Girls / boys: Old patterns always present

Educational Debates

At the moment when the “Ladies’ War” in the Socialist Party reaches the highest peaks of dramaturgy, the world economic forum publishes its annual report on the eternal feminine with sly raptures gender discrimination ( Global Gender Gap Report ).

It is based on a series of data in the four fields of economics, politics, education and health, based on studies on employment, women ‘ wage differentials, educational attainment, life expectancy … This report underlines that, while the situation of women in the world is still unenviable, an overall improvement in gender even detectable. And that Scandinavia remains unsurprisingly the champion of gender equality.

And yet it is an exciting Swedish study that shows how tortuous this road to equality is (Anne Chemin, Le Monde, 14 November). A researcher has for several months filmed the activities, observed the reception of the children, attended meals in the canteen. And delivered conclusions that dismayed educators and teachers convinced to adopt the same attitude with girls and boys.

Adults thus leave much more room for boys to use speaking time, accept without difficulty that the boys interrupt the girls when they ask them to wait patiently for their turn. They use short sentences and guidelines for boys, long and detailed speeches for girls.

Videos show little girls of three or four years serving the soup to the restless and impatient little boys, a distribution of roles implicitly encouraged by the educators present. These same educators ask girls, not boys, to help them participate in the service. In short they all realized that they were expecting girls to be calm, polite and helpful, accepting without difficulty that the boys make a noise and demand loud and clear what they want. They encouraged boys to take risks, jump and play and constantly asked the girls to be careful, holding them back and helping them more, as if they were constantly breaking their faces …

All studies conducted around the world show the existence of a “double standard”, both at school and at home.
Fathers and mothers, men and women who unconsciously wish to serve as models, thus unconsciously reproduce patterns which they consciously combat and which have been transmitted to them since the dawn of time. On a background of global similarity, differences of attitude appear. The fathers encourage the affection of their little girl and stimulate the aggressiveness of the boys. Mothers, on the other hand, insist that their daughter help the other children. From the same picture book, parents tell different stories to a girl or boy: fathers use more emotional terms, for example, when addressing their daughter. At school, educators smile more and show more affection for little girls than boys. Short,

At the age of three, children distinguish between the feelings of a girl and the feelings of boys. Between boys and girls, then, the difference between the sexes is greater than at home! In kindergarten, girls strive to create and maintain ties, even at the cost of a personal effort, and do not hesitate to highlight their own shortcomings and value the qualities of their peers; they more easily express their “negative” emotions (fear, guilt, humiliation); boys choose games where competition and self-promotion are valued.

Girls ’emotions, boys’ emotions, girls ‘tasks, boys’ tasks: everything will continue on this course and social norms will continue their work of differentiation: girls consider themselves more emotional and sociable, boys more audacious and individualistic; girls want to inform, communicate, help, care for, care for others; boys make, realize, research, invent. They aim at conviviality, they the social valorisation …

But if the sexual aptitudes depend less on nature than on a prescription, they are deployed chiefly in an effort to differentiate themselves, to distinguish themselves from the other sex. And this work of distinction is fundamental to appropriating a sexual identity. Between similarities and distinctions, the most paradoxical consequence of the “consciousness” following this study in Sweden will undoubtedly have been to shed some light on the sacrosanct principle of mixing. A gender equality school in the suburbs of Stockholm has decided to introduce “non-mixed” times twice a week.

And the result was not long in coming: when the children play together, the boys take up all the place, monopolize the games and the girls eventually fade, finding themselves chatting in the corners. Between them, they regain confidence, and play freely on the slide, jump and run. They go cheerfully to the toys associated with the other sex … what also do the little boys who find much fun to have fun between them with the dinettes and the fluff. During meals taken separately, the boys manage very well to serve and clear the table.

Without falling into an egalitarian obsession, it is certain that a work of reflection remains to be carried out. Moreover, a national education bulletin recently proposed to teachers a list of scenarios with recommendations: how to do, for example, when boys interrupt a girl in math?

Related posts