Sunday, March 15, 2015
Those wicked male/female stereotypes
This is an anecdote of no real importance but stories tend to be more impressive than statistics so I thought I might share it.
I was in Target recently buying some inessentials and, when I went to pay, found myself in line behind a mother and her pretty little blondie daughter, aged about four. The girl was carrying a box of Star Wars Lego, which mildly surprised me. Star Wars is more a boy thing as far as I can see. So when she turned around and looked in my direction, I asked her, "Do you like Star Wars?". She smiled and said, "No. It's for my brother".
So my stereotyped view about the different things that boys and girls like was perfectly correct! As Gordon Allport said decades ago, stereotypes have "a kernel of truth". Feminists eat your heart out!
Lego is amazing stuff. Most families with children or grandchildren seem to have buckets of it. It must be a major boost to Denmark's terms of trade. I greatly liked my Meccano set (Erector set) when I was a kid but Lego is a lot easier to use.
A related story: I think most people would expect trains to be a boy thing but I happen to know two pretty little girls who are great enthusiasts for trains and train sets. They can "play trains" with one another for hours. So does the stereotype fall down there?
No. As one of their insightful mothers explained to me, it is all about "Thomas the Tank Engine". The Thomas stories humanize trains and give them very recognizable faces and emotional lives. So the girls concerned see and like that side of Thomas and tend to generalize that to all trains. The Rev. Awdry wrote well. His imagination became one of Britain's great cultural exports. Below is a picture of one of the little girls enjoying a real train -- while holding a toy train. That is pretty trainy!.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).