Differences between boys and girls are reinforced from birth by different clothes, demands, norms and rules, rewards and punishments, differences in likes and dislikes. From the viewpoint of evolution theory this makes sense: the girl is being prepared for motherhood, the boy to protect his wife and children. Boys and girls behave differently in many ways: movement, voice, language, interest in sports and games, brain activity and hormone production, relationship with parents. Boys exercise all kinds of skills that remind us of the time humans had to go hunting and fishing for food and defend their tribe against invaders: they throw objects, jump, hit and run, they build huts, sneak, shout and conquer, investigate and form teams that fight or play competitions with other teams; they compete for a place in a hierarchy, be it in a school or an office or a political party.
Girls exercise in skills that are related to communication, care, routine activity, teaching. They are interested in emotions and in what other people feel, think and do; they may be competitive, but mostly in relation to mate selection and children. Women tend to develop more skills to promote togetherness and maintain peace within a group. Differences in behaviour are not only external, they are accompanied by feelings and opinions or ideas and are developed in interaction with the environment.
Sexual attraction increases rapidly during puberty, and plays a major role in the minds of teenagers. Boys and men feel particularly attracted by the behaviour and looks of young mature girls. Her young breasts, long hair, sweet voice, rosy lips and big eyes in combination with a certain helplessness arises the strong wish in boys of all ages to care for her, be intimate and make love.
Boys are genetically programmed to fall in love with various girls; girls are programmed to choose between the various males on offer. Both sexes are therefore very much preoccupied with finding a mate, although they are not always conscious of this. Boys and girls are equally driven towards sex, but with different motives. Boys compete with each other for many other things besides girls, girls compete much more for the most attractive or successful boy or man. Girls that promise fertility (long blond hair, pretty, full breasts, a certain hip/waste relation), are popular. The competitors are men and boys usually older than the girl. Younger boys may fall deeply in love, but are usually rejected, because they don’t comply with the requirements for a suitable partner.
Girls tend to select the one partner that will offer her safety and protection as well as sexual gratification. She may feel sexually attracted by a good-looking, caring male but she will also be on her guard to see if he can be trusted, and she will consider his dependability and status. Depending on the world she lives in, she will “try out” one or more potential partners to find the true father of her child. Usually girls choose a partner that is some years older than herself.
This fundamental sexual difference is so deeply ingrained that we call it ‘normal’. It is the root cause of the slumbering antagonism between the sexes, resulting in problems of all kinds.
Some say that because of the changes in Western societies in the past hundred years, men that are raised to take their share in household tasks have a better chance to be selected, while the capacity to function in the job market may make a girl a more attractive partner. It is doubtful whether in so short a time the old preferences can be replaced, especially if young people go on wanting to raise a family.
In adolescence, peer groups become a very important point of orientation. What peers say weighs more heavily than the parents’ views. Teenagers are concerned and sometimes obsessed with how they look. The root cause is sexual, because their main concern, consciously or not, is to find a partner. Thus it is of paramount importance how one looks in the eyes of peers. In boys, strong fears of being a nobody (someone not selected by any girl) may lie underneath an exterior of bravado. In girls, the fear of being unattractive may cause low self esteem and dissatisfaction with body shape. In some this may lead to underfeeding or self mutilation.
Self-consciousness and ego-centeredness skyrocket and a lot of attention and money is spent on items that increase acceptation by friends. Adolescents are in the process of developing an identity based on the available role models, which, as often as not, are fantasies and daydreams. They have to reconcile their internal world of desire with the realities of social sexual life, a process that is, and will remain for the rest of their lives, full of unsolvable conflicts. Unsolvable, that is, unless they can escape from the confines of sexual system itself.