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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Do children need ''mother'' and ''father'' figure? (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Do children need ''mother'' and ''father'' figure?
likewhoa19
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Ok, so this in general is a concept I've never gotten. I'm from a heteronormative family where my parents wouldn't separate even when I used to be hearing them scream at each other on a daily basis for years. They're both a little anti-divorce, and think it's very important for children to have both a ''mother'' and ''father'' figure. I always thought this was a bit silly -I mean, my mom is a very assertive and often angry woman, not the stereotypical ''motherly'' sort at all anyway. But recently a girl from a single-parent household said she thought her brother was hurt by not having a strong male role-model growing up, and that's why he can't figure out what he wants to do with his life.

I know the fact that ''mother'' and ''father'' constituting a household is terribly hetero-normative and so might be inherently offensive to some people. But seriously, for children growing up in the culture we have, do you think it makes much difference?

[ 04-22-2006, 05:02 PM: Message edited by: likewhoa19 ]

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Heather
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Historically speaking, and globally speaking, very few children have had/do have this. This is more than heteronormatice, it's exceptionally 20th century and exceptionally western, the whole idea of a two-parent family, no matter the genders.

In most cultures, through most of history, children would have/do have, easily, more than one gender around because most families are extended families, in a fairly daily fashion, often to the point of a whole extended family sharing the same dwelling/land. And historically, the "father" would be (and often still is, globally) who is absent most, for months at a time, sometimes by choice, but often by sheer practicality, because work has been/is far from home.

On a personal note, I know an awful lot of men -- and have friends partnered with an awful lot of men -- from two-women parent families and single mother families who don't have that problem in any way, shape or form. Really, it just seems a convenient excuse for being a slacker.

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Heather
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...and, as an afterthought, what sort of gender stereotype is THAT which says that a father -- ANY father -- would provide a son direction?

In other words, I have a hard time believing that a son with a very go-getting Mom would be more influenced to get off his arse by a Dad without ambition.

It's almost as offensive as ideas of what a "strong" father figure are made of. Chances are, no one is referring to a Dad who does most of the at-home caretaking and childrearing.

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Gwaihir
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I think it's important for everyone to have both strong male and female role models. . this doesn't necessarily limit itself to mom and dad. In fact, I think it's preferable for people to have MORE male and female role models than just their parents like grandparents, much older friends that act as mentors, etc.
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LilBlueSmurf
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Can i ask why?

What can a woman teach a young man/woman that a man could not teach them? And vice versa?

Why does sex/gender matter?

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daria319
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I just think of the whole "it takes a village to raise a child" thing.. It doesn't really matter if there's a mother and a father, as long as there are as many influences and caretakers are possible. That's what can really make things easier for a child. If they have strong role models of any gender, and a good support system, they're usually going to have an easier time adjusting to most situations. It just seems the more involved the caretaker/role model/parent is in the child's life, the moer comfortable the child will be.

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Gwaihir
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Yeah, that's what I believe in too, Daria.
And Smurf. . I'm really not sure how to describe why. . .I think it's only logical that it takes women to make a girl into a woman and men to make a boy into a man. The way one gender thinks and perceives things and what it needs for spiritual growth can be subtly to vastly different than the other. And then there are those people who are physically born into one gender but feel like they belong in the other, transgender people and such, and those people I think would need a role model of the gender they most identify with, therefore both genders are equally important.

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LilBlueSmurf
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And Smurf. . I'm really not sure how to describe why. . .I think it's only logical that it takes women to make a girl into a woman and men to make a boy into a man.

Again I have to ask why ... (Hehe ... I sound like i'm five years old ... "But whyyyyy?" [Razz] )

I do kind of get what you're saying ... A woman cannot know what it's like to live like a man, and vice versa. But so what? Why is this important in raising a child of the opposite sex?

What is so important about being male, that is strictly different from being a good human being in general, that i cannot teach a son? Really, i'm not sure i'd raise a daughter or son that differently ... (Not that i have children ... Only cats ... Male and female ... And i raise them both the same [Wink] )

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-Lauren-
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I agree; the number or gender of caretakers shouldn't matter too much. It's the influences of the community and a strong support system, as daria stated.

Also, (not mentioned yet, I think) the whole "two seperate-gender caretakers ideal" really is a slap in the face to queer couples who open their homes to orphans or children in foster care. I'm sure growing up with gay parents is much more mind-warping than the foster care system. The studies they use to try to back these claims are a joke.

[ 04-23-2006, 01:26 AM: Message edited by: Miss Lauren ]

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Gwaihir
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Hmm .. maybe it's because people of any gender can be "good" human beings, but good and evil are abstract concepts created by humans and really don't exist when you think about it. Also, I think it's because people generally know what being a good person is and that both genders can be good people. . but men and women deep down feel like they need something else. . to learn or grow a different way that defines them as Man or Woman. If they don't have that sense of identity and what it really means to be a man or a woman then they may feel lost and unable to grow spiritually. This is just my opinion, but I think that people first need to "become" men or women. .and the next step after learning all that is that they realize maybe gender doesn't really matter so much anymore and then they can begin the steps towards true inner androgyny. . something like that. They may even get to the point where they realize, "I am a living creature and I can be whatever I want."
. . . . I have no idea if any of this makes sense. XD

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logic_grrl
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but men and women deep down feel like they need something else. . to learn or grow a different way that defines them as Man or Woman.

Do they? I think that's a pretty sweeping generalization to make about all women and men in the world.

Personally, I've never felt a need to define myself as Woman ...

You seem to be assuming that there's some sort of deep spiritual essence which is profoundly different for people of different genders, and that's not a belief that everyone's automatically going to share.

Personally, I think kids do benefit from seeing people of all genders in positive, valued and caring roles in the world around them, just as they benefit from seeing people of all ethnicities in positive, valued and caring roles - because it helps them grow up able to accept the diversity of human beings, and makes them less likely to make assumptions about what people of different genders and ethnicities can or can't do.

But there's no reason why children should have to get all their role models within a single nuclear family unit.

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Heather
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quote:
.I think it's only logical that it takes women to make a girl into a woman and men to make a boy into a man. The way one gender thinks and perceives things and what it needs for spiritual growth can be subtly to vastly different than the other.
And yet, without any parents at ALL, girls will grow into women and boys into men.

I think it's also being forgotten that any one person is not going to be a good representative for the whole of their sex or gender. Everyone performs gender -- remember, sex, not gender, is what is biological; gender is a construct -- in vastly different ways, after all.

So, there aren't ways one gender does or doesn't do things, thinks or perceives things. There is the idea that there SHOULD be, there is the idea that sex does that, and while there is data that holds up that there very well may be actual differences between the sexes which ARE biological, a) that isn't gender and b) for those which are biological, they need no molding, as they'll be there from the start.

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Gwaihir
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quote:
Originally posted by Miz Scarlet:
And yet, without any parents at ALL, girls will grow into women and boys into men.

But only physically. Actually, it would be impossible for a child to grow up with no parents at all. . unless you mean foster parents or some other adoption organization or other family unit that raises them. . . these people then become these kids' parents even though they may not be blood related. Nope, unless they were raised by wolves, or something, no infant could possibly survive without a parent.
I'm also not sure why you bring sex into the equation here. I don't believe I mentioned it in my reply and I don't think sex has anything to do with gender or should define someone's gender.

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Gwaihir
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by logic_grrl:
Do they? I think that's a pretty sweeping generalization to make about all women and men in the world.[QUOTE]

It is a huge generalization but I think it's accurate for a lot of people.

Personally, I've never felt a need to define myself as Woman ...

. .neither have I, really. There are definitely exceptions to this generalization that I made, but I don't think just snatching away the so-called importance of gender identification away from the populace is a good thing since it seems to be of the utmost importance to a lot of people. If they were able to learn to be spiritually whatever gender they are, then their thinking might be more open to the fact that gender doesn't particularly matter.

In art school for example, new students are taught the "Correct" way to draw figures and items and how to shade and learn about color and composition and design. . when they know these things then they learn that now that they have the knowledge they know that they don't always have to adhere to these rules.
Art school quote: You have to learn the rules, then you have to learn how to break the rules.

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likewhoa19
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Yes, but Gwaihir, gender roles differ so much from culture to culture. Could you clarify what you mean when you say there's some spiritual definition for "male" and for "female"?

Per your art school example, I do believe none of us could even be having this debate that genders were constructed if we didn't have some idea of what genders were supposed to be to begin with.

I also agree that people who talk about children needing "mother" and "father" figures are most likely talking about "male" and "female" role-models. While it would be nice if a village could still raise a child, that's just not possible with a lot of people's modern lifestyles. It would be even tougher to get out of the more isolated, nuclear family model if you're a busy single-parent who commutes to work, I think. (Or maybe I just have that impression b/c my parents are antisocial people, which would also be true...)

But what, exactly, do you Gwaiher et al. think could happen, if anything, to children who don't grow up around both male and female role-models?

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LilBlueSmurf
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I think the real question here is;

What is so inherently different from being Female or being Male that the other gender just can't 'get' and/or teach? What specific behaviours/traits/what-have-you are seen in men that are not seen in women (and vice versa)?

I can think of the easy ones; the stereotypical ones. The men must go out and earn a living, provide for their families, and always be strong and decisive. Women will be loving, caring, understanding, feel the need to serve and protect others, etc. ...

I was raised by a single mother, and my mom was all of these things to me, and more. I really don't feel i had a strong male figure close to me at all while i was growing up (I had my dad, of course, but he didn't live with us ...) ...

I realize you've given spirituality as an answer a few times, Gwaihir, but lets say i'm not really a spiritual person (and some aren't). Are there any other reasons/areas why this is important?

[ 04-23-2006, 08:44 PM: Message edited by: LilBlueSmurf ]

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likewhoa19
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Okay, well I can see a few different assumptions are being made here on what the possible value of having "male" and "female" role models would be. Maybe trying to categorize the different ideas that have been brought up so far would help clarify discussion:

A) that a child will learn the skills for what their gender-role is "supposed" to be
B) that a child will learn about the elements of both traditional gender roles, and then they can choose the way they which to live
C) that they will see both men and women as complex people in positive lights

Correct me if those should be modified.

Smurf, questions that come to mind that your personal situation really doesn't seem to answer is: 1) If you had been raised by an opposite-sex parent with all those same qualities your mother had, would you have found him as easy to identify with? AND 2) If you had grown up identifying primarily with an opposite-sex parent, might that have made those vulnerable years between adolescence and young-adulthood when peers are bombarding you w/ stereotypes more awkard?

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Gwaihir
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I realize I'm throwing out "spiritual" rather loosely, mainly because I really don't know how to describe it in anything less than a heavy-duty essay. . also, I feel reluctant to reveal my beliefs about it because I don't feel like they'll be accepted and I may be ostracized against. I know that this is a positive helpful community, and I'm pretty certain this would not happen here, but I'm still reluctant to do so because it has happened in other communities in the past and I've been severely hurt by it. It wasn't me thinking that "these people are being cruel to me," so much as "maybe what they're saying is right and I'M wrong, that I'm a horrible person for saying what I'm saying."

But I think what I'm mainly trying to say is that a spiritual definition for "man" and "woman" is basically the same. . because both genders can be good, intelligent wholesome people. I think it's the methods it takes to get to this spiritualness for both genders differs.

For example, all around the world in early times and in many modern societies where people still live in tribes and are closer to nature, there exists male initiation ceremonies for boys to help them become men. Whatever methods they use naturally differ from tribe to tribe, from country to country, etc, but the essence is the same: they had to be taken away from their mommies and into the comparitively scary world of men until they learned that they could be a part of it and it that it doesn't have to be scary anymore.
And one example for women. . .(ok, my mother told me this, so I don't have solid evidence, but I've also seen it mentioned in books) is that whenever (again, in most tribal societies) a girl first got her period she was required to spend a certain amount of time isolated from her family and those who could protect her. Both initiation rites were supposedly to help both boys and girls face and overcome the fears of growing up.
I'm not sure what isolation would do for a girl, but if I were to impose it on myself I believe that it's to help empower myself. I'd think, "Well, there's no one around here to protect me and help me. . I'll just have to do that myself." That's what I would decide such a rite would mean for me.

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kitka
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Menstrual isolation in indigenous societies is an interesting thing. (I'm more familiar with North America, so that's what this is based on).

Although menarche was supported by cultural rituals that helped girls secure their place in often female-dominated societies, native women weren't isolated in once-a-month lodges as an initation rite per se, after their first period. They stayed there during their periods because of social respect/fears about the strength of matriarchial power. Ethnohistorians see this as a positive sign of the recognition of female power, not as a negative restriction.

Also, warriors had rites in which they separated themselves from the main group after battle - so it was shared concept across gender lines.

Coincidentally, native North American people were committed to being clean- menstrual lodges might have been linked to hygiene concerns as well.

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Heather
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(FYI, there are sadly very few cultural "initiation rites" for women that are NOT abour fear of their bodies or about preparing them for a marriage.

Yep on what Kitka said, with the added note that some of that fear was/is in fact about disgust with menstruation, rather than fear of women's power. And that's be part of the cleanliness concerns: the assumption nearly always has been that women are unclean, especially when menstruating.)

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kitka
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On topic -

I don't believe that children necessarily learn strict gender roles, unless their parents subscribe to those roles to begin with.

In my limited personal experience, I've known a guy who didn't have a readily available father figure, or any male elders except a couple of geographically-distant uncles. He was a good guy - not too good at sticking through tough spots in a relationship, though. Perhaps this was because he grew up in a single parent household where he didn't see two mature adults interacting in a variety of conflicts and non-conflicts. He had no basis of comparison, in other words. Then again, maybe that's just him.

I think sex can be put aside in parenting cases, because there's a glut of evidence that children in same-sex households grow up perfectly "normal" - ie not "odd" because of a lack of two gendered and biologically sexed parents, and many of those kids identify as heterosexual, so they're obviously not learning constructist gender "roles" from their parents. I might be wrong... just a thought.

Had this guy a father to raise him too, he might have learned some valuable lessons about male-female interaction that his mother wasn't willing to impart. I'm not saying "unable," I'm saying "unwilling," because a lot of people conform to fairly rigid gender roles without thinking about it, simply because that's how they were raised as well.

At the same time, having been raised without a father, this guy was physically gentle, listened well, knew how to have a successful argument, etc.; he understood that women and men often approach things differently. I don't know how much of his personality was determined by the lack of a father, but it seemed like he learned most of the skills anyone would need. His flaws are shared by people who grow up in two-parent heterosexual households and otherwise.

[ 04-24-2006, 12:00 AM: Message edited by: kitka ]

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Gwaihir
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on the initiation thing: Of course things weren't all shiny-happy and perfect back in early tribal societies, sadly. There were some fascinating componants, though. I'd love to learn about the history of both male and female initiation rites in various societies all over the world. . .not sure if such a book has been written, though.
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kitka
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Wright, Mary C. "The Woman's Lodge: Constructing Gender on the Nineteenth-Century Pacific Northwest Plateau, "Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies - Volume 24, Number 1, 2003, pp. 1-18.

more general stuff -

La Fontaine, Jean. Initiation.
Manchester, U.K. Manchester University Press, 1986.

Lincoln, Bruce. Emerging from the chrysalis : studies in rituals of women's initiation. Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1981.

Do a subject search for "Initiation rites,"
or "puberty rites." A lot of the texts you'll find are region-specific and scholarly monographs - often dry, but a start. The Fontaine and Lincoln books are somewhat on the theoretical side & the latter wouldn't make many feminists happy by virtue of some of his perspectives.

There have been a few excellent books written on modern American courtship and Victorian masculinity also, in the last ten years.

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Gwaihir
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Thanks! When I get some time I'll have to look those up. The only other initiation book I've read was Robery Bly's "Iron John" which I found quite fascinating.
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likewhoa19
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On topic:

I was under the impression most studies done on children in same-sex relationships were mostly concerned about the sexuality of the children, and wouldn't necessarily ask lots of questions about subtler aspects of culture.

Also, I was not aware that MOST north american tribal societies isolated women during menstruation. i know some cultures at least had big celebrations when a girl started menstruating.

Here's a thought I have on the original topic: it seems to me growing up in a socially conservative vs. socially liberal family would have a great deal more impact on a child's upbringing than whether they had same-sex or hetero role-models.

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Heather
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(The reason, Gwaihir , I brought up sex vs. gender, is that when a person says, as you did, something like what facilitates "girls growing into Women," is that if you are saying there is only one definition of what woman IS, which is implied in saying something like that, we can only be talking about sex, rather than gender, because gender is varied and fluid and constructed, and there are numerous "women" in which a girl may grow up to, no matter her influences.

And no one woman, definied via GENDER, could rear a daughter to become a given defintion of gender -- which sure isn't so say it hasn't been tried, because lordisa, has it.

You also can't say, as you did, sex has nothing to do with gender: gender is, by definition, extrapolated FROM sex and ABOUT sex. Without a sex, we can't talk about a gender.)

[ 04-24-2006, 02:54 PM: Message edited by: Miz Scarlet ]

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Gwaihir
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gender is varied and fluid and constructed, and there are numerous "women" in which a girl may grow up to, no matter her influences.

That's more what I was trying to say. The problem is, I don't really know anything about female initiation rites, but I still think it's best for a girl to have a variety of strong female role models as well as male ones (and vice verse)

Also, are you talking about sex as gender, or the act of sex itself, as in having sex? I think I may be a bit confused here.

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Heather
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Sex as in the literal meaning of the word. Chromosomal sex.

It's pretty important, btw, in any discussion of gender to be sure and differentiate between sex and gender, and to use those two terms as needed to be clear about which you're discussing.

Gender discussions can just be so board, so nebulous, and so complex that if those two things get muddled together -- or the difference isn't recognized -- it can get pretty confusing for everyone.

I'm not so sure initiation rites, honestly, have much to do with this discussion, since it's a topic about parenting and about the ongoing relationships of children with those os different sexes and genders.

I mean, very few people I've known who have had, to reference a very widepsread rite-of-passage that is very common in the west, a Bar or Bat Mitzvah -- however important that was to them -- have expressed that that ritual "formed" them as men or women. And I'm not sure how any of that relates to daily household life.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Ikeren
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My parents have been a very small and limited part in how I've grown up. I've known a lot of kids from single, or no parent households (IE, group homes). Most of them end up fine. Statistically, from the evidence I have seen, I'd say it doesn't matter in the slighest.

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likewhoa19
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Hmm... maybe I could talk to my parents sometime and ask them if they could provide more details on why they think it matters so much to have a male and female. Maybe that would fuel this discussion. (Then again, maybe after 20 years they really wouldn't want to admit to being wrong and since we're not that close maybe they'd really resent me asking. I'll see.)
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Gwaihir
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Ah, I see why it got confusing I don't understand the difference between sex and gender. Anyway, I suppose I went off topic a bit, but hopefully pertaining to the topic at hand, I believe that children need many different influences of all genders. Sure, without them they may do "fine," but how good is just "fine," anyway? Is "good enough" really all they deserve?
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Heather
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Trouble is that, from everything I can tell, that's an abritrary view.

I'd have to double check (and I am serious studied-out today, so not today), but I don't know that any study on this matter has ever shown that children ARE harmed or cheated by not having people of all genders around daily or as parents.

I'm all about the idea that children need diverse people around them, period, and there is data to back THAT up, but to my knowkledge, there's nothing to support that a child who does not grow up with parents of both genders, or parent-figures of both genders, is handicapped in any way.

(Though there was an interesting study which showed that male children tend to pay closer attention to their male models than girls do their female ones.)

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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And just so you can be clear, in the most basic way...

Sex is how we are sexed: via our gonads, chromosomes, via our genitals, via our sexual, physical development. Our sex -- when we were sexed correctly -- is what is listed on our identification documents, unless we have had SRS, basically.

GENDER is our sexual and gender identity, it is all of the things we and/or culture ASSIGN to sex, the roles, appearance, performance, etc. Gender is culturally consrtucted: it is, effectively, the cultural response to sex. Our gender identity is a response to our sex, in essence, or, how someone ELSE genders us based on our sex or their perceptions of our sex.

So.

When you say "a girl grows into a woman," per the vantage point of SEX, there is nothing else for her to grow into, physically.

From the vantage point of GENDER, she may or may not choose to do so, first off, and what her own gender identity becomes may or may not resemble your ideas, or anyone else's of what a "woman," per gender, is, but is usually a combination of her own ideas about gender, and how she wants to perform that gender, and cultural ideas about gender AND sex.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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likewhoa19
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Umm... Gwaihir, let me see if I can help. Sex is purely biological. Sex is things like your sex organs, which among other reproductive functions produce sex hormones, which cause secondary sex characteristics to develop and also cause arousal.

Gender is cultural. Things like "women cook and clean, are always mild-tempered and compassionate, and look pretty (b/c of dress and makeup)" whereas men "work outside the home, don't show emotion, and like sports" would be gender. Those characteristics are gender because they are learned and are only common to people raised in a certain culture.

Sometimes there are debates over gender vs. sex on certain things. For instance, in our culture we say men like to compete. Is this hormonal (b/c some correlation between testosterone and agression exists), or gender (b/c men are encouraged to compete), or do both factors contribute?

And one thing that's pretty much a given, is that some people who grow up in hetero nuclear families are very screwed up as adults, and some people who grow up in same-sex or single-parent households are happy well-adjusted adults. So I think all we can really do is talk about possible specific problems that could arise from not having both a male and female parent-type figure, or possible specific advantages from having both.

So this: "Sure, without them they may do "fine," but how good is just "fine," anyway? Is "good enough" really all they deserve?"
is pretty generalizing, and I'm not sure anyone can know specifically what you're talking about here. If you can use concrete specific examples to support your thoughts, regarding how it is different to grow up in different households, and how that affects people's emotions/actions as adults, I think that would help others to understand you.

[ 04-24-2006, 08:38 PM: Message edited by: likewhoa19 ]

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Saint_Sithney
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I believe most children are in need of at least one strong role model of each sex to grow up as fully rounded individuals. Yes, there are some aspects of maleness that a woman can't really pass along, just as there are aspects of femaleness that a man can't quite explain. Yes, there are certain cultural stigmas about gender in that statement, but I personally think it's more because men and women are different. Not better or worse than each other, but men and women in most cases process information differently. I may be wrong, but isn't the difference in thought patterns between male and female how some people can be born with the wrong sex for their gender? I've only known one transgendered individual, a very nice young lady who simply thought of things in female terms, even though she was biologically male.

I don't believe it takes a village to raise a child- I believe it takes a parent. Whether that "parent" is biologically related (grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, sibling, what have you), not related but in the role of guardian, or in the role of mentor- whoever it is who takes responsibility for the child's welfare, upbringing, and behavior. It doesn't matter what that parent is, what gender they are, what sex they are, or whatever. I believe every child needs someone to be firm with them and to teach them how to take responsibility.

But back on the main topic, I grew up with one strong male influence, and a number of varying degrees of female influence. My mother passed when I was 6, and my sister and I had a sucession of nannies and babysitters, some good, some bad, until my father remarried. He remarried when I was 9, to a woman who was a strong negative influence. To this day, I've had some issues with strong feminine presence. I have many female friends, but I have a strong urge to mother people, as I was my own mother in many ways. Some people find this very annoying, and it's cost me relationships. I also have a strong tendency to think women in general are strange for the ways they think of things and the things they do. I do them too, but I still find them very strange. I often feel that lif would be easier for me if I were more masculine- probably because my strongest female influence was the principal at my old school. Wonderful grandmotherly woman, but even as small as the school was, I didn't have a day-to-day consistent female presence that showed me how to be female. (To be honest, I didn't even know about menustration until my sister started. She also didn't know about it, and when her first period hit, she thought it was some sort of disease or divine punishment). Things like relating to boys, or even relating to other girls all came out slightly skewed with me and my sister. She has a really hard time making and keeping women friends, and has said on numerous occasions that women are so hard to understand that she'd kill herself if she was a lesbian. I have many long-lasting relationships with other women, but I tend to view the men I know in two classes: those who are similar enough to my father for me to feel that they are masculine and thereby attractive, and those that aren't, so I tend to view them as either my little brothers or in some cases, as my sons. With all men I know, I have a tendency to shower them with glowing, if slightly shy, admiration, whether sisterly, daughterly, motherly, or romantically. With women, I'm often confused as to why they do what they do, but also shower them with admiration for possessing traits that I don't understand. I would really have liked a strong feminine presence in my life, if only to show me how men and women interact, and to maybe understand better the qualities I find admirable about both men and women.

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'My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad. Stay with me.
'Speak to me. Why do you never speak? Speak.
'What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?
'I never know what you are thinking. Think.'
-T.S. Eliot The Waste Land

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