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(437 Posts)
SlowFJH Sat 13-Feb-16 11:37:14

We have two boys and a girl (all now teenagers). My daughter was never into dolls and never really liked pink. She was into arts and crafts and loves knitting and sowing. The boys were completely stereotypical (plastic and wooden swords, guns, cars, diggers and tractors, soldiers etc).

We have good feminist friends (with three boys) who banned violent toys for boys. They always gave us the cat's bum face when they visited ours because their boys used to absolutely love playing with my sons' swords and shields. When we went out it for a walk, every stick they found was a gun - despite their parents vocal disapproval.

My friend's boys (now all strapping teenage lads) joke about how their parents banned them from having the toys they always wanted.

We definitely saw differences in toy preferences very early on. My daughter had zero interest in wheeled toys (despite my efforts) but both boys were fascinated by them virtually from day one.

I know my experience is not scientific. But there were some studies several years ago using baby apes (who obviously had not been conditioned by human systems or been exposed to advertising etc). Baby male apes showed a clear preference for mechanical toys over plush toys.

I'd love to hear others views on this topic... social conditioning versus biological predispositions.

UmbongoUnchained Sat 13-Feb-16 11:41:27

I know it's an unpopular opinion here but I definitely believe gender is a thing. My little girl is a total pink princess who loves dolls, glitter and all things fluffy.
This is even though I'm a total Tom boy who loves superheroes and most things "boy", never bought her anything pink until she asked for it and she hasn't had any other input. It's just me and her. She was just born a total girly and I'm absolutely fine with that. If she wants to watch marvel films with me one day that would be awesome, if not then... Barbie it is!

Lweji Sat 13-Feb-16 11:50:48

DS has always shown preference for action toys. Wheels, balls, that sort of thing.
He got a baby doll, which he selected, so not imposed, but only found it interesting while it made noises and acted like a baby. As soon as something malfunctioned he lost interest.
Not keen on arts or crafts, but he got a bit into the elastic craze, as did other boys around.
He had shopping and kitchen toys, which he played a bit with, but nothing like with his cars.
OTOH, one nephew was elated to use ds's toy vacuum cleaner when at ours. He's also the most outgoing and athletic of the boys.

A friend has a girl who loves all things "boy" and "girl", whereas my only niece only likes "girl" things. I think it's mostly an identity thing in relation to her older brother.

SlowFJH Sat 13-Feb-16 11:50:49

We were like you Umbongo. We gave our children options but let them go with their own preferences (unlike our friends who were more draconian about what their boys were allowed to play with).

I wouldn't have minded a bit if either of my boys had been into dolls. In fact in my youngest used to play with a baby doll and toy pram.. imagining the pram was a siege catapult to launch the baby at the enemy castleblush

Lweji Sat 13-Feb-16 11:54:45

I think there may be a gender thing where more boys are intested in certain toys and more girls are more interested in other types of toys.

BUT I think it's wrong to label them as belonging to each gender, as there is certainly a continuum and labelling prevents members of each gender to embrace toys that aren't labelled as for them, or attracts criticism.

SlowFJH Sat 13-Feb-16 12:00:28

Agree re labelling. I do think that genetics and hormones play a big part. Sometimes you could just tell when testosterone was having an it's impact on both my boys - getting more (playfully) violent in their games, wanting rough and tumble with dad and getting comically competitive. I don't think we saw any of this at all from our daughter.

whatdoIget Sat 13-Feb-16 12:02:11

I don't believe that boys can have an innate preference for wheeled toys, simply because wheels haven't been invented for long enough in order for us to evolve in relation to them

WhirlwindHugs Sat 13-Feb-16 12:04:36

I have two girls and a boy. They all like the same toys and tv shows. These have included power rangers and my little pony etc. They have quite different personalities but all like to dress up as cats or play with our dinosaur toys.

DS shows no interest in craft if he thinks other boys/men are warching but happily does then at home with me.

They know about stereotypes. I really firmly believe that behave however they feel is expected.

Lweji Sat 13-Feb-16 12:05:21

Wheels come under "things that move and at considerable speed".

SlowFJH Sat 13-Feb-16 12:09:46

Read the New Scientist article. Male apes were more attracted to the mechanical toys than they were to dolls..

LassWiTheDelicateAir Sat 13-Feb-16 12:15:16

I think there may be a gender thing where more boys are intested in certain toys and more girls are more interested in other types of toys

I agree.

Lweji Sat 13-Feb-16 12:16:40

But with a huge overlap, which is very important. smile

SlowFJH Sat 13-Feb-16 12:17:44

Male monkeys (not apes) - for whom these toys were completely "unnatural" (ie based on human play).

Nevertheless, the male monkeys showed a clear preference for the "boys' toys" - despite never having been exposed to human societal norms, tv advertising, parental encouragementioned or peer group chastisement.

MyBigFatGreekYoghurt Sat 13-Feb-16 12:18:01

DS1 is very much a "father hen" with his dolls and any real life babies. He will push a toy pushchair and is kind and thoughtful

DS2 hasn't show any interest and LOVES cars and tractors etc

Just 2 different people regardless of whats between their legs

They are 2yr and 3.5yr

AllMyBestFriendsAreMetalheads Sat 13-Feb-16 12:24:32

I don't believe in girls toys or boys toys but whilst I can understand why some people think girls will like dolls because women have babies, I've never understood why people think boys are likely to like cars and other mechanical toys.

How long have cars existed, in comparison to how long humans have been around? Were boys naturally drawn to wheeled and mechanical toys before the ideas for these existed? I just can't see how this is a 'natural' thing and not the effect of socialisation. Even if you choose not to buy so-called girls or boys toys, wider society still tells them that some things are for boys and some things are for girls.

AllMyBestFriendsAreMetalheads Sat 13-Feb-16 12:27:03

Both my DD and DS at an early age preferred cars and things that moved over dolls - because they moved and had things you could spin and push etc. Dolls didn't do anything. It's only as they have got older that they have become interested in dolls.

Lweji Sat 13-Feb-16 12:29:56

I quite like cars, driving and watching motorsports too.

Not so keen on crafts, although I can fashion a fairly complex paper flower in 30 min.

DS can be quite interested in decoration, just as long as it's of his game cars.

But enough of anecdotal evidence.

I'm sure there's some innate preferences and quite a lot of cultural asociations.
But with most things there is a huge landscape. More of one gender tend to be associated with certain extremes, and humans like to put things in boxes, leading to the common associations.
I'd think it would be the sign of a more advanced society to get rid of such associations, but recently there was certainly regression to the dark ages of sexism regarding toys.

StarCat Sat 13-Feb-16 12:30:28

I have all girls and they all hate dolls. They are all different personalities but they don't like baby dolls/barbies or anything.

StarCat Sat 13-Feb-16 12:33:46

Are you competitive though op? I am,so all my girls are. Same as they are all loud, hyper, energetic. They are bound to be like me as I am their mum.

AllMyBestFriendsAreMetalheads Sat 13-Feb-16 12:35:48

I don't believe that children can have an innate preference for something that didn't exist until humans invented it.

I think that we can only know we like something if we have the opportunity to find out. I may have really enjoyed horse riding as a child, but I never did it so I don't know. (Not an anecdote, just an example)

SlowFJH Sat 13-Feb-16 12:40:45

Evolutionary psychology seems to get quite a harsh reacation on these pages. I've heard people say it's all bollocks. But the studies cited above suggest that innate differences do exist.

I am not a psychologist but a physiologist and can attest to the impact of a single hormone on behaviour in mammalian systems. More testosterone typically means more aggression, more competition - leading in turn to the adaptation of tools, weapons and the like. Less testosterone typically means more nurturing-type behaviour.

I just don't think you can reject basic biology outright and put everything down to societal conditioning.

Lweji Sat 13-Feb-16 12:42:10

Those going on about wheels and cars not existing until fairly recently, have you read the posts on the thread?

Whatever it is, what people have noticed is that some children (and usually boys, but not always) tend to be attracted to things that act or move. These days it's balls and wheels. In pre-history it could have been small animals, round rocks, arrows, etc

It's not only associated with one gender, but children do have innate preferences that show up from early on regardless of conditioning. And more of one gender tend to have preferences for certain types, but it's all an averages game. Not black or white at all.

SlowFJH Sat 13-Feb-16 12:44:33

"I don't believe that children can have innate preferences for something that didn't exist until humans invented it"

That's precisely why the scientific studies have been done using monkeys.

StarCat Sat 13-Feb-16 12:49:26

I know it's anecdotal but I don't think it's just testosterone, a lot is learnt behaviour.

StarCat Sat 13-Feb-16 12:53:53

My girls have adhd/asd and girls are supposed to not have it as mych as boys. Of course they do, but people don't pay attention as much as it's a boy thing. Some people see what they want to see in terms of gender.

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