-- James Poulos offers a roundup of recent commentary on sexual innocence and the 1970s, rounding out the conversation with insights of his own. "I don't think it's really a milieu or a moment that our '70s sex nostalgists are pining for," he writes. "I think it's something they would describe, if pressed, as a virtue: the virtue of moderate innocence, and of judicious moderation in passing from the extreme innocence of childhood to the extreme knowingness of adulthood."
-- Ross Douthat argues that "America is now a country where social conservatives are as comfortable as liberals with the idea of women in high office. More strikingly, they're comfortable voting for working mothers -- for women publicly juggling careers and family obligations in ways that would have been unthinkable for the generations of female leaders, from Elizabeth I's Virgin Queen down to Margaret Thatcher's Iron Lady, who were expected to unsex themselves before being entrusted with the responsibilities of state."
-- Jezebel describes some recent gender research:
Researchers found that toddlers of both genders showed similar communication methods during snack time, but picked up on cues given by their parents during play time, as fathers tended to encourage assertive behavior while mothers encouraged cooperation and fairness. According to the authors of the study: "It would appear that children in the same family have different experiences in their play interactions with their mothers and fathers. Such differences may teach children indirect lessons about gender roles and reinforced gender typed patterns of behavior that they then carry into contexts outside of the family."
So how can parents challenge stereotypical notions of gender? Eliot suggests that it isn't as easy as giving a girl a raygun and having a boy play with My Little Pony: "Many parents have tried this, to little effect. Girls turned the trucks into families, boys played catch with the dolls, and both sexes knew there was something fishy going on." She instead suggests that parents consider buying toys such as Legos for girls, which encourage "the kind of visuospatial skill that is linked to higher mathematic achievement," and perhaps getting your son a pet, as it encourages boys to be nurturing and patient.
These studies always seem to proceed from the assumption that the ideal would be if every parent endeavored to treat little boys and little girls exactly the same. That may be so. But it doesn't seem so clear that it should be assumed without even addressing it.
-- Social conservatives don't like the idea of calling a truce on social issues.
-- James Wolcott: "Even in his grave, Norman Mailer is providing gossip, with memoirs this year by his widow, his cook, and one of his mistresses. Yet despite the sea of women in Mailer's life--six wives and countless lovers--his great literary handicap was the failure to learn from them."