Born with a gender bias
December 29, 2006
Aspen, CO ColoradoAs a former womens 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 its Jacob is simply innate.The only thing my husband Rick wanted this holiday season, 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 past six weeks 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 earlier this week.”Let’s play together,” he said excitedly as he plugged it into the TV and selected a two-player game.”Let’s not. I’ll just watch you,” I said.”No, no. It’ll be fun. You’ll really like it.”I rolled my eyes, chose a club and spun the trackball, marveling at how large the pixels on the screen seemed for a game made in the 21st century.Then he began dispensing advice. “If you don’t lay up on your next stroke, you’ll land in the drink.”I stopped him there, stood up armed with the January issue of “O” and made my way upstairs, telling him, “Video golf was a gift for you. I never would have bought it if I had an inkling I would be forced to share it.”Fortunately, he wouldn’t have to choose one-player rounds for much longer. One of our neighbors came by the next morning after seeing the empty Golden Tee Golf box in the trash and asked if maybe he could have a turn since it was his favorite game ever, too.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.Before visiting relatives in Frisco last weekend, I was thrilled down to my toes to have the opportunity to shop for my cousin’s 5- and 8-year old daughters. I could have spent hours shopping for craft projects involving fairies and picking out the least-slutty Bratz doll (no small feat, indeed).I was less than thrilled when Rick and I spent an entire Saturday the weekend prior hunting for the best 7-year-old boy gifts. The day felt as if it lasted for a month. 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 presents, I couldn’t tell if Rick was more excited to give them or play with them 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 seemingly endless 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 – even those of the adult variety – will be into the strangest, most-unappealing things.E-mail questions or comments to email@example.com.
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