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Patrick Brogan

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If it would destroy a 10 year old boy to be called a girl, what are we teaching him about girls?

See the related talk at about 5 mins in to understand this one.

I am seriously bothered by the logic here. The implication is that the boy must be insulted because he must have such a low opinion of girls. This concept is a common piece of "wisdom" I have begun to notice a lot more now.

A 15 year old girl is going to a dance, she likes a boy there. The pressure is on to look good. In front of all her friends, someone makes a quip, "Are you really dressed like that? You look like a boy!" She cries. The teachers see this and become horrified. "If it destroys her to be called a boy, what have we been teaching her about boys?" They immediately draw up sensitivity training for the girls.

The insult is the enforcement of roles. It says "youre out of order." It assumes the object of the insult to be exempt from the pressure. Girls are exempt from being judged by their sports performance, boys are exempt from being judged by their looks (although this has begun to blur). "Cry like a baby" does not express contempt for babies, but acceptance of their vulnerability.

The funny thing is boys insult girls by calling them boys, and girls insult boys by calling them girls. This happens all the time. As a disabillity carer i was told by a woman that i was a woman for doing a woman's job. I was embarrassed, but not because I have contempt for women, it was because someone indicated my job was fine for women, but not for me.

Men and women insult both sexes by calling them the opposite and enforcing gender roles, now I support the of ending that kind of restriction. I do think with the acceptance of women in mens roles but not vice versa, that the insult carries less potency for women. But call me out if you disagree.

So I'll wrap it up. Agree or disagree below.

The original insult against the boy is not based on contempt for girls, but the intention to enforce gender pressures on that boy that are not enforced on girls.

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    Apr 2 2012: In this particular example, I would say that the person intending harm fosters the greater responsibility. Though you could have substituted the actual phrase "look like a boy" with any kind of degrading term and the girl still would have been insulted. In fact, the boy could have said "of, you look really pretty and girlish" in a sarcastic manner and it could still result in hurt feelings.

    I believe that the social constructs of gender or other personal identifiers reflect a broad cultural phenomena. The lack of cultural sensitivity is something that we're all guilty of because as a society, we give credence/power to those very concepts or words that can be destructive.

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