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10 Quick Lessons from “Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue”

November 5, 2014

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I consider myself a hardcore feminist (I’ve even got the T-shirt), one who’s attuned to all the gender stereotypes bombarding us daily. I work hard to combat them whenever and wherever I can. But I don’t live in a vacuum, and I’ve found myself falling into traps I thought I could avoid: like talking tougher and playing rougher with my son than my daughter. Sometimes “Hey, buddy” just pops out while I’m tickling him with much less mercy than I showed my daughter at his age.

But I didn’t know quite how insidious my own gender biases were until I read Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue: How to Raise Your Kids Free of Gender Stereotypes by developmental psychologist¬†Christia Spears Brown, Ph.D. (and my new imaginary best friend). I’ve been mentioning it to every parent I know ever since, trying to drop it casually into conversation without sounding like a cult member. But then I remembered I could aim bigger, try to reach a larger audience. So I’m telling you now, reader: Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue should be required reading for all parents and teachers!

As a scientist, Brown doesn’t just use a lone study here and an outlying study there to make her case, as many other writers do when trying to prove how even little boys are from Mars blah blah blah. She’s all about meta-analyses, which analyze the findings of many, often hundreds, of studies on a similar topic. It’s in that kind of data where you find out just how similar kids are — a fact that doesn’t get much play since studies showing differences make much catchier, sexier headlines. (Plus, we as humans like to pack things into neat little boxes, no matter how many exceptions to the boxes’ rules we encounter.)

Sure, there are a few genuine differences (girls’ first words come a little earlier; boys have a little less impulse control), but the areas of similarity far outweigh the areas of genuine difference: “For most traits and abilities, boys differ from other boys and girls differ from other girls more than the two groups differ from each other. Just because we like to ignore the variation within a group of boys or a group of girls doesn‚Äôt mean it doesn‚Äôt exist.” Spears explains that even when the average boy differs from the average girl, the distributions are often largely overlapping, meaning you can’t predict what a child will be like based on their gender.

It’s only after a lifetime of being squished into their respective gender boxes that women and men’s brains do actually conform and reflect bigger differences than there actually need to be — than there should¬†be. After all, being encouraged to try and allowed to enjoy a variety of different experiences as you grow up, regardless of whether those experiences are deemed “masculine” or “feminine,” creates better brains — not to mention more empathic humans. Gender-blind parenting, writes Spears, “is about enabling your children to maintain as many cognitive, social, and emotional abilities as possible.”

Without ever being overly academic or pedantic, Brown cites study after study that show the incredibly negative impact gender stereotyping has on both boys and girls development, self-esteem and skills. For example:

  • “Parents routinely assume that their sons are more interested in math and science than their daughters [and they] hold these assumptions regardless of how their kids are actually doing in math and science.”
  • “Girls have a more negative body image after playing with Barbie than before.”
  • “Boys are doing academically worse in school than girls, across the school years, largely because the stereotype tells them to be tough, independent, and never ask for help.”
  • “Dads who avoid the ‘mom’ stuff end up less satisfied with parenting than other dads.”
  • ¬†”Analyses of national AP Calculus tests shows that almost five thousand additional girls a year would have scored high enough to earn AP credit had they indicated their gender at the end of the test instead of the beginning.¬†Simply pushing back those gender thoughts until the test is over can keep performance higher.”

The list goes on and on, with each finding more powerfully eye-opening than the next. The classroom studies she writes about are even more depressing in terms of how pervasive and damaging gender assumptions are — and how daunting trying to affect change can be (beware of schools adopting different teaching styles based on gender). But knowledge is power.¬†Did I mention that if you’re a parent or a teacher you should read this book?

Again, you should read Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue But in the meantime, here’s a quick list of small, everyday changes recommended by Spears (or in some cases inspired by Spears’ suggestions) that you can make to help your own kids turn out to be more fully-formed, multidimensional successes, rather than simply macho dudes or girly girls.

  1. Buy gender-neutral toys for your own and others’ kids and encourage them to play with cross-gender toys from an early age (though keep in mind that, after a certain age, anything labeled¬†for a certain gender will be anathema to the “opposite”¬†gender).
  2. Before puberty, have co-ed birthday parties and playdates.
  3. Don’t refer to children as “boys” or “girls.” Call them “kids/students” — otherwise you’re constantly dividing kids into opposing “other” groups and reinforcing how this one aspect is THE most important factor of their identity.
  4. Avoid making sweeping statements about how all boys are X, Y and Z or how all girls are A, B and C (e.g. the dreaded “Boys will be boys.”).
  5. When your child is exposed to gender-stereotyping by TV, books, and other people, question this stereotyping with your child and give them several examples of exceptions to these “rules.” (When my kids say boys don’t wear pink, I pull up loads of pictures of men rocking pink shirts, pants, shoes, etc.)
  6. Don’t assign chores based on gender: girls can take out the trash, boys can help with the laundry, etc.
  7. Talk to boys as much as girls, especially about their feelings, and encourage caretaking and nurturing in them — they might be parents too, some day (just like William from “Free to Be You and Me”!).
  8. When reading in class, make sure you don’t automatically assume animals/aliens and other “it” characters are male; change any terms like “firemen” and “policemen” and “mailman” to “firefighter” and “police officer” and “mail carrier.”
  9. Don’t compliment girls on their appearance (e.g. a new haircut or outfit) ¬†– compliment¬†all¬†kids on their hard work and effort, and ask about their interests. And make sure you count and talk numbers with girls (since parents statistically do this more with boys).
  10. Monitor — and censor — the media they consume. A lot of shows’ and games’ bread and butter is gender stereotyping, portraying girls as interested in looks and boys, while encouraging boys to be aggressive and violent. Ban commercials (TiVo and Netfilx can help with that).

 



Blog Snog: An Open Letter to Men Who Think Catcalling Is Flattery

October 31, 2014

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Blog Snog: Lot’s o’ Halloween Couples Costume Ideas

October 24, 2014

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Photos of the Week: Sexy Shadowy Ghosts from Getty

October 24, 2014

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When you do a search on Getty Images for “halloween sex,” you get a lot of cheesy cosplay stuff. You also get a lot of cool silhouettes behind glass that call to mind — somewhat disturbingly — ghosts, orgasms, and the “Psycho” shower scene. And what’s interesting is, they’re taken by several different photographers, not just one. Who knew this was a genre?
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Crush of the Week: Potty-Mouthed Princesses Drop F-Bombs for Feminism

October 22, 2014

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Holy fucking shit, this video¬†(below) is fucking awesome! We could watch it all week! It combines two of our favorite things: feminism and swear words. That it includes little girls not acting like little princesses is icing on the cake. Of course, the freakouts and insults in the comments section illustrates just how scary it must be for people invested in the sexist status quo to see women, especially little girls, defying their most basic gender-stereotypical imperatives: be cute, quiet and conforming. Wonder if it’s too late to get our daughters to go as Potty-Mouthed Princesses for Halloween?

 

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The 10 Sexiest Scary Movies

October 22, 2014

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A lot of horror movies just throw in the obligatory topless scene and consider that “sexy.” We’re raising the bar here. All the movies below (except one) receive fresh ratings on RottenTomatoes.com’s¬†’s Tomatometer and were seminal contributions to the horror genre in some way. Or else they just tickled our fright fancy. (There was some natural crossover with our recent “10 Most Romantic ‘Monster’ Movies” post, but we left off any of those to avoid repetition.) The sexy scary flicks are listed in chronological order (there’s only one real spoiler, which we’ve alerted you to below). Let us know in the comments which other titles we should have made the cut.
 

1. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)


The somnabulist that Dr. Caligari keeps in a coffin is tall, pale, dressed in¬†black, and wears lots of goth makeup — in other words, totally sexy! When¬†it comes to tormenting pretty ladies dressed in white, we’ll take him over¬†1922′s long-nosed Nosferatu any day. ¬†”Portlandia” did a whole sketch on¬†how¬†The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari¬†is one of those films you know you¬†should¬†watch (it’s a landmark, cinematic masterpiece of German Expressionism!) but you never do. Do it finally! (We’ve embedded the full movie above.)
 

2. Cat People (1942)


Not to be confused with the graphic cheese-fest that was the 1982 remake, this moody, suspenseful thriller subtly tackled big issues for the time: sexism,¬†sexual abuse,¬†the power of female sexuality, and the dangers of jealousy. The main character refuses to consummate her marriage for fear she’ll turn into a ferocious panther when aroused, a condition caused by her repressive and abusive childhood. One can imagine ISIS using it as a propagandistic cautionary tale; they’d be missing the point.

 

3. Horror of Dracula (1958)


Time Out London’s list of the top 100 horror films of all time put this film at #74. Here’s what they had to say:

The British horror boom¬†which ran from the late¬†‚Äô50s until the early ‚Äô70s¬†received short shrift on¬†this list ‚Äď which is¬†disappointing for great films like ‚ÄėCurse of Frankenstein‚Äô, ‚ÄėTheatre of Blood‚Äô and¬†‚ÄėDeath Line‚Äô, but perhaps inevitable given the fact that so many films of the period¬†have aged so poorly. But it‚Äôs no surprise to see a solid placing for the film which¬†started it all, Hammer‚Äôs (for the time) groundbreakingly savage and saucy take on¬†Stoker‚Äôs classic novel, and one of the key works in the modernisation of horror. All¬†those frilly frocks, heaving cleavages and creaky sets don‚Äôt look especially modern¬†now, but this was the film which clarified forever the link between vampires and¬†eroticism, as embodied by Lee‚Äôs stately, stalking presence as the ultimate¬†gentleman sex fiend.

We agree.

 

4. Daughters of Darkness (1971)


The fabulous silver sequined dress Delphine Seyrig wears as the ageless Countess at an old grand seaside hotel is enough to get this Belgian movie on our list. But her and her¬†sapphic sidekick’s¬†sensually sadistic seduction of two sad honeymooners scream sexy with a capital S. (That’s a lot of esses.)
Bonus: ¬†DoD reminds us of another disturbing seventies flick: Andy Warhol’s Flesh for Frankenstein (1974), an over-the-top camp concoction that shamelessly mixes sex and gore until the two are indistinguishable.

 

5. Don’t Look Now (1973)


Super creepy movie about the tragic death of a daughter from the perspective of the two parents trying to keep reality from descending into horror (yeah, good luck with that!). It’s beautifully shot in Venice, which is sexy in and of itself, but what makes it stand out is the incredibly realistic sex scene between husband and wife intercut with post-sex shots of them getting ready for the evening. One of the most intimate sex scenes ever made. Just remember it was the 70s — hopefully you can get past the flute music and Donald Sutherland’s perm.

 

6. Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)


It’s about the sexual awakening — and then some — of a conservative, virginal couple (Susan Sarandon and Barry Boswick) ¬†in the hands of Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry), the mad scientist who’s incredibly and inspiringly comfortable in his “transvestite” skin. Almost every song in this twisted cult classic send up of old sci-fi and B-horror is an ode to sensuality.¬†”Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me” sung by Sarandon’s Janet is pretty obvious (“I wanna be dirty/Thrill me, chill me,¬†fulfill me”) but there’s no sexier line than the one from “Rose Tint My World” sung by the newly empowered Janet: “I¬†feel released/Bad times deceased/My confidence has increased/Reality is here.”

 

7. The Hunger (1983)


Another Susan Sarandon vehicle, The Hunger is¬†the only one on our list not to get a fresh rating on RottenTomatoes.com. But come on, it’s got Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie as vampire lovers! (Pictured above.) That’s the definition of sexy. Add to that the lesbian “love” scene between Deneuve and Sarandon, plus the kickass soundtrack (with Bach’s Cello Suite #1 alongside Bauhaus’s goth classic, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”), and we’re giving this a thumbs up.

 

8. Angel Heart (1987)


Spoiler alert: If you can get past the the fact that the sex scene involves an adult (played by Mickey Rourke) fucking a minor (played by Lisa “Cosby Show” Bonet)…who’s mother is his ex-lover…whom he murdered…and who, it turns out, is his daughter from that dead ex-lover…whom he will kill after they have sex…by shooting her in the freakin’ vajayjay, well then that scene is pretty damned hot (emphasis on the damned).
 

9. American Psycho (2000)


We realize that by including American Psycho in this list, we’re guilty of the same kind of sexually shallow, consumeristic, image-conscious obsession the movie (based on the Bret Easton Ellis book) is making fun of with its¬†sexually shallow, consumeristic, image-conscious obsessed, serial-killing main character. But it’s not often that movies gaze so lovingly and longingly (however ironically) at the idealized male form (yet another reason Hollywood needs more female directors like this one’s, Mary Harron). So Christian Bale’s chiseled pecs and glutes earn the film a spot on our list.
 

10. Thirst (2009)


In his 1996 essay “Hail the Returning Dragon, Clothed in New Fire,” David Foster Wallace argued that obstacles are what make sex meaningful and sexy (dragons got in the way of maidens, AIDS got in the way malaise-inducing free love). South Korea’s Thirst is a tale with some serious obstacles: he’s a Catholic priest, she’s a married woman; he’s a vampire, she’s not…not yet at least. It doesn’t get much more forbidden than that.


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28 “Pretty Woman” Quotes to Use When Online Dating

October 20, 2014

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We loved the Buzzfeed experiment where a woman sent Tinder guys the emails from You’ve Got Mail, but we found a movie that’s even better suited for online dating. Here are the top 28 lines from Pretty Woman that could come in handy when online dating. Use if you dare!

 

The Pickup Line Approach

“Hey yo, baby!”

 

The Fishing for a Compliment Approach

“People put you down enough, you start to believe it.”

“The bad stuff is easier to believe. You ever notice that?”

 

The Here’s-Your-Compliment Approach

“I think you are a very bright, very special woman.”

“I think you have a lot of special gifts.”

“Very few people surprise me.”

 

The Small Talk Approach

“Don’t you just love Prince?”

“What’s your dream?”

 

The Trivia Approach

“Did I mention, my leg is 44″ from hip to toe?”

 

The Princess Approach

“I want the fairy tale.”

“When I was a little girl, my mama used to lock me in the attic when I was bad, which was pretty often. And I would- I would pretend I was a princess… trapped in a tower by a wicked queen. And then suddenly this knight… on a white horse with these colors flying would come charging up and draw his sword. And I would wave. And he would climb up the tower and rescue me.”

 

The Warts-and-All Approach

“My special gift is impossible relationships.”

“I don’t want to be alone tonight.”

 

The Stalker Approach

“That’s my favorite name in the whole world.”

“I called and called, where were you last night?”

“I’d like you to spend the week with me.”

“In case I forget to tell you later, I had a really good time tonight.”

 

The Booty Call Approach

“I appreciate this whole seduction thing you’ve got going on here, but let me give you a tip: I’m a sure thing.”

“I got red, I got green, I got yellow… I’m out of purple, but I do have one Gold Circle coin left… the condom of champions… the one and only… nothin’ is gettin’ through this sucker. Whaddya say, hmm?”

“I could just pop ya real good and get outta here.”

 

The Highbrow Approach

People’s reactions to opera the first time they see it is very dramatic; they either love it or they hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don’t, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul.

 

The Sugar Daddy Approach

“I’m gonna treat you so nice, you’re never gonna let me go.”

 

The Home Comforts Approach

“Let’s watch old movies all night… we’ll just veg out in front of the TV. Be still like vegetables. Lay like broccoli.”

“You and I are such similar creatures.”

 

… And Finally, When an Online Dater Blows You Off, Take the High Road

“It must be difficult to let go of something so beautiful.”

“Big mistake. Big. Huge. I have to go shopping now.”

“You’re forgiven.”

“I say who, I say when, I say who.”

 

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Blog Snog: 10 Books That Will Make You Deathly Afraid of Marriage

October 10, 2014

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Photos of the Week: Lip Pics by Olena Chernenko

October 9, 2014

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Generally speaking, Olena Chernenko creates surreal, Alice in Wonderland-style images (check her out on Getty Images). Specifically, she seems to be a bit obsession with lips: plump, painted, just kissed, about to be kissed, used or even abused. The result is mouth-watering photography…


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Poll: Is Ben Affleck More or Less Attractive After His Appearance on “Real Time”?

October 8, 2014

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Okay, we know this is a stretch for a sex & relationships website, but we just are having so much fun reading all the debates over last week’s episode of Real Time, in which host Bill Maher and guest Sam Harris, a “new atheist” author, clashed with actor Ben Affleck over whether it’s appropriate to criticize the ideology of Islam, or whether that smacks of racism and xenophobia. There have basically been two camps of response: “Ben Affleck for president!” and “Aw man, now I’m not going to get to see Gone Girl because I don’t want to support this bloviating idiot.” Watch the clip below, if you haven’t already, and let us know where you fall.


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