Will all these efforts create a more egalitarian, less gendered world? I’m skeptical. Gender-neutral parenting is the latest example of blank-slatism run amok. The blank-slate theory is the romantic belief that environment and culture are wholly responsible for human behaviour. If only we stopped stereotyping little people as girls or boys, they’d stop behaving in stereotypical ways.
This is not to say that it’s useless to try to socialize kids. But we also need to admit that human beings are also profoundly shaped by their genes. Gender is far more influential than many people are willing to acknowledge. Men and women exhibit significant behavioural differences not (or not only) because they’re socialized differently, but because they’re wired differently. Give a girl a pot and she’ll play house. Give a boy a pot and he’ll beat it like a drum. And forget about the gender “spectrum.” Although there are lots of tender boys and lots of aggressive girls, more than 99 per cent of people identify with their birth sex.
Large-scale studies show that men and women differ not only in size and strength but also in personality traits. Across dozens of diverse cultures, women consistently rate themselves as warmer, friendlier, more anxious, and more sensitive to feelings than men. Men rate themselves as more assertive and more open to new ideas.