There is much fuss at the minute about name calling. I certainly agree that calling people names in an attempt to demean them is an unpleasant act, and one that should be discouraged. But in recent debate I have noticed that people are getting very upset about statements such as "you throw like a girl" etc. The implication is that this is demeaning to girls. I wish to argue that until recently, that has not been true. Furthermore, it is suggested that such statements are made by boys and men as a means of degrading girls and contribute to misogyny. I don't think this is true. I will tell you why. Firstly, I grew up with a slightly older sister - whom I adored. So I did anything she asked (although I stopped at eating poo out of the toilet which she insisted to me - when I was around 3yo - that it was chocolate). But at one stage when I was about this age, she and my rather young aunt played a game where they put me in a dress. A photo was taken. For the rest of my life this has been used to humiliate me at family dinners, when guests come, etc: how I wore a dress. I also liked the colour pink when I was young - not at the time being aware of the gender ban on this like - this also for the rest of my life was used to humiliate me at family dinners, etc. So there are two things about this - there is nothing embarassing for girls about wearing dresses and liking pink, but there is for boys. And far from it being boys who demeaned girls in this regard, it was in fact girls demeaning boys based on these gender issues. It is in this regard that I find a distinct one-eyedness about allegations of boys and men - and their privileges and demeaning girls. It looks at the injustices that girls supposedly face, and ignores any contrary experience.
My sister was also quite violent. She would attack me and pinch, bite and scratch me. However, whenever parents were around she would wail that I was hurting her, and I - being a boy, and she a girl - was of course seen as being at fault. And she would slyly grin as I got in trouble for her attack on me. This of course stopped once I reached a certain size - and I suspect that the physical power difference is one reason why we see less violent crime by women - they simply know that it is not a winning strategy for them. Although they are offered quite a bit of protection by the taboo on men fighting back against physical attacks by women.
Anyway, in short, my experience of growing up was not one of my being privileged as a boy and my sister being demeaned, but rather the other way around. When she went to uni, her accommodation and expenses were paid, as a 'boy' I was expected to be tougher, and so pay my own way (not living at home either). My sister was also protected against violence where none of the boys were, but that is another story.
Now I still love my sister, but the experience growing up certainly opened my eyes as to human nature, and what girls are capable of in the way of evil. She was protected, coddled and cared for, even well into adulthood. I used to sleep on beaches as a teenager and no one noticed or cared. So I get somewhat rankled when people go on about 'white male privilege'. And I also question whether the use of 'don't be girl' is a statement used by men to control women, or rather one used by women to control and demean men.
Now returning to an earlier point: I am not even sure that saying to a boy 'you throw like a girl' is at all demeaning to girls. Until fairly recently throwing was not something girls were meant to be good at. It is only now when we are trying to remove all differences between the sexes (a futile and dangerous task I believe) that girls have been expected to be capable of everything boys are capable of. When I was young it was just accepted that girls were girls, and not as physically strong or capable. They were not expected to be as a point of honour, but boys on the other hand were. Again, the put down was not meant to demean girls, but to demean boys. And I still think it is bad, not because it degrades girls, but because it is used to 'macho' up boys - and is probably one of the things that is used to drive boys towards the hard macho culture that is now so derided (and associated with un-empathetic words from women such as 'toxic masculinity'). My point is that put downs are used as much by women to control, manipulate and humiliate men, as they are by boys and men. Thus saying that male behaviour and macho-ism is due just to men and men's behaviour is a real lie.
So I wonder if I am alone? After an upbringing where boys and men are put down if they don't act a certain way (to please women I think) and in which they have their confidence and self-esteem undermined and made fragile by the constant put downs, or fear of put downs, by women, and have found that they will not be supported, but must rely only themselves, whilst their sisters are indulged in many ways emotionally and physically - after working dirty, dangerous and unpleasant jobs to get by, after all this boys are told they are privileged and that they are responsible for all their own problems, and now must fix them by themselves, under the constant criticism of women, who need do nothing at all, and who - it seems - can find no redeeming features among their men folk. Is it any wonder that men are feeling even more frustrated than ever? Where are men supposed to go from here? They must be tough and ready to go to war (in Afgahanstan or where-ever else they are sent) and emotionally capable of being made redundant or unemployed - thus taking away the only worth they have in our society - and we wonder why they suicide and self harm through alchohol abuse, drugs and in other ways?
We are told we must listen to women and their stories - but are women really interested in listening to us? Who controls the upbringing and socialisation of men? Has it not been - until recently - predominantly women? How can they not have a role to play? How can they have no responsibility for the problems of society? It is their own sons they are complaining of and fearful of. How can that be?
You might also be interesting in Bettina Arndt's take on this: