John M. Becker

This 1986 NYT Article Will Make You Glad It's 2014

Filed By John M. Becker | January 12, 2014 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: gender binary, gender stereotypes, looking back

analog-clock.jpgStep back in time with me and read this New York Times article titled "Boyhood Effeminancy and Later Homosexuality," published on December 16, 1986:

Most young boys who persistently act like girls grow up to be homosexuals or bisexuals, a 15-year study of "sissy boys" has shown. According to the findings, neither therapy designed to discourage the extremely feminine behavior nor ideal child rearing could guarantee that the boys would develop as heterosexuals, although parental discouragement of the boys' girlish behavior tended to result in a more heterosexual orientation.

Three-fourths of 44 extremely feminine boys followed from early childhood to adolescence or young adulthood matured as homosexuals or bisexuals, as against only one bisexual among a comparison group of more typically masculine boys.

In many cases parents either overtly or subtly encouraged the feminine behavior. But when parents actively discouraged it and took other steps to enhance a male self-concept, homosexual tendencies of the feminine boys were lessened, although not necessarily reversed. Neither did professional counseling divert a tendency toward homosexuality, although it resulted in more conventional masculine behavior and enhanced the boys' social and pyschological adjustment and comfort with being male.

Holy gender binary, Batman! "Sissy boys"? Come on. The stereotypes and misogyny are mind-boggling. And speaking of:

Although the study examined extreme cases of boyhood effeminacy, Dr. Green believes the findings may have relevance to lesser degrees of feminine behavior in boys. Such boys, who may, for example, be athletically inept or prefer music to cars and trucks, often have difficulty making friends with other boys and identifying with typically male activities. Dr. Green suggested that to help the boys think of themselves as male, parents might assist them in finding boy friends who are similarly unaggressive and that the fathers might share in activities the boys enjoy, such as going to the zoo or a concert, rather than insist on taking the boys to athletic events. Counseling to guide such parents and enhance the child's masculine self-image may also be helpful, Dr. Green said.

The study did not examine the development of homosexuality in boys whose childhoods are typically masculine. About one-third of homosexual men recall such masculine boyhoods. Nor does the study suggest that all boys with the sissy-boy syndrome are destined for homosexuality. Indeed, one-fourth of the extremely feminine boys followed to maturity developed as heterosexuals.

Ahhh, that explains it: the fact that I "prefer music to cars and trucks" -- and always have -- is what made me gay. Right.

Head over to the New York Times website to read the rest. It's a fascinating (if cringe-inducing) step back in time that'll make you grateful it's 2014 and not 1986.

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