I talk about an inspired perspective on gender by Dr. Ben Barres.
About Today’s Show
One aspect of black and white thinking, or the “all or nothing” approach to life, is who falls through the cracks. In this case, it is the people who are born trans-gendered and end up choosing the alternate gender than the one their parents picked for them. We think in terms of man or woman, boy or girl, and most of the time it is an easy distinction. But any scientist knows that for any pair of human attributes, there is a continuum connecting the polar opposites. Thin-fat, tall-short, male-female.
I read a fascinating interview in the NY Times with Dr. Ben Barres, a graduate of MIT and Harvard, now a neurobiology professor at Stanford. He started life as Barbara, until his surgery a decade ago. He wrote an editorial in the esteemed scientific journal, Nature, on Does Gender Matter? I found his insights extraordinary, having experienced a range of prejudice yet also being first and foremost a scientist.
From the Interview:
Q. What about the idea that women are too emotional to be hard-headed scientists?
A. It is just patently absurd to say women are more emotional than men. Men commit 25 times the murders; it’s shocking what the numbers are. And if anyone ever sees a woman with road rage, they should write it up and send it to a medical journal.
The emotion more often associated with females is crying. That is weak (i.e. “bad.) Anger tends to belong to men. But it is seen as strong, thereby “good.” But not if you are at the receiving end of it!
Meanwhile, the Farrington High School Football Team arrived to workout. I asked the coach if there were any girls on the team: No. Nothing unusual about that. But really, a football team is made up of a range of body types: big brutish defensive lineman to small, agile place kickers. There have been girls who love to play football and many more girls who are larger and more brutish than the agile place kickers on your average football team. It seems we get distracted by gender, when really it is more about size and interest. Gender is so broad. Why do we persist in feeding the stereotypes? What is the underlying fear that keeps our eyes closed to common sense and logical observations?
Mahalo nui loa to my paddler friends for another great day on the water.
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