To Maintain Gender Stereotypes, Find A Study Of Monkeys & Stick With It!

In an opinion piece titled, “Boys play with trucks and girls play with dolls…so far”, Jim Wolff expressed concern about attempts to offer “boy” toys to girls and “girl” toys to boys. His concern showed up in these phrases:

“gender neutral”

“genderless society”

“politically-correct bulldada”

To justify his distress, Wolff wrote that “stereotyping is not created by society.”

Wolff cited three studies to prove that stereotypes are “naturally” created. His favorite study must have been the study of vervet monkeys because he mentioned it twice. In the study, boy monkeys chose “boy” toys and girl monkeys chose “girl” toys. In response to Sweden’s attempts to break down gender stereotypes Wolff wrote, “Apparently nobody in Sweden paid any attention to the study”, referring to the study of vervet monkeys.

Both of my grandsons did play with trucks. Both of my grandsons also asked to wear nail polish and went out in public with their painted nails. My youngest grandson marched in a parade with me. We wore vintage hats. He chose a hat with a red rose on top. People both admired his hat and applauded us as we walked by.

My granddaughter did briefly play with dolls. She later announced that she no longer wanted to wear pink clothes and was planning which tattoos she will get first when she is old enough. She’ll probably start with tattoos on her arms.

Were my grandchildren just not exposed to the right monkeys? Or is human behavior far more intricate than Wolff wants us to believe?

Wolff also stated we shouldn’t “bet the farm” on boys becoming “seamsters” because parents give them sewing machines. Wolff must consider it a crying shame that Jason Wu’s “cool parents” actually let him play with the toys he chose to play with — dolls! His favorites included a Bob Mackie Barbie, a Dior doll, and other Barbies! Jason even read fashion magazines! Then, his cool mother made the terrible mistake of buying Jason a sewing machine when he was only 9 years old! Jason’s parents even stood by and let Jason sew clothes for his dolls! How could Jason Wu possibly become successful with a sewing machine instead of a truck? It’s a tragedy that Jason Wu ended up designing two inaugural dresses for First Lady Michelle Obama. Now he’ll make the mistake of thinking he can be a successful seamster!

Stereotypes are like clay molds. Most of the clay has to be cut away to fit just the right amount into the mold. Most of what people feel and think and do has to be ignored to fit just the “right” feelings  and the “right” thoughts and the “right” actions into the stereotype mold. Jim Wolff cut out the evidence of what real children feel and think and do to push one study of monkeys as the guide for raising children the “natural” way.

“Boys play with trucks and girls play with dolls…for far”
Jim Wolff
The Berlin Journal
December 6, 2012, page 2
theberlinjournal.com

“Jason Wu: The American Dream”
Suzy Menkes
The New York Times
September 6, 2013

“Jason Wu Woos at Saks Chevy Chase”
Alexandra Geisler
Capitol File
August 29, 2013

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Critical Thinking Questions

1.  What’s happening?

2.  Why is it important?

3.  What don’t I see?

4.  How do I know?

5.  Who is saying it?

6.  What else? What if?

Stereotype Thinking Questions

1.  What is threatening my beliefs?

2.  How can I make it unimportant?

3.  What can I reject?

4.  What can I laugh at?

5.  How can I attack people who threaten my beliefs?

6.  How can I deflect?

The stereotype thinking questions are mine, based on my observations of stereotype thinkers.

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Online workshop that provides strategies to chip away stereotypes in both professional and personal relationships:

Gossip Power In The Workplace: Good, Bad, & Ugly

“After participating in the gossip power presentation, I know I now have a better plan to be more effective in understanding how gossip affects every area of a person’s personal and professional life. Using her strategies on gossip power and gossip ears I feel I will be better able to navigate these areas both inside and outside the office. Paula does a great job, using both scientific research and personal anecdotes and examples, to develop strategies for turning the power of gossip into positives for anyone attending her presentation. I left energized and excited about her message and what I learned and am definitely looking forward to learning more at her glass ceiling presentation.“
Mark Spiers
SBDC Consultant

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Paula M. Kramer
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All rights reserved.

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