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Gender typing?

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posted on Jan, 6 2013 @ 09:47 PM
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 grounding?

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)

posted on Jan, 6 2013 @ 10:58 PM
Times are a changin'.

It is an interesting debate. Regarding the debate over who to market to. Rather than say we should market a "girl" toy to girls because 80% of girls will be interested or rather than catering to minorities, why shouldn't we do both? Or have more gender neutral toys? Do all girl toys have to come in a pink box? Do all boy toys have to come in ugly boxes?(joking

Growing up, I I played with ponies and Barbies, and princesses, etc. But my dad made us bows and we would go quadding and camping a lot.
Still, I believe that gender roles work for most kids. But not all kids. As a teen I wore guy clothes.
I grew into a woman who liked beautiful women's clothes, and interests in hobbies that typically men enjoy like video games, science and sex.
I enjoy dressing up, but can't talk about celebrities, hair and clothing for hours.

Playing with Barbies didn't turn me into a Kardashian. So I don't think it is harmful to girls. But is it right that by 4 a girl can say "pink is for girls, I don't want a monster truck, it's for boys!"?
And is it right to teach boys that they are less of a "man" if they want to play with girl toys?
I think the answer to both questions is no. It just means the parents aren't secure with themselves and are projecting it on their kids. 80% of those kids are still growing up and finding themselves in their traditional gender roles, evidence shown by what you stated regarding the female lawyers.

Think about the girl who wanted to play baseball, the boy who wanted to cheerlead. Normal now, but once it was unheard of.
So will be this issue eventually, I hope.
Happy childhoods lead to happy adults. Something this world could use more of for a million reasons.

We change throughout our lives

posted on Jan, 7 2013 @ 12:01 AM
I think you're way over-thinking this one.

Kids are kids. They don't think about gender. They like to have fun.

Seriously, they're just toys.

posted on Jan, 7 2013 @ 12:03 AM
reply to post by smilesmcgee

Think about the girl who wanted to play baseball, the boy who wanted to cheerlead. Normal now, but once it was unheard of.
So will be this issue eventually, I hope.

You're confusing acceptance with normality. People nowadays can accept the abnormal and incongruent image of a girl playing sports or in the army and a boy playing with barbie or designing clothes. This does not make it "normal" though. In a very generalized sense, you can say that its become "normalized", but in terms of gender preferences, the norms are and will always stay the same so long as nature has anything to say about it. That's what I'm referring to.

There's no pressing need to undermine culture and normality by marketing gender-specific toys to the opposite sex. Contrary to it being a 'panacea' to some social woe, its more a challenge to our notions of specificity and differentiation.

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