Archive for June, 2010

June 25, 2010

“She must learn to play like a boy.”

I recently read an essay titled  Woman’s Place in a Man’ Life Cycle by Carol Gilligan, who is a well-known feminist and ethicist. In this essay she discusses the differences in  ethical relationships between men and women which I found to be extremely interesting so I thought I would highlight some of the quotes I found before discussing my reaction to the piece.

“For boys and men, separation and individualization are critically tied to gender identity since separation from the mother is essential for the development of masculinity. For girls and women, issues of femininity or feminine identity do not depend on the achievement or separation from the mother or on the progress of individuation.”

“The sensitivity and care for the feelings of others that girls develop through their play have little market value and can even impeded professional success…given the realities of adult life, if a girl does not want to be left dependent on men, she must learn to play like a boy.”

Gilligan’s explaination while analyzing arguments from other ethicists who often ” fashion women out of a masculine cloth”, is based on the separation of son and mother, an experience that ultimately leads to their masculine identity, causing a difficulty in male to female relationships. In contrast, women are defined by their relationships and learn to judge themselves in terms of it. A problem Gilligan raises is that in several ethicists work, they analyze stages created by observing male development, making women seem as they are some deviation from the norm. Gilligan highlights several interesting points that women and men are not only outwardly socialized in terms of gender identity but are also deeply affected by the psychological affects of early life experiences that in turn can determine personality dynamics.

Women and men have seemed to always be battling about communication issues but the question arises that if this childhood experience of separation determines so much of the child’s life, what can we do to prevent it?

June 20, 2010

“GIRLS SAY YES to boys who say no.”

Today as I shopped at the Eastern Market in DC I came across this poster of Joan Baez and her two sisters. I had never seen this image before, but after doing a little research I found that it was used as a way to raise money for Vietnam draft resistance in 1968. The slogan “Girls Say Yes to Boys Who Say No”, was developed to assure men who resisted the draft that there would be rewards. Looking at this propaganda 40 years later it does appear that this was a  sexist approach to convince men that draft resistance was the way to go. It is almost surprising that Baez who is well-known for her social activist work, is offering her and her sisters bodies for the sake of the war.

This type of using femininity as a way to protest the war is very similar to the tactics of the Women Strike for Peace activist group in the early 1960s. WSP was a group of white middle-class women who went on strike to ban nuclear -testing and end the Vietnam war. This group of women used their housewife vulnerability to successfully sway the decision of President Kennedy and the acceptance of the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963.

The similarity between these women is that many of the leaders of the WSP , who played on their role of concerned homemakers, and the tactics used by Joan Baez and her sisters is that these women were intelligent and much more than the vulnerable, sexual women they portrayed themselves as. Although these anti-war strategies may seem as sexist ways to appeal to men, both proved to be very successful.