September 10, 2019 0

Why do girls have neater handwriting?

Tweet of the week goes to bunnylove who said,
‘Cristen Conger, I loved “How to be a Model”. Lol, so awesome I decided to try it.’ She
sent me a photo of her looking like a model every day and it made me so happy like I said
that it would. Thank you bunnylove, I bunnyloved it. This week on Stuff Mom Never Told You I talked
about how much is too much alone time, which is a question that I ask myself a lot because
if you can’t tell, no one’s in the room with me, haha. On Wednesday I talked about what
not to call a beautiful woman all about how exotic is not the best adjective to use to
describe a person particularly who does not have super-pale skin like me. But even if
she does, okay I’m not gonna keep going with that song. And then for Friday Funtimes I
talked about some bizarre back to school products, that were at least bizarre to me. But now
onto this week’s Ask Cristen. Thanks to everyone who watched and commented on last week’s Ask
Cristen video, ‘What makes names masculine and feminine?’ You guys shared some fascinating
name facts, that’s hard to say, fascinating name facts. Noodle Bamboo said, ‘Kristen (with
various spelling variations) is actually a boy’s name in Norway, whereas Kristin with
an -in (also with various spellings) is for girls. Personally I would like to give my
children gender-neutral names.’ Or just name them C-R-I-S-T-E-N like my name Cristen and
then all the Norwegians would be like, what’s Norwegian for ‘I don’t know’? Anton Quirrel
said, ‘What’s interesting is that the Japanese name “Yuri” is a girl’s name, whereas the
Russian name “Yuri” is a boy’s name.’ Which really just goes to show that this whole masculine/feminine
name thing, we just made it up. Now onto this week’s Ask Cristen questions, first of all,
Chinelo Morah wanted to know, ‘How do you come up with such interesting topics?’ The
answer is you. I answer the questions that you wonderful people ask. That’s why at the
end of every Ask Cristen video I’m like please, please ask me questions so I can answer them.
S O’Neil wants to know, ‘I was wondering if you could answer why there’s usually such
a strong difference between boys’ and girls’ handwriting. A lot of people are exceptions
to this but still I wonder.’ You are not alone in wondering because there are actually a
lot of studies in handwriting. You are also correct in saying that some people are exceptions
to this because you know who’s one? Me. It might have to do with me being left-handed
but seriously it’s kind of messy. Beautifully written notes for Monday’ upcoming video ‘How
to Finish What You Start’ no spoiler alert necessary because can you even read that?
The fascinating thing about handwriting is that it’s sort of an assumed gender marker.
We are fairly good at detecting based on handwriting sample alone whether the person holding that
pen or pencil is a guy or a gal. In the same way that say the way a person sits or walks
usually denotes more masculine or feminine traits. The ultimate question that researchers
are trying to figure out and still haven’t fully pinned down is whether observed gender
differences in girls having neater, cuter handwriting and boys having sloppier handwriting
is a matter of nature or nurture. On the nature side of things, there was a 2005 study that
came out of the University of Lleicester which correlated progesterone and estrogen exposure
to female fetuses in the womb and girls neater handwriting. Those hormones influence the
digit i.e. your finger ratio which influences how you’re going to hold your pencil which
influences how well you’re going to write. However the study did not find the reverse
was true for prenatal exposure to testosterone in boys. Hmm. The primary nature-related argument
for girls having neater handwriting is that our fine motor skills tend to develop a bit
faster in boys in early childhood. When we’re all learning how to write, girls have finer-tuned
fine motor skills than boys do and by the time boys catch up to us, well those earlier,
messier handwriting habits are already ingrained. Proponents on the nurture side of the fence
would probably argue that this is all a confirmation bias at work. We simply believe that girls
are neater, nicer and primmer and propererer, so we expect to see that manifested in their
neater and cleaner and tidier handwriting. If a teacher sees that boy has messy handwriting,
well boys will just be boys. Girls meanwhile will dot their ‘I’s with hearts. Or smiley
faces or flowers or sunshines. You know it really just depends on the season. Based on
my personal experience which therefore has zero scientific validity I have horrible handwriting
but when I was a girl I tried to make my handwriting nice and neat and it simply did not take.
However, in my tenth grade chemistry class I sat next to a guy named Charlie and he was
a jock, he was popular, he was very much a guy’s kind of guy. Charlie had the nicest
stereotypically girliest handwriting I had ever seen. It was beautiful. So it seems like
this kind of gender marker isn’t necessarily inborn but it isn’t necessarily just socialized
to us either. But now I want to know what you think. Wherever you live have you noticed
those differences in boys handwriting and girls handwriting and are you someone like
me whose handwriting sort of violates that stereotype? Will this even matter once emojis
completely take over? And don’t forget to ask me some questions so I can give you some
answers, thankfully with my voice and not with my handwriting otherwise you wouldn’t
be able to decipher it. Wouldn’t be able to d-d-decipher it. Wouldn’t be able to d-d-decipher
it. Wouldn’t be able to d-d-d-decipher it.

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