Dolls, the Dilemma

The issue of dolls is one that is just beginning to crest its presence into my life.

Because I want to raise a child who thinks of herself first as a person, not as a girl, I’m very conscious of giving her a range of options for toys and activities and clothing, not just the pink ones.

Still, because I’m a girl, and a fairly girly-girl at that, unless I change myself, I realize I’m not going to do anything to dissuade my daughter from emulating me by wanting nail polish on her toes, walking in my high heels, carrying a purse, brushing my hair, and yes, pushing a stroller with a doll in it, the way I do with her.

Here’s some random, incomplete thoughts:

1) The Barbie vs. Bratz debate continues – and I find myself definitely on the Barbie side, though I have no intention of ever getting J. one (now). I grew up with tons of Barbies, involving them in elaborate, melodramatic story lines fit for daytime soaps. One could argue that the fact I am girly is due to this Barbie exposure, but one could also go stick a plastic doll pump up one’s nose (ha ha). But seriously, I’m glad Dora exists, and the other female kid cartoons, because I want there to be non-sexy models for my not-even- two year old!

2) I was thrilled to see a recent post on PNOC by a woman getting her son a babydoll. Now, if only every boy would get a dollhouse, too. How we raise our sons is just as important as how we raise our daughters, because if we have a bunch of aware, liberated girls running around and a bunch of caveman boys, we’re going to have a lot of very angry people (already do!).

The dollhouse thing came to mind recently when someone said to a boy, “There’s J’s dollhouse, she has one because she’s a girl.” I cringed. What does J do in the dollhouse? she cleans it, she puts people to sleep, she washes the babies in the tiny bathtub… All domestic chores that she’s learning are fun – well, shouldn’t boys learn these are THEIR duties, and learn how to do them, so that when they marry later it’s instinctive behavior? Then we wouldn’t have these debates about what it means to be a wife, and whether wives need wives…

3) I got to pick out my first babydoll when I was little, and the one I selected happened to be “black” – I thought she was the prettiest. What do we do about providing our children with dolls of color?

4) I think I assumed I would never buy my daughter a babydoll at all, because I didn’t want her to grow up to believe that being a woman-person was only possible or made valid by procreation. But, since I’m having a baby soon, and I want J. to get used to the idea, and I’ve read books about it, I did buy her one. And it seems like every other little girl her age has one. And I guess, to a certain extent, there’s no getting around the fact that I’m a mother, and if my daughter wants to be like me, she’s going to want to be a mother, too.

5) But lord, what’s up with this thing about girls really do like pink??

I’d love to hear thoughts on this!

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2 Responses to Dolls, the Dilemma

  1. E says:

    I’ll probably be voted out of the club for this, but I cringe when I read/hear these things. I feel that we are forgetting to bring up our daughters to be women. There are HUGE differences between men & women, and that’s ok. There are natural instincts at work that drive little girls to be attracted to the dolls & the dollhouses, dress-up and make-up. And there are natural forces that cause little boys to love trucks and want to play fight. I’m not in denial about the cultural forces affecting them as well. I just would rather see parents allow their children to be true to themselves. Offer them the choice. It’s ok if J likes Barbie. It’s ok if she likes trucks, too. The most important thing is that she learns what it means to be a strong, intelligent, caring and generous WOMAN – and that she learns to love who she is, not that she learns to be something she’s not. I have never understood why women wanted to be just like men. Yes, I believe we deserve equal opportunity, equal pay, etc. But I think we have to recognize and love the beauty of embracing what it is to be a woman. So – enjoy every second of painting your daughter’s nails and watching her flop around in your heels – give her some Barbies and let her create a soap opera with them – but maybe get Barbie some power tools and a truck, too! 🙂

  2. It’s looks like we’re on the same page here with our two posts!
    When I was younger I had Barbie, but I also had my brother’s GI Joes to play with. I don’t think my parents made a conscious decision to bring me up in a non-gendered way, but because I had an older brother I was always able to choose toys traditionally marketed to boys if I wanted to. For me, having the choice was great; it really allowed me to express myself in both traditionally masculine and feminine ways.

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