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  1. #1
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Default Talent Shows & Girl Acts

    Sitting through two hours of the annual elementary school talent show last night, I just had to take notice (as I have every year) how boys and girls generally differ in the sorts of things they share on stage.

    You will see both boys and girls get up individually and share a particular talent (a musical instrument, a magic trick, an animal trick) solo. Occasionally boys will be part of a comedy routine or even a small band.

    To be very blunt, you almost never see three boys getting up and singing unison (well, at least that is the intention ) some sappy teen pop song. (go die hannah montana... ick)

    You also won't see them wear matching outfits and doing an interactive dance routine together, or jumping ropes together.

    Girls who normally are quiet in public and never want the attention anywhere else will still go on stage with their friends and do a very physical (though silent) dance routine in emulation of their teen heroines.

    This doesn't just occur -- it actually predominates and comprises the bulk of each year's talent show.

    Does anyone have insight on how and why this happens, or what it is, or what they personally experienced growing up? How might play/relational styles differ between boys and girls?
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

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    ish red no longer *sad* nightning's Avatar
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    I would consider cultural influences has a great deal to do with that... In my mind, dressing up in the same way and singing in unison is too much like a choir. Boys have a huge aversion to it because choirs are "girly". My brother was stuck in taking choir class a few years back and he hates it when it's mentioned.

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    Free-Rangin' Librarian Jae Rae's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nightning View Post
    I would consider cultural influences has a great deal to do with that...
    Good insight.

    My husband and I were going through some photos from five years ago and were stunned to see my nieces and their girl cousins posing in some very provocative ways as preteens - pouty lips, hands on crotch with open legs (while wearing jeans), etc. I seriously doubt they'd dare pose that overtly now as teens, but this behavior follows the pop culture "ideal" of dressing and acting sexy for others' approval which many girls emulate.

    Jae Rae
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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jae Rae View Post
    My husband and I were going through some photos from five years ago and were stunned to see my nieces and their girl cousins posing in some very provocative ways as preteens - pouty lips, hands on crotch with open legs (while wearing jeans), etc. I seriously doubt they'd dare pose that overtly now as teens, but this behavior follows the pop culture "ideal" of dressing and acting sexy for others' approval which many girls emulate.
    Oh, I did note that too.

    (Watch the Donnie Darko scene too, with Sparklemotion, and I think the director specifically TRIED to emphasize this weird clutching of teenage sexuality by prepubescent girls.)

    but again, if we step "outside the box" -- why do girls seem to struggle with this? Why DON'T the boys do this? They might try to achieve and "look cool" ... but not the naive attempts at sexuality, which are very appealing intuitively for young girls.

    [As a counter example, the very LAST act was an actual band made of four boys -- bass, guitar, drumset, and lead singer. They were quite excellent, I was so impressed considering they were elementary school kids... but it was like a "group activity" where the members were still very much independent of each other, and not as much emphasis on sexuality as upon... what exactly?]

    Likewise, why are choirs considered "girly" in the first place? Society might now have a stigma attached (at least in western culture), but why did the stigma spawn in the first place?

    Society is made of individuals. Individuals collectively decided that these things were not masculine, and I don't think it was all a conscious decision, there is SOMETHING intrinsic to the behaviors that is being expressed.

    Again, I would have trouble thinking of any culture where boys would enter bonding experiences of the sort that girls gravitate towards. (Or is this a mistake on my part, and someone knows of rituals where boys naturally would behave this way?) If a particular behavior recurs beyond cultural lines, it seems like it is something inherent in human beings and not the particular culture.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  5. #5
    Boring old fossil Night's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post

    Society is made of individuals. Individuals collectively decided that these things were not masculine, and I don't think it was all a conscious decision, there is SOMETHING intrinsic to the behaviors that is being expressed.

    Again, I would have trouble thinking of any culture where boys would enter bonding experiences of the sort that girls gravitate towards. (Or is this a mistake on my part, and someone knows of rituals where boys naturally would behave this way?) If a particular behavior recurs beyond cultural lines, it seems like it is something inherent in human beings and not the particular culture.
    You make some very interesting points on the dividing points between social pressure and gender roles, Jennifer.

    I think the equation could be simplified into a cooperation v. individuality conflict. Western boys (generally) seem to select routines that favor personal growth while their female counterparts enjoy a natural inclination towards activities that promote mutual gain. The dislocation between self-service and affinal support might provide an interesting slant into your question.

    To your point, it's curious that these behavioral attitudes seem to be threaded independent of cultural upbringing. The central connection would then have to be something inalienably human and universally recognizable, regardless of environmental cues.

    Perhaps one of the reasons is physiology. The pathology of domestic v. resource-gathering roles seems likely to draw itself upon gender distinctions as the predominant judge of "utility". As men gravitate towards the hunt, women hunkered towards their kin. Personal identity and social leadership evolve (in part) from one's role in the community.

    Not to toss colored fabrics in with the linens, but many Northern American Native cultures historically favored matriarchal lines of leadership where hunting and protection were incidental to tribal affiliation and familial enrichment. As such, many traditionally "male" roles ran secondary to the ultimate continuity of feminine "cooperation" towards a cohesive tribal unit.

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    Free-Rangin' Librarian Jae Rae's Avatar
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    Rock musicians and wannabees come to mind. And have you been to any middle school dances recently? There is a LOT of sexual posturing and mimicking going on by both sexes.

    Don't forget that girls mature sooner than boys, sometimes two to three years ahead of them, so if you're watching fifth-graders, some of those girls are having periods while the guys are still relatively untouched by body changes and hormone effects.

    Another thing to consider - boys are notoriously gawky when they do get their growth spurts and their voices crack, making singing in a choir potentially embarrassing. Both of these factors probably contribute to not wanting to sing and dance on stage.

    Jae Rae
    Proud Female Rider in Maverick's Bike Club.

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    Plumage and Moult proteanmix's Avatar
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    Hey! I like Hannah Montana! Although I was a little freaked out a few months ago when I got on the subway and saw legions of pre-teen girls (and a couple of boys) wearing long blond wigs.

    My high school had a yearly talent show and it wasn't unusual for boys to get up and sing and dance in groups. Both sexes would dance but the guys' moves were more aggressive, harder, and competitive. The girls would be sexy or "cuter" but not as hard as the boys.

    I don't think it's necessarily an emphasis on boys to be unsexy. What is sexy for boys is different than what is sexy for girls, i.e. girls showing more overt sexuality than boys, a bunch of Lolita's experimenting in what they know they would have. The male equivalent of that would be more homoerotic (pouty lips, smooth skin, suggestive poses) and that's not generally what is "sexy" for men.

    I think there's a sexual ideal that young boys try to emulate. When I was younger, the music I listened to in my tween years, when I think about it was more sexual than what I needed to be hearing at that age. It manifested itself in the ways you noticed for girls, but for boys is more a peacock thing, like they'd do the thug posturing (or reality in some sad cases) and that was the sexy part for them.

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    Junior Member dancinglissa's Avatar
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    Also, in middle school and high school, guys dance and sing, but often to be funny. Or, think about "Kevin G and the Power of Three" from Mean Girls. That's often what it's like, except maybe different lyrics.
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    Well done author. I never bothered to notice since I spend most the time zoning out and waiting until it finishes. In our society, boys dancing together is gay and is not age dependant, but girls together ranges from sexy to cute and is age variant.

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