hairylunch (hairylunch) wrote,

Unproductive Morning

I didn't have a very productive morning today as there were too many interesting NY Times stories . . .

First off, there was this great article about coming out. It talks about a guy who came out in seventh grade (and was actually outed by a girl he had been talking to) in 2003. There's an interesting bit about a youth support group, and the founder talks about how he used to never see parents as the kids would come secretly. It took 10 years from the founding of the group (1993), before he saw parents. The main focus of the article though is on how repressing his sexual identity made him miserable (poor performance in school, mood swings, etc). The article ends with a quote from his mother - "Why didn't you come out in fifth grade?" The answer of course is that our culture still isn't at a point where kids are encouraged to be embrace their sexual identity. While I don't think 5th graders know their sexual identities, I do think ideally we'd be at a point where we wouldn't judge someone for having stereotypically gay tendencies. For some reason, if a girl is "butch," she'll just be a tomboy, but if a boy isn't into sports, playing in the dirt, etc, he's suddenly a pansy, a sissy, and all kinds of other derogatory names that are ultimately tied to sexuality. Silly double standards.

The other story that got to me was about high achieving females. The story focuses on some girls from an upscale, New England suburb, and the pressures they face.
It is also to see these girls struggle to navigate the conflicting messages they have been absorbing, if not from their parents then from the culture, since elementary school. The first message: Bring home A’s. Do everything. Get into a top college — which doesn’t have to be in the Ivy League, or one of the other elites like Williams, Tufts or Bowdoin, but should be a “name” school.

The second message: Be yourself. Have fun. Don’t work too hard.

And, for all their accomplishments and ambitions, the amazing girls, as their teachers and classmates call them, are not immune to the third message: While it is now cool to be smart, it is not enough to be smart.

Crazy isn't it? The article looks at a girl who choose not to try to balance a boyfriend because she had too many plates spinning. I do find it refreshing that they talk about guys who are attracted to these young women, who could definitely be intimidating, and how it's okay to be smart and female. It is disappointing that one of the students, with a perfect SAT score, says "It’s out of style to admit it, but it is more important to be hot than smart."

The author also seems to suggest that while everyone is pushing balance, in the end it comes down to what school you get into when she concludes with what schools she's been accepted at, rejected at, and is still waiting on. Nothing new in the article, but it's a well written piece on the pressures faced by high achieving females (which reminded me a lot about the Korean community growing up).

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