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November 26, 2017


I would say we have made far more progress on one side than on the other.

These days, a woman who enters a "male profession" may face some discrimination, but nobody much still argues that she shouldn't be allowed to try. (The Army Rangers have fallen, which leaves anything less physically demanding without much of a leg to stand on.) There's still some negative reaction, at least from some people, to a woman acting masculine (whatever that means to them), but far more people just shrug and move on.

But a man who acts "feminine" or enters what is regarded (decreasingly, perhaps, but still) as a "female profession"? Much more negative reaction.

And, look at the extreme: teenagers. Who, after all, are in the process of working out how to be men or women.

A teenage girl can pretty much do what she wants. Some negative feedback from her peers, perhaps, but not all that much. She'd probably get more negative reaction for being a "nerd".

But a teenage boy who acts "girlish"? Even today, as much as things have improved on that front, he's going to get it early and often from his peers. Being gay is one thing; that's no longer anywhere near as big a deal as it once was. But not acting masculine? Bad. Very bad.

I admit to some optimism that things will continue to improve on this front. But there is still a ways to go -- and more for the guys.

wj -- totally agree, and it was ever thus. Despite constant resistance and sometimes bitching from the adults in my life, I had a far easier time as a girl who loved math and wanted to play army and football with the boys than any boy of my generation would have had if he'd loved dolls and wanted to play house with the girls.

Nowadays no one blinks at a girl in pants, but a guy in a skirt? Good luck. Even that is slowly changing, but IME only in little tolerant pockets. When my kids were in high school there was a boy who wore dresses to school, and one of the senior girls appointed herself his bodyguard -- she walked around school with him whenever she could, daring anyone to be an asshole.

Also -- universal clarification for anything I write about this -- as in wj's comment, pretty much any gender-weighted word can be considered to be in quotation mark. I don't consider them scare quotes (I don't know why that phrase was ever invented), but rather "this word is heavily weighted with more nuance than is practical to include every time we use the word" quotes.

It's going to be a long time before we can all talk about this using the same words, if we ever get there at all. I'm not on Facebook, which may account for the fact that I'm so out of date (three+ years?) that I thought there were only fifty-six gender options. Apparently there are now 71? Or maybe that's only in the UK. Or only in the US. Or something.

And I should say -- I'm all in favor of lots of options. That was what my "third circle" idea was all about.

If you're a guy who wants to wear a dress, you'll have far less trouble if you are willing to go with a skirt instead. And make it plaid. ;-)

Since the OT mentioned Peter Pan, and now is morphing into issues of cross-dressing, I would be remiss in not mentioning the old theatrical tradition of The Dame in English Pantos.

A tradition that never made it far beyond the shores of the UK, so unlikely to be familiar to most here (with notable exceptions); more info at, as we now are near the beginning of the Panto season.

But a man who acts "feminine" or enters what is regarded (decreasingly, perhaps, but still) as a "female profession"? Much more negative reaction....

I'm not sure that's entirely true.
As an example, primary school teachers in the U.K. are overwhelmingly (c.80%) female... but male teachers tend to get promoted to management more quickly.

As an example, primary school teachers in the U.K. are overwhelmingly (c.80%) female... but male teachers tend to get promoted to management more quickly.

Nursing in the US is similar - an approximate 10:1 female to male ratio, but men get paid more. Who'd a thunk?

The panic over men doing anything feminine is just the flip side, the cost to men, of the higher social valuation of masculinity and masculine things. Women do pay for it in countless ways. But it's true that it gets them some greater latitude in behavior.

Dont' get me started on Davy Crockett.


Nursing in the US is similar - an approximate 10:1 female to male ratio, but men get paid more. Who'd a thunk?

Generally, or in specific circumstances?

When I was younger I had a friend who spent six months of the year surfing, and six months working as a nurse. He was 6'2" and 215 pounds, had the necessary nursing certifications, and was trained in some form of martial arts that emphasized locks that could immobilize people without damaging them. Pretty much quoting him: "I can fly into any metro area in the US, start walk-in interviews at specialized facilities on Monday, and have three job offers by Friday."

He got the job offers despite being up front that in six months he would be quitting so he could go surf, and said that he got premium salaries and promotion opportunities as well.

Generally, or in specific circumstances?

Across the spectrum of nurses. Your friend is very cool. That doesn't explain why men are paid more.

In a conversation where people are saying that men are discriminated against for doing women's work, the stats don't support it.

I wasn't actually thinking of men being discriminated against at work. I confess I actually had in mind the social view of them for their career choice. Rather a different thing.

In the UK, copyright on Peter Pan is owned by the Great Ormond Street children's hospital. There's a special schedule in the 1988 Copyright Act which makes this copyright last forever.

Whereas in the US, the copyright (for everything) just gets extended regularly, in order that Mickey Mouse will not fall out of copyright. Sounds like the British have a better approach.

Pro Bono’s comment sent me looking for more about Peter Pan and Great Ormond Street. I found a good article about the history that included this comment:

...even among strong copyright supporters, it is generally assumed that, eventually, all works will be freely available for others to build upon, publisher or otherwise copy.

My impression is that we've moved a long way away from the old copyright rules. Or, what wj said, and I’ll leave it at that and not, this morning, get started on big corporations…controlling…everything… perpetuity....

Will not…will not…will not...

WRT Pantomime Dames, there are some US equivalents, e.g., two men who have been playing the Ugly Sisters in Cinderella annually for twenty years now. In North Carolina:

In opera there are a (very) few female roles traditionally sung by men (I can remember just now only two: the witch in Hansel and Gretel and the giantess cook in The love for three oranges*) but lots and lots of 'trouser roles', i.e. male roles sung by women (in essence all children parts are given to females too).
While we are at opera, interestingly the roles originally written for castrates were until very recently generally switched to bass (now countertenors seem to have taken the roles back at least around here and alto women took them in other places). Many don't like this return to the original because for them it has gay and/or effeminate implications that clearly were not in the mind of the composers (but get played up in many productions).

*which may not even count since it is intended as a parody

We did enjoy it, but my immediate reaction was bemusement at how “girly” Mary’s Peter seemed thirty-five years later.

when i was a kid, Peter Pan was Sandy Duncan (who i had a big crush on!) so, it's always been a 'girly' role, to me. i suspect there are others my age who feel the same way.

i wonder if that affects the play's popularity.

when i was a kid, Peter Pan was Sandy Duncan (who i had a big crush on!) so, it's always been a 'girly' role, to me.

Were you young enough that you didn't quite know what you wanted to do with Sandy Duncan, other than maybe sit next to her and hold hands with a big smile on your face?

i suspect there are others my age who feel the same way.

I can neither confirm nor deny this at this point in time.

other than maybe sit next to her and hold hands with a big smile on your face?

sit next to her, sure. hold hands? with a girl? !


Some background on the casting of Peter.

My niece has three kids. Twin girls and a little. I think the girls just turned 7, the boy is 3. One of the girls is, for lack of a better word, very girly. The other is basically a boy. Boy clothes, boy activities, sometimes boy name. Her son is pretty much a boy.

We have friends who have two adopted Asian girls. When the second girl arrived, she and girl number one seemed to carve out the gender turf. Girl number two claimed the girly space, girl number one became more of a tomboy. They sort of maintain that, although each of the boundaries have softened over the years.

My minister was recently informed by his 11 year old son that he (the son) planned to be the first gay President. This was news to my minister, on both counts.

People are who they are. Sometimes 'who they are' changes over time. I'm glad we live at a time when there is some kind of room for that.

Female Voice Actors for Boys in Anime

Actively disliked Sandy Duncan, she seemed prissy or something. Superduper square. My ten-years-old would be the Kennedy administration and remember no crushes. Never liked any Peter Pan I saw, always lacked the specific internal edginess of a pre-pubescent asshole. I have read the book.

"Tomorrow Wendy is going to die"

Andy Prieboy, Johnette Napolitano

Peter Pan is always Marty Martin for me.

i'm sure i learned of Sandy Duncan from The Cat From Outer Space, which was my favorite movie for a long time.

I really enjoyed her work in the Wheat Thins commercial.

she's got an eye for snack foods.

"Clap your hands and Tinkerbell will LIVE! (snap your fingers and Tinkerbell will DIE)"

It seems that Mark Twain was a fan of Peter Pan.

Wikipedia has a reasonable article on breeches roles:

It is indeed noteworthy in Pepys' diaries how he ramarks on the quality of the actresses' legs almost as often as on that of the drama...

I can't help recalling the Master of the Revels's line from Shakespeare in Love: "That woman . . . IS A WOMAN!"

It's rather amusing to contemplate that in Shakespeare's time, all of the parts were played by men; at least, so I have been informed.

So the "young ladies" in the comedies were played by boys; and it's just amazing how many time the plot required having the "young ladies" dress as men in order to further their romantic exploits.

Shakespeare was a hack. All cross-dressing and knob gags. It's as if, in the year 2417, we were still approvingly putting on Adam Sandler movies.

If you are sneering at the audience's taste, which Shakespeare necessarily played to, like any artist trying to make a living, then put the blame where it belongs.

If you are going to call Shakespeare a "hack", you really ought to be talking about his craftsmanship: the way the plays are structured, the way the characters are drawn, etc. Of course, the trouble with that approach is that he actually was an extremely good craftsman, and not a hack at all.

Same could be said about the old Roman comedies that were without exception adaptations of Greek plays. The Roman playwrights had to alter them significantly because the Greeks expected a coherent plot and the Romans slapstick where the plot could be reduced to an excuse. Plus in Greece going to the theatre was more or less a civic duty while in Rome it was always suspect to the authorities who would not allow for a permanent theatre building for literally centuries (and the first one got nearly torn down the moment it was finished and survived just by being declared a temple with the rows of seats as the steps leading up to the altar). And we know that there was a stiff competition between the theatre and other lowbrow entertainment. One playwright put it into the prologue that the last time he had tried to stage that play they had to stop mid-performance because the whole audience left to watch a tightrope walker instead.
Shakespeare faced the same problems and without a doubt had read English translations of Plautine (and maybe Terentian) plays. The main difference is that he mixed comedy and tragedy which was impossible in the ancient world.

Although to be fair, Hartmut: Aristophanes.

Had any Roman tried anything Aristophanean, he would have been dead or in exile before you could say Gnaeus Naevius ;-)
But even in Greece the 'old comedy' died with Athenian democracy (some of Aristophanes' late works are already counted as 'medium'. Roman comedies are derived from the 'new' without exception*).

The Greeks had no problem with slapstick or fourth wall breaking per se as long as there still was a coherent plot (and/or overarching theme). And many of the Aristophanean jokes would have gone right above the head of most Romans (and like with Shakespeare we today may not get all of them either).

*talking about classical comedies not the 'commedia dell'arte' or 'peasant theatre' type (the latter could be compared to Laurel&Hardy shorts just with two added sidekicks).

Shakespeare was a hack.


haters gotta hate

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