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Sunday, November 18, 2007

What about the Hardy Girls?

The whole creativity/masculinity thing is still buzzing around in my head, and I know that this has been discussed ad nauseum, but I don't know if I've ever read an adequate explanation.

Hariet Why are boys taught to hate girls? It's kinda like a prerequisite for being accepted into the brotherhood, that boys must hate girls before they reach puberty and the hormones kick in. We're bombarded with images that reinforce this notion, and people boys encounter gleefully assume it and reward them for it.

And then when puberty hits, it's lust we're supposed to feel. And then comes love. But maybe a kernel of that early hate, that early disreguard and dismissive attitude is still there, like other childhood ideas and lessons that stick and follow a person throughout life and are almost impossible to extinguish. Psych professors in college told me that the stuff that happens to a child during his first 5-6 years of life is formative stuff, and incredibly difficult to undo.

Why do we do this to our kids?

By the way, I've always been an outsider, and never got, or accepted the "hate" of girls when I was a kid. But I didn't play with them much (yeah, I realize how loaded that statement is), because despite the fact that I didn't get the whole deal, and liked girls, society wouldn't let me play with them -- from my parents to my classmates to the world around me, they all frowned upon my fraternization with the weaker sex. It was like, hanging out with girls would give me cooties!

My favorite book as a kid was Harriet the Spy (which, I assume, was probably the favorite book of many writers). As I look back on it, I realize the author made it clear to us that Harriet was a tomboy, which, I guess, made it possible for us boys to accept her as not as icky as other girls...she would never be part of the brotherhood, but if there were no real boys to play with...), and probably a lesbian (okay, I'm having fun here writing the sequel in my mind), so the fact that she acted like a boy gave her crossover appeal on the playground. I think that was the only book, as a child, that I read that featured a strong, female (girl) character. And I was a voracious reader.

Some lines, I was reminded on a nearly daily basis, should never be crossed: I could read The Hardy Boys, but get caught reading Nancy Drew? Egads!


Clifford said...

Despite the tite, is it just me, or could Harriet be mistaken for a boy on the cover of the book?

CresceNet said...
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Charles Gramlich said...

I read almost exclusively books about male heroes when I was a kid. Of course, that was the majority of what was available. I could have read Nancy Drew but it just never appealed to me. Truth be told, though, I wasn't a big fan of the Hardy boys either. I liked sports and animal stories, if I wasn't reading SF/fantasy or westerns.

I didn't particularly dislike girls growing up, but I never sought them out as play partners. I suppose I was inculcated without my awareness.

Clifford said...

Charles, I hear you. One of my MANY quirks is that I've been a non-competitive soul for about as long as I can remember, so for me, it was mostly fantasty books as a kid, punctuated with the unreality of Encyclopedia Brown and The Happy Hollisters (a family that solved mysteries together). I also read a number of "children's" classic, like The Wind in the Willows and Tom Sawyer -- two books that were foisted upon me by well-meaning teachers which I found so horrid that they almost put me off my read. Fortunately, I was already an adict, so I survived to read another day.

Charles Gramlich said...

I once told my English teacher from high school that if I hadn't already been a reader before taking English in school I would have never started after the crap they forced us to read.

Clifford said...

Charles -- exactly! Schools do a disservice to the students by imposing fiction written for the citizens of a different time and place and telling them this is the shit.

I love some of the classics -- as an adult. Once you've created a bit of your own history, the past takes on weight. And you get it. As a child, reading Wind in the Willows for instance, well, uh, totally outside my experience of what I considered good fiction.

I eat my own dog food. When I taught sixth grade, the first half an hour was silent reading time...if a child didn't have something to read, he or she could read something in the classroom library. I went out to garage sales, good will, and Borders and augmented the selection with comic books, He Said, She Said novels, Friday the 13 YA Novels, horror, sci fi, etc.

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