When my wife told me she wanted to take Mikey to the store to pick out a Barbie I said, “No! I will not allow you to turn my son gay by allowing him to play with dolls! Get the boy a truck with flames and shit!” as I ate my steak and sipped my bud light. SIKE! I was actually really ok with it. Not because of some progressive semi-political agenda or belief that he should explore his feminine side, but because it just isn’t a big deal to me. Those of you who know me can confirm that I am a pretty conservative guy, but this issue is something I have put a lot of thought into.
Look at your father, now look at me…
Most guys I know, whether they are fathers or not, think a boy playing with a “girls toy” is odd to say the least. The reasons I usually hear are, “It’s a girls toy!” or “other kids will make fun of him”. The most ignorant of all “…playing with [insert toy here] will make him gay…” But nobody has ever given me a good, intelligent reason for not letting my son play with any child’s toy he chooses. We will get to the first reason here in a minute but I want to first address the last two examples I gave. The “other kids will laugh at him” excuse is dog dookie! I want my son to grow up caring more about what he thinks than what others think. I want him to think for himself and not blindly follow the crowd. So what if kids laugh at him, I hope he will be comfortable with who he is with or without the approval of others. The last reason is just ignorant horse $#!* (pardon my punctuation). No matter what your stance is on homosexuality, no intelligent person can believe that playing with a certain toy will make you want to be intimate with the same sex. I will leave it at that because this issue, despite being controvercial, is not the point of this post.
Princess Bubble Gun
Now lets talk about the “girl toys” and “boy toys” issue. One way or another our society and the toy manufacturers have been perpetuating a sort of division between what boys and girls can play with. It is almost as if we have assigned a gender to certain types of toys. Girl toys are pink and sparkly, with princesses and ponies. They are domestic, maternal, soft and gentle. Boy toys are blue and brown, with guns and explosions. They are dirty and violent, masculine and rugged. In some cases there are almost identical toys recolored to market toward girls or boys. A great example is a summer toy I bought for my niece last year. She was a little too young to play squirt guns with her brothers, so I bough her a bubble gun instead. The first one I looked at was blue and green and had a picture of a boy on the packaging. Right next to it on the same isle was one that was identical in shape and function except it was pink with sparkles and had a girl on the packaging. The toys were the same except for the marketing. The funny thing was, when I finally gave them their gifts, my nephews wanted to play with the pink sparkly bubble gun more than they wanted to play with the blue and grey squirt guns I had bought them. They didn’t give a rat’s tail that it was a pink princess bubble gun.
As I mentioned above, my stance on this is not because of some political or social view I have. When my wife and I found out we were going to be parents, I asked myself what kind of person I wanted to teach my son to be. I want him to enjoy any safe and legal activities regardless of social or peer pressures. This means everything from playing with dolls as a boy to taking up ballet when he gets older. If it is safe, legal, and fun then I want him to not be hindered by the opinions of others. More importantly I want to model certain values to him in the hopes that he will adopt them as a man. I want him to be open minded and come to his own conclusions on issues. I want him to be open and accepting of people who are different than him. I want him to be respectful toward everyone regardless of what others think. And last but definitely not least, I want him to truly believe that both boys and girls, men and women, males and females, are without a doubt equals. (I would extend that statement to race, religion etc. but that would make this article far too long) This last point is the one that really hits me when I think about this toy issue. This division between what is a boys and what is a girls toy begins to engrain in our kids the stereotypes the toy manufacturers are marketing toward. It teaches them that boys are strong and girls are soft, boys are violent and girls are nurturing. It can be true but it does not have to be. A boy can become a stay at home dad just as easily as a girl can grow up to drive a monster truck.
I hate to break it to you, but I don’t personally know a single man who would last 2 seconds in a ring with Ronda Rousey and I would bet money that she is a girl.