Studies that insist boys are hardwired to like trucks and girls are predisposed to liking Barbies are unnerving for any number of reasons, but mostly because it gives parents reason to yank a doll from their son’s hands, or force their daughters into pink summer dresses when they just want to wear jeans. But might there be something positive these studies reveal?
Researchers at Texas A&M University have evidence that gender-specific preferences don’t have as much to do with social conditioning as some scientists believe. While social cues, from parents and media consumption, can influence a child’s preference for “boy” or “girl” toys or clothes, “tests involving children as young as three months suggest biological differences and not social pressures dictate which toys children like to play with.” Daily Mail:
One theory is that these innate preferences are linked to traditional male and female functions dating back to the dawn of the species.
Boys are thought to prefer playing with cars and balls because they involve moving objects and rough and tumble play. These activities may be linked to their ancestors’ skills in hunting for food and finding a mate.
Girls, on the other hand, are thought to like red or pink toys because a preference for those colours enhanced their abilities to nurture infants, thus aiding their family’s survival.
If it’s evolutionary hardwiring we can’t escape, fine. But here’s what the research also empirically suggests: Biology, and not social cues (or, for that matter, “personal choice”), also determines our “preference” for whom we’re attracted to.
If our brains are wired in the womb with gender-specific roles, it’s hard to believe our biology, then, isn’t linked to all areas of gender, including sexual attraction and identity. By that (unscientific and observational) reasoning, males who grow up to be attracted to females had no choice in the matter — that’s how they were programmed. And by that same logic, males attracted to other males are wired that way, too, throwing out the homophobic argument that being gay is something any of us opted for.
And how does this all play out in nature?
It is believed that exposure to sex hormones in the womb has a bearing on toy preferences, as it does many other aspects of gender-related behaviour. The study reinforces the findings of previous research by Dr Alexander involving green vervet monkeys.
Male monkeys spent more time playing with traditional male toys such as a car and a ball than did female monkeys. The female monkeys, however, spent more time playing with a doll and a pot than did the males. Both male and female monkeys spent about the same amount of time with ‘gender neutral’ toys such as a picture book and a stuffed frog.
(Photo: McHenry County Blog)
I played with cars, trucks, trains, rockets, bikes, skateboards etc. when I was a kid and I am 100% gay.
Same here. But maybe that was because that was all our parents bought us? Tea sets and Barbie Dolls were definitely out of the question. HeeHee
Jake the libertarian
Outside of one time with an easy bake oven… I played with exclusively boy toys. Still do.
Stupid pun aside, I am very masculine and still very gay. I hunt and fish and love to camp and backpack. I served my country in Iraq and North Africa. I also know a lot of gays like me. Equating gays with “feminine” characteristics is one of those stereotypes that keeps holding us back. Playing with dolls v playing with trucks has nothing to do with gay or straight.
P.S. I still love to cook… but lots of straight guys do that.
Like the others before me, I too loved trucks, cars, etc.
While I also love fashion now, I still work on some classic American cars with my dad every chance I get.
It’s definitely biology that determines preference. However the study is wrong about an inherent female preference for pink. Up until the 1900’s, Pink was considered a color for boys (as in being healthy and “in the pink”) and blue was considered a color for girls because blue is calming and predisposed women to be seen and not heard.
I must be asexual because I played with a Easy Bake Oven, Jack’s beloved Chrissy doll (from “Will & Grace”) and also played sports, rode bikes alot and played with Tyco/Aurora car racing sets. I think toy choice just depends on the child’s interests and activity level.
I’m not effeminate, but not overly masculine either although most people guess I’m straight. So, I didn’t particularly care for sports only because I wasn’t good at them, not because I didn’t want to play them. The teasing was unbearable.
I played with mostly “boy toys” but the main reason I’m writing – is I had an easy bake oven also, not because I wanted to be a homemaker, but because it was a cool way to make a tasty treat by yourself. No help from Mom or Dad. I think my grandparents got it for me when we were going to rummage sales.
I played with dolls as a young child.
But I also loved transformers, had many G.I.Joes and matchbox cars. On top of that I stole baby chicks and would smash my cars with rocks and hammers.
I still like some dolls, wearing nice clothes and other effimenate things. At the same time, I enjoy camping, being outside, taking walks and other “guy” stuff like sports and what not.
And yet I’m 100% gay. I like both boy and girl toys. And nerd toys. And guy toys.
By the age of 3 months parents have already gendered their child. From the minute we come out of the womb, what’s between our legs influences how we are handled and spoken to.
Kids are hardwired to give in to parent pressure
The truth is the studies that prove that boys are hard wired to play with trucks are bogus. Playing with dolls as a boy also doesn’t mean you will turn out gay.
I wonder if they’d count a GI Joe as a “doll?” I had one and LOVED to undress him!
I never really like standard boy toys like trucks and sports stuff, but I really liked anything to do with space. Space ships, star trek phasers, etc. And I would definitely consider those as “boy” toys. I never wanted to shot anyone with a gun, but if I’d have an actual phaser, look out!
When i was little, my favourite toys were my sisters barbies 😛
so there certainly is some truth for SOME people to the idea that gay kids played with girls toys. I certainly did.
BUt then again, I played with them like you’d play with action figures 😛 they were like … action barbies 😀
I’m not gay, but I am Intersexed. I looked male at birth, and it was only when puberty hit (a bit late… at age 47….) that I was given a whole battery of tests that showed I was more accurately classified as a severely intersexed woman than the mildly intersexed man everyone thought I was. I just thought I was transsexual – the sterotypical woman born with a male body.
And I was a classic tomboy. OK, my favourite toy car was Lady Penelope’s pink Rolls-Royce, but still….
I’d really like to see the original data on this one, rather than relying on the “Daily Mail”.
Well. The University of Texas did a study many years ago into hearing differences in people. Mainly how the brain responds to audio stimuli. They discovered that males who identify as homosexual also had brains that used different regions when presented with audio stimuli. While not the original goal of the study, it was an interesting discovery. What was also determined during the study is that this difference occurs due to a “superflushing” of testosterone during pregnancy. While a fetus is flushed with both testosterone and estrogen, regardless of gender (albeit in differing amounts), a male fetus that is superflushed with testosterone resultingly has a different “structuring” in the brain. Personally speaking, I have picked up on genetic differentials between hetero males and homosexual males.
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