IELTS Vocabulary: Toys and gender

We discussed this IELTS Speaking Part 3 question in class today. Most students responded well to the question – perhaps they found it easy – and had something to say about the topic. They could also relate the question easily to their own childhood and that of their children.

In fact, many great thinkers have raised and discussed the same question for years now. Roland Barthes, a great French philosopher, wrote an essay on ‘Toys’ which linked toys and gender for the first time.

I thought it was interesting that nearly all the students in my class said it was ‘natural’ for boys to be attracted to boys’ toys and girls to be attracted to girls’ toys. So before I show you a (very short) summary of the essay, think about the following questions:

1. What is the difference between sex and gender?

2. When a baby is born, does the doctor tell you its sex or gender?

3. Do babies know their sex or gender – e.g. do baby boys know they’ll grow up to like cars and bikes and games that involve fighting; do baby girls know they’ll grow up to like dolls and make up?

4. How do little kids learn they’re boys or girls (their sex and gender)?

5. How does the society (including family and media) educate little kids what their sex or gender is?

Discuss your answers in the comments below. Tomorrow, I’ll post a summary of the essay ‘Toys’. After you’ve written your comments, read this discussion on the difference between sex and gender.


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