Monday, January 26, 2009

Oh, It's On... Debate War

Disclaimer: Since it is usually necessary in the case when I decide to test the water and use my Internet blog as a sounding board for my personal opinions and ideas, please allow this brief disclaimer to provide comfort that a. I am not personally attacking anyone, b. It's ok to disagree, c. I enjoy debate and d. if you don't like it, don't read it. (A.)

As is customary in our household, we make a point of reading our friends/family members online rantings, and we hope that others do this with us as well. One page we frequent, and we frequently comment on is our dearest critic. On many occasions we are blessed with humorous anecdotes, current events and excellent book reviews. Also, on several occasions, the postings/comments lead us down the path of DEBATE.

Personally, I love these occasions. I love to disagree, and argue my point until I'm either deemed correct beyond argument or swayed to see the other sides. Usually, I admit, I like to play devil's advocate and offer multiple sides. ( apparently, this is infuriating). D. is a little less enthused by the debate side of my personality, as he would rather avoid conflict of all types at all costs. Thus, he has been very patient with me these past few years, and has even offered some opinions up to the "chopping block" if you will just to keep me satisfied. I truly believe that spirited debate is a valuable human capability, and that it allows us to truly better understand the world and the people we surround ourselves with ( or choose not to surround ourselves with). I believe that debate in a relationship keeps things alive, and the passion thriving. And, as I have said before, I just have that type of personality that needs a good fight once in a while.

That said. Please refer to the critic's remarks and the comments on the book Twilight before proceeding. Thus bringing us to the current debate topic.

D. has requested to be left out of this debate, but I'm going to put my home life happiness on the line and try to drag him back into it, as I think this one could get very interesting. All people involved have strong opinions on this one. ( D. don't be mad, I just think you have valid points to make and I cannot make them for you)

As it relates to the comments made by flaky genius ( D.'s sister) regarding the differences in adolescent girls and boys:

The luxury of being a boy in this country is that you are constantly reaffirmed—everyone tells you you’re special, and you believe it. Trust me, you believe you are special and entitled and superior. Girls live the opposite. So there’s Bella—the girl who thinks she’s invisible, the purported nerdy girl, the quiet, plain one, an outsider, the girl reading the book. But despite her beliefs about herself, she’s clearly wrong, as many of us hope to be. And just how wrong is she? Not only does she become the center of someone’s life, but this guy is a godlike creature, he is perfection. And he listens to her. This mythical god wants to know her favorite color, her old school buddies, the mundane details of her life. Girls aren’t usually listened to even when they’re saying something important.
Upon first reading this portion of the comment, D. was outraged and thus spawned his comments back which basically insist that this is not at all the case, and Flaky genius just wants to believe that girls had it worse because she is a girl.

This has led me to say, YES! Also, as a woman, I agree with her statements, she nailed it. (please read her ENTIRE comment in context) Men just cannot understand what life was like for women as young girls, because they did not have to endure the same ridicule from their peers. ( this relates to my theory that there is nothing in the universe, real or mythical or imagined that is as mean as a teenage girl)

Not to say that we as women completely understand the teenage life of a boy. But what I argue most enlightened adult women DO understand is that women's minds/emotions are very complex compared to that of men. And it was these complex minds and emotions that we were just learning how to control and understand as teens, and therefore, it was in fact harder for us.

Fire away. I want to hear it. I'm ready. Let the Debate begin!

To D. :Sorry Honey, but I WANT to hear your thoughts. Please don't see this as confrontation, the main characters involved in this one all happen to love each other very much and have a mutual respect for one another, so I highly doubt that anyone is personally attacking anyone or that this will cause major uproar. ( I could be wrong, but I feel like this particular debate is safe)I love you.

To Flaky Genius & The Critic: Thank you for your insight and comments, I hope to hear more from you! Keep it coming! I envy your ability to debate with grace!


Anonymous said...

I am a woman and I believe that there are guys out there that do understand us and that sometimes it us that don’t understand them. We need not to make them feel pity for us or us feel pity for them but just coexist and stop bickering about who had it worst or who had it better as a teen or even now as an adult because until you are actually in their shoes you have no idea.

A + D said...

Bravo Anonymous! yes, I agree, we obviously can never fully understand another person, or group of people, that is why I find the concept of debate so appealing. It allows us to see another side, and also gives each individual the opportunity to have a voice.

I am not asking for pity.Nor am I giving pity, it is not my usual practice to pity at all, let alone in this case. I am simply inquiring as to the differences and how men/women are created equally, yet very differently.

This debate centers around the one of the greatest arguments of all time.. the sexes. Do I feel that one is superior to the other, no. Do I think I have a better understanding of men than they do of me, no. I would, however, like to invite the possibility of discussing those differences and understanding.

It is my belief that each individual, regardless of sex, has specific experiences that form them as a person. But I am curious about this idea of WHY. WHY do so many women feel the same way? WHY do so many men feel the same? There must be some reason, some shared experience, or attitude. I think flaky genius hit upon it, with her comments. I simply would like to explore.

Kelly said...

I don't think teenage girls have it harder than teenage boys, I think we just had it different. I really don't think my dad would have raised me any different if I were born male. His hard ass, demanding approach of molding me can be seen on any teen flick that shows the football star and his father pushing him to far.
With that said I think that girls are far more emotional than boys and are almost more prone to drama because of their instinct to be noticed. Boys could care less of the petty crap, because most have more of a demand to live up to the family name. It may seem that girls have it harder because they have to live up to the new trends and fashions and all the "am I pretty" crap. I think girls make it harder for themselves. Further more, after hearing many stories from John I would never want to be a teenage boy. Girls may have the instinct to be noticed but boys have the constant instinct of what's in there pants and the uncontrollable urge to find out. Girls can get away with their hormonal out burst of emotion but boys can not get away with holding a trapper keeper to hide their growth spurts.

A + D said...

Kelly, thank you for your thoughts. I agree, like I said before, each of us is molded by our personal experiences. I also agree that I think girls make it harder for themselves. Most girls (especially teenage girls) care WAY too much about petty crap. But, if you grew up more interested in books and culture, and didnt pay any attention to "pettiness" then you were labeled a "nerdy girl" and, like myself, then ridiculed mercilessly, which isnt easy no matter who it happens to.

As for being a boy, I agree that it would be difficult to "grow" up, but at least you could just punch your best friend when you got upset and then be friends again. haha. ( you have no idea how many times I wished I could do that with one of my "petty" girl friends)

Puberty for girls can be just as bad, I mean, I lost my best friend in middle school solely because she was the first to get boobs, and I was.. well, the last.

Teenage years are hard for everyone. This I think we can all agree on. But how has that shaped us as adults? Have women's self esteem suffered due to petty ridicule? Have men's self esteem suffered due to being pressured to carry on the family name?

Kelly said...

Every second of our past has shaped us. I don't think that its what you go through but how you handle yourself. Every person at one time or another faces challenges with self image, friends, bullies and everything else that comes with high school. I was the art geek that is still waiting on her boobs. I was never part of the "A crowd" and at times wanted to be but in the long run I am a better person for just being myself and not caring what I was or wasn't wearing. With the boys there are those that could handle the pressure and those that could not. And in that same group there are those that are better for it and those that are not.

A + D said...

Kelly. Agreed. :) I also feel that I am better for not being a part of the "A crowd". And, I am sad when I see young ( very young) girls start caring about popularity. I hope that my future children understand that being yourself no matter what is the most important aspect of growing up. I am disgusted by those parents who want their children to be popular, or the prettiest girl (most disgusted with really young girls).

It bothers me that appearance/acceptance is so important for young girls,and I fear it follows adult women. Whether we want to admit it or not or even want to accept that we do it, even as adults we are constantly comparing ourselves to other women. I try not to, but its hard wired into me. haha.

The Critic said...

I'll take issue with this comment:

But what I argue most enlightened adult women DO understand is that women's minds/emotions are very complex compared to that of men.

This would be very hard to prove with empirical data and sounds like an example of stating the case without making the case. Boys emotions are very complex, just as girls are. I think boys both from socialization and from brain differences process, ignore, and handle their emotions differently than girls, but because a process is without more overt manifestations doesn't mean it's simple.

Girls act out their emotions more than boys do in ways that are considered "emotive" while boys do so in ways that are considered "active." That's how you get girls making cutting remarks while boys punch each other. They're both forms of aggression, though one falls into the category of 'sticks and stones' etc.

That said, I still believe that girls and women get immensely less positive feedback than males do, from all sorts of things. There are something like single digit numbers for males with eating disorders, cutting, and other angsty elements of youth. Girls also rank higher on suicide attempts (though boys rank higher on success rates, mostly due to method used). This is not because girls are getting tons of approval from society.

I'm not going to say that boys and men have it completely easy, but I will totally agree that we have it easier.

A + D said...

To clarify, my point about enlightened women understanding that their minds/emotions are more complex than mens, was not to say that men do not have similar/ complex emotions, obviously, as humans we are all capable of experiencing a wide range of very complex emotions and thoughts. What I mean, is what you were saying exactly.

That, and, women consider more during each thought/conversation. Everything is given more meaning (sometimes unnecessarily) in the context of the conversation.

We are always thinking. We do not experience that time of zoning out without thought. This is why we ask, " what are you thinking about?" when you are staring into space. Our minds are constantly processing.

Women will take up to an hour or more to lie in bed at night, and replay the day. To consider everything, to remember, to organize and to prepare for the next day. Our minds have to cool down before we sleep. Usually, men just lie down and fall asleep. (I envy this ability)

Sometimes D. accuses me of bringing up "old shit" when we are talking. What I don't think he realizes is just because he is no longer thinking about it, as it has passed, doesn't mean I have. In fact, most times, I have been considering that piece of information off and on for the whole period of time between the original and the time I brought it up again. Sometimes this is hours, sometimes weeks, in rare cases, years.

Besides, dont we have to be "complex" in order to understand that the labels society has placed us in are trivial, and non important to our self esteem, while at the same time, accept the labels and do our best to fit?

What other choice do we have? We have to try to blend in while standing out at the same time.

flakygenius said...

To Anonymous:
My comment was never about who had it worse. And for a man to truly understand women, they have to understand that a woman’s life experience is different than their own. And they have to respect that on its own terms without taking offense. Pity is no more respect than ignorance, so I don’t advocate women asking for pity. I advocate a woman asking for understanding. And a woman isn’t “bickering,” a term you wouldn’t use if a guy was expressing an opinion, if she points out a consistent problem in society.

flakygenius said...

And also as a response to the debaters, kind of a side note I picked up from my Gender and Communication class back in the day:
Women are in a position to be responsible for the emotional content of relationships. We are, in part, conditioned this way due directly to our gender. Likewise, the other groups in America who are also good at navigating nonverbals, reading situations, and managing emotional content are minorities who, like women, are in a subordinate role in society. Our “emotional drama,” which is a highly charged sexist term, is in part the result of the power structure of our society. People without the power tend to pay more attention to relationships and communication; it’s a survival instinct.

Halls Mentho said...

Dang! I was just proud of myself for reading a book that had more than 30 pages and no pictures! Who knew?!?

I'm like my br, D, I am not a debater. My hubby wishes so, but I am a peace person. I can't judge any of it until I am a man. And I have to say not in this lifetime! Enjoy reading everyone else's comments though!

Halls Mentho said...

Nor can I spell or type worth shit!

flakygenius said...


Of course, men face pressures in their teenage years. Of course, these pressures shape them. What is unfair that in a discussion of the hardships girls and women face in their lifetimes, the discussion immediately moves to the plight of men, thereby supporting my original conclusion that women are often ignored, even when they’re trying to say something important.

There is a plethora of research on women’s issues—look at the rates of anxiety, depression, attempted suicides, eating disorders, and self-abuse in women compared to men. Examine for one day the messages advertising sends to women vs. men. Better yet, watch Killing Us Softly or Still Killing Us Softly or Killing Us Softly 3, all available through google video. Look at the amount of literature in any given school textbook written by and for men as opposed to women. Read a history textbook. Put your iPod on shuffle and see how many women artists you hit. Look at the rates of spousal abuse in this country alone. Ask yourself how many polygamist societies revolve around one woman taking many husbands and how many revolve around one man taking many wives, many still children, and then keeping those wives trapped and submissive. Ask yourself why women in some communities cover their heads (some of you have an aunt who practiced this) or their entire bodies or sit facing the rear of the church while the men on the other side face forward. Ask yourself why women still aren’t paid equal pay for equal work or why we’re still underrepresented in the political system or why we’ve never seen a woman president, even though recently, she had a stronger resume and nuance of policy. Ask yourself who is most likely to be asked to reach an emotional compromise in a relationship, who is more likely to “see the other side” in a debate, or who is more likely to apologize first. Come watch my school on the first day of classes and see which teacher is afforded more instant respect—the male baseball coach or the young female. Watch a staff meeting and see who is allowed to speak until they are finished and who is interrupted. I’m not at all angry, but I am observant.

The fact that women obsess over petty things like looks and popularity is only proof of the larger problem girls face—they are taught that their value lies in their looks, not in their person. We don’t inherit this obsession; it is taught to us by the larger society. Those of us who were lucky enough to be awkward or undeveloped in our teen years, while suffering ridicule at the time, at least had a better opportunity to escape that lesson. But the lesson is there. Girls are denied a sense of personhood, of individuality, of significance that a boy isn’t denied in the same way.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t societal pressures on boys or that some boys have incredibly low self-esteem because of the family they grew up in or that boys have life easy. I think that the comparison often takes place because it is a means of discounting the problems of women. Plus, it is pretty easy for people to accuse women of being whiny or bitchy or hormonal or emotional or complaining or unreasonable or angry when they’re just trying to state that something hurts them or is unfair to them.

Personally, I think it’s unfair that women have to “prove" they have it harder for anyone to give substance to the issues they face, but if that is what it takes, then I say it is much harder being a girl/woman pretty much anywhere in the world.

flakygenius said...

And I think it's great Halls read a book, a book that I enjoyed and whose experience I could share with her.

The Critic said...

I really don't think my dad would have raised me any different if I were born male. His hard ass, demanding approach of molding me can be seen on any teen flick that shows the football star and his father pushing him to far.

Epic Equivalency Fail.

Wait a sec, there, sista-in-law. Rewind here a moment. Let me think back to a charming story I once heard about the father of four girls out in Wyoming. The coach of the football team or something...

Now, apparently, this father, once one of his daughters got around the dating age went to the team and said, "Don't even think of dating my daughter. In fact, when my daughter comes into the room, I want all of you to gouge your eyes out with rusty forks. In fact, let's just gouge out those eyes right now."

Funny story. True too.

Now, I'm finding it hard to imagine this same father, once his young son reached fifteen going up to the high school cheerleading squad and telling them, "Don't you dare touch my precious son, you naughty dirty girls. He's so tender and so pure." Somehow this scenario doesn't quite swing, does it?

Kelly said...

I never said I wasn't daddys girl, I was trying to say that he worked me and pushed me as hard as a boy.

ps I'm still working

Kelly said...

And I only knew of the not dating me part and not the whole story. So now I have to call my dad.

flakygenius said...

Right on, sister!

Was just talking to J about the importance of girl bonding--so happy we get to talk about this book together.

Those poor football players. I bet you they didn't SEE that coming.

flakygenius said...

I meant Twilight, not that book I wrote in the comments.

Halls Mentho said...

I was going to keep my mouth shut but I just have one little insight I would like to share. Maybe because I am PMSing. Something guys don't have to go through physically, but they have to deal with our mental status at that time so I figure it evens out. I don't know that it has so much to do on our gender, but instead on how we were raised and what we took from the way our parents raised us and how we reacted to the things they may have done wrong or right. Many times we remember only the things we consider bad. We also mold ourselves to our own standards based on what we believe is important. I don't see myself as having it any harder or easier than my brothers, just different. I know too, that even know a girl, lets say is a lifeguard and doesn't understand how to put a tampon in so sits in the sun baking with a pad between her legs, praying for noone to drown has it any harder than a guy who can't understand why it feels good to climb a basketball hoop while older boys stand and laugh. It all sucks if you ask me growing up. It is awkward, scarring, and shit I wouldn't want to relive, but hell, it makes me appreciate what I have today! My kids are going to have to go through the terror of acne, periods, clicks,boners, feeling out of place at times- but I know I can be there for them and support them and direct them. It just sucks either way going though the teenage years no matter what sex you are! I don't blame my parents for any choices I made or way I turned out. So to all that want to debate, good luck! As for me, just glad the teenage years are over with.

P.S. It is late so if I made no sense or totally went off the subject I do apologize. A, please delete this comment for me if it is senseless! I'm a dork!

Halls Mentho said...

Okay, since my last comment made no sense I have to add one more, then this non-intellectual will shut-up! I know this will get my sis going so here it goes.

If you look at the movie Rudolph, all three misfits were male. Rudolph for having a red nose- they wouldn't let him join in reindeer games. Herbie the Elf, made fun of because he didn't want to make toys like a normal elf, but instead wanted to be a dentist. And Yukon Cornelius, gold digger- thoug I'm not sure he was really a misfit. Just a fruitcake. But in the end they all ived happily ever after, and isn't that what life is really all about?!? That and of course the "Hokey Pokey!"

Halls said...

Sorry about my typos!

A + D said...

Fantastic. Flaky Genius touched on something that hits close to home for me. Women are not paid at the same rate as men in similar positions. I consider myself a successful woman, I enjoy my work, I do an excellent job, have taken on more responsibility, saved the company money, and I am "1000 percent safe" ( as my boss says) in regards to lay offs. Yet, a young male member of our team makes the same amount as I do, even though he graduated undergrad in June and has much much less responsibility. Why?

I work in a entirely male office. I am the only woman, therefore my peers are the guys. Shouldn't I be held at the same standard?

And, I do believe that boys and girls are raised differently as children. I think the same basic rules, values etc are applied equally, but that there is a difference in our development and so adjustments are made. My parents did an excellent job teaching my sister and I both that we are equal. But do I feel like less of a woman because I never focused on how to properly apply makeup---sadly, yes.

I like what was said as a side note that women are more responsible for the emotional needs in a relationship. It is difficult for me to accept, however, that because I am more responsible for the emotional portion of relationships with others that I am less of a person, that my opinions don't matter as much, and that what I say is ignored. If I feel strongly about something, it is often criticized as being an "emotional" outburst rather than a legitimate opinion from an educated peer.

flaky genius said...

All the misfits in Rudolph are male because girls are ignored in stories. They especially were in the era in which Rudolph was made. A girl will watch a show by and about boys. A girl will read a book by and about boys. But boys don't typically watch girl-oriented shows or read girl-oriented books. Twilight, anyone?

And if women are treated the same in society, meaning if the inequities and awkward moments we face are the same as guys but different, then ask yourself the last time you saw this story on about a male entertainer.

Women think that they are smoothing the waters and being peacemakers when they deny that we face social inequalities that men don't. They think we should just shut up and get over it. And we do it because we were taught that the feelings of others are more important than our own. This dialogue is the perfect example of what social psychologists have been saying about women for years. The fact that women are so willing to act like boys face the same difficulties in what is clearly an unequal society is demonstrative of the problem. The world won't improve for your daughters until you ask it to.

flaky genius said...

and i agree with halls that the preteen and teen years are awkward and scary no matter what your gender.

Erin said...

Okay, I know I'm late to the party (I should really start reading these blogs regularly), but I want to put in my 2 cents.

As a woman raised by a single mother I was taught to be self-sufficient. My mother recently told me she was harder on me and expected more of me than my brother because society is harder on women and she wanted me to be prepared. This is a reality every woman knows whether she is willing to admit to it or not.

I also strongly agree that society teaches females to be more concerned with presentation and appearance than ability. I will never discount the difficulties men face. Nor do believe their emotions are less complex than ours (since I cannot and probably will never be able to understand the inner workings of the male mind). And because I am somewhat pessimistic by nature, I do not believe there will ever be perfect equality for the sexes. But that doesn't mean we can't represent females responsibly and heroically for our daughters.

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