THE DIFFERENCE: Growing Up Female in America by Judy Mann

THE DIFFERENCE: Growing Up Female in America

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Washington Post columnist Mann draws on the revolution that Carol Gilligan began over a decade ago -- presenting an accessible case for the differences between boys and girls and proposing strategies for raising less limited, more self-aware women and men. If girls start out developmentally ahead of boys but graduate high school behind them, Mann concludes, they've somehow been shunted aside. But instead of condoning gender-neutral child rearing, she insists we must acknowledge what it means to be female and male in this culture, embrace those differences, and develop new approaches to raising our children that stop crippling girls. Mann's goal is to create more complete human beings: women who are more powerful and independent, men who are more sensitive and less aggressive. From the way we handle babies (girls: close, facing in; boys: at a distance, facing out) to what toys we give them (girls: dolls and other inert objects; boys: trucks and blocks that teach motion and spatial development) to the male-only heroes on Saturday television cartoons and the female-bashing lyrics in popular music, boys learn to be active, strong, and sometimes violent, while girls learn to be silent, protected, and passive. What can be done? Mann gives a lot of attention to classroom sexism (boys, she asserts, demand eight times more attention than girls) and presents compelling arguments for single-sex education. She also stresses the importance of giving extra encouragement to girls in areas in which they lag behind, such as math and science. And she offers a strong feminist critique of Christianity. Mann makes such a clean, convincing case for breaking destructive gender roles that, even though it covers much old ground, this should be read by every parent for its practical advice.

Pub Date: Aug. 11th, 1994
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: Warner