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Author Topic: Why do boys and girls prefer different toys?
Threads
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We still don't know but it probably has a biological origin.
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Teshi
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This study is interesting as it suggests that there is something fundamentally appealing to male creatures about the nature things with wheels even when they are not associated with cars. However, isn't this girl/boy biological split well established?

That said, gender is socialized to some extent and girls should not only have access to girl toys and colours and boys shouldn't only have access to boy toys and colours. Especially since there are usually numerous ways to play with a once-neutral toy like, for example, Lego (which is now primarily split between girl and boy versions).

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James Tiberius Kirk
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quote:
Alexander and Hinesís article contains a wonderful picture (reproduced here in full living color, courtesy of Gerianne M. Alexander) of a female vervet monkey conducting an anogenital inspection (examining the genital area of the doll in an attempt to determine whether it is male or female), as a girl might, and a male vervet monkey pushing the police car back and forth, as a boy might.
Off topic: I think I actually own(ed?) the police car they show in the associated photo. I was kind of startled when I saw it.

--j_k, who also learned a new phrase reading that passage.

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TomDavidson
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When Sophie was eleven months old, she'd push her baby dolls across the dining room floor on their stomachs, yelling "Vroooom!"
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dkw
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My 2 year old son plays with his baby doll and his kitchen equipment. And also with his carpenter tools and trains and firetruck. He has since he was old enough to notice toys. One of the nursery workers at church talked to me about it, since sometimes parents get upset when their boys play with the dolls and want them steered toward other toys. [Roll Eyes]
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Phanto
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On the one hand, I agree that there is a gender continuum and anyone should be allowed to express themselves however they like. On the other, this, and even phenomena such as transgenderism, (not to mention common experience) supports a gender binary.
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scholarette
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I think my daughter plays in a very girly manner, but when I really think about it, there is not much evidence for that. She loves her baby dolls and her kitchen, but she thinks her work bench is awesome, she builds towers with everything she can get a hold of. She loves running around outside and climbs like a monkey (after what she did to the babysitter, I am surprised I still have someone willing to watch her). She thinks cars are awesome- she is extremely attached to her polly pocket car, but mostly because it is a car. I do see some color preference for pink and purple, but also green. So, looking at it, she seems pretty gender balanced. Oh, for the whole violence things, she makes sticks into swords and shouts hiya! Oh, she also uses her markers as lipstick- which since I don't wear lipstick seems extremely weird (she's barely two).
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Omega M.
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Sigh. The feminists will just say that this proves that vervet and rhesus monkeys have sexist tendencies too.
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Christine
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My son is obsessed with trains, so that's in keeping with his gender. BUT he plays with everything -- his kitchen, dollhouse, stuffed animals, cars, workbench, blocks, books, puzzles, play dough. The one thing I'm having trouble getting him to do is draw/color.

My daughter is only 9 months old. She likes whatever her brother likes. [Smile]

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Female rhesus monkeys show preference for the feminine toys, but the difference in their preference is not statistically significant.
Woops!! That changes the interpretation of this study pretty significantly. The preference female rhesus monkeys show for "babies" vs. "things with wheels" is not greater than would be expected by random chance.

It appears that what's happening is not necessarily that male monkeys have a preference for "things with wheels" but that they eshew "babies". Females don't share this dislike for babies.

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scholarette
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Aren't there studies that show that long term exposure to pregnant women changes the hormone composition is men- like lowers the testoserone levels? So, if you repeated this study with male monkeys that had longterm exposure to a pregnant female monkey, would the anti baby attitude remain? Also, if monkeys don't have that same hormone shift in males, then would these studies actually mean anything in relationship to humans (since it would indicate a biological difference in fathering responsibility in the two species).
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Bokonon
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Here is a study abstract on the effects of socialization that hints at where some differences are built from:

http://jbd.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/9/3/331

-Bok

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Mrs.M
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The gender/toy thing even comes up when testing for disabilities. Aerin doesn't do pretend play at all, so she failed the part of the test where she was supposed to pretend to feed a baby doll. On the other hand, she is now doing 25-piece puzzles with ease and is extremely mechanical. I asked the tester point-blank if she would have failed the baby doll part if she was a boy and it turns out she would have been given a partial pass score, which ticks me off. She understands perfectly about feeding - she tries to share her sippy cup with our dog and feeds him her breakfast all the time. It's just not fun for her to feed pretend food to a pretend baby.
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Saephon
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I would have been irritated by that too, Mrs. M. It seems to me that the test just proves that your daughter knows when she's being asked to do something meaningless. [Smile]
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maui babe
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My children all grown now, but they showed definite preferences from a very young age. Two examples come to mind.

For my oldest's first Christmas, she received a "busy box" to hang in her crib. It had a mirror, a button that rang a bell, a spinning wheel and some other gizmos. She liked to look at it, and loved to ring the bell, but wasn't too interested in it otherwise. My second child, also a girl, had it in her crib from birth. She didn't show any more interest in it than her sister did.

My third child was a boy, and again, he had the busy box in his crib from the start. From the moment he noticed it, he was all over that thing. He pulled the levers and twisted the dials and rang the bell non-stop. He literally wore it out and I had to throw it away when he was about a year old.

The other difference I noted was with toy cars. I bought my girls several cars to play with, and my brother bought a bunch more for them. They played with them and liked them, but their play was silent.

When their brother was still very young, he played very differently. He'd push the cars around, but he made sound effects for them. And he would crash them into each other, which my girls never did. No one showed him how to do this. He played mostly with his sisters and their girl friends. His dad was in the US Navy and gone for long periods of time. And we had no TV in our home. He figured out the sound effects and demolition derby games all by himself. Once he showed the girls how, they started using sound effects and crashing the cars into each other too, but they never got into it like he did.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
quote:
Female rhesus monkeys show preference for the feminine toys, but the difference in their preference is not statistically significant.
Woops!! That changes the interpretation of this study pretty significantly. The preference female rhesus monkeys show for "babies" vs. "things with wheels" is not greater than would be expected by random chance.

It appears that what's happening is not necessarily that male monkeys have a preference for "things with wheels" but that they eshew "babies". Females don't share this dislike for babies.

Beaten by The Rabbit. "Not statistically significant" is a pretty important statement in that article regarding the second experiment.

I'm not sure cars are a good "masculine" toy. Wouldn't a dungeon masters guide, 20 and 6 sided dice, paper, and pencils be a better choice? [Wink]

But in all seriousness would wooden swords be better? I guess cars are good because it's a simple machine that can be manipulated. Dolls should work well for females.

That is a very fascinating study however. I wonder if it could be done with chimps.

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dean
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I remember that I asked my Mom once why she never bought me Barbies or My Little Ponies or anything like that. She said that she did, but that I never played with them. I do remember playing with cars with my brother. He liked to make noises and crash them into each other. I liked crashes, but the noises seemed silly and unrealistic. I most liked to make the cars go over cliffs and making leaps and spin in midair before crashing. I also played more with my brother's Tonka trucks than he did. Later, when my younger sister wanted to play Barbies, my stepmother got me one. I enjoyed dressing them up, but I hated pretending that they were doing make-overs or going to a dance.

But then I was quite convinced as a child that it was grossly unfair that I was a girl and that I should've been a boy.

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The Genuine
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Adult girls seem to be into toys, but adult guys not as much.
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orlox
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[Evil]
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dean
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Depends what you mean by toys. If you mean sex toys, then sure. But if you mean giant TVs, video game consols, fancy computers, then you are way off.
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The Genuine
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Indeed. That's funny, since guys are portrayed as so fixated on sex.

Perhaps guys and girls are just about a decade off from each other.

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Tatiana
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There is so much overlap in this. I have always preferred toys that other people label as guys' toys, from trains, rockets, Tonka trucks, etc. all the way up to fast pretty cars and awesome stereos. They said I was a tomboy, but actually, I think the categories of what girls and boys are supposed to like need to be expanded a great deal. There's way more overlap than people seem to notice. Instead of labeling human beings as somehow wrong when they don't fit the categories, it's far smarter to realize the categories don't fit human beings all that well.

I'll give some examples. I knit, and it's extremely fun and creative. It's like building machinery except your medium is yarn instead of steel. Knitting is supposed to be for girls and machinery for boys but were it not for society's rules, there'd be a lot more overlap between them. (I do both, of course.)

A toy manufacturer like Lego is smart enough to realize that if you have pink legos and regular legos, people with both boys and girls will feel they need to buy two sets. There's a big bonus for toy manufacturers in dividing boys and girls toys because that way people tend to buy twice as many.

I know that to a certain extent, the type of toys kids like is innate, but I also know that it doesn't fall neatly into male and female. And I know that society pressures boys into avoiding any of that gross girl stuff. Girls also are told in a million ways that they shouldn't enjoy boy stuff. I think instead we should have nongendered toys and let everyone play with whatever they like.

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