Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Santa's a Sexist


Alice (9) shocked family and friends yesterday by revealing that she had asked Santa for a train set. As horrified parents covered the ears of younger children, she also admitted to wanting meccano, a chemistry set and a bow and arrow. "I don't know what's come over her" sobbed her mother, "she used to be such a nice little girl! She loved her dolls and her Disney princess outfits."

Relatives are now worried about her brother Neil (5) who has expressed an interest in a toy kitchen. "It's probably because of Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver," said an expert, " but we will be monitoring the situation closely in case there are any signs of an interest in housework- or nurture-related toys."

No wonder Britain is short of female scientists - take a look at the toy catalogues cascading through your door this season and see the way they portray children playing. Argos go one better, placing all science-based toys in a section labelled 'Boys' toys' while the 'Girls'' section contains Bratz and Barbie.

Not that this would deter any sensible parent; it is simply pandering to the limited outlook of adults whose own aspirations and expectations prevent them understanding that children are individuals and, in modern British society, should be able to escape the restrictions that bound previous generations.

Unless some seasonal sharing goes on - 'Ralph, did you change the labels on the presents again?' - then many potential future scientists will spend another Christmas surrounded by pink fluffy things while their brothers happily mix up sulphates and scan the night sky.

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