Story 1: Shortly before dusk on a recent evening, I walked up one of the few streets in my neighborhood with a sidewalk. In between the sidewalk and a neighbor’s fence lay a thoroughly dead crow. Figuring a bird vs. automobile accident had occurred, I shrugged and walked on. Half a block on, I found a black feather, planted in the ground like a flag. Huh. Continuing, more black feathers appeared, singly and in clusters, spread out at regular intervals for a couple more blocks.
I tried to imagine how this had happened, and concluded that some odious boy or group of odious boys had gleefully plucked feathers from the unfortunate dead creature and decorated the neighborhood with them. Admittedly, I have no way of knowing this for sure. But did any of you picture a girl yanking feathers out of the bird? No? I didn’t think so. I also admit that we as a societal group yank feathers out of dead birds all the time, so there’s no rational reason why this instance should have offended me. But since this was not a chicken that must be defeathered to be eaten, it struck me as a desecration of a corpse.
Story 2: My nine-year-old has taken a series of classes in camps this summer. She generally chooses theater, art, and cooking classes, all of which primarily attract girls. A couple of weeks ago she took a class called “Inventive Creativity.” It wasn’t clear from the description what the class would entail, but I should’ve guessed it would be full of boys.
The class turned out to be not much fun at all. The instructor spent entirely too much time lecturing the group about inventors and the inventing process and applying for patents and whatnot. There was little hands-on activity. My daughter declared it boring, a word she had not applied to any of her other classes.
Even worse, the boys were jerks. One day the class was split into small groups. Little Bit was in a group with three boys. They were supposed to brainstorm solutions to some inventing problem. Little Bit proffered a suggestion; the boys in her group ignored it. She thought they hadn’t heard her, so she repeated it. They continued talking amongst themselves as if she were not there. She tried a third and even a fourth time. No response. Finally one of the boys repeated her idea as if it were his own, and the others responded enthusiastically.
When she described this event to me, all the times I’ve ever been invisibled came flooding back. The next day I pulled her out and put her in an art class with five other girls. She had a great time.
Story 3: I’m not sure how it came up, but in a recent discussion with my daughter, her friend, and the friend’s dad, we all agreed that boys are jerks. My husband objected to this characterization, saying that not all boys are jerks, and that the girls should not so precipitously assume that boys will be jerks until said boys have demonstrated their jerkitude. And of course this is true. But it doesn’t matter to the girls, because they know from nine long years of experience that boys are jerks. If an individual boy turns out to be an exception, that’s always a pleasant surprise, but one can’t expect that or one is bound to be disappointed.
Are boys inherently jerks?