Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cognitive Dissonance Much?

I find myself in the peculiar position today of being a staunchly feminist woman advocating for boys rights.  I know- it sounds even odder on this side of the screen.  I'm doing this because really, I think for both genders, there are some serious human rights issues that don't get enough attention, and equality means just that- equality.  If persons of either gender suffer abuse, discrimination, or inaccessibility to services because of their gender, then that is not equality.  Yes, obviously there are some distinct biological differences between males and females, but a person's access to education really shouldn't be influenced by their biological sex.  And as I was informed yesterday by my son's pediatric provider that it most definitely was.  Apparently the current thinking is to wait until boys are almost or already six years old before starting them in kindergarten.  The reasoning that I was given is that boys can't be expected to sit still for classes before then, which strikes me as the typical "boys will be boys" excuse. 

What does this teach boys?  To tell children going into public education that boys can not, and thus should not be expected, to behave themselves in a classroom appropriate manner until later than girls?  To tell them that younger girls are behaviorally on par with their older boy class mates?  Doesn't this just set up lower expectations for boys?  Doesn't it just say "It's OK, we don't expect as much out of you as we do girls, you are a boy, after all.  It's not like you can control your own behavior."  Doesn't this just lay the foundation for later sexual harassment and possible abuse to be excused with an "It's not my fault; she wore a revealing outfit."  We've accepted the fact that when we set the bar lower for girls, we set them up for failure.  If we tell girls it's OK to be bad at math and science, then they are less likely to seriously try math and science.  Why can't we see that the same is true for boys? 

Public education is just that- open to the public.  Not the public of one gender.  If boys are not ready to sit still and learn at kindergarten age, then why is kindergarten structured in a way that favors girls, who supposedly are behaviorally ready?  I'll admit Ken is an active child; anyone who knows me has heard at least a tale or two of being lapped by a small child.  It happens frequently in our house.  I get that boys are active.  So are girls.  Frankly, I'm almost thirty and I have to get up and stretch and be active for a little bit every couple of hours or I go stir crazy.  I understand the need to be not looked into a desk all day.  Why do we expect children of any age to do what even adults have trouble doing?  Especially when we're facing an epidemic of childhood obesity, shouldn't we be encouraging all children, regardless of gender, to get up, move about, and exercise, and provide them ample opportunity to do so? 

I see similar differences in treatment when it comes to certain medical procedures, but that post will have to be written another time- I need to get out and run a bit. 

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