Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1 The T-Shirt
It all started with a T-shirt . . .
A few years ago I was hanging out in the choir room at the high school where I work part-time. A group of girls and I were eating our lunches, talking about the day, complimenting Annie on her cool toenail polish, admiring Kayla's pink-streaked hair dye, and congratulating Amy on making the girls' varsity hockey team when in walked Erin, wearing a blazing pink T-shirt. Across the front it read,
'BOYS ARE STUPID . . . THROW ROCKS AT THEM.'
Everyone laughed at her shirt and started making comments like,
'Ohmigosh, that is soooo true!'
'Where did you buy that shirt? I want one too!'
Boys like to joke a lot. Tanner, age 7
'Whoever designed that shirt must know my brother.'
'Boys aren't just stupid. They're stupider than stupid.'
'What's the problem with boys, anyway?! They are so annoying.'
'I wish I'd had some rocks to throw at Travis during algebra this morning.'
Before long the comments had turned into a heated conversation about what boys are like, how they act, the things they do, and the stuff they say. All in all the girls pretty much ripped the entire male population at their high school to shreds. They had a million complaints and almost no compliments. In the end the general consensus was that Erin's T-shirt spoke the truth, and that even if it wouldn't be very nice for the girls to actually throw rocks at boys, it sure was fun imagining what it would be like if they did.
I don't want you to get the wrong impression about these girls. They're not violent. They're not delinquents. They don't spend their time in the school detention center. They don't walk through the school halls looking for someone to pick a fight with. They've never had to serve an inschool- suspension for anything more serious than having too many tardies in one class. And I'm quite sure that they're not in the habit of throwing rocks at anyone . . . not even boys.
They're nice, decent, friendly, typical teenage girls.
And at one time or another most nice, decent, friendly, typical teenage girls find themselves becoming very frustrated, confused, and annoyed by typical teenage guys.
That's probably why you're reading this book---to help you understand guys better.
Girls like to play house. Lauren, age 5
That day in the high school choir room, while all those girls were voicing their opinions about boys, I started thinking about some things.
First, if a boy wore a T-shirt that said 'GIRLS ARE STUPID . . . THROW ROCKS AT THEM,' there'd be a major scene. The principal would probably tell him he couldn't wear such a sexist shirt. The girls would all gang up on him and start lecturing him about being rude and mean. The female teachers would pull him aside and gently talk to him about how hurtful and unkind and insensitive he was being to females. And the boy's mother would probably send him to his room for a month with no dinner. Why, then, wasn't Erin treated the same way? Is it possible that in today's world there's some kind of double standard that says it's okay for girls to voice their negative opinions about boys but not the other way around?
Second, since I have three teenage sons whom I happen to love dearly, even when they drive me nuts, I happen to think that teen guys are okay. Yes, they're hard to understand sometimes. Yes, they're annoying sometimes. Yes, they can be weird, different, and completely wacko sometimes. But isn't the same thing true of teen girls? Aren't we all, girls and guys alike, confusing, mysterious, and hard to figure out sometimes?
Third, it's clear that girls and guys are different (and not just in the obvious physical ways). If they weren't different, there wouldn't be so much frustration, so much misunderstanding, so much teasing and ridicule and making-fun. There wouldn't be half as many jokes in all the comic strips, television shows and movies. There wouldn't be so many different magazines. There wouldn't be words like he, she,
Boys behave much worse than girls. Madeleine, age 8
his, and hers. There wouldn't be a guys' section and a girls' section at Old Navy.
There wouldn't be T-shirts that said,
'BOYS ARE STUPID . . . THROW ROCKS AT THEM.'
The history of how males and females relate to one another goes way back to the very beginning of time, to the moment in creation when God made a man and then made a woman. He didn't make a man and then another man. He didn't make a woman and then another woman.
He made a man. And then he made a woman. And they were very different right from the start. First, they were different because each was a unique individual. Maybe one liked strawberries, the other grapes. One might have preferred cats, the other dogs. Maybe he liked sunsets and she liked sunrises. Who knows? But certainly, they had personalities that were distinct and uniquely their own. Otherwise, why would God have created both of them? If they were intended to be the same, he could have created the man and then simply cloned him.
Second, since one was a male and one a female, they were different by virtue of their gender.
Gender is a hot topic in today's world. There are arguments about what it is, how it develops, and how it affects individuals. Scientists, anthropologists, and psychologists have all kinds of opinions about the subject. Some believe that gender is a real issue. Others believe that gender is simply a man-made topic. Some believe gender is part of a person from the time of birth (nature) while others believe it is determined by how a child is taught and raised (nurture).
Girls cry more than boys. Eden, age 4
So let's start by defining gender. Some people may define it differently, but for the sake of this book we'll agree that human gender is a classification based on whether a person is male or female.
If something has no gender or no defining characteristics, it is generic. That term is used mostly at the grocery store when we talk about generic brands, those items that don't come from a big-name, well-known, quality company. Name-brand items are often referred to as 'the real thing,' and many people, especially kids, claim that generic brands don't taste as good as the real thing. In some cases, like Cheerios and Lucky Charms, I'd have to agree.
The same is true of human beings. God made human beings with different genders because it gives the world more flavor, more variety, more taste, and more zing. In his book Wild at Heart, John Eldredge writes, 'God doesn't make generic people; he makes something very distinct---a man or a woman. In other words, there is a masculine heart and a feminine heart, which in their own ways reflect or portray to the world God's heart.'
I agree with him. Males and females are distinct. Masculine and feminine traits are distinct. And they were both equally created in the image of God.
That's not to say that males have only masculine traits and females have only feminine traits. Since both of them reflect the image of God, then both of them are present in human beings. But males tend to have more masculine traits, and women tend to have more feminine traits.
Initially, we define a person's gender simply by the reproductive system. When a baby is born, the first question people ask is almost always, 'Is it a boy or a girl?'
Girls don't like to get their skirts dirty. Tanner, age 7