Re: Coordinating Sex Roles

Robin Hanson (
Mon, 7 Apr 1997 13:40:52 -0700 (PDT)

Hal Finney writes:
>Suppose I knew that society was going to change, and that women were going
>to go back to being stuck in the home, .... 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. ...
>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. ...
>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.

Most people care more than you about what other people will respect in
them and desire from them, but perhaps your children will be like you
here. Even so, you surely want your children to have realistic
expectations about what sort of things are possible for them. You
don't want them to think they can fly by jumping off the roof and
flapping their arms. And if, for example, they announce their
interest in being a movie star, princess, professional basketball
player, or astronaut, you probably want to make it clear these are
long shots.

Similarly, you might want to give similar info to a son who would like
to be a fulltime house-husband, or who is hoping he'll never have to
deal with violence from bullies at school, or who is hoping to deal
with his shyness by waiting for girls to ask him out socially. While
these may be realistic prospects for most girls, they are simply not
for most boys.

Robin D. Hanson