There’s a excellent-sounding book out now that’s getting rave reviews and promises to clear up plenty of misconceptions about male and female brains. This biggest misconception being, of course, that there’s some big damn difference. There isn’t really.
Anna North at Jezebel gives us the big five myths about the female brain as discussed in Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender. North quickly summarizes the research Fine is writing about and it’s very much worth the read so that you have the science to back up your eye roll the next time someone insists you (or your daughter) is more empathetic than a guy (or your son). Ditto for the notion that women are bad at math and better at multi-tasking (especially when that multi-tasking involves not calculating the tip, rather empathizing — as in nurturing kids and cooking meals everyone can enjoy!).
I’m especially interested in Fine’s take (via North) on yet another myth, this one involving kids: girls prefer dolls/boys prefer trucks.
Because, even though I’ve long said this isn’t true, the truth is — my girls preferred dolls and my son, nearing two, has lately shown a cliched interest in anything with wheels. Of course, my three kids are not exactly a representative sample. So what’s going on with the dolls/trucks thing?
Fine says that studies show even at a very young age, kids are getting lots of priming that directs them toward gendered play. So, if a girl picks up a doll, she hears glowing praise of “oh, what a little mommy!” and if a boy picks up a truck, he gets, “Vroom! Vroom!” But the opposite may not happen. We get fixated on one kind of play and perhaps ignore the rest.
Even I only mentioned the trucks with my son, but he also picks up a little baby, pats it and drowns it in the tub. When he does, I say “oh, you’re a good papa!” So maybe I’m blunting some of that hardcore gender play. Who knows. My girls also didn’t have a lot of trucks to play with since we received so many toys (“girl” toys) that I wasn’t excited to go out and buy more. PS: They play with trains and Legos and all that now; plus they can quote chapter and verse how they’re being manipulated by pink and purple and baby dolls and how they’re being excluded from the domain of Bakugan and dirt bikes. Hopefully my son won’t ever think a boy in red shoes should be fixed.
Now, back to whatever I was doing before this non-multitasking girl brain got sidetracked reading Jezebel. See? Myths! Exploding!