Re: Coordinating Sex Roles

Hal Finney (
Sun, 6 Apr 1997 09:45:45 -0700

The opportunities for women in society have opened up a lot in the last
few decades. Today we teach our kids that there are no differences in
what boys and girls can expect as far as career opportunities open to
them. (Even if this is not completely true, it is what they are taught.)
We try to encourage girls in particular to look past traditional roles
and to seriously pursue professions and work roles that were closed to
them in the past. I believe it is a better society which allows women
this kind of freedom.

Suppose I knew that society was going to change, and that women were going
to go back to being stuck in the home, called upon to greet their husbands'
return from work with a fresly-cleaned house, a pair of slippers, and a
delicious home-cooked meal. I wouldn't change what I teach my daughter.
I find those old limitations abhorrent.

Maybe this makes me a bad parent. I wouldn't be preparing my child for
what society is going to expect of her. She could face a hard time in a
world where she wants to be an aerospace engineer but everyone else expects
her to be Suzy Homemaker.

My justification would be that, with enough determination, she could
probably get past the kinds of sex role limitations which we have seen
within the last hundred years or so. So unless the social changes are
extremely drastic and sudden, she can probably still expect considerable
freedom in choosing her life's work. Furthermore, her efforts to take on
non-traditional roles will play some incremental part to retard whatever
social changes are occuring, changes which I would oppose.

Likewise the idea of encouraging my son to play team sports so that he'll
be all set when he gets drafted into the army or when Party membership is
a prerequisite for success is an equally unpleasant prospect. I simply
don't think in these terms. I have an individualist philosophy, and I
am raising my kids to pursue what interests them personally, without much
regard to what society wants.

While discussions of future sex roles may be interesting in their own
right, they wouldn't have much effect on my child-rearing practices.