I've been mowing in stripes at my father's over the past week.
Quite satisfying for someone such as me, who has not A Lawn, but lumpy bumpy tussocky grass.
I've had quite a few conversations in the past which seem to support the contention that its men, in particular, who like orderly, weed-free, stripy lawns; that "male" gardening tends towards the structural, linear, architectural, controlled, whereas "female" gardenening is characterised more by flowers, scent, spontaneity and natural forms. Any opinions?
Having thought, at one stage, that ideas of masculinity and femininity are entirely due to culture & socialisation, I have come to think now that there is a great deal of evidence which suggests there might actually be innate differences between women and men beyond the purely physiological. "Natural" rather than "nurtured" differences, traits, characteristics. It seems that hormone levels while we are in the womb may have more impact on who we are than we'd ever have imagined a hundred years ago.
But - and this is the tricky but crucial thing - none of these differences are universal.
None of the so-called "masculine" traits are present in all men - and none of them are present only in men. And vice versa with the feminine. If we have to go on thinking about certain characteristics as either "masculine" or "feminine" (will we ever be able to get away from this?) surely we all have to admit that we all have some of each?
So even if there are differences its possible to generalise about - eg. it seems to be a common view just now that women are better at multi-tasking - well, so what? Not all women are. Some men are. - so what use is the generalisation? It seems to me only likely to feed our oppressively stereotypical ideas of the masculinity and femininity - in ways which support false and oppressive ideas of what is "normal" and which can be so damaging.
After mowing the lawn and having some of these thoughts, I read a piece in the paper about some recent scientific claims made about that pesky old male-blue female-pink thing.
(after some research, it was suggested apparently that there might be evolutionary origins for this particular colour-coding, with women needing to be good at collecting berries.....)
The piece I read was in the Guardian's 'Bad Science' column - click here for the full text - and cites evidence against this - evidence that the "pink is girlie" idea is actually relatively new and very culturally determined. So, not such an old thing after all - isn't that nice to know? Maybe it will go away one day soon.
I'm a bit pissed off with myself for writing this though, which I hadn't planned, because its rather worky.
I've had at least two work dreams lately, there is marking on my desk which I can't evade for much longer, I'm trying to ignore the imminence of term beginnings, induction and academic "stuff" and I don't know how long I can hang on to the holiday vibe. And its now September.
There were no such serious discussions on our holiday, thats for sure. Though one of the below is (or could have been, if we could've been arsed) related to gender issues.
Favourite topics of holiday conversation around the table in Dordogne and Lot:
2. pool water temperature
3. advanced Cleudo-playing methodology
4. stickiness - qualities and definitions of, methods of testing for stickiness
5. zip then fasten or fasten then zip?
6. foreign bugs
7. Bedknobs and Broomsticks
8. why not to buy Top Budget products in France
9. comparison of strains and sore muscles following canoing and monkey-high-ropes stuff.
10. techniques for ripening avocado
13. iPods and iPod sox
It would be difficult to have a really good holiday, I think, with people who weren't more than a little bit silly and who don't enjoy food more than just a little bit.
Fortunately my father and my sister and her family meet both of these criteria.
Exit Post Coming Soon
10 months ago