more than just another bike blog

Thursday, August 10, 2006

why boys will be boys (and girls just aren't)


Little-known fact -- my MBA is in gender relations. Really, it is. You know, exploring how men and women are different and how we can still work together even though we communicate, learn, lead, blah, blah, blah differently. But, I learned a little something about boys tonight that I never learned in business school (get your filthy minds out of the gutter, all of you!).

Julie and I headed out for a walk/pull. We were going over to the high school playing field where she likes to run around off leash. Unfortunately, there were about 200 little boys in football gear practicing their manly sport. The boys were separated into teams of about 10 each, with 3 or 4 adult men working with each team. I hear a crazy-man voice, almost like someone with tourettes, and my attention is drawn to the pod of boys closest to me.

"You don't get it!"

"How can you be so stupid!"

"If you're not tough, you're not anything!"

"Don't be a bunch of losers!"

I was pretty disturbed by what I heard. If I'd been a little boy, I probably would've cried. How did I ever miss out on this ritual of boyhood? Although they didn't let me play football (I tried -- no girls), I spent hours sitting on the side of the field watching all my little boy friends train and compete. Did I hear things like this but block them from my memory? Or did it just not occur to me that it was wrong? Or maybe in upstate NY all the football coaches were nice?

I feel like I was given an insight into why men behave the way they do. If 8 year-olds are taught to be tough and be filled with anger/violence, I have to assume that this behavior is just magnified, rewarded, and reinforced throughout their adolescent and young adult years. It's not until adulthood that the rare few men realize this isn't the only way to win friends and influence people (and to get laid).

Tough = Winner

Weak = Loser

Anger = Power

Agression = Leadership

Contrast that with my experience this afternoon. I spent the entire day with a group of 20 inner-city girls from Oakland, riding mountain bikes at China Camp with Trips for Kids. Most of these girls had never been in the woods and most had never mountain biked either. These girls were tough, no doubt, but they weren't afraid to say they were scared of the downhills or that the uphills were hard. They were very honest with each other and with the adults in the group. They allowed themselves to be vulnerable and were able to empathize with each other about this new experience. At the end of the day, TFK has a "cookie circle," where each girl gets a cookie, shares something she really liked, something that was challenging for her, and is encouraged to show appreciation to others in the group.

Is it any wonder men and women have so many challenges in their relationships as adults?

I know, there is no black and white. It's unfair to say all men are x and all women are y. But when asked if nurture or nature influences our behavior, I can now honestly say that I feel nurture must play a significant role.

9 Comments:

At 8/11/2006 8:17 AM, Blogger le petit lutin said...

Yes, I'm not surprised about what you heard.
My son was playing baseball when he was 9 years old and he had three assholes coaching him. Those men were calling those little boys "ladies" and were telling them that boys weren't supposed to cry.
So I took my son out of this team and started a big mess by reprehending those coaches' behaviors to the board. Unfortunately I was the only one who did something about it.
Why?? I have no idea...

 
At 8/11/2006 8:30 AM, Blogger velogirl said...

Oh yeah, I forgot that he kept calling them "sissies." What also amazed me is that the parents were all standing on the sidelines listening to this as well. I kept waiting for one of them to jump in and say something. They seemed oblivious.

 
At 8/11/2006 8:43 AM, Blogger Olaf Vanderhoot said...

when i was a wee nipper, i loved baseball. i mean ~ slept, ate, dreamed all day about baseball.

i was on this pre-high school team that was coached by a dude who, now that i think about it, was probably a serious poofter. He was talkative and supportive and interested in making sure all of us had a good time, while being somewhat respective to each other.

yeah, i'm sure he was a poofter.

anyway, i loved baseball and spent every waking moment attached to it. i made all-star teams and played any time i could. it was my refuge, my family, my reason to keep moving.

and then i went to high school and the coaches were much like you both describe. overbearing manlies who considered it motivational to tear individuals down. they cursed at, insulted, teased, and acted like little oafs to each other, their players ... probably everyone. i don't remember much about it other than looking around and seeing all these pubescent boys, all beginning to model the behavior thrown at them from these 'men.' it sickened me then and makes me sad to think on it now. the circle of life sorta schtuff.

anyway, i quit after a bit of that and started running. it all worked out though ... there were girls in running.

and nowadays? you couldn't keep my interest in a baseball game if they played naked.

well...

 
At 8/11/2006 8:54 AM, Blogger velogirl said...

I think the idea behind degrading someone (evidenced here and in the military) is that it toughens them up/makes them numb to pain.

Football is a sport about pain -- inflicting it and receiving it (and I thought it was about popcorn and marching bands). If a kid is desensitized, he can do his job in the game. If he's sensitive, he'll crumble under the pain.

Yeah, right.

 
At 8/11/2006 11:44 AM, Blogger Wild Dingo said...

I could be wrong, but I think it's women are "x" and men are "y."

 
At 8/11/2006 11:58 AM, Blogger bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

All this time I thought football was a sport about men in tight pants grabbing ass...

 
At 8/11/2006 1:29 PM, Blogger velogirl said...

Wild Dingo said...
I could be wrong, but I think it's women are "x" and men are "y."

Was wondering if anyone would pick up on that......

 
At 8/11/2006 5:38 PM, Blogger Erein said...

I am so bummed I missed Trips for Kids. That sounds like a great way to spend the day. Next year, for sure, yes?

 
At 8/12/2006 7:49 AM, Blogger X Bunny said...

i think this is one of the reasons i cut pe when i was in elementary school

 

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