Boys’ Toys V. Girls’ Toys: Researchers Still Trying To Prove They’re The Same

Not quite the one I saw.
Not quite the one I saw.
Last Thursday I was at the warthog park at the butt end of 57th street on the East river, reading and enjoying the rare sunshine. Nannies and moms (mostly nannies) filtered in with their charges, mostly babies and kids under four or five.

The toys kids are bought come in fads. It was marbles in my day, and card games when my kids were young (those special packs with monsters on them). The kids in the park, those who could walk, all had the same green plastic mini-scooter.

The park has benches around the edges and in its interior are a couple of raised areas of dirt and sand which are bounded by brick. A statue of a warthog is in the middle.

One boy, helmeted naturally, started tooling around and around and around the park solely for the sake of tooling around. Soon another boy joined in. Later a third boy came but he started circling in the opposite direction. The first pair of boys, a Tall one and a Young one, came to the Third boy. Tall said, “Do you want to be friends?” Third said, “Yes.” And Tall, excited as he could be, said to Young, “He wants to be our friend!”

Meanwhile, some girls had come, too. They were off in a corner of the park opposite where I was, sitting near their nannies and playing with some bright plastic thing I couldn’t make out.

The boys circled and circled until Tall had the happy idea of crashing full speed into the brick and tumbling onto the dirt. Young saw this and copied. He flew backwards onto the cement, whereupon he started laughing and laughing. This was the funniest thing he had ever done in his life. He was doubled over in mirth.

His nanny (I’m guessing) came over thinking he was hurt. When Young saw her he popped up and took off on his scooter. And then Third came and crashed.

The Tall crashed again. Full speed into the brick—bam!—and thrown off. Then Young, then Third, and so on, for quite a while. Sometimes they would fall into the dirt, sometimes on the cement, but always they would fall laughing.

After a while, probably because of exposure to one too many movies, they started crashing and falling in slow motion, complete with explosion sound effects, exaggerating their demise, limbs everywhere.

It was time for me to go, and I noticed as I left one of the girls in the corner was standing waving her finger at another of the girls, a mean look on her face. The girls never took part in the crashes.

And now I read of “scientific” “research” which tells me I didn’t see what I saw, or that if I did see what I saw, it was partly my doing. Toy choices of children, we are told, “don’t actually reflect innate preferences” but the preference of their parents and society. I am part of society.

Boys and girls aren’t different, scientists say, but they are genderfied into thinking they’re different by society. Why, hasn’t research “shown” that there are “no sex differences in the preferences of babies for looking at objects versus faces”? And thus, since myopic girl babies and myopic boy babies tend to look or not look at the same things in a constrained unnatural setting, that because therefore that I have eight inches and seventy pounds on my mate, plus a whole different set of plumbing, must mean nothing. At least in the sense that these manifest dimorphisms could possibly play any role in our behavior.

Now since this is Happy Week (Day 2) at, I won’t tell you what I think of the minds of researchers anxious to deny the absolute incontrovertible unalterable fact that males and females are different. Boys and girls know they don’t look like one another, and they know they act differently. It is therefore profoundly cruel to attempt to erase, ignore, or medicate away these natural incommensurabilities.

Since I love my enemies, even the enemies who drug boys to make them behave more like girls, I won’t suggest that they should be flogged for their crimes. No, sir. Next time I see an “educator,” I will hug her and tell her that I love her, even as I remind her that she is complicit in spreading the most pernicious pig-ignorant harmful lies and that she is contributing mightily to the downfall of civilization.


  1. Sheri

    Just for extra points, try throwing in a few tears and apologizing for being so “male” as to be compelled to point out her bad behaviour! If you throw in a tiny sob, she may not be so offended by your boorish maleness!!

    Actually, even the way children behave can dramatically change as they grow up. I was definately more “girlish” when young, never wearing anything but dresses and never wearing blue jeans at all until in college. In high school, I wore pantsuits and the like. After I left home, I took up hunting, driving fast, using power tools and backing people who annoyed me up against a wall and threatening them with nasty outcomes. I am nothing like I was when younger. My mother was horrified and kept saying “girls don’t do those things”. Never phased me in the least. (Yes, I had dolls and other girl toys. I sewed. Girl things. Guess they didn’t “take”!)

    I’m impressed you’re at Day 2 on Happy Week–I’d have to run off to my cabin where I can’t interact with the rest of world to make Day 2!

  2. Steve Crook

    They have a problem. If they admit to there being innate psychological gender differences they’ve opened the floodgates wide to those who think that the ‘blank slate’ is a nonsense.

  3. Bruce Foutch

    Are boys and girls different? Well, according to Jack they certainly are:

    Who are you going to trust? A bunch of grant grabbing social scientists or Mr. Box, the guy who gives us two tacos for a buck? :-)I just love the pounding on the bucket bit. If you have a son, I bet you shake your head in the affirmative as you watch. Oh yes, the very last comment from Jack’s son is spot on as well.

  4. Gary

    Careful now. You’re dancing at the borders of curmudgeonliness with that last paragraph. Sarcasm just makes it worse. Play nice.

    So the boys got along and it appears that the girls fussed. Interesting…

  5. Ken

    The referenced so-called “scientific” article (apparently because of where it was published) basically presented some views of politicians. In the process it made some fundamental errors such as conflating behaviors of infant chimps/monkeys with human children and extrapolating–with no data–from human infants to human adolescents.

    There are numerous gender differences that are readily apparent to anyone paying even a modicum of attention…such as:

  6. Bob Lince

    What IS determined by society/culture is what scientists think, both boy and girl scientists alike.

  7. Ray

    Of couse the sexes are the same and when the results are’nt the same it’s the fault of the evil male patriarchy. There was a heart rending article in the Washington Post about the women not being able to pass the Marine Corps infantry officer course. The woman interviewed for the article said she washed out because she had not been properly trained. The article also mentioned that a quarter of the men washed out so they also must have been improperly trained.

  8. joeclark77

    “I am part of society.”
    (“Not for long,” say the publishers and re-publishers of these studies…)

  9. max

    This is the result of backwards thinking. Since this is gender pay equality day it seems only appropriate to point out that if women only make 77% of what men do despite dominating college campuses and gaining the lion’s share of degrees, as well as laws and programs which guarantee equal access to opportunities it only seems that the better solution is to pump drugs into girls to make them behave more like boys. If under the current regime women raised as girls cannot produce as much as men raised as boys, to lower boys to the level of girls is going to result in less wealth than allowing both to reach their own level, and if we wish to equalize the genders it will create more wealth if we instead force girls into the more productive boy-like behavior. Drug the girls to make them play like boys.

  10. Briggs


    FYI, which I’m sure you know, but for other readers. It is false, and easy to check that it is false, that “women only make 77% of what men do.” The pay “gap” has been exposed repeatedly. The only reason for its continued existence is that it’s so much fun to believe (for some).

  11. Sheri

    Max could have point. Part of the reason women “earn less” is they work fewer hours and shun physically demanding jobs. If we drugged them into being more like men, they might start working 60 hours a week, working shift work in mines and oilfields and other such things. It could send women into really comparable positions in the work force and then maybe we would not have to spin the statistics.

  12. Briggs


    Let them. Of course.

    Mine were made of plastic. Green. They were all men dolls. About two inches high. Some had guns, bayonets, others grenades. They had little cars to ride in. The cars had cannons attached. I’d line them up and play for hours when I was four or five.

  13. max

    Why we would let boys play with dolls Hans and let girls play with dolls as long as they do it in a boyish manner. While we haven’t isolated what parts of boyish play leads to adult productivity, we do know that, given the priors, girlish play leads to unproductive adulthood.

  14. Listening to Freakonomics a couple of weeks ago, they told the tale of a fabulously liberal economist who chose to bring up his children “right”. Both children got the same toys. Dumptrucks and barbies. The boy ran over the barbie with his dump truck. The girl used the dump truck as a stand to display her barbie.

    The Economist lamented “well, maybe it was my wife sitting in the back seat with the infants on their way home”…

  15. Sheri

    Brad–I love it. Such a cute little boy!

  16. Scotian

    On a different front we have a more rational approach.

    Also I have to agree with Gary, your happy week resolution has collapsed on day two. You can’t fight your destiny Briggs. As I once said to a friend “If you are going to be a &$%#, be the best one you can be and never apologize for it and also, don’t ask for my opinion unless you really want it”. :^)

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