The eclectus parrot has it right: you can easily tell males from females. Because the males are bright green and the females are scarlet. Yup — so different in appearance that folks used to think they were separate species.
I’m betting that most of us appreciate this. Because face it: men & women often think quite differently. I’ve spent more time than I should admit publicly in gender studies: feminist theory, critical theory, the whole field of how & why women & men appear different. But the parrots have it down. They’re just different. Men are from green, women from scarlet. For parrots it’s that simple.
When I was raising my elder son, I thought I’d beat the system. He would have a doll. He would learn to cook. None of these gender stereotypes for my first-born. No toy guns — no cultural violence. And here’s what happened:
He made guns out of his fingers. Out of Legos. Out of sticks and blocks and anything that was vaguely gun-suggestive. He refused his beautifully hand-made doll until it was anatomically correct (try telling that to a doll maker!). He only liked to cook if it involved messes. And all of this was him, believe me.
Our second son even more so. Although he did take home ec (or whatever we’re calling it these days — I seem to recall it was ‘family science’) twice — sewing his silk boxer legs shut the first time…
So for me, the parrots just make it more obvious. We are really different. Enough that sometimes we may well seem like separate species…