Parting Glances: Hey, man. You go, girl!

By |2005-11-17T09:00:00-05:00November 17th, 2005|Opinions|

There were lots of kids in the apartment complex I grew up in at 444 Peterboro, ZIPPER code 48202. And, although — through the careless grace of God –I was born an only child, I was never without friends to play Kick the Can, yell “first to see the streetlights go on!” and trade comic books with.
There were also living at Cassboro Arms what appeared to be “mannish” women (my grandmother’s description); and as a boy of 12, with little interest in sports (or girls), they fascinated me. Looking back, they were, of course, lesbians — or reasonable facsimiles.
One was the mother of an older guy, Jimmy (last name forgotten). She wore slacks (most women did during and after World War II), had close-cropped hair, sported a smart beret. Although I hadn’t the slightest clue about her sexuality — even though I was a reasonably savvy kid — she was attractive and friendly to me. I liked her.
If memory serves, Jimmy’s mother was often visited by a 30’s-something, femme brunet, a teacher at nearby Burton School, where I attended K through 6. I’m sure they had many pleasant lunches, leisurely discussed lesson plans, and, hopefully, held hands.
There were also living a few doors down, and above us, “single mothers by choice,” each of three separately raising her son, without the guidance, consolation, and mid-century respectability of a husband (who perhaps was killed in the war).
In spite of no “man around the house”, as far as I can determine, each son of these truncated nuclear families turned out straight-OK (not that I have anything against turning out gay-OK).
Now, 50 years later, there’s a “groundbreaking” study by Cornell gender scholar Peggy Drexler, Ph. D., making the rounds, dealing with “single mothers by choice” and “maverick moms” (lesbians). In book form it’s called, “Raising Boys Without Men” (Rodale Press, 2005), and is being praised and damned by pundits on opposite sides of the white-picket suburban fence.
According to Ms Drexler, boys raised by women without men are better off than boys raised with men — not the sort of message that Focus On the Family or AFA is likely to take lying down (in the missionary position, of course, and on the living room floor, with reruns of “Leave It to Beaver” [!] playing).
According to Drexler, the absence of a father removes macho performance pressures from young boys. They grow up without nagging paternal insistence that excellence in sport is the high-water mark of male adulthood. (She refers to overly aggressive adult males as “wounded
rhinos.”)
Drexler maintains that the differences between men and women are genetic, and not that gender differences is a social construct shaped by culture.
She reports that lesbians (“maverick moms”), who are often above-average affluent and likely to adopt children, tend also to be above-average in intelligence and more likely to have professional and academic degrees and skills. As a result, boys raised by these same-sex pairings are less likely to get in trouble, feel more relaxed, and perform better socially and in school.
Caitlin Flanagan, book reviewer for The Atlantic, refers to Drexler’s “Boys Will Be Boys” as part of a growing field of “You go, girl!” studies. (“I stopped dating losers and got myself inseminated.” “You go, girl!” etc.) He calls her book “preposterous” and unlikely to “raise a ripple beyond its intended audience. Yet the book is not without consequence beyond the tightly circumscribed world she describes.”
Ah, yes. Tight ends against the middle.

About the Author:

Charles Alexander