Psychology Today blogger Satoshi Kanazawa looks at a couple of primate studies investigating male and female preference for stereotypically masculine or feminine toys. The studies, which to me seem pretty limited and don’t appear to prove much of anything, are apparently enough to tell Kanazawa that the scales are tilting against "gender socialization" — the idea that boys prefer trucks and guns because they’re taught to, as with girls and dolls. I have my own opinions about his conclusions, so the piece and its resultant comment thread really started me thinking.
My own geeklet is a delightful four-year-old girl who plays with dolls and her toy kitchen. But right along side Daddy’s collection of vintage matchbox cars are her classic metal Tonka trucks, and her Tinkertoys. She enjoys being read Disney princess books, it’s true, but we’ve also read Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, and any number of books about Thomas the Tank Engine.
This is all, I think, her own doing. We’ve never bought toys "because a little girl should have them." In fact, we’ve made a conscious point of buying toys that boys would normally play with, and letting her choose what she likes. Perhaps my geeklet is an anomaly, but she appears to select her favorite playthings without regard to "girliness," if you discount a certain predilection for pink in all things.
I understand, of course, that the plural of anecdote is not fact. Still, I’d be interested to hear what other GeekDads and GeekMoms are finding in their own families. Do your kids prefer toys that are stereotypically "gender-appropriate," or do they cross whatever invisible lines society has drawn up for them?