So a Swedish toy company came out with an advertising campaign marketing typically boy toys to girls and girls toys to boys. An example was a girl
playing with a nerf gun and a boy playing with barbies. Is this normal?
I want to analyze this issue from two perspectives, the philosophical "feeling" about it, and the more logical "fact" about what is being done.
Overall, girls incline towards girl things and boys to boys things. This is a fact of biological evolution. Females are more emotional, because, seen
from a purely evolutionary perspective, being empathetic and in "tune" with the needs of her offspring optimized survivability of the species. The
more empathic mothers produced children with greater emotional responsivity, which is a trait conducive to social wellbeing. This is just the
evolutionary viewpoint. It's hard to debate that women, conditioned by hundreds of thousands of years of biological development, were made by nature
to be responsive to their babies needs. So that's biology. The question is, how much is biology responsible for psychology? If biology makes a woman
more emotional, empathic, and interested in personal relationships, what does that say about her psychology?
In Susan Pinkers "the sexual paradox, Women, Men and the real gender gap" she culls evidence from the latest science and research into biological
gender differences to show that men and women really are coming from different "planets". Now, as with all statements about gender, it is generalized.
On the whole, there is a 20% minority which diverge from the norm. In the book, she shows how differently boys and girls act. For example, ADD,
autism, and dyslexia, all affect boys at rates manifold times greater than girls. Why is this?? She also showed that despite earning 60% of university
degrees in law in Canada, only 26% of females work as lawyers. Why such a high dropout rate? Why do girls bother getting degrees like that, only to
lose interest later on? As Pinker shows, this is due not to an intellectual inferiority, but to an emotional difference. Biology has preordained to
some degree what men and women tend to like. While woman may endure the stresses of law school and graduate at the top of their classes, they simply
do not enjoy the competition that goes along with working as a lawyer. Some females can - the minimal 20% - but the vast majority of woman don't. Is
this bad? Should we penalize a woman for being different, subjecting her to the "vanilla" male standard which strives to see men and women evenly
distributed in every profession? Or is gender difference fundamental? Feminists like Susan Punker call for a reexamination of the common assumption
that woman should aspire to the same things men like - the same same things which a male society gave premium to.
With this in mind, I can examine the issue of "gender typing". Is it wrong to appeal to the 80% majority within each sex which actually enjoys and
prefers the toy being marketed to them? Or should we reverse it: appeal to the minority within each group in order to challenge the cultural mores
which some liberals find so offensive?
This is both a moral question and a practical question. Practically speaking, it's confusing for children to see ambiguous images to what they're
biologically predisposed to prefer. Biology - and not culture - is responsible for a boys preference for nerf guns, because testosterone, as is well
known, is responsible for aggression, competitiveness, and virility. Conversely, marketing barbies to a girl is simply giving to girls what most girls
want: something to preen and pamper. Biology is responsible for these likes. Thus, a rational marketer would rather not confuse his target audience by
marketing the toy enjoyed by one gender to the opposite gender, and vice versa.
Morally speaking, theres the question of the minority who feels typing made them feel disenfranchised and disconnected from others. In terms of
numbers, this group represents no more than a quarter of the population, but thats besides the point. The people marketing these toys know that.
Despite the facts contraindicating their marketing strategy, they nevertheless seek to challenge the 'typing' norms of society. Why? Why do they
reject and resent the differences between boys, girls men and women? Beneath this practice is an agenda. Not a particularly nefarious one, but given
that it represents a "minority" position, a counterintuitive, counter cultural stance, it shouldn't be seen as innocuous.
Underlying traditional norms is an implied metaphysics, informed mostly by Judeo-Christian theological traditions. The Biblical God is a God of time,
interested in the happenings of space, and involved in the lives of people. He is a God of the relative realm, where conditions, context, and
circumstance are of primary importance. In short, the world inherited by us is a world where metaphor and symbol matters. Where girls and boys men and
women are different, and their differences are of equal value and worth.
When liberals want to see the abnormal reaching emphasis, what they're really desiring to highlight is the arbitrariness of not just culture, but of
biology and nature. They do this because the "relative" metaphysics of the culture we have inherited is of little interest or value to them. What
appeals to them is the viewpoint of Buddhism, Taoism, Kierkegaard and Schopenhauer. What they seek to emphasize is the unconditionality, indeterminacy
and "otherness" of existence.
Whatever you think about this viewpoint, the fact is, it isn't realistic, it isn't scientific, and in fact it may even be destructive by imposing upon
society and people a system foreign to the natural order of things.
It's the veneer of morality with a political agenda underneath. This is problematical because it's the imposition of a foreign system on a different
people. It is akin to the affect the west has had in the orient, which liberals are so effusive in condemning: westernizing the eastern world. At the
same time, what about us? What about our cultural heritage? What about the primacy of the here and now, the differences that exist? Why should we
suppress them and pretend that differences don't exist or matter? Why should radicals be allowed to push an agenda that has no logical scientific
To return to the feelings of the minority. It's unfortunate that they feel as they do, but then again, it's a part of life. What should be taught, is
to love, respect and commiserate with those who are different from us. A society which encourages plurality is a great start; society need not jump in
the other direction by counter-marketing products to the opposite sex in order to "de-construct" typing, as if typing based on biological influences
were something that could be "washed away" through reconditioning.
edit on 6-1-2013 by dontreally because: (no reason given)