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Penci

Sexual Division of Labor

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*not sure if this is the right place for this thread, but...*

So, my school is doing this charity-type activity that involves wrapping gifts, and so when we came to our second period class today (PE) our teacher was like *paraphrase*, "ok so, we gotta wrap these presents before friday, and so since girls are usually better at this sort of thing they can do the wrapping, and the boys can help if they want but mainly it would be good if they focused on lifting weights (since it's a weight lifting class)." all of the girls embraced this as a compliment to their "innate crafting skills", and spent the entire period wrapping presents, and all of the guys were glad that they didn't have to wrap gifts, so they spent the entire period lifting weights. I coudn't really believe it was happening at the time, because in the 3 previous yrs. i did this charity-type thing with my school everyone enjoyed getting involved with wrapping the gifts, and I didn't think that our teacher would actually manifest his generalizations about the sexes the way he did. Thoughts? Comments?

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i think at that point if no one cares then theres no problem. I realize that kind of philophospy can open unwanted doors but on this minor scale i think it holds true. I really don't think seperating the girls and the guys on gift wrapping was a huge deal esp. if what you say that everyone was ok with it was true. so yea.... i wouldn't worry to much about sexist ideals coming from your gym teacher, i honestly don't think that he was being sexist i just think he was making a generalization which he would have corrected if anyone wanted to change.

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i think at that point if no one cares then theres no problem. I realize that kind of philophospy can open unwanted doors but on this minor scale i think it holds true. I really don't think seperating the girls and the guys on gift wrapping was a huge deal esp. if what you say that everyone was ok with it was true. so yea.... i wouldn't worry to much about sexist ideals coming from your gym teacher, i honestly don't think that he was being sexist i just think he was making a generalization which he would have corrected if anyone wanted to change.

 

I agree with you that there probably was no malicious or sexist intent in the gym teachers statements, but that doesn't mean that it's not harmful and counterproductive. I'd venture to say that anytime sex and gender roles get conflated in an institutional environment, especially a high school which has such a socializing effect, is probably a bad thing.

 

I also think that the notion that "nobody really cared" is either indicidive of the problem, not true, or probably both. In that sort of environement I find it hard to believe that a guy standing up and saying "I don't want to lift weights, I'd rather wrap beautiful presents with ribbon" wouldn't be subject to ridicule. The same goes for a girl who decided that she would rather "switch sides" and lift weights. Even if no one voices active opposition at the time, this type of situation teaches kids that not only are sex roles alive and well, but that they're universally excepted by their peers and sends the signal that if they oppose them they will be held up as objects of contempt. Doesn't sound very benign to me.

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Is it possible the women in your class did a better job than you would have?

 

I am not trying to say that this all women are better nurses or child rearers, but that femininity as a trait may lend itself to being better at gift rapping. And, I think that perhaps the issue is a conflation of gender and femininity. While often true that women are more feminine than men and less masculine this doen't always hold true. it is that conflation that is problematic. Ultimately, the statement the gym teacher made is pretty passive.

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