There's a fascinating article in the WaPo "proving" that girls are more "resilient" than boys. And, of course, my first response is a knowing smile. Damn straight, we're more resilient. We have to be. Plus, we're not missing that important bit of genetic material that gets cut off of an X chromosome to make it a Y.
But when you think about the article for a moment, it's interesting to consider the underlying sexism.
The article describes a study that looked at boys and girls raised in stressful situations: Besides having a drug-addicted parent, many of the children also had a parent who was jailed or mentally ill. Overall, 62 percent of the children had three or more childhood adversities. So those situations would seem to happen equally to both boys and girls. But, here's the interesting part:
[R]esiliency was defined as either working or being in school, not being a substance abuser and having no criminal record. It's interesting that resiliency was defined as doing what we expect men to do and as not doing those things that men with problems often do. Resiliency, for example, wasn't defined as not being involved with an abusive lover, as not having had early and unplanned pregnancies, as not engaging in anorexic behaviors or bulimia. Stay in school, don't use drugs, and don't get arrested and you're able to deal resiliently with a difficult childhood, I guess. That's what girls do.
I used to teach special education for kids labeled "emotionally disturbed." Not surprisingly, teachers refer to such programs those kids who act out in the classroom and make it impossible for the teachers to teach. Not surprisingly, far more boys than girls got referred and "identified." I kept pointing out that there were girls with emotional problems, but they displayed those problems in ways -- retreating into silence and depression, cutting themselves, starving themselves, giving themselves away sexually in return for an illusion of love, etc. -- that didn't generally disrupt the classroom. And so they went untreated, while the boys, who tended to act out, disrupt, be aggressive, engage in "dangerous" behaviors, got help.
I think it's dangerous to pretend that girls can "take it" better than boys can. It's dangerous for the boys, but it's especially bad for the girls.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."