I have to confess, I’m a little bit skeptical of this story. Not that such sexism does not exist within parents, just that it’s an odd way to manifest itself and there’s just something “neat and tidy” about the story as a parable to our sexist nation tryin’ to keep a young girl down. Stranger things have happened, though, and I wouldn’t doubt that some variations of it has happened somewhere in the country.

Anyway, supposing that the story did happen, I found the woman’s assumptions to be interesting. From a social standpoint I’d probably be more worried about my son carrying around a lot of big books. Reading, like learning, is considered a feminine or even vaguely homosexual activity in testosterone environments. Maybe the girls faced similar prohibitions, though, and I didn’t realize it because I was a young boy rather than a young girl.

Books actually can be a bit off-putting to an interested guy, but generally only in the sense that an iPod with headphones would be: it makes it harder to start up a conversation. Of course, for many women this is a feature rather than a bug!


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7 Responses to Of Books and Women

  1. Bob V says:

    I’m not surprised at all. I vaguely remember having blogged about this before, but women sometimes find it useful to pretend to be a bit more dumb than they are when qualifying a guy.

    It’s unfortunate that this woman has told her daughter to take the next step and actually be dumb.

  2. Peter says:

    Reading, like learning, is considered a feminine or even vaguely homosexual activity in testosterone environments.

    I wouldn’t say feminine/homosexual. Nerdy or dweebish maybe, which isn’t quite the same as feminine/homosexual, in fact it’s more like asexual. And it’s generally only in the more brutish environments that such an effect would exist.

    Books actually can be a bit off-putting to an interested guy, but generally only in the sense that an iPod with headphones would be: it makes it harder to start up a conversation.

    Books and other reading materials actually can be conversation starters, depending of course on the materials and the contexts.

  3. trumwill says:

    I’m not surprised at all. I vaguely remember having blogged about this before, but women sometimes find it useful to pretend to be a bit more dumb than they are when qualifying a guy.

    I would be less surprised/skeptical if it were an issue of the kind of books he were reading rather than the length: like don’t read a science book or something like that. Then again, there are a lot of really weird people in this world.

    Books and other reading materials actually can be conversation starters, depending of course on the materials and the contexts.

    Yeah, but first you have to get them to stop reading. Many understandably get agitated at the interruption. I read a lot about how modern technology (as in headphones) “isolate” us in public, but I don’t see how the same can’t be said to apply to books. Moreso, even, because it’s less of a hassle to be interrupted listening to music than it is to be interrupted reading.

  4. Spungen says:

    I’ve never heard anyone say anything like that, but I suppose it could happen.

    That certainly wasn’t the case in my family. Remember those booksellers in grade school that had catalogues students could order from and the books came to the classroom once every month or so? I was allowed to buy as many as I wanted (they were so cheap, it was never much over $20). When the box came, so much of it was usually for me that the teacher would remove the few that weren’t mine, then give me the box to take home.

    As I’m sure you can imagine, this cemented my status as the coolest kid in class.

  5. trumwill says:

    I do remember those. That’s where I got my Garfield books! I wonder if they still do that?

  6. Spungen says:

    I got Garfield books too! Did he really used to be funny, or was I just much more easily amused due to youth? Remember when his stomach outgrew his legs? I laughed for weeks.

  7. trumwill says:

    At least you can remember what you found funny! I can’t even do that. But boy did I find it hilarious. Then again, I also liked Family Circle, so there’s no accounting for my youthful tastes.

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