific. But, over the many thousands of years one or two simple facts have given rise to assumptions that men are "this" and women are "that".
For instance, men while hunting probably developed an acute sense of direction and distance. Nowadays it's commonly touted that women can't read maps, could this be why it became common for men to do the driving?
If it were true that women can't read maps, wouldn't it be better for women to do the driving and men to navigate?!
But your example is precisely the sort of thing I balk against. You're not talking about sense of self or identity here, but about psychological characteristics. The hunting hypothesis is a particular bugbear of mine. Have you been reading Robert Ardrey or Lionel Tiger or Michael Gurian or Barbara and Alan Pease? If so, or even if not, I suggest you read Same Difference: How Gender Myths Are Hurting Our Relationships, Our Children, and Our Jobs
, by Rosalind Barnett and Caryl Rivers. There's a chapter entitled "Man (and Woman) the Hunter" that tackles this particular myth. The idea that our earliest male ancestors went out hunting while the females stayed at "home" producing and nurturing children is not, in fact, a convincing one. Apparently, the palaeoanthropological evidence suggests that it is much more likely that, for most of the time, these nomadic men and women went scavenging together. There is also evidence that both sexes hunted small game, like hares and birds, with nets as well as with bows and arrows. They all moved about a lot, so an ability to find their way around was vital for both sexes. Big game hunting came later in our evolutionary history, and was an occasional thing, and not something on which humans depended for food, so it is unlikely to have had a huge impact on our psychology
Kaoru wrote:But the thing is that masculine minds can be in female bodies and vice versa. We mightn't think about it much because mostly feminine minds coincide with female bodies, and it's far easier for people to label according to visible differences.
I'm with you on this, except I would still prefer to talk about male and female identities or senses of self, rather than masculine and feminine minds. I think it is risky to conflate the two. If people born apparently one sex believe themselves to be the other sex, if perhaps they have some incredibly powerful gut feeling about it, then that's one thing. It's not something I fully understand, of course, because I haven't experienced it, but I kind of get it. If people believe themselves to have a "mind" that is characteristic of the other sex, simply because they are gentle and empathic, or logical and competitive, or they like things like cooking and flower-arranging and don't like cars or football, or vice versa, then that suggests that they have been strongly influenced by the gender stereotypes that abound in our culture, and there is a possibility, I suspect, that this could cloud their judgement.
kaoru wrote:I believe that there are so many things about people's true personalities that have nothing to do with gender, but mostly they've been twisted by societal attitudes and expectations so much that people don't even realise that they're not truly being themselves. Everything starts from the pink and blue thing at birth, and everyone is subject to it.
Yes, again I agree with you here. Even when people try hard not to do it, it is impossible to avoid. Many parents eschew the pink and blue thing, and try not to buy their children obviously gendered toys and clothes. I spent my toddlerhood in red and blue dungarees, and I played with wooden building blocks and Lego rather than with dolls. But by the time I was five, I was asking for a pink frilly dress and a Sindy doll. (Fortunately I'd grown out of both by the time I was six.) There are plenty of other influences that are just as strong or stronger than parental steering, peer pressure and advertising being obvious ones. I don't know how I would have coped if I'd had a child of either sex. But at the risk of sounding preachy here, I do think that all of us, parents or not, have a responsibility to do our best to resist those stereotypes and not inadvertently reinforce them.