It seems like they do. Almost every time. I was a feminist from an early age. I wouldn’t fight about much; I was more inclined to defer than to debate but one thing would make me shout “Nuh-uh!” or “That’s not true!” and that was when some boy in my class would claim that boys were better than girls at something. I knew the culture had his back if he claimed a woman couldn’t be president or be an astronaut or play baseball or whatever it was but I was ferocious in defending the possibility. Sally Ride meant the world to me.
Now I can recognized that little boys said the things they said mostly to get a rise out of girls like me. I can see that they enjoyed making me angry and might not have really believed what they were saying. But what they didn’t realize, as they teased us about their gender’s superiority was that they were reinforcing centuries old beliefs and even as we fought fiercely for our right to be just as good as boys, we also couldn’t help internalizing the structure. We might have firmly believed a woman COULD be president but the fight for that belief was such that very few of us could actually imagine it as a reality. I mean, here it is 2013 and no woman has even come close. Our numbers in congress are better than they’ve ever been and are still appalling. This radio interview with Geena Davis on NPR mentioned a statistic where when a group has 17% women in it it is seen as a 50/50 gender split.
Until perceptions like that change, until real equality exists, the boys will continue to carry it away.