Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Gender Is a Performance, But Boys Are Hardwired to Like Choo-Choos

Jack, unlike Marley, is fascinated by all things with wheels. We found a bunch of my car toys from my youth and he loved them. His Aunt Erin gave him a bunch of Thomas the Train toys a couple of months ago, and now he calls everything with wheels a "Choo Choo."

I've marveled at the differences between my two children, even as I've tried to treat them the same when it comes to gender stereotypes. Yes, I buy Marley pretty frilly dresses, but I also encourage her to play baseball, get dirty in the mud, and pretend that every stick is a sword or a gun. She'll have none of it.

Jack on the other hand, he likes to throw things to see what will happen. He jumps off things; he hits, he relishes being outside; and, he is mesmerized by anything with wheels. While I've guessed that part of my parental work has influenced both of my kids into what Judith Butler might call "gender performances," this article from the New Scientist makes me feel somewhat vindicated. Don't get me wrong, I like manly men and womanly women, but I don't want to be the one to shape my children's personalities; I want them to do it for themselves:


Apparently, even male rhesus monkeys, immune from advertising and parental encouragement prefer cars and trucks and things that go.


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