Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Boys and Girls

I visited Maya at her school today. I have made it a habit to pick her up after her soccer practice on Tuesdays, partly because when she takes the bus, she does not get her to her ballet class on time, but it also gives me the opportunity to see her in her daytime environment and to talk with her teachers. She chose soccer as her extracurricular event because Tuesday was the best day for afterschool activities, and soccer looked better than the other choices. She has not complained about being the only girl on the soccer team. She seems perfectly comfortable and is a surprisingly aggressive player. I don't understand why the girls at her school do not play soccer.

Maya, Soccer and Boys

Maya is having an easier time relating to the boys than with the girls. Although Maya pursues a very feminine activity (ballet, on point shoes too!) three nights a week, at school she is does well at sports and is perceived as a 'tomboy', and has more in common with the boys.


Boys and girls have well defined roles in this culture. Women and girls work hard and are as well educated as are boys, and have positions in the government and manage businesses. But men appear to have the upper hand. and like to wield their power (women are often victims of domestic abuse). Women are very concerned about their appearance, and plastic surgery is very popular, both with men and women. The current rage is nose jobs; men and women in equal numbers are having their noses altered. Men like to express their masculinity (macho), but are also incredibly vain. They rarely leave the house without hairgel, and often adjust their 'do' throughout the day.

I am told that girls like to be girly girls, and competitive aggressive tomboys do not fit into the role of a girl. From very early in their lives, girls and boys are treated differently and the expectation is for girls to be beautiful and to find a husband, and the boys to be aggressive and potent. Families are larger here and that limits women, as it does in all societies where women have many children. I am not sure how this impacts Maya's interactions with the girls and the boys in her school. My impression is that Maya does not quite fit into the role expected of her, and I wonder how that will impact her sense of self.

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