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Why Do Girls Play With Barbies And Boys With Race Cars?

2007 words - 8 pages

Images of a child being born is always coloured by shades of pink and blue. A woman walks into a children's store and lingers momentarily by the dolls, while nearby a man purchasing a gift silently contemplates a toy fire engine or race car. All over the world in any culture, religion or economic state, the sex of a child will effect its upbringing like nothing else. In this essay the toys that will be evaluated in terms of the contribution to the child's development will be the Barbie doll and the race car. Therefore, the obvious question that this essay will attempt to answer is: "What happens in a child's development to make a girl attracted to a Barbie doll and a boy repulsed by it?" or simply "How is gender developed?"To answer this question to the full extent one must consider and critically evaluate 3 main theories of gender development which are, the Biological approach, Social learning theory, and the Cognitive developmental theory. The reason why Barbie dolls and race cars have been used in this essay is because they are the typical and stereotyped toys of girls and boys.The true basis of this essay is the ever-familiar nature and nurture debate. The biological theory is the theory that nature develops gender, and the social learning theory and the cognitive developmental theory believe that gender is nurtured through socialisation. However these two theories also rely on certain aspects of nature. From the research on this topic, it is hard to disagree with Carole R. Beal who stated that "Bological influences do not work in isolation; children always develop within a social context, and thus nature and nurture inevitably interact." Therefore the conclusion that can be made is that the 3 theories, mentioned in this essay, combined together, help to explain why baby girls grow up to play with Barbie, and why baby boys grow up to play with race cars. However one must consider that other influences effect the child as well, such as peers, school, and the media, which the theories fail to mention.Through research it is easy to form the opinion that some behaviours do reflect biological predisposition's that are expressed more frequently in one sex, for example, aggression, rough and tumble play in boys can be attributed to their higher pain thresholds, heightened activity and muscular physiques, and this in turn perhaps explains their choice of toys, such as construction items, action figures, vehicles etc.... (Maccoby, 13). We can accept this possibility without concluding that biology means behavioural destiny (Beal, 1). However there are interesting biological differences in boys and girls, such as the uneven distribution of sex hormones. Money and Erhardt followed several cases of androgenised females (females who develop male-like external genitalia because of exposure to male sex hormones during the prenatal period) whose external organs were surgically altered and who were then raised as girls. Compared with other females many of the...

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