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Is Writing A Sissy Thing

By Author: Ralph Brooks
Total Articles: 34

For many middle school male students, writing is something they'd like to avoid, not because it's a tough assignment on its own, but also because a lot of those same guys think writing is something that girls are good at while they're just borderline or at best marginal. Guys, on the other hand, would rather kick up some dust and spend their time doing something else, like throwing a ball around. Maybe guys just don't like to write-maybe no student does-but I think some guys still think there are words and sentences that come better from the minds of females. Such a belief is counter to anything I'm aware of, but just in case the question might be valid, then let's consider it.
As we know, the English language comes in many structures, forms and fashions, and there may be genres that disturb guys more than others. Poetry, for example, or song lyrics, or any words that have a "sweet" connotation. A student once told me that girls wouldn't hesitate to say, "It's a gorgeous day," whereas a lot of guys would never say "gorgeous." They might say, "It's a great day," but rarely "gorgeous." I doubt anyone would snicker if they saw that word in the narratives of writers like Ernest Hemingway, Norman Mailer, Jack London, Nelson Algren, or John Updike, men whose prose often hits the page with all the subtleties of a cannon ball.
The Problem With Stereotyping
The image I have of Hemingway-a true one-is that he was one of the most hard-drinking, aggressive writers around. He used to stand atop a 50-foot sport cruiser while roaring around the Caribbean Sea, a bottle of gin in one hand and a machine gun in the other, hoping to see a shark that he could slice in half with bullets. With blood and bullets showing up frequently in Hemingway's prose, it's doubtful anyone would ever put him in the category of a "sissified" writer.
Maybe the idea that writing is a girls-only thing came about because some people believe the brain of a girl is better suited for writing. If that's true, could it be a difference in the brain maps of men and women? In his article, "Where the Boys Aren't," Christopher Orlet, who writes for the website,The American Spectator, suggests that "... boys do better in math and girls in languages... Theories abound, among them that schools offer too many girly-girl subjects (literature, grammar, music)." I trust Orlet was trying to be cute with "girly-girl." Trust me, I'm a guy and my math skills are lousy, while my language skills are better than average.
Maybe this kind of stereotyping-the kind that says writing is a sissy thing-is just plain wrong. Maybes guy in middle school would rather throw a ball around because they are victims of a youth that has not yet expanded its vision. When we're young, we often fall prey to bogus criticisms from those around us, most of which we tend to believe. Years later, when we mature enough to forget about labels that don't fit, we might realize that a lot of those old opinions were just faulty ideas passed by those who should have known better.

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