Born with a gender bias
As a former women’s studies minor at a highly-regarded liberal arts college in the Northeast, I should know better. Nevertheless, I recently became 100 percent convinced boys are born liking boy stuff and girls develop a fondness for all things Barbie at the time of conception.Forget socialization and marketing – preferring pink if your name is Julia and blue if it’s Jacob is simply innate.The only thing my husband Rick wanted for the holidays, beyond the requisite world peace and end to famine, was the home edition of the Golden Tee Golf video game. He began the subtle pleas before Thanksgiving by handing me a Best Buy circular with the page folded down. Not long after that we were in Target and he stopped in front of it in the toy aisle, drool hanging from his chin as all five of his senses absorbed every inch of the box. And while I have no concrete proof, I’m almost positive he spent the month of December repeatedly whispering the name of the game in my ear while I slept at night.
With each successive hint, I told him I would get the game for him after the weapons of mass destruction had been found or when Hillary Clinton became president – whichever came first. But being a dutiful newlywed, I bought it anyway. His eyes lit up like Michael Jackson at a Boy Scout convention when he tore off the wrapping paper on Christmas morning.No amount of research could ever refute men have a genetic predisposition that urges them to play video games. Even when I was a kid the only video game I could sort of tolerate was Ms. Pac-Man, and that was only because there was a romantic story line and with that little bow on her head (or her pac), Ms. Pac-Man was much prettier than Donkey Kong and Super Mario. Plus the game had a cute orange ghost named Sue.Really, the same thing goes with movies and television. Want to torture me? Make me sit through “Platoon,” “Dirty Harry,” “Terminator,” any of the dozen “Rocky” films or something on the History Channel about the planes and battleships of World War I and II. However, weep with me through “The Notebook,” recite every other line of “Sixteen Candles” and stay up all night analyzing the fourth season of “Sex and the City” and we’ll be best friends forever.
Growing up, the boys across the street only ever wanted to play “CHiPs” and “Star Wars.” I definitely had no interest in the former and until my hair grew long enough to be able to twist it into cinnamon buns on either side of my head, I had no interest in the latter, either. Conversely, the only way I could get them interested in playing with my dollhouses was if I gave them a firm date on which I would be willing to sacrifice the head of one of its inhabitants to be used on the tip of a mini-rocket. So, most days we pretty much stuck to riding bikes around and around the cul-de-sac.I could Barbie-shop with my niece for hours, but I was less enthused when Rick and I recently shopped for a gift for my nephew. The only thing worse than analyzing Spiderman race track sets, Power Rangers Deluxe Manticore Megazords, remote control monster trucks and which bucket of little plastic green army men figures has the best guns were the kids in the aisle poking and pushing us in order to get better positions so they could also scrutinize the most minute detail on every toy. As we walked out to the car with the present, I couldn’t tell if Rick was more excited to give the gift or play with it himself.You can’t blame our parents. My dad wanted a son and tried endlessly to draw my sister and me into a Saturday afternoon Penn State football ritual. My mom took me with her to Washington, D.C., to march for women’s rights and believes wholeheartedly in gender equality. Rick’s parents were professors and musicians and easily would have been thrilled if he had chosen Mozart over Mantle.
It’s not like I’m such a girly-girl. I rarely wear dresses. I don’t understand the cultural fascination with make-up. But still, the only way you’ll catch me interested in aliens or Armageddon is if it involves Harrison Ford, and even then, he better be wooing something in a skirt. After all, girls will be girls. And lord knows boys will be into the strangest, most-unappealing things.Aspen resident Meredith C. Cohen writes a Friday column. E-mail questions or comments to email@example.com.
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