Monday, August 30, 2010

Boys Not Wanted on the Voyage

Does a child need to have two parents, male and female, or suffer dire psychological consequences? This is the question at the heart of the same-sex parenting debate, and as usual the studies go both ways, largely depending on who funds them.
The big difficulty, though, is with the diagnostic tools available: how do you go about measuring psychological development? What do you count as important? What is a good trait in an adult child, and what is a fault that suggests a lack in the parenting style?
For example, a study by Stacey and Biblarz compared different studies of lesbian parents and found that there was no significant difference in development, achievement, happiness, success, etc. however, there was a difference in the sexual development of children raised by lesbian parents. Girls were more likely to pursue same-sex experimentation, and to have a more promiscuous lifestyle, whereas boys raised by two mommies were more likely to be sexually reserved than their opposite-sex parented peers.
Other studies have come to different conclusions. Most notably, Gartrell and Bos's recent study which suggested that lesbian parents actually raised children who were more psychologically well adjusted than opposite-sex parents. The methodological problems with the study are significant, but one of the difficulties that doesn't get noticed is with the highly reputable diagnostic tool used in the study. According to this particular diagnostic standard, not only lesbian parents, but also single mothers, raise more adjusted children than traditional families. What this strongly suggests is that the diagnostic criterion for psychological health, at least according to this standard, are basically a measure of feminine influence. In other words, the more feminized a child is, the more "healthy" they will appear to be, whereas masculine traits are seen as a form of dysfunction.
This is not surprising. Ours is a culture that essentially values docility, even-temper, sensitivity, and obedience. This is particularly true when you consider that any psychological evaluation of adolescents will tend to rely on the school as an "objective" reporting vector. Yet what is it that a school environment demands of its pupils? Certainly not the masculine virtues: courage, honour, strength of resolve, justified resistance, and the impulse to protect the things that one cares for, are likely to appear in a school setting as "risky behaviour" "rebelliousness" "sullenness" and so forth. It is no surprise that boys are more likely to be diagnosed with behavioural problems and put on drugs by the school system: masculinity is not wanted here.
Anyways, the point is that "scientific" studies of parenting styles are anything but. They are necessarily political. They depend on someone's ideas of what an ideal parenting outcome is -- of what a "well adjusted" human being looks like.

4 comments:

  1. Very true. Masculinity is the new opressed minority.

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  2. This is one of the most interesting blog posts I have read in a long time. Thank you so much!

    I would love to be able to cite the information about how "the diagnostic criterion for psychological health, at least according to this standard, are basically a measure of feminine influence."

    Could you please point me in the direction of the studies that reveal the bias toward feminine traits in the criteria used by the other studies?

    Thank you so much!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree with your post and wish I had more information about this passage:

    the highly reputable diagnostic tool used in the study. According to this particular diagnostic standard, not only lesbian parents, but also single mothers, raise more adjusted children than traditional families. What this strongly suggests is that the diagnostic criterion for psychological health, at least according to this standard, are basically a measure of feminine influence. In other words, the more feminized a child is, the more "healthy" they will appear to be, whereas masculine traits are seen as a form of dysfunction.

    Can you please provide documentation for this? It would be very helpful to me and I am sure to many others as well. Thank you.

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  4. I say "eh" to this blog blurb. (eh in dismissal of course) I don't feel like men or masculinity is this new repressed minority....look at media and ads...men are displayed as muscular/ heroes/ strong/ sexy/ capable. Culture daily promotes this idea that to be a man you should be all of the above or have most of those qualities. while as for schools and children being expected to be obedient...i don't think schools getting rid of play time and lengthening school days is good for any of the children. society/ culture very much molds childrens or at least has an impact on them, I personally don't make an association between a girl child as being more obedient or quiet or "good" while assuming the boy child will be loud (or even should be) and rolling around in mud.
    also if and when I have kids...it's not just going to be a free for all because I'm a lesbian...like oh Tina wants to have sex at 13 go for it or Johnny has to be able to sit still to sew a blanket...

    ReplyDelete

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