Boys, Toys and Gender Roles.

Jodi - posted on 11/30/2010 ( 34 moms have responded )

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With the holiday's upon us in full swing now, I have see several threads in other communities questioning whether a certain toy is appropriate for their male child. Some have second guessed themselves about buying a play kitchen for their boy child by family members concerned for his upbringing, others asking if it's okay to buy their boy child a Dora backpack, some wondering if their friend is a good parent for purchasing dolls for their boy child. What is the big damn deal?

I don't have a son, but I can't imagine denying him a play kitchen, a doll, a pink backpack or whatever if that's what he wanted just because it's "girly". What are we so concerned about? Are we concerned playing with a baby doll with turn them gay? (Not that I think you can turn someone gay, but some people *might* be thinking that.) Are we concerend they'll be too feminine? Are we scared that they might actually grow up to be a Stay at Home Dad, or be happily married to a woman with whom he can share his feelings, or what? I really just don't get it! (I do realize boys who don't play with "girl toys" can and do turn out just fine to be happily married and some even Stay at Home Dads btw.)

My daughter plays with trucks, bugs, mud, dolls, blocks, cars, dress up clothes, cooking stuff etc etc etc. So I guess I don't buy into the gender role stuff, although it does seem much much much more acceptable for a girl to play with "boy toys" than vice versa. To each their own I guess, but I just don't see the "danger" of it all!

Do you encourage gender roles with your children?
Do you become concerned when you see or hear of a boy child playing with traditionally feminine toys?
If so, what is your concern exactly?
What do you think of parents of either sex who ONLY allow their child to play gender stereotyped toys and enforce gender roles on their children?

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Janessa - posted on 12/01/2010

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I will not allow my son to play with certain toys. Kitchen set more the chef kind that is not girly then yes. Dolls, barbies, pink and purple backpacks no thats the way it is the way it is. I would not let me little girl play with boy stuff neither.

[deleted account]

We bought our girls dolls (as an example) and trucks equally until they expressed a desire for specific items. I bought my son a doll for his first Christmas. His sisters gave him all their old My Little Ponies. He plays w/ his truck and blocks just as much as his 'babies'. We don't have a play kitchen (no room), but when we go someplace that has one... it's one of his favorite toys. So what? ;) I do kind of feel bad for him being the only male in a house full of women, so I make sure he gets quality time w/ my dad and he will be spending quality time w/ his favorite 'uncle' once he's out of diapers. ;)



So, no I don't really encourage gender roles. Well, I do a 'little' bit w/ my son, but only to attempt to counteract the fact that he's surrounded by massive amounts of estrogen ALL the time. lol

Amanda - posted on 11/30/2010

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Well I have one boy who's the oldest of my kids, and 3 daughters ages 4, almost 3 and almost 2. My son refuses to play with girl toys. I have no problem if he were to play house with the girls and their babys, or play tea set with them. I like to see his sensitive side! But he's never really been into that. My oldest daughter is total girly girl and only plays with dolls, kitchens, tea sets, make up, dress up, and hair stuff. My middle daughter enjoys both actually. She likes the balls, bikes, mud, dirt, fixing cars with dad, digging anything and everything, playing soldiers with brother, and playing with hotwheels. And my youngest isn't too picky just yet. She just follows around the kids and mainly enjoys her baby, kitty, and blanket lol. I don't get too concerned when I see or hear a boy playing with a "girl" toy. There is nothing wrong with it. I think more old fashioned people get concerned but not me. And I think that parents who force(d) their child(ren) to play only with toys stereotyped for their sex is a bit extreme. I mean boys aren't going to turn into girls if they play with a dollhouse, a kitchen, or a barbie. Girls aren't going to turn into boys if they play with Trucks, hotwheels, or Ninja Turtles. I mean seriously, kids play with toys. They play with what interests them. They are exploring their world. What's so wrong with that.

[deleted account]

I've never encouraged my daughter to be girly, but she is drawn to girl toys. She received a doll from a relative for her first birthday, and I thought she wouldn't know what to do with it. She immediately picked it up and began to rock it.

I've heard the same about boys in general. They just innately know what to do with toy cars, etc.

My sis-in-law bought her son a doll when she became pregnant with her second child. They named the doll "Anna" (which is what she named her daughter) and practiced being gentle. But when playing on his own, he used the doll like an action figure or ball...lol!
But if I had a son or daughter that was interested in a toy "of the opposite gender" who cares?

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[deleted account]

I think kids should be able to play with what they like. Keeping in mind there is a difference between a little boy wanting a baby dolly for his birthday, and wanting to breastfeed that dolly. There is a place for enforcing gender roles on children. To keep them from confusion of who they are, we have to be sensible. To be quite honest, i dont think its the "homophobic" thing that is a problem, but the fear of looking like a homophobe if you tell your son to put down the lipstick! my goodness no wonder kids are so confused sometimes! lol

actually, a kitchen is a cool present for a boy... have we never seen masterchef? cooking is a very unisex activity nowadays. I think shops should release boyish looking ones so that parents are more comfortable buying stuff like that for them. who says kitchen sets have to be pink and purple? lol.

my daughter loves her teddy bears, pink and purple sparkly toys and dollys... but she also enjoys her mega blocks, thomas the tank engine and little matchbox cars. I see no problem with it. But if she tried to pee standing up one day id be a bit concerned. again, gender roles have a place hahaha.

September - posted on 12/02/2010

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We do not encourage gender roles with our son. We are not concerned when our son is attracted to an item that may be considered feminine and in fact we try exposing him to as much diversity as possible so that he can decided "who" he wants to be rather than us making that choice for him. I think that all parents should do the same imo. Our son sleeps with a baby doll that his grandma gave him and I think it's adorable! :)

Stifler's - posted on 12/02/2010

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I agree, women have fought hard for the right to do what men do. Go to uni, drive cars, vote. Why try to keep girls in the kitchen and boys being a non present father figure who doesn't change nappies.

Jodi - posted on 12/02/2010

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That's actually a really good question Jenn, there are SO many toys out there that girls are okay to play with that at one time were forbidden. I mean, and let's look at clothes, used to be a girl could not wear pants (my mom actually remembers her junior year of highschool BECAUSE girls were finally allowed to wear slacks!) Makes me wonder, do people who enforce gender roles (and not JUST Janessa) let their daughters wear pants? Do they let their daughters get a drivers license? Do they help their children go to college, because it wasn't THAT long ago that women didn't attend higher education. I guess I just wonder where the gender line is drawn for parents who enforce gender roles...and why? But it seems that nobody ever wants to answer that question!!! lol

Jenn - posted on 12/02/2010

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Janessa - what would you consider a "girls toy" or a "boys toy"? Would cars be boy toys? Would you let your daughter play with them? If not, would you let her drive a car when she grows up, or is that only for boys? Did you know that they make boys shirts in pink? Would you let your son wear one? I just don't see why it matters what kids play with.

Mrs. - posted on 12/01/2010

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JuLeah, what you wrote reminded me of what Dan Savage (of Savage Love) said at one of his university tours. He was talking about how if a woman says that she fooled around with girls in college or even had a full on relationship with a woman but then identified herself as straight, most men she dated later would have no problem with that and never think, "Oh God, she must really be gay." Whereas, if a man said that he may have fooled around with another man or had a full on relationship with a guy but later identified himself as straight, he would be forever labelled a "fag" and the women he dated would wonder if he was really gay.

There is a hard standard for men and boys out there. I feel for them in that sense. It's a confusing message, women want a sensitive man but not too sensitive cause then you're a fairy.

In that way, I'm kinda happy I had a girl. (Even though she has a whole other suitcase full of societal issues she'll have to deal with.)

Shauna - posted on 12/01/2010

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I would not care one bit if it was my childs choice to play with a female item being male. I think by scorning them for it it makes the situation worse ... however at my sons daycare once they painted all the boys fingernails ..... and that was a little to far for me.

Jodi - posted on 12/01/2010

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JuLeah, I have to agree with you, women definately are less respected (I wouldn't go so far as to say "hated" perse) and less valued than men. I hear all the time one woman say to another, "you've got to have the balls to do this." or something similar. Can a pair of testicles push out an 8 lb baby? I would love to see that! It's a societal thing I guess.

Anika, that little boy looked AWESOME! I have to admit, it would have occured to me that he would probably get teased or get looks or something, but I certainly wouldn't have disallowed the costume! It's sad that those mothers would say those things right in front of him, talk about a lack of judgement on their behalf.

I hate double standards, but even more so when they apply to children! Little girls can wear blue, but heaven forbid a little boy wear pink!! My daughter LOVES to help Daddy fix the car or anything else for that matter, she has her own toolset and tool belt just for that purpose! But if a little boy wants to help Mommy make a cake, well, what would people think? Bugs the crap out of me to no end!

JuLeah - posted on 12/01/2010

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It all gets back to "We hate women"
It is more accepted for allow a girl to play with a truck - cute even if she is a 'tomboy'
To be a boy, or be 'boy like' is understandable
I be 'girl like' if you are not a girl is an unspoken crime

The worst insult we can give a man is to call him a woman; think about it. I hear coaches screaming at the football team "Come on Ladies! Do you want them to beat us again???"
When a boy cries, he is told, "Don't be a girl"
At fundraiser men put on wigs and dresses because dressing like a woman is a joke - to be laughed at
When someone is frightened we say, "They screamed like a girl"
I could go on and on ......
I think that is why gay men are hated more then lesbians.
I had a guy say to me once, "I kind of get lesbians. Who doesn't wanna sleep with a woman? But, gay men ... just shoot 'em"
So many are still stupid and wrongly think that a person can be 'made gay' with the wrong enviornment. So, if you let a boy play with a doll, you will make him gay.
So you get stupid comments like, "Son son of mine is gonna play with a sissy kitchen set. That's for girls"
And the word 'girls' is said with a disapproving tone

[deleted account]

This link kind of applies to this topic. Kinda.

http://nerdyapplebottom.com/2010/11/02/m...

I'm not sure if it's already been mentioned on this forum....but I reckon that kid rocked that outfit and good on him and his mum.

I also think that if we stopped genderising everything and let little boys play with dolls and kitchens etc we'd have less posts like this

http://www.circleofmoms.com/after-pregna...

I mean, really, some fathers act this way? I'd kick my husband to the curb if he behaved that way and then I'd go around to my MIL and have a few words with her. And if I was the mother of one of those men, I'd be horrified.

Jodi - posted on 12/01/2010

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Hailey, that's exactly my concern! I always wonder how it would make a child feel (boy or girl) to be told that a toy they WANT to play with is innapropriate and they shouldn't WANT to play with it, much less actually do it! I don't know for sure, but wouldn't it squelch their self-esteem just a little? Make them second guess themselves more than humans already do? Knock down their self confidence a peg or two? I can't say for sure, but it's what I imagine my daughter would feel if I told her, "No Jaelyn, girls don't play with trucks, only boys play with/like trucks."

Hailey - posted on 12/01/2010

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...and it really anoys me if someone takes the mick out of him for it! His grandparents on dads side do it a lot. "You cant play with that, its for girls" why would they belittle him like that? some people dont know when they are going to make a child feel bad for what they are doing.

Hailey - posted on 12/01/2010

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I have a girl and a boy 2 and 4. My little boy loves his toe nails painted, make up, high heels, princess dresses and fairy wings!! He often comes comes down stairs hand in hand with his sister all dolled up in painted, make up done and in matching dresses. He enjoys every second.

While i was ordering christmas presents for my little girl, without thinking i ordered 2 dolls and two doll baths. I just knew he would fight her for it so i ordered two. It never onced crossed my mind it was a girls toy (till my hubby pointed out). Just like to add his other passions are spiderman, guns (i hate him using toy shooters) and cars.

I think if a child shows an interest in something, encourage it. Blake can do my nails any day, he is getting rather good.

Lady Heather - posted on 12/01/2010

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My kids will always play with whatever toys they please, regardless of gender. If you have a mix of boys and girls it's pretty unavoidable anyways. I know I played with my brother's cars and bows and arrows and he played with my barbies and My Little Ponys. He even had his own! He had two big sisters and he wanted what we had. He also had a kitchen.



My husband on the other hand was not allowed to play with girls toys. He wanted a kitchen so badly, but his dad said no.



Today my brother and my husband are very similar. Both married (not gay, as my FIL thought girls toys would turn a guy - HA), stand up guys who work hard and provide, treat their wives and little ones nicely. Clearly the toys did not make a difference. The only difference I can see is that my husband is STILL bitter about not having a kitchen. Ha.

Jodi - posted on 12/01/2010

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Janessa, would be willing to tell us why you feel this way about gender specific toys? We all know there are people who feel the way you do about it, but what I'm wondering is why you won't let them play with certain toys? I really just don't understand, I don't see the harm, the danger or what have you...I see it quite the opposite actually really. But I would love to hear why you feel this way...

Isobel - posted on 12/01/2010

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My oldest is a girl and my son loved playing with her toys as well as his own...no big

ps...he also loved having his toe nails painted when I did mine or his sister's

Natasha - posted on 12/01/2010

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Thank you Jodi. I am having this very same issue with my husband. My son got a pull string Woody doll from my sister last year for Christmas, and he absolutely loves it. He also has the Iron Man doll, which he also plays with all the time. However, my sister has bought him the Jessie doll for this Christmas and my husband is livid about it. He does not understand why she would buy him a "girl" toy. I don't understand at all, it's just another doll. I do not believe in continuing on the gender role tradition, as I believe that boys and girls/men and women are equal, in every way.
I do think that toys are less of a worry for most people then say putting your son into a dance or gymnastic class. I have expressed my desire to put my son into both, as he has been dancing and moving since he could find the rhythm. My husband didn't have an issue with these suggestions until his father and friends started to make fun it. How is teaching him to do what he loves going to be harmful? I was a dancer for years and it gave me a sense of purpose, and a drive to excell. I will not push him to become a dancer just because I was one, but I will also not disallow him to dance because of some close minded opinion that it will "make him gay", which is a ridiculous notion.

Hannah - posted on 12/01/2010

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My son is mainly into trucks and things like that but he does also play with his little sisters dolls. My daughter would rather play with a truck than a doll.

My husband has two boys from a previous marriage and our son together. All he ever wanted was a little girl. He got his little girl but she is a tomboy! He was kind of disappointed at first but has grown to appreciate it. Maybe she will help him fix cars when she is older.

Tah - posted on 12/01/2010

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I am not going to sit up here and pretend i have bought dolls for my boys or trucks for my girl..though i did buy sydney a Rock wrestling figure because she thought she was the rock. I don't know if i would mind or not. I guess i am old school in some ways, like blue for boys, pink for girls. I don't think it would make them gay. I guess i have always just played into the gender roles. I know my parents bought me a huge voltron when i was little because i was a tomboy. They had 7 girls in the house, i'm sure my brother has played with a doll. My youngest plays with my 9 year old daughter and niece and i am sure he has probably played with dolls in the room with them because they surely painted his nails and my husband was over that. I guess i have never had my children make me question it. just being honest

Bonnie - posted on 12/01/2010

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I am okay with whatever keeps my boys happy and occupied. All the toys they have so far are gender specific (that's just the way it worked out), well except for Mr. Potato Head, that isn't gender specific. They love to watch Dora, they have Dora books as well. They also like to watch My Little Pony. Little People by Fisher Price has a house as one of the toy sets. It's not in feminine colours, but it is still a toy house. Does that mean boys should not be playing with it? I don't understand the panic either. Grown men where pink shirts. Even though people can make an assumption, that doesn't mean the man is gay because of it.

Jenn - posted on 12/01/2010

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I have a son and 2 daughters and they all play with all different toys: kitchen stuff, dolls, doll house, Little People, cars and trucks, dinosaurs, etc. I have no issue with any of them playing with whatever they want and in fact my son has been known to wear my rhinestone tiara and a pink princess dress. :)

[deleted account]

I personally don't care what toys my son plays with. He does seem to gravitate more towards typically boyish toys (cars, trains, tools) but if he wanted a doll I'd have no problem with that. I want to say my husband wouldn't care but part of me thinks he might be a little irked at the sight of his son playing with a baby doll but I don't think it would bother him enough to say no or to try and get it away from. His friends and family though? OMG. People would be having cows left and right if Jacob got a baby doll. I don't get it, why anyone would make a big deal out of what a child plays with, as long as it's a safe toy. With all the other shit kids have to grow up dealing with, really? Someone's gonna make a big deal out of a toy? I was on the other thread about the girl wanting to get her son play kitchen and her FIL being against it and I just don't get that either. (Her MIL ended up getting it anyhow lol). Don't people know that historically, not just today, most chefs have been men? The people who have traditionally cooked for kings and queens and presidents....usually men. Pretty wealthy and talented men. Besides, don't guys know that to a woman, one of the sexiest things he can do for her is cook a fantastic meal? I love that my husband loves to cook and that he's good at it, always trying new recipes and having me taste stuff. Anyhow, no, I don't care about gender "specific" toys. Just like I wouldn't care if he wanted ballet lessons instead of football. I want him happy.

LaCi - posted on 12/01/2010

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I really don't care what my son plays with. He's more into gender neutral toys though, he's only (almost) 2.5. He likes electronics, learning toys, puzzles, blocks, balls, books, musical instruments, etc. If he wants barbies when he gets older, so be it. :)

I want to put him in ballet and gymnastics whether he likes it or not. :x I suppose those are "girly"

[deleted account]

My daughter is only 13 months so she has not expressed any toy preference yet. HOWEVER, I did make a point to buy her a huge bucket of vehicles (and she loves them. Mainly because she likes to chew on the wheels LOL). I intend to expose my daughter (and any future kids) to all kinds of toys. If they develop a preference, awesome. I don't care if its dolls or balls or bikes or brooms. It drives me nuts when people genderise things. Why must robots be boy things? Why must fairies be girl things? I see why from an evolution standpoint how girls could be more attracted to babies and dolls, but why would boys prefer cars? We didn't have any cars when we lived in caves. That makes no sense......

[deleted account]

My daughter is only 13 months so she has not expressed any toy preference yet. HOWEVER, I did make a point to buy her a huge bucket of vehicles (and she loves them. Mainly because she likes to chew on the wheels LOL). I intend to expose my daughter (and any future kids) to all kinds of toys. If they develop a preference, awesome. I don't care if its dolls or balls or bikes or brooms. It drives me nuts when people genderise things. Why must robots be boy things? Why must fairies be girl things? I see why from an evolution standpoint how girls could be more attracted to babies and dolls, but why would boys prefer cars? We didn't have any cars when we lived in caves. That makes no sense......

Meghan - posted on 11/30/2010

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whatever keeps my kid occupied long enough for me to read a chapter for class or get dinner made, is FINE by me!

Stifler's - posted on 11/30/2010

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I agree wholeheartedly. Playing with things that are "Girl colours" and "boy colours" or "boy toys" or "girl toys" don't influence sexuality or make a child grow up to be less of a man/woman.



I don't encourage gender roles really since my kid is 9 months old. I don't get concerned when I see boys oplaying with dolls or using a pink sippy cup. I get concerned when grown men say stuff like "What are you letting him do that for? He'll turn out gay!". I think parents that carry on with bullshit about colours and gender stereotypes are afraid of something or dare I say it... homophobic.

Krista - posted on 11/30/2010

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I will allow my child to play with whatever toys catch his interest. I'm not going to force traditionally feminine toys on him in an effort to bring out his sensitive side, but nor will I forbid him from those toys, out of fear of damaging his budding manliness.

Basically, I'm going to let my kids be who they are, and will neither encourage nor discourage gender roles. My 15-month old plays with trucks, and he also totes around my old Fisher-Price baby doll from 1975, and as long as he's happy, I'm happy.

And I think that parents who enforce gender roles on their children are doing their kids a disservice. If a child cannot be his or her true self with the people who are SUPPOSED to love him or her unconditionally, then there is something seriously wrong.

Jackie - posted on 11/30/2010

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I don't have a boy but I personally wouldn't think twice if he wanted to play with girl toys.

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