FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

Summer vacation is over. Charlotte hits grade two today and the school year is off! Little Howie, aged 5, starts senior kindergarten in two days. Charlie was a little pissed her brother got 2 extra days of summer vacation. The cost of maturity, I suppose.

As a man, and as a father to two young children, I tell you what I’ll be watching for in these next few years. Ideologies which run counter to science. I’ll be careful to scrutinize the curriculum which my kids are exposed to for bullshit.

Especially, I’ll be watchful for how it is boys and girls learn differently. Oh, why is that you suppose? Because, contrary to the well-meant idiocy I read about every day about gender being a social construct, on average I know males and females learn differently.

Why is that? Well, it’s because our brains are wired differently. Hormones do that. Chromosomes do that. DNA does that. Socialization? Very little.

How do you shut the feminists up about male/female differences on the spot? Here’s how: mention women respond to certain medications differently than men.

In fact, in one example from the emergent field of chronomedicine, men with colorectal cancer who took meds at midnight when a certain enzyme level was highest survived longer because the enzyme helped clear the meds and avoided painful side effects. There was no advantage for women.

Hang on here, I thought gender was a social construct?

The same goes for learning. Men’s and women’s brains operate differently. Any guy who has had to contend with their woman’s “logic” knows what I’m talking about. It’s not inferior, but it’s fucking different to say the least.

Consider these facts cited recently by the Gurian Institute:

“Boys, on average, have lower language arts and literacy scores than girls and, on average, use fewer words per day when reading, writing, and speaking are measured in totality (this is true of all industrialized and post-industrial countries).”  For more on this, go to google and check out the OECD PISA studies.

“Girls tend to excel in more fine motor activity tasks, especially in the early years, and boys tend to excel in more gross motor activities in the early years.  To confirm this, open any textbook or other book that deals with early childhood attachment and child growth. To go further into these sorts of differences, check out this Stanford University research:  https://stanmed.stanford.edu/2017spring/how-mens-and-womens-brains-are-different.html.

Boys tend to naturally seek out more aggressive, rough-and-tumble, and even physically dangerous play than girls.  This brain fact will also be confirmed in any study, textbook, or book you open on birth to five child development. If the fact were not in that resource—if someone tried to argue differently—the book would not get published or not find any audience, since all of us have confirmed this fact no matter our country or culture.” Michael Gurian

“Girls tend to talk about their feelings more during a given day than boys, i.e. have a higher words-for-feelings ratio; boys do not as easily or quickly access feelings when sitting still, while girls are more able to sit still and immediately access feelings in conversations.” (see The Male Brain and The Female Brain, by neuroscientist Louann Brizendine)

“Girls tend to move toward empathetic relational strategies more quickly than boys, while boys will often show their empathy through aggressive touch (e.g. pushing and prodding another boy to show love).” (see Why Gender Matters, by physician and neurologist Leonard Sax)

“Because males lateralize brain activity more than girls tend to, including moving activity from front to back in one hemisphere of the brain, and girls tend to move more activity between hemispheres, males more quickly apply logic (problem-solving) to emotional issues and girls are more likely to spend more time processing the emotions themselves, before problem-solving.” (see The Essential Difference, by neuroscientist Simon Baron-Cohen).

Another good resource is Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities by Diane Halpern, which sits on my bookshelf, now in it’s fourth edition.

Susan Pinker’s 2008 superb book, The Sexual Paradox, continues to be a valuable reference I use regularly. It’s a scholarly tome, so well-researched, but written in laymen’s language and replete with identifiable examples.

Then there are the popular titles about our differences which have been hitting the bookshelves since the days of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, first out in 1992. It’s worth noting John Gray is a PhD and continues to contribute to the gender discussion. Recently, he’s co-authors with Warren Farrell (another PhD) of the very well-researched, The Boy Crisis.

Is There Anything Good About Men, by Roy Baumeister, Professor Emeritus at Florida State is an excellent primer on the differences between men and women. Roy told me by email the feminists lambasted him for this book, which made me want to buy it even more.

Me, Myself, and Us, by Brian Little examines the Big 5 personality traits and mentions their differences in men and women. Professor Little works at Carleton University here in Ottawa, and Oxford: a pretty good academic spread.

The corporate training couple, Barbara and Allan Pease wrote a delightfully easy book to read called Why Men don’t Listen and Women can’t Read Maps, out in 2000 and still fun to reference.

I’ve just started on Man & Woman: an inside story by PhD Donald Pfaff. Like Diane Halpern’s Sex Differences series, Pfaff talks about small differences but doesn’t appear to hold back on big differences either. I’m looking forward to the rest of it. It goes deep on chemistry, which means estrogen, testosterone and oxytocin among others.

In reading Halpern’s Sex Differences for the first time, that’s what struck me. How alike we are in so many ways. And so much of the genders are similar. But the differences between us are real too, and often those define the relationship. It’s about our various interests.

Then, there’s my favourite Darwin quote:

Each animal species is a population of unique individuals who vary from one another. No feature or set of features is necessary, sufficient, or even frequent or typical of every individual in the population. Any summary of the population is a statistical fiction that applies to no individual.

Indeed. My wife has put the garbage out all but ten or so times in our 13 years together. I run the snowblower in winter and run the riding-mower in summer. She has cut some of the three acres needing mowing on occasion but hasn’t tackled the snow machine yet. She wants to though.

I change all the toilet paper and Scott towels in the house. I’m not sure why that is. I read to the kids before bed, she makes sure their teeth get brushed. At first she got me to slit the chickens and rabbits throats for slaughter, now she does it herself.

And I think that’s what you’ll find in most relationships. Men and women doing what it takes to survive. Preferences abound in the individual. Many of these are tendencies found in the wider sex. Men and women can pretty much do anything the other can do but they tend to have preferences. Where that’s the case, it ought to be respected without fear of transgressing someone’s errant model of the world.

Here’s another couple of interesting quotes.

“Our genomes are 99.9% identical from one person to the next as long as the two individuals being compared are two men or two women. But if we compare a woman and a man, the genetic differences are 15 times greater than the genetic differences for two males or two females.” David C. Page, M.D., Professor of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“Everywhere we look, the two sexes are startlingly and unexpectedly different, not only in their internal function but in the ways that they experience illness. To care for them, we must see them for who they are: female and male.” Marianne J. Legato, M.D., in Eve’s Rib: The New Science of Gender-Specific Medicine

Any guy who has grappled with understanding a sister, mother or significant other has known how different we are, maybe most of his life. Some close women friends have chided me, even telling me I needed to have a daughter to better learn about and understand women.

I scoffed at the idea at the time. Now I know they were right. Little girls teach men about love.

I swapped out the toilet when I moved to this old acreage and its old farmhouse. Installing the thing, I broke the reservoir reaching for pliers, allowing it to fall over and crack. I went back and explained my situation and got a good deal on another one, 40% off. Guy felt bad I’d bought 2 toilets there in one day.

This left me with 2 toilet seats. They come in their own cardboard box, and the extra was left lying around my garage. One day, while cleaning up, Charlie was tagging along chattering away. I came across the toilet seat box.

“Here you go Charlie, here’s a present to you,” I said, handing her the big box. “For me daddy? A present for me? she replied. “Yes, you take that inside to your mother and open it up, see what’s in it,” was my answer. Off she went.

About an hour later, I’d forgotten all about it when Charlie suddenly appeared before me in the garage. She didn’t look so happy. “Why did you give me a potty-seat, daddy? It’s not a good present. I thought you were giving me something nice and it’s just a potty-seat. That’s not very nice,” she told me.

Well, well, I thought to myself. She’s right. It was careless and not very thoughtful at all of me to raise her expectations and then trick her like that. I felt about two inches tall. There was only one thing to do: apologize.

I sat her down and told her it was a joke. She didn’t buy that one at all. “It’s not a very funny thing daddy. Who wants a potty-seat for a present?” to which I had no countering argument. I had to tell her it was selfish of me and thoughtless and I was sorry for tricking her.

To my surprise, she forgave me after warning me to not do something like that again. I replied I’d do my best but sometimes I make mistakes too. The important thing is to say your sorry and I was happy she forgave me. You could say I was out of the shitter… for now.

What would have happened if I gave that potty-seat to my son? We’ll never know for sure. But I’d be willing to bet he’d think it was cool. Maybe he’d sit it down somewhere and use it. He stands up and pisses wherever he likes out back as it is anyway, we live on 200 acres of bush.

But that potty-seat taught me a valuable lesson. And it confirmed what my gal-pals were telling me all these years. There are big differences, right down to the very beginnings of life. At 3, Charlie emptied her dresser and we caught her laying out all her clothes on the floor, matching up the tops and bottoms. Howie couldn’t care less. Give him a superhero costume and he’s in.

One final example for you. I used to run sales teams for subscription drives for newspapers. I’d put up bonuses to incite production. Depending on the mix of gender in my van on any given night, I could predict which kind of bonus would be the democratic choice.

We could use top seller, winner-take-all bonuses. Or we could use top three, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd bonuses. Or, we could use a van bonus, where if we hit a certain level of production, the whole van was rewarded somehow.

As soon as the mix was 50% female reps, the van bonus was preferred. It got to be where I’d call it out at the start of the evening, “So folks, what’s it going to be, capitalist or communist this evening?” If lots of females, the commies ruled.

The prediction was 100% accurate, even when there was a particularly aggressive female who could win up against any guy. She’d lay down her preference for the sake of being liked by her sisters in the van.

Today, the start of the school year for many, let the differences between how boys and girls learn influence your parenting.

While we are very much alike, what makes us different from male to female are qualities we should not allow to be snuffed out as if they are something bad. And certainly not to satisfy some ideologue with a personal ax to grind. I’ll be on the lookout for how I can reach each of my children based on their particular personalities, strengths and weaknesses, for each has their own way of operating in the world.

I’ll also be mindful of how their brains are wired differently.

Stay powerful,

cw
© ckwallace, 2018, all rights reserved
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