The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Will boys really be boys?

The last few days before the end of the year, I came across a couple of articles regarding gender bias in toys. One involved a video of a 4 year-old (I think) girl going into a rant about pink toys and gender oriented toys.

The other was this opinion piece in the New Your Times [link] which stirs the pot a bit. Even though it's categorized as opinion, there is nowhere to comment. Deemed too touchy a subject?

It's all about nurture vs nature. A subject I have always been curious about. Being male, I was confronted by certain expectations as I grew up. These were obviously nurture oriented. And I think the nurture crowd have a strong case. I firmly believe we program children from at least the day they are born. Maybe even before... if we suspect or know the gender of the fetus. It's been going on since humans first gathered in clans, I suspect.

Nurture, or cultural pressure, is rampant and persistent. The cultural bias is everywhere you turn. Since parents were subjected to it from infancy, it is only "natural" that they would choose to follow it with their own children. And the ones who rebelled against the social conditioning as children would likely continue that rebellion as parents.

And is it harmful to let the child "choose" its own way? After all, what does a child know of its future wants and needs?

Is it good or bad? Is it better to wait until the child shows some interest and then cater to that interest? Or is it better to steer the child toward the cultural norms for its gender? Or (and this is the real question, I think) are both ways potentially harmful? We are, after all, both social creatures and individuals. This duality creates conflict by itself, don't you agree?


KFronda said...

I'd prefer to use the word influence instead of program, meaning any person can reject or accept an idea if they wish to. In the case of adults and kids, however, information reliance is imminent; kids follow adults on the basis of the belief that adults knew more than them. 

I believe the same principle applies to any social group. Whoever gets to be the most influencial, gets followed, even on things that don't make any sense. But eventually when an individual gets older (or smarter), they'll find a wider range of choice on what they want, and thus on what they shall do. They may even be the next "influencial". For really smart but darkly motivated people, they may use this influence to manipulate other people, just like what the girl ranted about.

Now about letting a child "choose" its own way, I'd opt against it until their mature enough to make their own decisions. They lack experience. They can easily stray from things they might find difficult or painful, and go for things that easily fit their fancy. Thus, this does not mean you'll have to choose every single thing, like determining your child's favorite color, or something to that level. It's just that parents would naturally want what's best for their kids, and one of the best ways to do so is by using their experience to guide their kids, although granted their children may not appreciate all of these just yet.

Nice read. Glad to pass by here. :)

Douglas4517 said...

Thanks, K, for the kind words. You make some interesting points. I meant "programming" as informal indoctrination. We pass on the beliefs and morality of our own culture to our children either formally (church and school) or informally (parental admonitions and encouragements). It's not like it's planned somewhere.

My eldest granddaughter would be appalled by the little girl's rant since she adores pink.