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Dolls and train sets

December 22, 2013

I was floored to discover that little girls really do prefer dolls and pretty dresses, even if you clothe them in blue jeans and keep giving them toy trucks in their hand. There was something deeper, more ancient, more body-based in gender roles than I had realized.

I read this paragraph by a notable woman theologian and cringed. I have been reminiscing a lot about past Christmases, toys and gender. My kids seem very stereotypically their own gender to others. But I remember the little boy who stopped playing blocks to attend to his dolly, and the little girl in love with her kiddy car. I remember the years of buying Brio train sets for both children to build a bigger inventory. I remember the inclusive non-gendered toys, as well as the pretty dresses and Tonka trucks.

I remember how as a child, I spent hours lying on the floor watching my brother play with his electric train set. My sister and I spent hours with out Tinker Toy set. I remember my brothers knitting, my own children working on crafts together. Today we all hunched over a new Puzz 3D.

Let’s rewrite the quote above, “I was floored to discover that MY little girl really did prefer dolls and pretty dresses.” Well, have your own private crises, but don’t make them mine.

I won’t deny your experience of reality, but by generalizing, you deny mine. You exclude me from the group of “acceptable women.” Piffle on statements like these. Don’t deny my humanity, and I won’t deny yours. I have had enough of exclusion and shunning.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 22, 2013 7:38 pm

    “Piffle on statements like these. Don’t deny my humanity, and I won’t deny yours. I have had enough of exclusion and shunning.”

    Thank you for writing that Suzanne: and for staying “nice” about it. Sometimes, it is just so tiring to hear all the little cliche’s around that have nothing to do with so many women’s realities and lives.

  2. December 22, 2013 11:56 pm

    I’m boggled whenever any parent says, “I raised my kids gender-neutral, but my girls still preferred dolls and my boys still preferred trucks: ergo, there must be a biological difference after all.”

    NewsFlash: your kids live in the world. Even if your attempts to raise them gender neutral were 100% successful (and I’m also boggled that none of these parents seem to have a concept that they live in the world, too, and are almost certainly passing along some gender stereotypes despite their best efforts), kids are little sponges that soak up everything. Unless you never let them consume any media or be around any people (adults or children) that were not 100% onboard with the gender neutral program, your kids were exposed to the very strong societal messages that girls should want dolls not trucks, and boys should want trucks not dolls.

    Seriously, there’s no way to raise kids in this society without exposure to patriarchal stereotypes that would not involve isolation so profound that it would actually be abusive. I do not get why this is not obvious to people.

  3. December 24, 2013 2:01 am

    My children both preferred unisex toys: blocks, and plastic dinosaurs, stuffed animals and so on. One is a boy and one a girl.

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