We see boys and girls as entirely different species. Girls like muffins.
Boys like baseball. They are different, and we are taught to see them
differently. Our parents and the church are powerful teachers, and
our schools and the leisure industry reinforce this early conditioning.
But what if our teachers are wrong? What if girls and boys are really
the same—not biologically, of course, but in all other ways? What if
the gender roles we’ve learned—what it means to be a girl or a boy—
rather than helping us form an identity, serve only to limit the sort of
people we can be?
The answer is staring us in the face. Our society puts a construction
on gender, creates a model for us to follow, but this model changes
from generation to generation. In other words, neither gender has an
essence. Neither has a stable, unchanging set of traits that defines
its members, for all time, as real men or real women. Big World looks
at some of the traits that are commonly used to define the genders
(men are strong and, brave, adventurous and level-headed, while
women are pretty, clean, cautious and caring), and shows that these
traits belong equally to both men and women. It is only by stepping
past the stereotypes that we become full-blown people. It is only by
becoming full-blown people that we are able to have truly loving
relationships. We have to make the world bigger than the one we
were born into.