If there is one thing I’d love to know before I kick the bucket its, at what stage in life do girls start to come second?
As a mother, I’ve been watching girls grow up over the past twenty four years, and I just can’t quite figure out exactly when it all begins to go wrong.
Take my own family for example. I have three girls and one boy. My son arrived a content, happy, little boy. He lived minute by minute, for many years totally unaware that his sisters planned and schemed most of every day.
For example, at the age of five his younger sister was aged two. Seven mornings a week, every week of the year, they sat together eating their cereal for breakfast. As they were nearing the end he would chat away while trying to mop up the last of the milk in his bowl. Little did he know that his little sister would see this as a signal that breakfast was almost over. She would quickly put her bowl to her mouth, drain off the remains of the milk, jump off her seat and run as fast as her little legs would carry her into the sitting room. Once in there she would clamber up onto the favoured seat, remote control in hand and switch on dinobabies. A few minutes later her older, not so quick thinking brother, would amble in and look in surprise and dismay at his baby sister sitting on ‘the’ seat watching her favourite programme.
She did this every day, every single day without fail, and he never figured it out!
Not only at home have I seen how young girls can run rings around boys, I’ve also noticed it elsewhere. For many years I’ve been involved in teaching and coaching swimming. Not one single session passes when I don’t shake my head at how the words I speak to girls seem to mean something very different to boys.
“Look at the ceiling” I say. The girls look at the ceiling, the boys look at anything but the ceiling.
“Next we are doing kick, back crawl kick”. The girls do backcrawl kick, the boys do… backcrawl full stroke.
“I want you to do six kicks on the right arm, then switch arms”. The girls do exactly that, the boys do… a hundred varieties of wrong.
The more I teach the more I wonder. The majority of girls from an early age listen. They understand quickly and they do what they are asked.
Finally there comes a time, at about thirteen years of age, when hope begins to shine, Boys begin to listen. Skills are learned, and at last they begin to hear the same thing girls are hearing. Finally they learn to swim faster.
I wonder is this when they begin to pass the girls out? Is it at this very moment that girls begin to accept second place?
Knowing my own daughters, and thinking of the many young girls I’ve taught over the years, I can’t accept that girls are ever ‘happy’ to come second. I’ve met strong, articulate, clever and driven girls who should have the world at their feet. I’ve met boys equally as strong, articulate, clever and driven who statistics will tell me, in time will have the world at their feet.
When that change happened I cannot tell you, but every day of the week as I teach the young girls and boys of the future, I wonder not when it happened, but how?
Disclaimer… All opinions my own based on years of observation and no scientific fact. No boys were harmed in the making of this post but I did get a lot of grey hairs over many years.
photo credit: Day 252 – Sibling Rivals via photopin (license)
photo credit: Cydcor Conference Break-out via photopin (license)
40 thoughts on “Why do men rule the world?”
The seeds are planted deep and early, and spring to life at puberty. Oversimplification, I know, but… And just look at the treatment girls give each other in Junior High (or its equivalent.) Charles Schulz had it right when he created Lucy. I see her in the grocery store all the time — and lots of other places, and I love her!
I would have thought I planted strong equality genes in all my gang but I suppose time will tell. I love the way my post reminded you of the character Lucy. She’s a great creation. I always loved her too.
I don’t have an answer, but the points you raise are interesting. I do think that by the time we become adults, ‘the way things work’ often seems to work more in favour of men than women. This is mostly based on observations in a career that’s excessively male-dominated. It probably goes the other way for men working in female-dominated environments too. It’s frustrating when you find yourself somewhat handicapped by having to work in a less effective manner (for you) because you’re being measured against the ‘standard’ way of doing things.
Yes I don’t think there are many who could deny we live in a world which favours men and I suppose that in itself gives men a better place than women, regardless of upbringing.
Regardless of how handicapped or less effective you may feel in your work environment the fact you chose to work in a male dominated environment perhaps says things are changing?
It does hopefully, though I wonder if I would have chosen the same career in hindsight. Teenage me would probably be horrified at my change in priorities over the past few years 🙂 Ultimately we need a better work/life balance for men and women to create real equality.
Fascinating question and reflection. I don’t know. In my observations, females are more able to open themselves up to other perspectives: see others pain or heartache or insecurities. And as they get older, they relate to those people and their emotions, and will even pull themselves back to help others go forward. Maybe? And then society has a place for them, and girls/women have that open perspective to see where their place is supposed to be, instead of venturing forth. I don’t know. All I know for sure is that the sexes are definitely built differently, inside and out.
I get where you are coming from and I personally chose to be a nurse over a doctor for those very reasons but I can’t help but think that society pushes women in one direction irrespective of their capabilities, as it does men.
I was a very strong willed tomboy growing up and swore any girl I’d rear would be well able to compete in a world of men. The result was strong girls who are very much more girlish than I ever was. Nature won out.
Reminds me of my former college roommate (a feminist like me). When I had my first child – a girl – she refused to buy her anything ‘girlie’ and went gender neutral. Two years later I had a boy and my roomie, seeing the difference between the two, got a tea set for my daughter, and a drum set for my son! :-0
I don’t have an answer but I think the way society assumes our roles as females and males are predetermined is ludicrous.I look at my two girls wrestling on the couch and wonder how it is that women should only be gentle and softly spoken,not boisterous and full of spirit like my two wonderful daughters.
Yes I totally agree, but I do actually think they are predetermined, but not necessarily male and female. I was very mixed, as in tom boy, where as my girls seem to be girls and even though they are strong, athletic and second to no one, they do appear happy in their girl roles. Happier and more comfortable than I was at their age.
I suppose time will tell when it comes to taking their place in the work force or deciding whether to be the sahm or work full or part time?
Somewhere along the line, around puberty, the girls realize, consciously or not, that they are more attractive to boys if they are not always brighter, tougher, harder. Their assertiveness tones down. It’s about the same time that boys notice the girls that are in need of their help, academically, athletically, etc. I have seen it over my past 60 years. Human nature.
Haha. I have seen plenty girls like that but personally I was a polar opposite, daring boys to think I wasn’t as good as they were. Thankfully I met someone who was happy to let me be and not compete against me.
I wonder if there really are more girls as you describe? Maybe I’m blinkered?
Just my own experience here, but I think much of it is linked to having children. All though life, I thought we were equal – school, college, work. I couldn’t understand the idea that gender equality even existed – yes, I could see that there were men in top positions in politics and business, but surely my generation would change all that. Then I had kids, and realised I didn’t want to work a fifty hour week anymore, and that if it came to a choice – fast track career and no time with kids, or slower progression and more time with kids, I’d choose the latter every time. That’s not the overall answer by any means – just my own experience. There are other factors at play for sure – there’s very real sexist out there, there’s indirect discrimination, there’s the stuff that’s ingrained – that nobody knows they’re even doing. But I hear you – I wondered for a long time, just as you are here. And then I had kids.
Yes I agree. The kids killed me too! If I’d had a husband who said, “let’s share childcare 50/50” I might have been horrified. All my bolshy, I’m as good as you men, left me as I wanted to be the greatest mother to them and if I’m honest, be more there than my husband.
However now I’ve reared three girls and one boy. My eldest has worked hard at school and college and I’d hate in a few years to think she was not going to use her education and pursue a career. What a hypocrite am I?
I do find it fascinating how better able girls are in almost all things when they are young.
I think your post could turn into a full blown thesis. I can’t even begin to come up with an explanation. But I love yours, and your humor.
Yes a thesis is calledf
🙂 We’re even completing one another’s sentences now. 😉
Haha. My phone went dolally the other night and I couldn’t get back to sort that typo out. What a friend you are. 🙂
I’ve got your back Tric 😉
A few years ago, I was having a drink with a wise friend. The chat got on to the topic of space travel on the back of a recent tragedy during which a shuttle launch had gone wrong and a group of astronauts lost their lives. We talked about how they were all hailed as heroes, and the selective application of that term in life. It could be argued that heroes are out there risking life and limb every day in much less publicised or celebrated work. My friend dryly reasoned that with the amount of money directed towards space exploration, they couldn’t be anything but heroes when it goes belly-up. A short observation that said a lot.
I think of that line often when I hear certain folk people talk about careers, and how they are heavily relied on to confer status on folk, and have become a benchmark of a person’s worth and ability. Little thought appears to be given to the real-world value of many high-flying careers. And that’s a world-view I have the luxury of living by because I was raised by folk who worked hard to pay for an education for their children. I’ve a luxurious vantage point. I’m just not fussed in sampling certain worlds that landed at my feet. One ‘world’ doesn’t fit all. For those women I know that have, privilege or education isn’t enough to break down patriarchal barriers. For those without opportunities, the barriers are multiple and more deadly for both men and women both with or without children. Sexism and discrimination is theirs in HD. For men, the societal expectation to provide, and the shame of mental health problems leads to so many premature deaths. The class divide determined their place was on the wrong side of the boys’ club..
That’s all I got.
You are a loss to the debating world!
So much of what you say rings true. I was listening or reading something the other day (am in a very delicate condition today, post a night out and my brain is fried or pickled) and who ever it was made the comment that their parents always said when speaking of careers, “who would you miss most in your life, the people who take away your bins or an astronaut?”.
As regards men ruling the world, your point is well made, at the end of the day statistics tell us that more men than women take their own lives. Power and prestige, money and position don’t necessarily bring peace or happiness. Very well said.
in kindergarten, i see the girls run rings around the boys. the girls are better able to express themselves, explain their needs, wants and feelings. they tend to carry emotions with them and continue to remember being slighted, who was nice to them, etc. the boys tend to be more physical and move on quickly from negatives and positives, but have no clue about how to express themselves, other than with the physical. it’s interesting to watch.
It’s fascinating Beth. Even though many of us do our best not to stereotype, the children are what they are.
Such interesting observations. The first thought that came to mind – and I can’t shift it and yes, I know this doesn’t apply to everyone – is it when they have babies? Or don’t but have other people in their lives to care for? Is it a caring gene thingy? Or maybe I’m talking through my hat. Which wouldn’t be that unusual \00/ !
Actually quite a number of other commenters think just like you. I’d not really thought about it from a maternal point of view, but the more I do the more I think that would seem to be the crux of the matter. I certainly bowed out of gaining ‘power’ or a career when I had children as did a lot of my very clever and able friends.
Tric, I reckon it’s down to women having children. It’s a tough ask to be a mother as well as a leader in society. Also, there’s no doubt that care roles fall on women’s shoulders in relation to ageing parents and the like. Until there is far greater sharing of these roles, men will be the hunters!
Even though I’d love to believe otherwise I tend to agree with you. All things being equal I think women would give men a run for their money, but in general things are not equal and women do, in the main, look after childcare and parents.
Also in many homes women do indeed rule. 🙂
Ask ‘yer man’ who rules in your place and then tell us if he’s right or not!
I laughed out loud when I read this comment the other day. Good one. 🙂
I think that the balance of power shifts as soon as women put their children and others ahead of themselves. Men never do that. But that doesn’t mean that women are weaker or wrong– it means that power isn’t the most important thing to them.
Yes, it’s a different set of values/ priorities. I’m not sure I’d go with ‘never do that’, but I do know what you mean. Regardless of what’s happening women often do have to put someone else first.
I have two boys, so I haven’t been able to compare in the same detail as you, Tric. I did point to the headline of your post, though, and tell my wife that men rule the world. It was interesting to look up at the ceiling like that. I seldom get the chance.
Haha. I’d say she got some laugh. I’d imagine a daughter would have no bother running rings around you and your boys. Just you wait, if daughter in laws come your way, remember you were warned!
I think that’s very likely. Most of the offspring in my family, my brother’s family, my mother’s family, my father’s family and my wife’s family have all been boys, so the few girls there were had the rest of us twisted round their little fingers.
“the boys look at anything but the ceiling.”
and the reason?
we’re not so ignorant of the scheming nature of girls as you think and suspect a trick is about to be played on us 😆
and as far as expecting us to swim AND count at the same time ?
that’s multi-tasking, that is ! 😆
I’d say Duncan, you’d be the type who is well able to scheme your way around. I can just imagine you doing a bad job of something so you would never be asked to do it again. You see us scheming women are onto you.
“doing a bad job of something so you would never be asked to do it again” – a lesson I learned from my dad 😆
I have been thinking about this post since I read it earlier. Perhaps men don’t actually rule the world…we women just let them think they do! 😊
Haha. Yes we ‘let’ them. 🙂