On Average, Girls And Boys ARE Different
The other day I was watching a (semi) documentary program about two guys who hunt through people's properties and junk collections in search of items for resale at a profit. The program is pretty staged, see the inset at Right, "American Pickers".
When I heard the assertion "Old girl's bikes are not as valuable, there are more of them around because boy's bikes get thrashed and trashed" my ears pricked up. Here, I thought, is the kind of evidence that bypasses any politically correct bias in sociological research. It is just a simple sociological truth perceived by people not even interested in sociology, just the Dollar.
Despite my misgivings about the way the show might be made, I saw no reason why they would make up an assertion like this, as it must be easily checked.
Sure enough, I had no trouble finding a serious bike-collecting website dedicated principally to one brand of bicycle, and on this page, What is my Columbia worth, should it be restored? at item #3 Men’s or Ladies, it says: - "This makes a huge difference in the value of an old bike. In most cases a girl’s or ladies model is worth one half to one third of what the men’s comparable model is worth. The reasons are several. Girls/ladies tended to take better care of their bikes than the boys. This means more of the female bikes are still out there intact and in good condition. This of course brings the price down. There is also a lot less women collecting old bikes. This means less demand for the ladies models. The most deluxe models were often only made in boy’s/men’s models."
Now, you could argue that this preservation phenomenon arises because boys have already been culturally conditioned to be more physical with their playthings. In response to this, my mind was drawn to something I saw a while back, maybe on one of my science websites, which I felt could refute this politically correct assertion. In a short while I found it, and a second piece of research in similar vein.
Sex differences in rhesus monkey toy preferences parallel those of children
In this paper at the National Center for Biotechnology Information in the United Sates, researchers presented adult rhesus monkeys with a choice between a wheeled toy and a plush toy, stereotypical male and female toys.
They found a clear difference between the sexes, in that males strongly preferred the wheeled toys, while the females were more equally interested in both. This a simplification, the paper has plenty of qualifying statements, but the effect is real.
An interesting statement in the paper was that girls with a particular genetic condition that exposes them to high prenatal levels of androgen, who look like and are reared as girls, often show “masculine” toy preferences, even when their parents strongly encourage them to play with female-typical toys. This is a good indicator that socialisation is not the controlling factor in these toy preferences.
Female chimps treat sticks as dolls
This article at the Harvard Gazette site describes research done by re-examining records of chimpanzee behaviour at a Ugandan widlife park. It seems they were working in a backwards direction from the above study. They observed behaviour with sticks, wondered if it was doll play, then, assuming doll play to be sex-differentiated, searched for sex-differentiation in the behaviour in an assumption this strengthened their conclusion that the behaviour was indeed doll play.
This is not the clearest approach, I admit, but nevertheless it seems clear to me that the behaviour was doll play, and sex-differentiation is what they found.
It is noteworthy that the original paper at Current Biology states "...unlike probing and other object use, stick-carrying ceased with motherhood." and also that "...sex differences in juvenile stick-carrying did not result from females observing their mothers carrying sticks, since mothers never carried sticks. Instead, youngsters apparently learned socially from each other. Such juvenile traditions have previously been described only in humans."
(See my blog on playground culture "A revelation of Oral Culture: Mole vs Moll".)
I hope I have done enough to make a reasonable case to support what was a fleeting thought during a TV program, but I remain open to correction, which can be done via the Leave a Reply option back on the Blog page.
Human sexuality is an exceedingly complex subject, the more you study, the more complex it becomes. In my opinion, those who see it in terms of only two conditions, and a black & white division between those two fates, are simply revealing a gigantic ignorance of the subject, while those who go further and promote hatred, penalties and even death for those who dare to deviate from this binary restriction, are acting in a criminally reprehensible and inhuman way.
It is not a crime to say that men and women are different, it is a fact. It is only a crime to allege the difference is one of merit, rather than kind.
This post has nothing to do with claiming people have to be one or the other, the binary fallacy is "a whole nother subject", and I have no doubt that human gender and human sexual preference are properties on a continuum, not tick-box categories. The key words of the Title (in italics for a reason) are "on average".
On the contrary, this is an argument in opposition to those whose idea of political correctness has led them to deny any discrimination on the grounds of gender, whose attitude attempts to deny any differences between the sexes, which ultimately leads to the illogical conclusion of denying two things are different while discussing them using two different words. Logically, if there was no difference between the sexes, we would not have different words.
I like the concept of this show, and I appreciate it must be difficult to cold-call a property and start filming a hunt for old stuff, but I did start to feel sceptical when the voice-over earnestly claimed that sometimes two people can be intimidating, and stated one of the searchers was going to approach a site alone.
" WTF about the crew?????" is what I thought. Only an idiot would fail to understand they would need at least a cameraman, a sound man, and a lighting rig to film inside old sheds and under trees etc. I can imagine any number of other film industry bods, until with enough, you start needing a catering truck and make-up truck and a whole circus.
Then, while looking to confirm the quote about girl's bikes, for inclusion at left, my search threw up the link below: -
American Pickers is FAKE! - The West Coast Truth
I have no proof of the veracity of the claims made, but I am not entirely surprised they are made.