In a day and age where gender equality is the goal and gender roles and boundaries become more and more skewed, it would do us good to take a moment out of our ever-busy lives and look at what makes up each gender, asking ourselves, “Are there genetic difference between boys and girls?” The answer, for those who are open minded, is yes.
Leonard Sax is an American psychologist and practicing physician who is well known for his books on gender. Why Gender Matters is a book about the biological differences between men and women. In a world where everything from businesses to schools are striving to treat everyone, regardless of gender, the same we are running the risk of developmentally damaging a wide range of individuals. Covering everything from risk taking to discipline and school, Sax attempts to open the eyes of the world to see that the behaviors we have been taught to see as deviant or desired are not always black and white. It is only through understanding our differences as individuals that we can begin to heal the damage that has been done to the rising generation.
As someone preparing to enter the education field this was an especially interesting book for me. I would recommend it to anyone who is a parent, will soon be a parent, or works with people in any way. So basically everyone should read this book at some point in their life. In many ways it opened my eyes not only to how to interact with children in a way that will encourage their individual growth, but how to understand myself and other adults more.
A disappointing observation I have had from working in schools and studying to be a teacher is that people are constantly trying to perfect the system. This isn’t inherently bad, but our current society has taken the route to perfection that requires us to eradicate anything we don’t understand or don’t find to be perfect. The result is that boys who have excessive energy (most boys) and girls who struggle to learn math and science (many girls) must have ADHD or have a learning disability. The reality: society has created the problems through what they have deemed to be desirable and children and adults alike are being required to fit the mold.
This is not to say that there aren’t children who struggle with both ADHD and learning disabilities; they are real things that can cause problems if not treated. But we would be that much more effective in helping people if we took the time to understand them.
I was pleased with this book not only because of the content but also because of the format. Sax chose to share his information with a series of stories told in between to strengthen his claims and also provide a more entertaining experience for the audience. For me as a reader this served as a doubly effective tool as I enjoyed learning the information and the stories served to imprint the knowledge deeper into my long-term memory.
All in all, gender is a distinct part of who we are. Some people change their gender, lean a different way, or are just different from the average, but our gender is an aspect of who we are and it has distinct affects upon our personality and how we view the world. In today’s world this book has the potential to be viewed as controversial, but I hope that all who read it do so with an open mind and a critical eye to find the truth for themselves.