Characterization: Boys and Girls are not identical

Boys and girls are not identical.  Boy characters and girl characters should not be entirely interchangeable.

Ironic that I am the one making that statement.  My very first sale was a rebus to Ladybug.  The characters were a girl and two boys.   When I got the letter from the editor, it included a note asking if they could change one of the boys to a girl.  It was ok with me, but I was curious so I called and asked why.  Not surprisingly, magazines for both boy and girl readers want a balance of male and female characters.  Given the spare characterization in a rebus, it was easier to change one of my characters than a character in a longer piece.

Why?  Because the deeper the characterization, the harder it would be.  No matter how many ways we try to treat boys and girls alike, they are very often different.

This was brought home again and again during the two snow days my niece and son had last week.  At one point I asked what they were playing.  My niece scowled behind my beaming son.  “Disaster!” he said. Apparently, the only way she could get him to agree to play house was to play natural disaster.  Yep, she got to cuddle her baby doll but she also had to put up with emergency sirens and various valiant rescues.

Then there was dinosaur play.  With my son, it always looked a lot like “who eats who.”  The girls, on the other hand, seem to group them in families.  Mommies and daddies protect babies.  Not that he didn’t manage to stir up a rousing game of Carnivore but that one was 100% his idea.

This just has me thinking.  I know that not all girls are alike as each boy differs from all others.  But are there ways that boys and girls differ in how they think?  In how they react?

I took a quick look and this is what I found.

Boys and Girls Brains are Different

Bullying:  What are the Differences between Boys and Girls

Are Boys and Girls Wired to Learn Differently

No conclusions on my part but I’m giving this some serious thought.


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