Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Gender Difference Innate?

This is from last week, but screw it. It deserves to be discussed.

That boys play with GI Joes and Matchbox Cars and girls play with Barbies has often been explained away by feminists as social engineering. I was inclined to agree, as it seemed odd that these sort of inclinations would be natural at all, and there were always enough "tomboys" out there that basically played both sides of the gender fence from when I was a kid, as well as the unfortunate boy every once in awhile caught with a doll (I was always more of a Ninja Turtles kid). However, this gives me a moment of pause, as it should everyone.

Just like boys and girls, male monkeys like to play with toy cars whereas female monkeys prefer dolls, a research project has found.

The discovery is one of many signs of deep-rooted behavioral differences between the sexes that scientists are exploring with the latest tools of genetics and neuroscience.


In the experiment, researchers put a variety of toys in front of 44 male and 44 female vervets, a breed of small African monkeys, and measured the amount of time they spent with each object.

Like boys, some male monkeys moved a toy car along the ground. Like girls, female monkeys closely inspected a doll's bottom. Males also played with balls while females fancied cooking pots.

Yet another example of neuroscience contradicting a lot of neat social theory and philosophy. Neuroscience has always been an unpredictable force, often vindicating conservatives on one issue and liberals the next, and this sort of moment is probably going to happen again and again.