Every now and then I read stories (usually coming from Sweden) about some attempt to erase “gender stereotypes” by making little boys play with dolls and making little girls play with cars, or by making girls dress in blue and boys in pink. The theory is that the difference between the sexes is related only to our education and has no biological basis whatsoever, and the idea, apparently, is that someone long ago decided, “Hey, let’s train women to be housewives and men to be warriors or engineers, and let’s do that from very early on so when they find out that they’ve been brainwashed, it’ll be too late! Har har har!”
I always found that hilarious. Such ideas could only come from people who had no contact with children whatsoever, for whenever you find kids, they make their interests and preferences pretty clear, and I doubt it is related only to “brainwashing” by the media or the parents.
There is a very interesting Norwegian documentary series called “Brainwash” that discusses the question of nature versus nurture. In the first episode, about gender, there is a segment with a scientific experiment showing that even young babies already demonstrate a clear preference for toys that are traditional for their gender. While the reason for that is not completely clear, as Satoshi Kanazawa pointed out, it is most certainly not related to “training”, “socialization”, “stereotypes” or “education”, but (probably) to uncontrollable biological factors.
And what is wrong with that? Why should boys be the same as girls, or men the same as women? I never understood such point of view. The wonderful thing is that we are different.
When I was a kid, I played with Lego, Playmobil and Meccano, and if someone tried to exchange them for a Barbie doll, well, I sure as hell wouldn’t be too happy about it. (However, I also remember taking apart my sister’s dolls. And she liked Playmobil too, only her stories would not end, like mine, with a cataclysmic fight between all the different characters.)
Now, as for the pink and blue dressing codes, yes, that could be cultural… But then again, maybe it’s biological too.