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Heroes Community > Other Side of the Monitor > Thread: Gender Identity
Thread: Gender Identity

Supreme Hero
posted September 28, 2004 03:40 AM

Gender Identity

These replies used to belong to the thread "Girls aren't Boys, Nor the Reverse."  They were subsequently moved to "Gay People" and the original thread deleted.   The more I think about this, the more I believe this move to have been ill-considered.  So, here are the replies, re-categorized into their own thread again.  My own biases and explainations follow.

Girls Aren't Boys Nor The Reverse

I would simply like to say that girls aren't boys. They just aren't.

I am a stay-at-home-father and I have three children. My son is the oldest and he is five. He has a younger sister who is four. I also have an infant that is four months old. My wife works almost every day and I take care of the kids on my own. I change the diapers, feed them, read to them, play with them, and nurse their scrapes and cuts. I also teach them basic principles such as, "if it hurts when you do that, then don't that".

One of the things I have noticed is that my son is very focused on playing, running, and accomplishments while my daughter is focused on playing, running, independence, and care of the baby. My son is not so concerned as my daughter. Every once in a while he will talk to the baby but it's random and he doesn't do it for more than a few minutes before going back to playing. My daughter amazes me at age four. When the baby is crying or hungry she comes to ask me if she can help feed her, hug her, kiss her, and handle the pacifier(we call it a binky). When I go to make lunch, breakfast, or dinner, my daughter watches the baby, rocks her in the chair, and talks to her saying that "everything is going to be ok". The baby responds by quieting down, and smiling when her older sister comes to comfort her. I did not teach Kara(the four year old) how to be a good caring mother. How could I if she is only four? I think it is something inside her because she is a girl, that she wants to be a good mother and care for the baby. I don't get upset with my son if he doesn't pay much attention to the baby because he is doing nothing wrong. He is only a little boy. But I simply wanted to say that I am lucky to have a daughter who is so helpful.

While I would agree with you that generally most young boys do not display elements of parental instinct as often as girls, my son (as I have noted before) is extremely parental, both toward his baby brother and toward the host of stuffed creatures which he totes around and calls his family. He feeds them, comforts them when they are sick, settles disputes between them, and generally treats them like babies. He even named one "baby Elaine", swaddled her up and carried her around on his back like a papoose for almost a year when he was all of five years old.

I will admit, however, that this is very unusual behavior for a five-year-old boy. The tendencies you have described are more the rule than this kind of exception.

I also want to point out that without any prompting whatsoever, m son also got his first crush at the same age -- on a little girl a year older than he. He still refers to this little girl as his girlfriend and it is clear he means that term in the traditional sense. So I take his parental instinct behavior not as a sign of genetic tendencies toward femaleness or homosexuality, but rather just as a sign that some boys actually have that instinct despite the testosterone influence.


I had considered what you had written about your son. My intention of the thread topic was to go back to a very basic principle. I don't know about other places in the world but here in america there is a fundamental argument being held over whether women should have equal rights and opportunities in questionable settings such as the military.

Historically speaking, men fight the wars on the front lines while the women have mostly played a vital role at the homefront working in factories and such. I was recently having a discussion with my wife concerning women in the military.

She and I both agree that today is not much different from yesterday. For example, in Wisconsin, there is a sister being held from active duty in Iraq. Apparently the girl is the sister of one of the first women to die k.i.a. in the Iraq war. The reasoning behind not allowing the sister of the deceased to serve her pre-ordained rotation in Iraq, was given as "it would be another victory for the terrorists if they got her and claimed they killed both sisters".

I think I described it unsatisfactorily. Basically they aren't going to let her go to Iraq because her sister was already killed there. The u.s. govt is claiming that if she was killed too then the terrorists would have another victory.

My thoughts on the matter are as such:

1. Women are the morale wild card of war.
2. They can either be the largest moral boosting factor(Joan of Arc) or they can be the decisive morale destruction factor.(when Joan of Arc was captured and killed)

Personally speaking, that's really how I see most women. In a group of men, I think any woman present carries a sort of capability to raise or lower troop morale. I think men(such as myself) look for at least some small amount of approval from the woman on a socialogical level. I think this is related to a man's confidence. ie the more he is able to be friends with her, the higher his self confidence.

Oh, Consis!    

You have struck at an issue that is so near and dear to my heart.

Now I might be just as unusual to the female gender as my son is to the male, but I was raised, and am endemically, a warrior.

There's no doubting a strong streak of testosterone in me. I engaged in battle -- hand-to-hand combat -- many times and from a very young age. It could not have been otherwise, at least for me. While I perceive brutality as a necessary evil, it remains nonetheless necessary, and I am both willing and able to be in the thick of it when others are in danger and need protection.

I know that for the most part women do not have the same mindset as I do. But you must ask yourself -- is it not possible that that is simply true because women have not been socialized to accept it as part of their lives -- their own perceptions, their own self-expectations? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The lack of interest/ability in women leading to the social view that they are not suited for it, or the socializing element leading women to the conclusion that they are not so inclined?

This is one of the things I appreciated about my father -- he raised me in exactly the same way as he raised my brother. When it came time for me to crave and ask for a motorcycle, my father relented and let me have one. When I wanted to accept the honor of being the goalie on an almost exclusively male hockey team, he took me and bought me the best skates. When I wanted to go target practicing with my brother and him with the family weapons, he educated me on the proper handling of domestic arms and I shot trap 4 out of five (beat them both mind you).

And when it came time for me to defend myself against the barbarians at the school where I went and he was principal, he expected me -- rightly -- to defend myself just like anybody else.

At least like any other boy would have been expected to. I didn't realize that this was an unusual expectation for a girl until well later, when it no longer mattered to me that there was some difference -- something unusual to me.

Let me just try an idea out on you, Consis my friend. I have been sexually attacked three times in my life, and the last two I sent limping. (The first was then I was about 5 and could not defend myself.) What do you think would happen to the rape statistics in this world (a woman in the United States is raped every three minutes) if women started, all of a sudden, viscerally, violently defending themselves against attackers?

Remember those commercials of one girl after another, throwing a baseball point blank, like pros, and the commentator is saying, between pitches,

"Isn't it amazing,

How suddenly,

Girls can throw???"

Point being, you take any human being, and you tell them they can or can't do something, or that they are or aren't supposed to be able to, and for the most part they will believe it because they take their cues from the rest of us. You take the same human being, and expect them to be able, and therefore teach them, and lo and behold, they will learn, because they don't know they're not supposed to.

Well, by the time I was in my early thirties and married to the head of security for the American Indian Movement (Denver), and I was "the wife" and security was all men -- and I had it out with my husband one night after they'd been shot at at the security tent at a gathering at Wounded Knee.

The jist of my side of the argument was something like this:

I've been a warrior all my life. And you're not going down without me right there beside you.

I was already armed and presumably protecting the camp inside the territory (way beyond the security tent.) But my tone was insistent enough that my (then) husband put up no resistance. I think he said something to the effect of, Why didn't you say something earlier?

Well, I had intimated, but that kind of hint from a woman is not taken so readily.

Then for the next five years I was part of AIM security. Right around then several women became security -- all of us in there learning restraint, arms, and de-escalation techniques along with the rest. We did everything from oust drunks from pow wows to doing the bullet proof vest thing at major events for AIM leadership.

So anyway, you get the point. I DO agree that women are not suited for the most part for warfare, but I also think we should at least examine the reasons that might be so. As for me, it is not, for whatever reasons. But if women want to volunteer, and are held to the same rigorous standards as everyone else in the military, then based on my personal experience, you will not find anyone more suited for the task.

(Remember: "Peacemaker" is a double entendre! )

EDIT: Oh yeah, almost forgot. Two points on the sister thing.

First, hasn't it been true for a long time that in the military, if only one sibling is left they will pull the survivor out and not let them be subject to the threat of death in a given war? (Remembering the premice behind the movie, Saving Private Ryan)

Second of all, even if that isn't the case (which I'm pretty sure it is,) should we be letting others' moral interpretations decide for us who is battleworthy, for whatever reasons? I mean that just doesn't make any sense to me. What kind of victory would it be to a patriachal society that they had killed all the women in the family lineage?

Well Peacemaker, you're one hell of a woman.

I have to say that I've been watching this debate - ready for the first sign of a certain train of thought to raise it's ugly head - and to my surprise and happiness it hasn't made waves at all.

Thing is - I was just waiting for someone to come along with the: Boys who play with dolls/girls who play with guns - all turn out to be gay.

Because first and foremost that would be total BS (P.S - my favorite Transformer was Starscream - I liked the way he kept trying to double-cross Megatron).

But the subject is that boys are boys and girls are girls.
And this is all true.
We have basic anatomical knowledge to thank for that fact

But I think that in this day and age we should be more willing to break out of those kinds of stereotypes.

And we do.
Up to a point.

Look at Hollywood.
Some of the most popular films have come from this idea of gender-role-reversal.
There was Demi Moore, all bald and muscly in G.I Jane. Girl power and all that (which I think is a silly phrase - it just emphasizes the gender bias and hinders more than it helps imo).
Before even G.I Jane you had Sigourney Weaver doing all sorts of things to kill those blood-thirsty Aliens that were popping out of people's chests etc.
Then there's Reese Witherspoon in the Legally Blonde films - showing us that it's ok to be pink and fluffy and tough at the same time.

Uh-oh..... I'm seeing a pattern here. Anyone spotted it yet?

These were all films where WOMEN broke the gender stereotype and 'survived in a man's world' (not my phrase Peacemaker)

But I've racked my brains and the only film I can come up with where it shows a MAN surviving in a 'woman's world' (there you go - we're even ) is Mrs. Doubtfire, which - was a great movie when you're 10 or 30 with kids respectively.
But how many others can you think of? I'm sure there's more, but you could count them on the fingers of one hand.

What I'm trying to get across here, is that we haven't actually gotten rid of the patriarchal thing at all. Don't be fooled into thinking we have.

Sure it's ok for a woman to be butch and run around whacking aliens with a flame thrower etc.
But can you see middle America going for the film where the nice young boy dreams of being a house-husband when he grows up?
I sure as hell can't.

In uni, studying Psychology I did a piece of research on gender-role reversal.

I took a group of 7-8 yr olds and split them into 2 groups.
One group was told the story of Michelle, an 8 yr old girl who wanted Guns and Action Man for Christmas.

The other was told the story of Michael, who wanted a doll and pram for Christmas.

The kids were trhen asked to give their thoughts on the stories after.

The kids who heard the story about Michelle, in general had no problem with it. Sometimes girls play with their brothers toys.

The kids who heard about Michael on the other hand got more than a bit embarrassed about the whole thing. Being only 7-8 yrs old they couldn't properly express why they felt so uncomfortable about it, but the term 'sissy' came up a few times during the interviews.

So while boys can be boys and girls can be girls.
Girls can be boys too, but boys just can't be girls.
Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Wow, never imagined Peacemaker was actually a Battlemaker.  I like when women have that warrior style.

Now, Asmodean put it perfectly.
What I believe has more say into character is the nurture, rather than the nature. So, basically gender is a totally outside concept for the human nature. Just having a little P pipe between the baby's legs wouldnt make him act in a maskulin way.

But, if we look at the biological world, there seems to be that species have already set roles for respective sexes. Meaning females care for the young, dont get easily aggressive, tend to be subordinated within a group (but it all depends on the social hierarchy of animals; i.e. elephant are led by females actually; though primates do have alpha-males).

So, what I'm trying to say is that even though gender is totally acquired through learning, still it's formed more or less as a consequence of the sexes division. So, it just might be that when you put an ordinary male or female in the opposite gender position, they might not feel comfortable about it, not because of being raised that way, but because of natural predispositions. Maybe the gender division could be dated back to the times when we had our instincts to follow, but as instincts played a less important role in the evolution of humans, so too the genders took over the place as the primary male/female orientation factor and they remained unchanged for most of the time.

...until today, the glorious time of our modern civilization, when all barriers are being broken, and also the gender barrier along. Nowdays, many boys and girls are sibjected to the same type of socialization (as Peacemaker said her father treated her), so that could explain some narrowing down of gender differences. But still, I think that in most cases baby boys wouldnt feel comfortable doing the "female" tasks if they were in pink shoes, just as most baby girls woulnt be overjoyed if raised as "boys".
So basically, i feel that we humans now have a situation where socialization is a lot more influential than biological factors, and the thing is that this socialization process today is liberalized and often the same for both guys and chicks. (which i'm perfectly fine with)

Did you guys read the articles/see the TV show about the twin boys a few years ago? It's in most psychology text books that deal with this issue.
Apparently there was an accident during their neo-natal circumcision (OUCH!!!!), and one of the poor boys genitals were ruined.

The parents opted for the doctors to 'remodel' him as a girl, and he was raised as a girl (Can't remember their names)

So, a follow up study/documentary was done 20 years later.
The 'girl' has had a SECOND sex-change to make him a guy again because he felt extremely unhappy as a girl,and always felt he should BE a boy.

There have been more theories put about because of this - That gender role is biological - backed up by evolution theory and the fact that ape culture presides on the alpha-male institution.

That because he was an identical twin, there was kooky 'twin-vibes' going on, which interfered with the social conditioning that should have occurred.

Bingo, bingo, bingo. I agree completely. It's kind of perverse. What we have now isn't gender equality -- the male domain is still considered normative and superior. This is a bizarre parody of gender equality which has managed to expand the opportunity set of the oppressed to more than the opportunity set of the oppressors. Meanwhile, the traditionally feminine occupations are still overworked, underpaid, and severely underrespected.

Thankfully, I think the weirdness is a temporary phase. After all, was this topic not started by a male homemaker?

[post misplaced]


Ok so Asmodean and Khaelo have thought it wise to reference "Yentl". Barabra Streisand was quite the actress for that movie.

But I must argue with Peacemaker for one small moment. While it is true that native american indians have much in common, it is also true that their beliefs were largely dependent on which tribe they originated from. So saying that the american indians in general felt the western beliefs and high occurence of male dominant sociology is wrong. In many tribes, as I recall, males were just a male as many western society patterns. Women would be traded for animal skins and other such inanimate objects as if their was a value assigned to the female.

Now back to a comment by Khaelo, I am a male homemaker and I have found the sociological impact of our male dominated society is as much the men's fault as it is the women's. For example, I have encountered other women whom I barely know viewing myself holding my infant(this has happened with all my kids when they were infants) and then hastily walking over to tell me that they could hold the baby for me. It was as if to say, "you are a man and shouldn't hold babies". Once I kindly denied the request I would find(on many occasions) that they would at times become more forceful and demand to speak with my wife. And that was as if to say, "Where is your boss? I have a complaint and I want to speak with her."

There are many more levels in which I have found that I must tread very lightly with a great degree of social tact when finding myself in the presence of other women.

Lastly to PrivateHudson, I think you would make a good father. You seem to be very caring and your nieces were very fortunate to have an uncle so kind.

Hey Consis --

Yes, I overgeneralized quite a bit. There is clearly sexism in the history of many tribes, dare I say running in both directions.

But as a general rule, I will hold by my premise that Indian men generally do not fear their feminine sides, or the feminine side of the human identity ans social structures, like Westerners do.

And many Indian nations/confederacies (to include the Iroquoian Confederacy, to which the Founding Fathers looked for many of the elements of our current governmental structure) had women legislative bodies who were in charge of major social boundary-setting and wartime decisions.

It is also just about as common in the vast array of Indian societies that lineage, including clan identifation and land ownership, was established through the female parent (unheard of in Western societies).

Maybe it has something with the way how I was raised (i.e. brain-washed), but I tend to dislike feminine men. Not that I have anything against them, but it's just a simple rejection of guys wearing make-up or talking with a way too high pitch.  I cant picture myself doing that.

And since peacemaker mentioned boys have different levels of testosteron themselves, dont you guys ("guys". there, a sexist bias) think that whatever the case boys always have more testosteron than girls, except maybe in some rather serious genetical disorders.
Thus, nurture would have more saying into the whole thing than nature imo.

I Agree With Svarog

Personally only though it is, my agreement lies with the general unfavorable disposition towards males that are fixated on the feminine sociology.

I am a male homemaker but I am still just as manly I was before I started this job. I don't want to be girly at all. I have a deepened voice(natural male response to puberty), I'm rough with other males, have grandeur visions of doing knightly chivalrous acts, am naturally stronger than my wife, teach my son to protect women in general, tell him to hold back tears unless overwhelmed, spirited competitor, and enjoy a healthy women's mud wrestling match(beer commercials included).
**(Hear me roar)**

My point is that while I am doing a historically feminine job, I am still very much a man.

And another thing, who ever heard a female give a boisterously loud BARBARIC YOP?


(I believe The Gootch and probably Khayman have both heard me YOP rather boisterously. It is possible that PH has too.)

Just to be clear, I am not saying Indian men are in the least "girly." There is a big difference between being gentle, sensitive, nurturing, in touch with the delicacy of your surroundings, and aware of those aspects of your own personality, and being "girly."

Svarog and Consis, you are my friends. So please take what I am about to say in the spirit it is intended. I hope you know I mean no harm or ill feeling with this post.

But if I am understanding your posts, please forgive my presumption but they pretty much make my point about Western men being fearful of their feminine aspects. The equasion of feminine aspects of a human being with "girliness" certainly pays no justice to true feminity. In fact some of us might see it as an unintentional cheap shot.

Unfortunately, though, Western males generally do pretty much view femininity with this kind of contempt. An illustration of this is the fact that one of the most popular insults to a boy is to refer to him as a girl, or a sissy, or any other number of references to femininity which are intended to be disparaging.

so what you're implying here is that if you raise a baby girl like you would raise a boy ,she would be manly?
Or if you raise a boy as a girl, would he be girly?

Just wondering about your opinion...

I suppose that confusion can arise when one considers a barbaric yop to be the criterion for masculinity. Now, I have been known to celebrate myself and what I assume you shall assume is that my comments are meant solely as jests. I assure you, though, that had you seen the best minds of your generation destroyed by madness. Had you seen them starving, hysterical naked and of course looking for a fix, you would know that the differences between genders is both obvious and obscure not to mention unknowable. Even were we to pose the question to Yahweh and Urset and listen to their whole dialogue as they discussed it, we would not know the answer. For, if you wait long enough, you'll find that each of us, male or female is a brain... and an athlete... and a basket case... a princess... and a criminal. Does that answer your question? For though it may be supposed that what makes a man is the willingness to do the right thing, no matter what the cost, in reality, it's just a pair of testicles.

I do think Western males are indeed fearful of their feminine aspects, but what I'm resentful about are all those "girly" ways of acting, appearance, not emotions, which I think are not gender devided.
It's just the way I feel; I did not choose the way I was raised. But although I dont like those kind of stuff, I'm not desciminating against people that are like that.

Very often it is the result of people feeling uncomfortable in their own skin. What I said was that the way how someone behaves is more dependant on the bringing up than the genes. (What I think Peacemaker would disagree with)

bort, that one pair of testicles (and a significant part of your brain) is also one of the most important chemical factories in your body that conditions the way you behave. So, there's a lot more to those two testicles, than just the scrotum.

To explain why I'm starting a new thread again: Gender identity is not the same as sexual orientation.  It's true that transgendered people have been shuffled into a category along with homosexuals and bisexuals.  However, I believe that is a function of the dominant, main-stream society lumping "weird" people together without really examining the issues at hand.  Our methods of categorizing sexual orientation are founded on gender boundries.  They're actually quite arbitrary.  Transgender, and intergender, issues question those boundries in ways that go well beyond who's sleeping with who.  

I strongly believe in gender as social construction.  Biology plays a role, certainly, but it is not the be-all and end-all of identity.  "Woman" defines how others see me.  It's a limited depiction of who/what I truly am, and at times it's a hinderance.  (Do others regret revealing their gender on the Internet?  I do, especially in a male-dominated forum like this one.)

So there you go.  
disguised as a responsible adult

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Legendary Hero
Of Ruby
posted September 28, 2004 05:04 AM

Sorry Peacemaker

I didn't realize I made a mistake on the transferral of the posts. Please forgive me. Khaelo caught it and thanks goes to her, that I may offer a proper apology for my blunder.
Roses Are RedAnd So Am I

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Supreme Hero
posted September 28, 2004 10:50 PM
Edited By: Khaelo on 28 Sep 2004

New discussion game, based on exercise in my gender studies class...

Where would you place yourself on a feminine-masculine spectrum?  Take "feminine" and "masculine" to mean what you will; that's half the fun.  

Here's the spectrum:


And here's me, more or less:


That's the average of a range.  My definitions are based on general senses, how I feel in a given situation, and how I prefer to be seen.
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Supreme Hero
and why not.
posted September 28, 2004 11:02 PM
Edited By: Daddy on 28 Sep 2004

I think, that's it - maybe a bit more in one or the other direction, dunno...


Well, I guess its more like this after thinking a bit

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Undefeatable Hero
Daddy Cool with a $90 smile
posted September 28, 2004 11:17 PM

Yolk and God bless.
My buddy's doing a webcomic and would certainly appreciate it if you checked it out!

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Supreme Hero
statue-loving necrophiliac
posted September 29, 2004 01:23 AM


The meek shall inherit the earth, but NOT its mineral rights.

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Famous Hero
Happy happy joy joy
posted September 29, 2004 03:28 AM


And now to the next post.

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Supreme Hero
Heroine at the weekend.
posted September 29, 2004 01:29 PM



To err is human, to arr is pirate.

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