Sunday, July 23, 2006

Men & Women and the Family

Add this to the never ending list of books I want to read.

This article in Newsweek talks about a new book, out next month, about the female brain:

To write the book, Brizendine melded her rich clinical experience with thousands of research studies other neuroscientists have conducted over the past 10 years. Her conclusions will seem like common sense to some and nothing short of heresy to others: she not only discusses the biological reasons girls gravitate to dolls instead of trucks but tracks the hormonal imperatives at play when a teenage female becomes obsessed with text messaging and shopping. Photobucket - Video and Image HostingShe describes the neurological reasons why women think about sex less than men but, in their drive to produce genetically superior babies, may be having more extramarital affairs than their frustrated husbands might imagine. She also explains how changing brain chemistry can prompt a postmenopausal woman to forgo marriage counseling and dial up a divorce lawyer instead. Her ideas are certain to spark controversy from some doctors and social scientists who think books like this undercut women and reinforce old gender stereotypes. Examining the biological underpinnings of gender difference is bunk, these critics say, because there aren't many. Last year prominent psychologist Janet Hyde examined decades of studies that compared the emotional and behavioral lives of men and women and concluded that most differences between the genders were statistically "close to zero." "There is no gender-difference phenomena to explain," she says.

I hope there is another book that follows called The Male Brain, because I need a manual to figure them out sometimes.

On a more serious note, I think this book is important for the feminist types who insist that there is no difference between men and woman and then try to raise their children androngynously:

The myth of the androgyny ideal. For much of the history of Western civilization, differences between men and women were widely recognized and even celebrated. As late as the 1950s, social scientists largely accepted that men and women had biological differences that produced behavioral differences. Men and women, it was thought, formed a natural complementarity wherein each sex supported and strengthened the other. This idea was so ingrained that, for much of this century, educators routinely reinforced male and female distinctiveness and sex--role behavior.

But beginning in the 1960s, our recognition of gender distinctiveness gave way to the ideal of androgyny. Out of a concern for greater social equity, androgyny advocates preached that men and women ought not only to be treated exactly the same, but to behave the same as well. Social psychologist Sandra Bem was particularly influential in spreading the gospel of androgyny, arguing that persons freed from traditional sex--role behavior would be better adjusted, more adaptive, and psychologically healthier. By 1980, according to a survey published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 72 percent of mental--health professionals described a "healthy, mature, socially competent" adult as androgynous.

The ideal of androgyny found fertile soil in the field of parenting advice. Experts jettisoned the complementary model of childrearing and exhorted mothers and fathers each to parent in exactly the same way. According to many parenting gurus of the 1970s and 1980s, mothers and fathers should parent so that a child would neither know nor care whether it was mom or dad in the room.

Androgyny became the basis of the New Nurturing Father ideal, in which a good father was defined as a man who shares equally in all childrearing activities from the moment of birth. The New Nurturing Father was expected not only to cry at movies, but to change precisely half the diapers and fix his baby's formula as adeptly as he could fix a flat tire.

This view is now deeply ingrained in American culture--especially among social-service providers. At a recent workshop I conducted on restoring fatherhood, I was lectured by a social worker that it is not just incorrect, but dangerous, to use the word "father." The correct term is "parent."

The androgynous father has proven to be an awfully uninspiring model for most men. And no wonder. Essentially, the androgynous message says, "Fathers, you are doing it wrong. To be a good father, you must be more like mother." The result: fatherhood has been feminized, and the father is disappearing from the home.

This article continues about family and parenting and the history of changes in the late 20th century, exposing the myths of parenting 'trends' and demonstrating how the moonbats got control of the family.

The myth of resilient children. A final idea that contributed to the decline of fatherhood in America was that children are resilient. For much of human history, children have been seen as requiring tenderness, affection, and protection from the adult world. This view of childhood as a time of innocence and vulnerability led to the prevailing cultural virtue that parents in troubled marriages ought to stay together "for the sake of the kids." This does not mean that divorce is a recent invention; indeed, divorce has been a part of mankind's experience throughout human history. But it did place a natural braking mechanism on impulses to leave one's spouse, which helped to keep divorce rates relatively low.

As pointed out by Barbara Dafoe Whitehead in her recent book The Divorce Culture, this view of childhood posed a problem for the divorce advocates in the 1970s. If children were vulnerable to stress and disruption, how does one divorce without feeling guilty? The answer: Children are really more resilient than we think. Divorce, and its consequent father absence, may be painful at first, but the children will get over it. They are, after all, just children.

Some even went further to suggest that divorce can be a self--actualizing experience for children. In their 1974 book The Courage To Divorce, authors Susan Gettleman and Janet Markowitz argued that "divorce can liberate children," and can lead to "greater insight and freedom as adults in deciding whether and when to marry" and to "break away from excessive dependency on their biological parents." Similarly, in his 1973 book Creative Divorce: A New Opportunity for Personal Growth, therapist Mel Krantzler stated that divorce provides "an ambiguous, expanded experience that moves kids to better adjustment in a society that is highly ambiguous and expanded."

The propagation of the "resilient child" myth was extraordinarily successful. By 1977, 80 percent of respondents to a national survey disagreed with the statement, "When there are children in the family, parents should stay together even if they don't get along." Divorce rates nearly tripled between 1960 and the early 1980s, as adults found a way to avoid their guilt about walking away from unsatisfying marriages. Today, nearly a million children a year experience the "liberating effects" of divorce.

The themes laid out in Whitehead's article were further refined and expanded in a series of compelling articles and books, including Life Without Father, by David Popenoe; New Expectations: Community Strategies for Responsible Fatherhood, by James Levine and Edward Pitt; FatherLove, by Richard Louv; and especially Fatherless America, by David Blankenhorn. Particularly influential was a Wall Street Journal article by Charles Murray entitled "The Coming White Underclass." Murray dramatically and compellingly broadened the perception of father absence from merely a "black family problem" to one that was quickly encompassing all of American society.

I'm really starting to feel like an academic now because when I read this article, I recognized names that were mentioned, because I had done some research on the subject going all the way back to OAC!

In OAC I took a class called Families in Society and I really enjoyed it. for our major project I chose to do it on Cohabitation VS. Marriage: Do People Cohabitate Because They Fear Divorce? I primarily used a study done by Popenoe and Whitehead (two people mentioned in the above article).

I received a 92% on the project, and, the class as well as the project really got me into Sociology. It is now one of my majors in my undergrad, but will also be the department in which I do my Masters in 07-08. Family and Society is a great controversial topic in which I would like to learn more about, as growing up through the public education system, my teachers, would share their liberal views. I remember thinking in my Society: Challenge and Change class that Androgynous parenting is good and that's how I was going to parents. I was naive and not as strong in my critical thinking skills as I am now.


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