I still find most commentary on the sexist division of girl toys and boy toys to be rather lacking. Of course if is terrible that girls and boys are given toys that encourage them to enact stereotypical gender roles ways so young; this type of socialization might prime them to fill specific roles later on in life. But people are still undervaluing “girls toys,” equating them with passive frivolousness. And how sexist is that? The sentiment is that “gender neutral” toys, always verging towards “boys toys,” are constructive, educational, and worthwhile. Dolls aren’t. This is the kind of sentiment that dismisses the value of “women’s work” of care-giving later on in life.
“Boys toys” tend to be physically complex. “Girls toys” tend to be socially complex. The complexity of the imaginary play that children often engage in with dolls is intangible and made invisible early on—because you aren’t looking. It is so much easier for a child to say “look what I made” and get a pat on the back than to say “watch me engage.”
I played with lot of different types of toys. Sure, I liked to build things with legos. But I much preferred my dolls. And guess what? All forty or so of my beanie babies had individual personalities. They had roles, romances, they interacted with each other in complex ways. There were smaller subgroups of birds or bears. I used them to create a complete micro-society. But an adult passerby would see that pile of critters as a rather useless and excessive collection.
Understanding social complexities, the kind of play which “girls toys” encourage, is undervalued from an early age.
Let’s please stop with the “dolls are dumb” rhetoric. It isn’t helpful. It’s still sexist. The problem of gendered children’s toys won’t be fixed by allowing free access to “boys toys” for all, but by seeing the value in diverse types of play, and encouraging all children to engage in them.
Re-reblogging for commentary.
And to add that dolls ought to be marketed/designed in a way that encourages that kind of creative play, rather than the way they seem to be done now, with pre-packaged personalities and an emphasis on how “sexy” they are.