Friday, January 11, 2008
Gender Bending Toys
This is the toy that came with a Subway kids' meal the other day.
Just a cheap little plastic box with a chihuahua on the front.
No problem (other than it was probably made in China with the main ingredient of lead)...
Except the color.
This was the toy Dmitri got with his Subway meal while Zoe was at her birthday party. When Daddy picked up the kids' meal, he asked the woman behind the counter when she went to put the toy in the bag, since she hadn't yet asked: "Does it matter if it's for a boy or a girl?"
She shrugged. "No."
No. Pink chihuahua boxes. That's what boys love, right?
Not so much. He traded it to his sister for a Starburst and a Fundip from her party bag. Both of them thought it a pretty good trade.
I've had four kids - two boys, two girls - and in my admittedly anecdotal experience, the whole feminist idea of gender-neutral toys sucks. We have a play kitchen (and no, it isn't pink) but it's mostly the girl who plays with it. We have Legos. But it's mostly the boy who plays with them.
Granted, Michael and I have pretty traditional roles in our marriage - I stay home, Daddy works. But Daddy also cooks. And Mommy programs the VCR and the TiVo. But the older and the younger kids have gravitated toward pretty polarized gender toys. And not because that's all they were given, either. Especially when they were young, we provided lots of neutral (wooden) toys to play with. Dmitri made weapons out of them. Zoe carried them around and rocked them and talked to them.
I wouldn't discourage a boy from playing with Barbies or a girl from playing with Hot Wheels. But on the other hand, I've never had to. It just doesn't seem to interest them. I remember trying with the older kids. Buying a doll for Blake. Cars for Autumn. They'd just switch. I still remember the year I bought Autumn an African-American Barbie. She looked at me like I had five heads.
I understand not wanting to reinforce stereotypical gender roles. But I also know that I won't go out of my way anymore to avoid natural gender inclinations, either. Ultimately, it's an exercise in futility. It would be like teaching my daughter to pee standing up. I could... but why would I?