Toy Ad Vocabulary - What does it mean?

Posted by leMel42 
Words appearing most often in toy advertising:

boys:


girls:


Author
Lots of unfortunate implications there...boys are violent power-mad narcists who want themselves to be heroes?
Sanjeev (Admin)
Means a lot...

One wonders if the differences between young girls and boys is a REAL hard-wired thing or something programmed from an early age.

My guess is heavily slanted towards the latter. But we'll likely never know for sure (at least for a VERY long time...if humanity survives til then) because the motivation for those who study this stuff is greed and exploitation (commercial marketing), not truth and social justice.
Sanjeev Wrote:
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> One wonders if the differences between young girls
> and boys is a REAL hard-wired thing or something
> programmed from an early age.

The thing to keep in mind is that the author is looking at representations (target words) of artifacts and not artifact usage. The representations themselves have no natural relationship to gender. The main thrust is that the representations reflect how the people involved with the production/marketing of the artifacts describe them with regard to gender.

So, the analysis has nothing to do with hard-wired stuff. It's all programing. The ads start with gendered assumptions about the target audience and then use culturally logical words to describe the products.

No doubt popular interpretation will still reach for the hard-wired angle. As in, some folks will argue that people design and describe targeted products with an inherent, biologically wired type of categorical thinking at work. Or that the marketing departments have done real research to arrive at their target word recommendations. But no scientist would seriously entertain that line of thought. At least not in this case. It's not the right type of study to show nature or nurture. Too many intervening variables.


> My guess is heavily slanted towards the latter.

Yes. The study is a good start with a commodity analysis because it deals with representation. But it should be left at that.


> But we'll likely never know for sure (at least for
> a VERY long time...if humanity survives til then)
> because the motivation for those who study this
> stuff is greed and exploitation (commercial
> marketing), not truth and social justice.

Dood. Some of us use our powers for good. Or, at least we try to when we can.
Eh, as a dad with two little boys and a 22 year old daughter, all I can tell you is that there wasn't a whole lot of commercial exposure for these guys when young, yet the tendencies were definitely toward what we see above. My daughter was a fairly passive youngster (as are the young daughters of my friends for the most part), while my boys are rambunctious as hell. We deliberately gave them a mixture of toys and books and so on, from ones that were more traditionally "girly" to standard boys' toys. In most cases, they gravitated to the male-centric stuff, though neither of them have much interest in sports. Both love the idea of adventure and being heroes of one form or another. Do I have a lot of influence in what I want to show them or expose them to? Sure, but they're not getting a lot of the other cultural influences one normally sees (we have no traditional TV in our house, and the kids are home-schooled), but they are still getting some of it.

My feeling basically is that regardless of the way society influences things, males tend to act like males and females act like females. IMO, it's kind of odd to assume that we're all that far away from other primates in our behavior. We just add layers on top that re-enforce the already existing tendencies.

More serious than thou
fujikuro Wrote:
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> My feeling basically is that regardless of the way
> society influences things, males tend to act like
> males and females act like females. IMO, it's
> kind of odd to assume that we're all that far away
> from other primates in our behavior. We just add
> layers on top that re-enforce the already existing
> tendencies.

I'm not one to evaluate someone's kids, but I will point out that even in anecdotal or empirical accounts of children's gender expression there are a lot of intervening variables. Many, many more than parents typically consider (their two favorites usually being media exposure and product availability). A great number of seemingly inert things are gender-priming or coded, including ordinary speech. That's more or less the point of the above article.

As for the hard-wired arguments, they are usually rife with misattributions. For example, they conflate gender and (biological) sex. Or fail to properly disentangle the two. They present categories instead of continuums. They overstate behavioral tendencies among primates, or overstate the likelihood of our connections to them. They also tend to reduce gender expression to evolutionary pseudoscience and "how the elephant got his trunk" stories. This is especially true when it comes to the neurological studies of gender. Yikes.

For more on gender and language, check out this blog. But I'm willing to bet that the content will come across as pretty dry and uninteresting for a general audience. So, as a researcher, I'll summarize it, along with the bulk of good research on sex and gender, as follows:

The variation in gender expression within sexes is far greater than the variation between sexes.

Now, I'll also add my unfounded opinion as to why people rarely report that. First, things that threaten the solidarity of our usual categories (and thus impair the utility of categorical thinking) are really, really uncomfortable. Second, shitty headlines like "Men More Different From Each Other Than From Women" and "The Same Is True For Women" don't digest easily.
Sanjeev (Admin)
I agree with the above post. There are just SO many intangible factors from a parents tone of voice in certain circumstances to something as subtle as posture or mannerisms that are absorbed--literally--by a child's unfettered mind.

Anyway, going back to your original post, G, I guess I was confusing the representation and the artifact...and even the nature of the human, her-/himself. But anyway, I have more questions (as usual!)...


Gcrush Wrote:
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> The main thrust is that
> the representations reflect how the people
> involved with the production/marketing of the
> artifacts describe them with regard to gender.

Makes sense.

> So, the analysis has nothing to do with hard-wired
> stuff. It's all programing. The ads start with
> gendered assumptions about the target audience and
> then use culturally logical words to describe the
> products.

You're going too fast for me. ;) It's all programming, sure...but isn't the analysis about those who do the gender-specific marketing? Those who slap "battle" and "power" on boys' toys and "magic" and "love" on girls' toys? It's one thing to make gendered assumptions about your target audience WRT what "artifacts" to produce to sell them...but then aren't they rubbing their own confusions about gender (what you call "culturally logical words") onto those artifacts to further the mess? Isn't THAT the point?

> ...It's not
> the right type of study to show nature or nurture.
> Too many intervening variables.

Do you mean we're just presupposing *nurture* from the get-go?

> The study is a good start with a commodity
> analysis because it deals with representation.
> But it should be left at that.

Wait--I thought we were doing representation (word) analysis, not commodity ("artifact") analysis. But either way, why should it be "left at that"? Do you mean it shouldn't venture into the nature vs. nurture argument? If so, I tend to agree...but what's your reasoning?

Maybe I should just read some of the books you've given to me...that'd probably save some time! :P


> Dood. Some of us use our powers for good. Or, at
> least we try to when we can.

Weenie. Use your powers to sell hipster toys to hipster kids. But somehow avoiding to be a hipster yourself! ;)

Nah, no disrespect intended. Actually, I think what you do is VERY similar to what my sister does.
Sanjeev Wrote:
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>
> Do you mean we're just presupposing *nurture* from
> the get-go?
>

Sure seems like it from my viewpoint, but I'm not a researcher and can only go on observances of real-life tendencies in the children in MY life. Basically, I've rarely had a conversation about this topic with anyone who has a social-action axe to grind who doesn't think most of our issues as a race come from socialization. I tend to think of nature over nurture and that DNA wins out most of the time, but I can't pretend my view is scientific in any real way. It's strictly belief, but from what I've seen over the years, it's hard to say that anyone I've talked to about this topic whose opinion was on the opposite side had much of a scientific view either. Again, theirs seemed mostly to be belief that was backed up by carefully selected evidence. Most likely I'm doing the same thing when I observe my kids.

More serious than thou
Sanjeev Wrote:
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> You're going too fast for me. ;) It's all
> programming, sure...but isn't the analysis about
> those who do the gender-specific marketing? Those
> who slap "battle" and "power" on boys' toys and
> "magic" and "love" on girls' toys? It's one thing
> to make gendered assumptions about your target
> audience WRT what "artifacts" to produce to sell
> them...but then aren't they rubbing their own
> confusions about gender (what you call "culturally
> logical words") onto those artifacts to further
> the mess? Isn't THAT the point?

I think we're saying more or less the same thing. A lot of the marketing research begins with assumptions that never get sorted out before starting their research on how to best market a product. For example, they assume boy's and girl's toys are discrete categories and then go from there. Then they'll look at what words in a bundle test best with a target audience of boys (or girls). And, as you noted, the words with which they start are already sorted for gender effect - that's the cultural logic. For example, the marketing department isn't going to take Bratz dolls to a test group of boys, or with a bundle of words like POWER or BATTLE.

So, in effect, you have people cross-verifying the applicability of their gender norms and tuning them for commercial effects. The goofy explanation some people offer is that we are programmed to "naturally" sort those words above into boyish and girlish categories.


> Do you mean we're just presupposing *nurture* from
> the get-go?

Well, personally, the nature-vs-nurture argument is blown way out of proportion in the sense that few researchers actually entertain it as a valid dichotomy. It's really about nature-AND-nurture. Anyway. In this case, because the article is dealing with artifacts that are gender-tailored from the start, there is no inherent biological component to discuss. And we should be wary of anyone who suggests otherwise.

But, as you can see in the comments under the article, people are prone to arguing that gender-tailoring is biologically driven. As in, the people at Hasbro are, themselves, hardwired to make boys and girls toys as fundamentally distinct types of products. And we are hardwired to respond to their efforts in kind. Which is totally whack and so far removed from scientific veracity as to be laughable. Their mode of reasoning is akin to saying that the tendency for women to drive minivans (and not motorcycles) is evolutionarily based because women are less reproductively disposable than men and are responsible for the majority of child-rearing.


> Wait--I thought we were doing representation
> (word) analysis, not commodity ("artifact")
> analysis. But either way, why should it be "left
> at that"? Do you mean it shouldn't venture into
> the nature vs. nurture argument? If so, I tend to
> agree...but what's your reasoning?

I meant that the study is interesting in how it analyzes how toys are represented (via marketing). But there is nothing within the subject material, or ensuing analysis, that could be applied to a biological/neurological/evolutionary argument. Keeping in mind that the n-vs-n argument is a poor place to start, the article fits solely within the realm of nurture - in the sense that it is only discussing representation. As for why it shouldn't be taken further than that - remember, anyone who tells you something as culturally subjective as gender is hardwired into our brains is not going to follow up that claim with good science.


> Maybe I should just read some of the books you've
> given to me...that'd probably save some time! :P

You should. I'm sure you would devour them. ^^


> Weenie. Use your powers to sell hipster toys to
> hipster kids. But somehow avoiding to be a hipster
> yourself! ;)

I'm actually looking into jobs that will allow me to better exploit people for financial ends...


> Nah, no disrespect intended.

None taken.
Sanjeev (Admin)
Gcrush Wrote:
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> I think we're saying more or less the same thing.

I figured as much...but I hate missing details, so I gotta ask to make sure...

Anyway, I grok. And concur.


fujikuro Wrote:
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> Sure seems like it from my viewpoint, but I'm not
> a researcher and can only go on observances of
> real-life tendencies in the children in MY life.

And I don't mean to downplay or otherwise invalidate your observations, but part of the problem we all have to deal with is analyzing what we see through an already-damaged lens. Like, whether I like it or not, I'm a male raised in a sexist society; thus, I have sexism--whether I like it or not. And that persistently and subconsciously alters my view of women or social issues involving women. On a similar token, we also live in a very age-discriminatory culture...though this is rarely addressed. Thus, adults have active (conscious) prejudices and passive or unaware (subconscious) feelings about young people.

It's funny: my "research" has all been non-educated grassroots stuff. Absolutely scientific: theory based on empiricism...constantly tested and refined and retested among all segments of the population. G's angle is totally different--still scientific, of course, but definitely more refined!

> Basically, I've rarely had a conversation about
> this topic with anyone who has a social-action axe
> to grind who doesn't think most of our issues as a
> race come from socialization.

I don't doubt it for a moment. We're ALL getting crushed by various forms of oppression constantly...and in recognizing this, some people get real emotional about it (I just snapped at Scopedog, afterall, for implying I was classist like a hipster! ;) ). That's understandable...but as you well know, can unfortunately lead to biased sampling of observed data. We do our damnedest to avoid that...not just for the benefit of our own theories/practices...but that's the fucking point of counseling in the first place!
fujikuro Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sure seems like it from my viewpoint, but I'm not
> a researcher and can only go on observances of
> real-life tendencies in the children in MY life.
> Basically, I've rarely had a conversation about
> this topic with anyone who has a social-action axe
> to grind who doesn't think most of our issues as a
> race come from socialization.

I can't represent researchers other than myself, but I can suggest a couple of motives for the type of responses you're talking about.

Fundamentalist positions about biology's (nature's) role in culture tend to represent certain historical patterns of thought regarding the division of the sexes in humanity, especially those that reenforce stereotypes that favor masculine authority (men are leaders/warriors, women are mothers/caregivers). The problem is that none of them are actually universal, and the more broadly applicable ones are very, very limited in depth. Proponents cannot admit the limitations least it undermine their stakes.

In contrast, the hardcore takes on society's (nurture) role in culture developed in response to the runaway invocation of "science" in maintaining the lopsided status quo in human rights. Consider that slavery and eugenics in their most vicious modern forms were grounded in "science". Few people would openly advocate the reversal of desegregation or women's suffrage, but the insidiousness of pseudoscience is it's ability to justify the implementation of catastrophic inequality in society. For example, people are still trying to argue that minorities in the US are biologically wired to be dumbshits. If people don't aggressively attack those views, what does it say about us?

So, people that fall into either extremist category are either: endorsing views that validate their beliefs; or preemptively combating those views. Neither stance leaves much room for dialog.


> ...it's hard to say that anyone I've talked to about this topic
> whose opinion was on the opposite side had much of
> a scientific view either.

Real, grounded science is rarely exciting to the general public. Sensationalism and attention-grabbing headlines are far more palatable. And it's profitable to exploit that. Still, mature scientists have the good sense to equivocate when it comes to endorsing fundamentalist positions on a topic. Hence the genuinely reasonable, highly probable, and thoroughly uninteresting resolution proposes nature-AND-nurture along with the painfully careful exploration of their synergistic effects in a myriad of contexts.

To the best of my knowledge, there are no universal expressions of gender among all human populations. There may be trends, but those trends always have exceptions which prove the continuum as opposed to the rule. Gender is a highly subjective and variable topic that is influenced by culture, history, environment, biology, and evolution. Likewise, the claims of hardwired gender roles have a well-documented history of regularly contributing to human inequality and misery when they become the basis for social policy. I have yet to learn of a case where the promotion of gender equality or combat of gender inequality proved disastrous for a society. So while I prefer people be reasonable about the limitations of their claims, I'm willing to throw my hat in with the nurture folks if it comes down to it - they're less likely to fuck up society if they prevail.


> Again, theirs seemed
> mostly to be belief that was backed up by
> carefully selected evidence. Most likely I'm
> doing the same thing when I observe my kids.

We all have these types of biases. That's not the problem. The problem is when those biases become the basis for exploitation or repression in society.

It's a delicious, easily demonstrable irony that so many of the categorical assumptions to which we cling are based on very weak criteria. For example, "Boys are bigger and stronger than girls." Yet while we can see some strong sexual dimorphism within human populations, that dimorphism become insignificant when we look at it across populations. But it's a mouthful to say, "Some boys are bigger and stronger than some girls and other boys, and some girls are bigger and stronger than some boys and other girls, but as a species the differences in the size and strength of our boys and girls relative to one another is not terribly important when compared to the total range of human size and strength."
Sanjeev Wrote:
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> Anyway, I grok. And concur.

Werd.


> [about biases]

Yeah, talking about and measuring human stuff is incredibly difficult and frequently strained beyond belief. People never tread carefully, or reflexively, enough with it.


> (I just snapped at Scopedog, afterall, for implying I was classist
> like a hipster! ;) ).

Dood, hipsterdom is like a singularity. Even if you are an anti-hipster you are still a hipster. It's better to just not exist in the same time-space.
Gcrush Wrote:
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> A great number of seemingly inert
> things are gender-priming or coded, including
> ordinary speech.

And epecially evident in non-inert, inflammatory speech: Consider how "dick," "pussy," and "cunt" rank in terms of degree of invective--what their implications are and how those connotations relate back to the words as gender signifiers.

Follow the language and you'll end up back at Foucault 101 and to how language--like even in ordinary speech, as Mr. Crush mentioned--is constructed to embody and perpetuate existing power structures and/or existing arguments.

Oh, and you all writ more than SteveH.
Sanjeev (Admin)
You two really ARE the same person, aren't you?

:P


Gcrush Wrote:
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> So while I prefer people be reasonable
> about the limitations of their claims, I'm willing
> to throw my hat in with the nurture folks if it
> comes down to it - they're less likely to fuck up
> society if they prevail.

Thanks! ...I think.

Nah, in my desire to get my points across, I tend to downplay nature in my arguments (I sure wish I could make my words as purdy's yers). But if it weren't for nature, the mechanics of our counseling wouldn't be worth jack shit...

> Dood, hipsterdom is like a singularity. Even if
> you are an anti-hipster you are still a hipster.
> It's better to just not exist in the same
> time-space.

I just watched the Star Trek episode, The Alternative Factor, the other night. ;)
mcfitch (Admin)
"Consider how "dick," "pussy," and "cunt" rank in terms of degree of invective--what their implications are and how those connotations relate back to the words as gender signifiers."

Man, don't be such a bitch ;-)
-Mason

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Matthewalt "I actually kinda LIKE that approach! You know: let's make a TOY. Remember those? Products designed to be played with without breaking? DO YOU REMEMBER, LOVE?!"
gingaio Wrote:
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> Oh, and you all writ more than SteveH.

Where is that bastard these days? I haven't suffered through one of his passages in a long time. Hope he's well.


Sanjeev Wrote:
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> You two really ARE the same person, aren't you?

We're like two sides of mostly similar monetary units. Gingy packs the tons of beaver that the Canadian nickle entails, and I am as majestic as the Susan B. Anthony. Also, the "B." stands for "BEAVER", too.

[Note: I'm available for the butchering of mixed metaphors Monday through Friday, 8-17:00 PST. Drop me a PM and we can talk prices.]


> Nah, in my desire to get my points across, I tend
> to downplay nature in my arguments (I sure wish I
> could make my words as purdy's yers).

If anything, I overextended the language. Whether they realize it or not, people that endorse a biological basis for gender norms are saying gender inequality is inevitable, natural, and desirable. The easiest way to reflect the problem back on them is to ask, "In what ways is (gender) inequality desirable? And is society attaining those types of desirable inequality? How would we measure their success?" That basically forces them to address the power structures which have contributed to their thinking about "natural roles" in society.

It can also take the argument to a highly measurable state that will not be favorable to their position. Mostly because while their position tends to favor specific segments of society, they cannot account for the negative outcomes across society as a whole. Put another way, inequality is good for some people, but not all people. If inequality were evolutionarily adaptive for us as a species, we should see measures of the fitness of a population improve with increases in inequality. But that doesn't happen. However you define the variable, lower dispersion coefficients are usually better for society as a whole.

And now I'm going to back-peddle a bit and explain why I still don't fully endorse a "nurturist" view of gender expression.

First, there are trends in gender constructions across cultures and this hints at some type of biological influence. As a species, the reproductive functions of our sexes do exhibit measurable physiological differences. It would be wrong to claim they don't exist, though we need to carefully qualify those differences by pointing out that they're not known to be terribly important as a whole.

Second, there may actually be a "sweet spot" for inequality contributing to the fitness of a society. A population with absolute equality (i.e. 0) might lack the resources or incentives to successfully drive adaptation. However, that sweet spot where the returns on inequality are greater than the costs is probably a very, very low coefficient since we already know that high disparities are associated with lots of bad outcomes.

I prefer a bland middle position that says more equality is better, and to achieve this we need to actively downplay the importance of biological influences on human behavior when it comes to variation.


> I just watched the Star Trek episode, The
> Alternative Factor, the other night. ;)

A classic.
Sanjeev (Admin)
Gcrush Wrote:
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> ...A population with absolute equality
> (i.e. 0) might lack the resources or incentives to
> successfully drive adaptation.

Just curious here...since I brought up science fiction...

I've noticed a common theme in a lot of scifi series involving some "evolved" civilization dying off because they've achieved "perfection" (perfect health, no war, no famine, etc.)...and simply got lazy.

So anyway, you've mentioned "adaptation" and "fitness" of a population as being goals. But what if those goals don't make sense? It seems like humanity is moving *away* from the "natural" cycle of evolution and is focused on individual happiness. Obviously, this is skipping the entire subject of a class-based society and the inherent oppression...but if we can achieve "happiness" for all people, physiological evolution seems moot.

Of course, I loosely define "happiness" here as having access to all creature needs (food, clothing, shelter, etc.), plus all forms of recorded information/new research, creative expression, production of goods, relationships with other humans, etc. NOT necessarily an absence of drive to explore, create, research, and the like. So, y'know...NOT just being lazy.

Anyway, it just seems like sentience has ultimately removed us (or is *in the process of removing us*) from nature. Death is, theoretically, no longer necessary. Why require natural selection if our minds are capable of spontaneous synthesis?
Sanjeev Wrote:
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> So anyway, you've mentioned "adaptation" and
> "fitness" of a population as being goals. But what
> if those goals don't make sense?

That's my fault for using mixed meanings. I've tangled up gene flow, hardiness, behavioral evolution, and more. I'll try to sort it out like this - reproduction is necessary within a population in order to maintain its existence. Birth rates and intervals are just some of the measures used to discuss how stable a population is. You can also use epidemiological measures in those conversations, too - how long are people living, what's killing them, etc. Inequality (or disparity) within a population pushes adaptation and fitness in certain directions.

No one says that reproduction is the goal of any society or individual. Rather, it is a precondition. And things that affect reproduction thus get drawn into the discussion. Most people don't realize it, but there is a "logical" progression of ideas from those marketing words to concepts like "Women as Baby Makers".


> It seems like
> humanity is moving *away* from the "natural" cycle
> of evolution and is focused on individual
> happiness.

Remember, evolution doesn't mean advancement. It just means change over time. And, generally, ecologically adaptive change. As long as we are corporeal, energy dependent beings engaged in reproduction we will be evolving. No matter how artificial our trappings may feel, we are still fundamentally part of a natural life cycle.


> Anyway, it just seems like sentience has
> ultimately removed us (or is *in the process of
> removing us*) from nature. Death is,
> theoretically, no longer necessary. Why require
> natural selection if our minds are capable of
> spontaneous synthesis?

Again, see the above. What I'll add to your ideas is this - in conditions of high disparity there is probably a tendency to focus on utility, whereas greater equality presents more opportunities to focus on quality.
mcfitch Wrote:
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> "Consider how "dick," "pussy," and "cunt" rank in
> terms of degree of invective--what their
> implications are and how those connotations relate
> back to the words as gender signifiers."
>
> Man, don't be such a bitch ;-)
> -Mason

Oh, you silly twat.
Here's the most interesting thing to me about that toy ad word analysis. The girls' list has a much larger number of words such as perfect, totally and delicious, whereas the corresponding trend in the boys' list is words like jump, crash and rapid. The girls' list focuses on aesthetics and the properties of the toy that make it superficially appealing, whereas the boys' list focuses on actions and the toy's ability to do cool stuff. I think this aspect - the marketers' evident belief that boys are interested in function over form and girls are interested in form over function - is slightly surprising, and more interesting than the violent/nurturing division between the two.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
[www.wildscience.net]

What the HELL.

LIP GLOSS LAB??!?

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
"Mystic (Krazy) Crystals"? It that a miniature meth lab?

Also, lol at "Snow Flake Factory" - although they ought to have added "special" to the name...
My word. That was a lot of reading. It's 1:00am or so where I am, so my brain is a little too addled to start providing an 'opinion', especially one with a good argument behind it. I think I'll read it again tomorrow and perhaps give one.

In lieu of that, perhaps for the time being I can provide some anecdotal data? It's all my own experience, and I am admittedly what most people might call 'odd', I guess. It's also, obviously, just one one person - so no speaking to trends or statistics. Still, it might be worth mentioning.

My parents wanted a male child instead of me. They wanted one very, veeeeerrrry badly. So badly that I was raised (in an intensely conservative protestant household and community) in much more of a stereotypically 'masculine' manner than a feminine one - my father pushed me towards math, science, and athletic pursuits (the latter of which I tended to eschew), and my mother made a point of rebuking me harshly for behaviour that was 'too feminine'. I was as a rule steered towards 'boys' toys, although if I recall correctly by a fairly early age I was already heading for the more combatively-themed items of my own accord.

Remarkably enough, most of my present-day interests are rather masculine - I'm into fiddly giant robots, perfect transformation, and toy gimmickry. I'm also a computer science major, and an avid gamer. On the other hand, I'm also very much into cosplay and gothic lolita fashion (both of which my folks deplore), and many of my friends tell me I am in fact very 'girly' in mannerisms.

So... I don't know. Perhaps my very feminine presentation is some kind of rebellion after all? My opinion tends toward the middle ground, that such things are a product of 'both nature and nurture, but insufficiently well-understood to fully distinguish'. Then again, I suppose I haven't much defense if people decry that as a sort of 'non-opinion'.

Bah, I ended up producing a wall of text I didn't mean to build. I think I'll try again tomorrow.

= T w T =
MSW
Surprised nobody has posted this:

[www.youtube.com]
MSW Wrote:
>
> [www.youtube.com]

This is a very interesting set of observations, but I don't buy the comparison she's making between the way the creative impulse is promoted in gendered toy ads. Is building a truck from truck parts really more creative than making a little cake? Absent a statistical comparison of whether creative play activities are more prevalent in girls' or boys' toys - and absent some agreement on whether assembling a vehicle is more creative than dressing a Barbie doll - I don't think it's fair to compare ads for toys that aren't actually doing similar things. It's nice that she includes two ads for boys' and girls' versions of the same toy line, but is knocking down walls really a more positive play activity than decorating things? I don't see the distinction she's trying to point out there.

It's also weird that she compares an educational game and a Nintendo DS game to two online games. This is simply disingenuous! It's very easy to find online games targeted to young girls. An assertion based on the first four video game commercials the author found - or ones chosen to support her point - is not one that is useful, nor should it persuade her audience.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
This thread reads like stereo instructions. 

After reading the whole goddamn thing, I just want to say thank you Maidenlili for presenting not only the most accessible, but even handed point of view on the subject so far. 

 I'll go in the opposite direction and be a total dick about it, like most of you would expect.  This will probably come across as disjointed, but I'll at least try to keep it in simple terms for the sake of an audience wider than 3.


The differences between gender roles, at base level, comes down to hormones. As society progresses, we evolve socially but the important thing is the starting point, as evolution has not caught up to our massive egos. 

SEX HORMONES FOR IDIOTS

 testosterone (male) produces aggression, power, competitiveness, greed, blowing shit up. Also creates male physical characteristics (dick, balls, muscles, body hair)

Estrogen (female) provides empathy, motherhood, aesthetics, indirectness(Gossip, drama) and Tupperware parties. Creates female traits (tits, ovaries, easier to get fat, etc)

Both sexes share amounts of both hormones, but obviously in different ratios. Sometimes these ratios get out of whack, either naturally or from abuse of steroids or other estrogenic compounds. 

The baselines will hopefully never change. If they do, then we will probably end up an asexual race. That'll ruin your weekend. 

Examples:

 Pump a dude full of estrogen, he'll start knitting sweaters while watching Lifetime channel and will probably pee sitting down. And oh yes... There will be man boobs. 

Do the same to a girl with testosterone, and you get Rosie O'Donnell with  a 300lb bench press, back hair, and an arsenal of automatic firearms. 

This is what they do with pre-op transsexuals (sort of). Don't ask me how I know, what happens in Vegas..
Anyway as I said these hormone imbalances can occur naturally in varying degrees in both sexes. 

Now, that's not to say that hormones should completely dictate the qualities of, say a masculine woman or effeminate man or anywhere in between.  That's where social issues can take over and begin to have an effect. Or possibly one might not want to fit into the expected "norm" for whatever reason. Maybe little Timmy thinks wearing silk thongs backwards just "feels right". But again it's the starting point that matters here, which creates the baselines from which these social constructs are derived. 

Therefore: Gender association is a hormonal, not a social construct; in fact the former shapes the latter. Hormonal tendencies essentially created the stereotype of behavior for both sexes, nicely illustrated in the photos above before the thread got... Boring. 

So here's your daily dose of testosterone. 
machinesoldier Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>  I'll go in the opposite direction and be a total
> dick about it, like most of you would
> expect.

Mission accomplished.


> Therefore: Gender association is a hormonal, not a
> social construct; in fact the former shapes the
> latter. Hormonal tendencies essentially created
> the stereotype of behavior for both sexes...

Except that you're wrong. Probably because you've goofed up how sex hormones and gender (don't) interact. Since you hate stereo instructions, I'll narrow the following to an audience of 1 and point you to this article that talks about some research on testosterone and aggression that appeared in Nature a few years ago. But in case it's too long, here's the take-home according to Michael Naef of Royal Holloway in London:

"It appears that it is not testosterone itself that induces aggressiveness, but rather the myth surrounding the hormone."

So, there's your daily dose of testosterone. Now, doesn't everyone love a good reach-around?
That's bullshit. Studies like that which try to debunk testosterone and it's effectiveness use doses so small that they would cause little or no measurable effect. Mostly for political reasons but that's another discussion.

[www.psychosomaticmedicine.org]

I have plenty of references for testosterone / aggression among others, but just for fun I grabbed the first result from google. 40% increase in aggression in testosterone administered subjects.
I should also make a clear distinction in case you got aggression and "roid rage" confused, which is common.

Roid rage, meaning creating a psychotic or otherwise uncontrollable violent state in otherwise normal individuals is a myth.

Increased aggression, as it says, is a magnified version of controllable aggression found in stable persons. This is proven, repeatedly.
I'm glad you appreciated my post, machinesoldier. Thanks for the shout out.

That said --

machinesoldier Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>  I'll go in the opposite direction and be a total
> dick about it, like most of you would
> expect.

Being, I suppose, not a 'core member' of the community here, I find myself a little curious how seriously to take you on that. You certainly do seem to have come across a little roughly.

I was going to say that I found your post offensive, but on second thought I don't think I can rightly claim that - It's more correct to say I was taken aback by its apparent incorrectness.

Being that my parents regularly reminded me of my inadequacy compared to the theoretical male child they had wanted instead, I took it upon myself earlier in life to do a great deal of research on the topic. Besides this, I can attest that being a Berkeley student has given me plenty of opportunity to contact non-gender-normative individuals and to hold in-depth discussions on the topic with them. I won't claim to be an authority by any means, but I feel I have enough experience to speak with some confidence.

At some level I do agree with you - hormones are powerful things, and the affect the emotions and urges in ways that are perhaps largely consistent with the masculine and feminine stereotypes. It's also clearly true that testosterone at some level promotes muscle growth, while estrogen and its variants tend towards an increased body fat percentage accruing in traditionally 'feminine' places. Furthermore, it does seem that testosterone seems to stimulate the libido, and to affect the emotions in a way that I can't myself qualify properly but that some label as 'aggressiveness'. Obviously, while hormones will change secondary sex characteristics no one is going to literally change sex due to them.

That said, I don't think I can stand behind your assertions of what 'pumping someone full' of a hormone will do. Several of my dearest friends are transgendered, and they defy your descriptions pretty strongly.


Sorry for getting wordy. Again. What I'm getting at is this:

I think that you have some good grounds when you say that hormones function as a 'baseline'. I'm also quite in agreement that this 'baseline' is by no means the only factor.

In contrast to your assertions, though, my belief is that apart from the purely physical effects, hormones don't dictate things like taking an interest in firearms vs. in knitting, or like indirect vs. direct styles of communication. At best, they influence these things in ways that science so far fails to quantify.


For the record, by the by, for unrelated reasons I happen to have blood tests regularly that check up on my hormone levels. To my knowledge, indicators point towards my having both a lower serum testosterone level and less response to testosterone than the 'average' woman of my ethnicity and build.

Doesn't stop me from saying what I mean straightforwardly when I can, or from loving my giant robots.
machinesoldier, forgive us for not taking you seriously when your argument boils down to the claim that literally every gender stereotype is entirely true and caused by sex hormones. Therefore women naturally belong in the kitchen and having babies, and men belong in the military and in charge of companies, and there's no such thing as sexism. Thanks, that's real helpful. Nice to learn that all of history's cultural advancement in the cause of gender equality is bullshit and pointless in the face of raw overwhelming biology; I guess we can just give up on that now.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
machinesoldier Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> That's bullshit. Studies like that which try to
> debunk testosterone and it's effectiveness use
> doses so small that they would cause little or no
> measurable effect. Mostly for political reasons
> but that's another discussion.

Hilarious. I'm trying to decide if this is a very particular style of trolling, or if it's just the usual loud-mouthed broadcasting that comes from celebrating ignorance. Either way...

I could spend time picking apart the methodology and inferences in a 30 year old study that relies heavily upon turn-of-the-20th-Century gender stereotypes and animal models in species with seasonal reproduction. Or I could point out a few more recent studies with better assays and controls. It's not like you'll actually read any of the articles since you appear to have confused an economic experiment about aggression with "roid rage" and didn't notice how significant the placebo effect was in the study. But for the other 3 people in the audience that might be interested in it...

There's this 2007 study which uses the most accurate assay for testosterone levels (lumbar puncture). It found no significant correlation between testosterone levels in human brain juice and aggression. Must be because those pansy-assed, politically correct cocksuckers at the University of Chicago have some kind of faggy liberal agenda ensconced in the colon of their "science".

Or maybe it's because we've already seen decades ago that kids with clinical diagnoses based on aggression don't have significantly different sex hormone levels than "normal" kids.

The same way it was almost 20 years ago when we saw that defensive aggression models have a better evolutionary correlation to humans than hormone-dependent aggression.

Or, holy crap, maybe it's as researchers recently pointed out that alternate hormonal influences aside from testosterone affect aggression - like glucocordicoids, seeing as how corticosterone can make mice aggressive when it's highly acute or chronically low.

Well, shee-it. Maybe this testosterone/knitting dichotomy ain't as clear as we thought 50 years ago. Or, as it is so much more likely, all the contravening evidence is all biased bullshit cooked up by skirt-wearing sissy men and their strap-on-toting bull dike sisters. Eh, what do I know? All I can say for sure is, "Who sellin gain? I'm givin out a deadly game. It's not the Russian, it's the Gcrush crushin. Roulette, slip up and get fucked like Suzette."

But that's just my daily dose of testosterone talking.
MaidenLili Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I was going to say that I found your post
> offensive, but on second thought I don't think I
> can rightly claim that - It's more correct to say
> I was taken aback by its apparent incorrectness.

This pithy, and eminently diplomatic, reply is pure gold. You might not feel like a "core" member, but we're lucky to have you around.


asterphage Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Nice to learn that all of history's cultural
> advancement in the cause of gender equality is
> bullshit and pointless in the face of raw
> overwhelming biology; I guess we can just give up
> on that now.

Paul, I could kiss you. In a totally non-aggressive, but overwhelmingly testosterone fueled, display of manly respect that has all the passion of a rough-and-probing open-mouthed dental fondling, but actually looks like a pat on the back.
Gcrush Wrote:
>
> Paul, I could kiss you. In a totally
> non-aggressive, but overwhelmingly testosterone
> fueled, display of manly respect that has all the
> passion of a rough-and-probing open-mouthed dental
> fondling, but actually looks like a pat on the
> back.

Totally hetero butt-pats and chest-bumps all around, buddy.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
MSW
asterphage Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> MSW Wrote:
> >
> > [www.youtube.com]
>
> This is a very interesting set of observations,
> but I don't buy the comparison she's making
> between the way the creative impulse is promoted
> in gendered toy ads. Is building a truck from
> truck parts really more creative than making a
> little cake? Absent a statistical comparison of
> whether creative play activities are more
> prevalent in girls' or boys' toys - and absent
> some agreement on whether assembling a vehicle is
> more creative than dressing a Barbie doll - I
> don't think it's fair to compare ads for toys that
> aren't actually doing similar things. It's nice
> that she includes two ads for boys' and girls'
> versions of the same toy line, but is knocking
> down walls really a more positive play activity
> than decorating things? I don't see the
> distinction she's trying to point out there.
>
> It's also weird that she compares an educational
> game and a Nintendo DS game to two online games.
> This is simply disingenuous! It's very easy to
> find online games targeted to young girls. An
> assertion based on the first four video game
> commercials the author found - or ones chosen to
> support her point - is not one that is useful, nor
> should it persuade her audience.


To be fair, she was comparing gendered TV commercials of games...not the games themselves. And I think she has more than made her point that these commercials are full of harmful gender stereotyping.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/30/2011 08:25PM by MSW.
Love the Zulily ad that comes up at bottom on this thread. How appropriately downing. For all your pontificating, there's the money.
I'm afraid I get an ad for design garbage cans.

Which is also appropriate, in a certain sense.
asterphage Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> machinesoldier, forgive us for not taking you
> seriously

You're not supposed to.


the cause of gender equality
>
gender equality? Someone along the line must have confused equlity with sameness. Differences are interesting.

And Grush... Do you come in grape?
machinesoldier Wrote:
>
> gender equality? Someone along the line must have
> confused equality with sameness. Differences are
> interesting.

Your argument, that traditional gender roles are dictated by biology, is inherently anti-equality. That point of view suggests that men or women who wish to take non-traditional gender roles in their lives or careers are "unnatural" or "wrong" - that they are defying their biological urges, or that their hormonal balance is abnormal. This is not "differences are interesting" - it is "one binary difference is set in stone, and any divergence from that binary is an aberration".

Furthermore, you claim that "greed" and "competitiveness" are so strongly associated with testosterone, and "empathy", "aesthetics" and "indirectness" so strongly associated with estrogen, that the balances of these hormones dictate social gender roles. This seems absolutely ridiculous to me, as I have met a fair number of male and female humans. I suspect it would seem ridiculous to anyone who has reasonably broad experience with other humans.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
So, there's this new Business Week article about Lego marketing yet another "for girls" line:
[www.businessweek.com]
and I'm seeing some really intense anger in response to it, which is a little baffling to me, because their decisions seem to be motivated by solid market research.

Yeah, we may not like the aesthetics of the new line, but that's a design problem - it's totally separate from the actual conclusions Lego drew from the research (mostly found on page 4 of the article), which are fascinating. It seems pretty clear that Lego is having trouble selling their product to girls, but the responses I'm seeing seem to say that it's wrong for Lego to use gendered aesthetics this way to target the little-girl market, or that it's demeaning to little girls. One common claim is that Lego's standard aesthetic is entirely gender-neutral. I don't buy that, and even if it was true I don't think it would mean Lego shouldn't respond to little girls' distaste for their product. If you want to read me rant about this some more, I posted about it on G+.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
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