I have two children. Our four-year-old is a girl; her two-year-old brother is a boy.
I know these things because I have a functioning inferior temporal cortex.
Apparently, the editors at the BBC do not. There, recognition of sex is a mark of stereotypical discrimination. In a video hashtagged #NoMoreBoysAndGirls, the BBC swapped the clothing of two children who appear to be about a year old; in their words, “Marnie becomes Oliver; Edward becomes Sophie.” Then they place these children on a play rug, where adults come in and proceed to give them toys they believe are appropriate to their gender — so a woman comes in and gives “Sophie” a doll, for example. The BBC explains, “Men hugely dominate careers prizing maths, spatial awareness, and physical confidence. Are boys ‘better’ at these? Is it nature or nurture? . . . When children play spatial-awareness games frequently, their brains change physically within just three months.”
When informed that they have given stereotypical toys to these clothing-swapped children, the women are aghast at their own behavior. “I thought that I was somebody who had a really open mind,” one woman lamented.
So, is toy stereotyping truly a reflection of our patriarchal system?
No. No it isn’t.
Robust studies demonstrate different toy preferences among boys and girls. A 2016 study from City, University of London, found that “children as young as 9 months-old prefer to play with toys specific to their own gender.” A 2017 research review from the same university found that “despite methodological variation in the choice and number of toys offered, context of testing, and age of child, the consistency in finding sex differences in children’s preferences for toys typed to their own gender indicates the strength of this phenomenon and the likelihood that it has a biological origin.”
This shouldn’t be shocking: Even rhesus monkeys differentiate toy preference by sex. And the patriarchy among rhesus monkeys is difficult to chalk up to gender stereotyping.
A Swedish preschool earns praise from the New York Times for its attempts at social engineering.
Over the weekend, the New York Times ran a lengthy piece about the Seafarer’s Preschool in Stockholm, Sweden. The piece gushed about the school’s strategy for training pre-schoolers to avoid the strictures of gender identity. According to the Times, prior to the teachers’ intervention: “The boys were clamorous and physical. They shouted and hit. The girls held up their arms and whimpered to be picked up. The group of 1- and 2-year-olds had, in other words, split along traditional gender lines.”
The teachers, however, had been trained for just such a crisis. They “cleared the room of cars and dolls. They put the boys in charge of the play kitchen. They made the girls practice shouting ‘No!’”
None of this is atypical in Sweden, where many teachers refuse to refer to children with sex-specific pronouns and use instead a gender-neutral pronoun, “hen.” That’s because in centralized-government Sweden, “state curriculum urges teachers and principals to embrace their role as social engineers, requiring them to ‘counteract traditional gender roles and gender patterns.’”
“Science may still be divided over whether gender differences are rooted in biology or culture,” the Times sweet-talks, “but many of Sweden’s government-funded preschools are doing what they can to deconstruct them.”
All of this is, of course, the sheerest nonsense. The science is certainly not divided on whether gender differences are rooted in biology or culture — the answer is both, but with a heavy emphasis on biology. Even among monkeys, male adolescents prefer wheeled toys and females prefer dolls. Male toddlers are far more physically active than female toddlers. Boys generally have better spatial navigation than girls. Cross-culturally, boys are less dependent than girls, girls are slightly more sociable than boys, and boys are less compliant and more aggressive.
Boys, in other words, are different from girls.
But you already knew that if you’ve ever met a little boy or a little girl. My four-year-old girl loved buses and trucks when she was two. Without any prodding, she now refuses to wear anything but princess dresses. Her little brother, age two, runs around the house bonking things with sticks. If you hand him a doll, he will immediately try to smack a table with it.
Instead of recognizing the differences between boys and girls, however, leftist social engineers seek to confuse boys and girls by having them engage in activities in which they have no interest. Forcing small boys to massage each others’ feet — as the Swedish school does — does nothing but promote puzzlement among children. It certainly doesn’t teach little boys to become responsible men. It teaches them to become bizarre. And forcing small girls to open windows and scream out of them doesn’t teach them to become responsible women. It teaches them to behave like obnoxious brats. The Times tells the story of one girl whom teachers trained to scream at the top of her lungs when challenged (my four-year-old girl needs no training, it should be noted). When the girl was sent home, she was rude, messy, and loud. “The girl’s parents were less than delighted,” one teacher reported. But parents matter little here. The teacher calmly explained, “This is what we do here, and we are not going to stop it.”
Ironically, all of this idiocy is pursued in order to supposedly end gender stereotyping on behalf of advocates who say that gender is a social construct. But those same advocates will then proclaim that transgender children know that they are members of the opposite gender from childhood. So, which is it? Is gender biological, or socially created?
Such questions require no answers in the land of social leftism. All that matters is tearing away the old in search of the new, evidence be damned. None of this will end up erasing gender differences. It will merely end up suppressing them until they burst forth in unexpected ways. The Times casually acknowledges as much: “Exactly how this teaching method affects children is still unclear.” But again, who cares? Socially engineering children is far less of a problem for the social Left than allowing boys to be boys.
BEN SHAPIRO — Ben Shapiro is the editor in chief of the Daily Wire.
‘Wonder Woman’ wins by being feminist without bashing men
Warner Bros.’ “Wonder Woman” continues to break records as the most successful female-led superhero action movie ever — with New York packing theaters along with the rest of the country.
So what, exactly, is winning everyone over?
What is it about this film that seems to be bringing together both men and women from all backgrounds and critics in praise?
The film’s well made, sure, with dazzling special effects and vivid scenes (see the 3-D version if you can) that create a striking contrast between worlds: from a breathtaking, female-only island where Amazons live in a fiercely athletic and secluded harmony, to the merciless front lines of World War I, where man’s inhumanity to man wrought great destruction and suffering.
The film features Israeli actress Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, whose dark eyes sparkle with mischief, mirth and, yes, wonder, and whose compassion and determination infuse her character with a depth beyond Hollywood’s standard spirited heroines’.
At New York City theaters this week, many girls and women said they turned out because the character of Wonder Woman has been a personal inspiration in their lives, and they wanted to support the film’s director, Patty Jenkins.
“It’s nice to see a woman director given a big-budget action film, not just a rom-com,” said Mariel Conway, 30, media manager for Discovery Studios TV network, who was visiting New York from Los Angeles and attended a daytime showing at a Kips Bay theater.
Conway said that in tapping a female director, Warner Bros. is not, in Conway’s view, pandering to women but choosing the individual whom they believe to be best skilled to bring Wonder Woman to the big screen, because the company “is staking its future on the DC Comics universe.”
But the film was also striking, some noted, for what was missing: the man-hating grievance politics that sometimes accompanies a projection of female empowerment.
“It’s not a negative film, not against men, but shows women and men working together,” said Elizabeth Liumbruno, 30, an architect from Forest Hills after an evening screening in Union Square.
“Her leadership style seemed more collaborative than the typical superhero’s,” said Ellie Bastani, 33, of Morningside Heights, an assistant dean at Columbia University. “It was more about working together . . . than one person being this hero.”
“Usually you see females in supporting roles or just as sex symbols [in action films], so it’s really important for little girls to see a female in the lead,” said Bhumika Dyal, 20, a student at FIT from Ozone Park, Queens.
The film resonated with women and girls of all ages. “She did what she believed and didn’t just follow her mom,” said Chelsea Brooks, 8, of the Lower East Side, adding: “She wasn’t actually fighting, because she did want to help.”
“I loved her determination, her strength, and her compassion,” said Josie Lawrence, a retiree in Murray Hill. “I thought, ‘Yay!’ when she crossed No Man’s Land.” Lawrence added that the film is a reminder that “being a hero is not male or female.”
The film’s workmanlike plot provides sufficient momentum to carry the viewer through charming scenes in which our heroine encounters a man for the first time (Chris Pine, who plays British spy Steve Trevor, Wonder Woman’s partner in the fight to save humankind), tries on dresses in early-20th-century London and uses both her superpowers and what appears to be krav maga to fight German spies and soldiers.
But what really distinguishes the story is its heroine’s idealism, and its suggestion that the good and evil that exist in human nature cross all divides, including gender (one of the film’s chief antagonists, the sociopathic scientist Dr. Poison, is a female).
“You don’t think I wish I could tell you it’s one bad guy to blame?” Steve Trevor pleads with Wonder Woman toward the end of the movie. “We are all to blame.”
We’re facing a time when political polarization threatens civil discourse, dehumanization of one side by another cuts both ways and culture wars have recently brought millions of Americans, women prominently among them, to the streets in protest.
Perhaps the resurrection of “Wonder Woman” — an icon of female strength whose righteous anger is driven, and tempered, by compassion and love for the world — is offering little girls and women a role model for cooperative leadership, and a positive vision of empowerment they’re not seeing enough of in the real world.