Just about all of Robert Heinlein’s later books beginning with Time Enough for Love touch on male/female sexuality, similarities and differences. (Actually, he started it in Stranger, but didn’t develop it much at the time). This is particularly a theme in Fear No Evil. But even RAH, genius that he was, missed a couple of major differences. Now, I’m not here to debate whether it is inborn or cultural. I will just observe. BTW – The conclusion of RAH is usually that women are superior. I won’t disagree with the master.
First of all, I hope that I (and you) don’t have any illusions about little girls being made of sugar and spice or any such silliness. The idea that girls are not as cruel as boys is most inaccurate. Little girls are different, but both girls and boys are unformed humans that need to be civilized.
Having said the above, I note that little girls do silly playing. Little boys may do so for a short while, but they quickly become sober-sides and silly pretending usually stops. Pretending does not stop, but it is usually somewhat more serious. Adult role-playing type. Girls do this too, but they can also keep the playful silliness. It is instructive to note that one of the many things that the Red Hat Society does is to allow fully mature women to be silly together again. Men’s clubs do have lots of fun. But fun is usually serious business, and playful silliness is not to be found. (Not manly and dignified, y’know).
I will admit that I have perhaps a somewhat biased view. My beloved wife seems to think that she has been a failure if she can’t get me to laugh once a day. Well – some days she can’t. But I am usually amused. My oldest and dearest friend spent hours being quite silly in a really brilliant improv fashion to get me laughing. This may or may not have been a motive. It was certainly an effect.
My dear friend sent me a picture of the first grade class that we were in together. I am on the end, glowering as usual. My wife claims that I was born a grumpy old man. I am probably guilty as charged. I have usually had a solemn affect, I think.
I was probably pretty sullen throughout public school. I was bored out of my mind. I remember a big hooraw that my fourth grade teacher made when book reports were assigned. I did my book report on Edison Marshal’s West with the Vikings. Now this was the story of Leif Eriksson. Adult. Fictional, but somewhat accurate. And yes, there was some sex. And some violence. It was also the most recently read book at the time. The other candidate for the report was The Campaigns of Alexander the Great. Or something like that. I didn’t think an historical analysis of Alexander’s battles would make a good report, and we had been limited to two pages or some such anyway. So – the note got sent home, and my mother had to come in to answer as to why I was doing a report on an adult book some 2” thick when the rest of the kids were doing Nancy Drew mysteries or Hardy Boys or some equivalent. I don’t remember what my mother said. I do know I didn’t get hassled about what I read again in that grade. Like I said, I was bored. And probably sullen.
I remember being sent to the principal’s office in the 8th grade, I don’t remember for what. I was sitting outside the office. It was one of those hot, drowsy spring days (before A.C.) and late afternoon. I was nearly asleep in the chair. The receptionist may have spoken, I don’t know. I do know that she came up and asked me if I were sick. I was quite groggy, not thinking. My nose was clogged with the spring Atlanta air. I said (and this is exact) “Yes, ma’am, I have a sinus headache.” The next thing I knew, I was in the principal’s presence being dressed down for being rude to the receptionist. She had gone to him in tears. This was a big deal. My father got to come in for a conference the next morning. I got beatings from both of them. To this day I don’t know what that woman thought I said. It certainly wasn’t what I did say. And I really wasn’t rude. I swear.
That was only the first time it became apparent that people could misinterpret what was actually said. I had that problem several times when I was younger. I have been told that people were afraid of me. I have been told that I project danger. I have always been somewhat amused/bemused/confused by this. I am not and never have been all that strong compared to many of the manly-man football player types. I have never started a fight. I always considered fighting to be foolish. I have always avoided fights. I only fought if I could not get out of it. I did usually finish them in at least marginally better shape than the aggressor, for whatever that may be worth. (I might be able to whip a wet piece of spaghetti now that I am old and out of shape). I have always tried to be kind to others. I like to think that the only people that I have been rude to needed and deserved it. (At least deliberately rude). None of the above seems to have meaning where people’s perceptions are concerned.
Anyway, as I matured I learned to try to present a somewhat less intimidating affect most of the time. It seems to work ok. I haven’t had any trouble in years.
I’m still a grumpy old man. And I do think that girls have more fun!