Two stories about gender and children caught my eye, over the last couple days. They are not at all connected to each other, but the more I thought about them, the more I realized that they illustrate very different responses to gender inequality, and that those different responses say a lot, potentially, about the structure and culture of gender in two different societies: Canada and India.
The first story was making the rounds a few days ago on Yahoo! News. It tells the story of the Witterick-Stocker family, of Toronto, who have decided not to share the sex of their 4 month old baby Storm with anyone other than immediate family and the midwives who assisted with the delivery.
The second is a story I read in the New York Times yesterday morning, and it tells of increased rates of sex-selective abortions among well-off, well-educated women in India. Specifically, it reports on a study recently published in The Lancet, documenting the spread of sex-selective abortion practices across India over the past 20 years. The study placed particular focus on the decisions made about second children when the first child was a girl.
What a world apart, both literally and figuratively.
In Separate Or Not , a teacher discusses the "completely contrary to feminist thought" concept of same-sex education (or, if you prefer, separation of genders in classrooms).
Her personal experiences lead her to conclude:
As for someone who fought for gender equality I am willing to be politically incorrect in firmly stating my belief that based on the reasons above, students should be separated in classrooms to facilitate their learning. Is it time for the “fad” for separation of students to return? I think so.
Matters of gender identity aside (for that's too complicated a matter for me to contemplate at this wee hour), I am inclined to agree. Somewhat.
As a graduate of an all-women's college, I certainly benefited from the women-only atmosphere. We were free from (perceived or real) the attacks on our way of processeing and thinking.
In "See no evil, see it everywhere: The cloak of invisibility renders child pornography more terrifying and harder to do anything about," I wrote in support of journalist Debbie Nathan's call for journalists and researchers and the like to have examine exisiting child pornography for the purpose of investigating government claims about the scope of the problem and also for the purpose of examining evidence in criminal cases.
Nathan will be interviewed on the Brian Lehrer show on WNYC tomorrow, November 16, at about 11:40. If you're in the New York City area, tune in to 93.9 FM or AM 820. You can also listen live online at WNYC.org, or click here for a link to the show's web site, where you can hear podcasts of the latest shows.
See no evil, see it everywhere: The cloak of invisibility renders child porn more terrifying and harder to do anything aboutSubmitted by Elizabeth on 21 October 2007 - 1:16pm
Debbie Nathan raises a taboo but important point yesterday morning: We must be allowed to see the child pornography that exists. Why? Because we can't accurately report on that which we can't see. It's a simple and obvious observation, really, and profound in its implications.
She is writing specifically about her investigation of the Kurt Eichenwald/Justin Berry story (PDF from Counterpunch), but the point applies broadly and it deserves to be amplified.
Not only might your kids survive encountering the Internet, but it might also not turn them into crack fiends, serial killers, satan-worshipping trolls, or hook them up with Albert Fish as their prom date.
Forgive the snark, but for the first time, it looks like some common sense is being injected into the whole dialogue about kids and the Internetz. We'll see how much effect it has -- there is something undeniably comfortable about the idea of menace lurking out there. It's useful for those in power because it gives them a plausible excuse for control, and the fear of the shadowy other gives everyone else a certain unshakeable faith in their own virture.
Anyway, here's what a study by the National School Boards Association says about the Internet's threat to the fabric of our society: