Playing with dolls

Playing with dolls

There are no ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ toys. Just toys.
The gender-aligned toys are an evil invention of marketers. Or maybe to an extent it existed before – dolls were given to girls as they had to get used to the idea of being mums, boys were fighting in courtyards with wooden swords.

But to kids, toys are toys.
My daughter joins in the sword fights of her brothers. They partecipate in tea parties with the dolls and puppets. One of my daughter ‘dolls’ is a Dalek (from the Doctor Who serie) that yells ‘EXTERMINATE!’ if you squeeze it.

Dolls and puppets are just means for kids to tell stories. It doesn’t really matter which toy you give them – in fact if there were more ‘gender neutral’ ones that’d be better – but kids will make any toy have adventures and do things together with the other toys, whether they are all coming from the same factory/box/series or not. My oldest sons liked cars – but what he was really doing was role playing with them: the cars were speaking to each other and interacting like humans (this was years before Pixar made the movie ‘Cars’, btw).

The basic need of the kid is to play and replay and practice repeating the type of interactions he’s observed in the world: from his parents, from other people, from the television.
The ‘where’ those interaction are copied is not proportional to any fake sense of ‘authority’, as we would like to have it. It just depends on the level of exposure: if a kid watches crappy and shallow television programs all day, that’s the level and style of interaction he’ll absorb, and he will repeat and try to apply in his games with his or her toys, whether these toys were ‘boys’ or ‘girls’ toys.

As a kid, I did have dolls (including a Barbie and a realistic-looking baby with a dummy), as well as cowboy guns and hats, as well as music instruments, cars, Legos… A bit of everything.

But in short, I was allowed to explore and not be bound to gender roles.

Not always – I remember I did have to ask and work on convincing my mother to get me that Barbie – I was already ‘older’ and she was afraid I would get teased. I surely would be, but I didn’t care. After all, all those other action figures and ‘boys’ puppets I had found it kind of boring for it to be in an all-men party. The good of the community must come before my own, I thought.

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