During a play date with my daughter and her friend Marcus, my friend and I sat and watched our kids as they played. My daughter rolled around the floor with her truck and my friend’s son rolled after her with his truck. She pretended to cook in her kitchen; he assisted her with his pretend food. But when he had picked up my daughters baby doll his mom took it from him and told him boys don’t play with dolls instantly he began to cry. A similar situation was when i was visiting family. My daughter, and her little boy cousin were playing nicely with puzzles cars and more. The minute my little cousin proceeded to push my daughters stroller his dad took the stroller from him and told him little boys don’t play with strollers.

Both my cousins and friends reactions to their sons toy choice made me (NICOLOSI)curious as to why are people constantly trying to label childs play within male or female appropriate categories. I couldn’t understand why my little girl who shoved around the trucks and honked and beeped was left to play but her friend and cousin where scolded when they had played with toys that were apparently labeled as “feminine”.  My logic? It’s quite simple society is obsessed with labels and categorizing what’s masculine and what’s feminine. For the boys to play with dolls and push strollers, it must mean he himself is feminine. This constant obsession can lead to lack of self expression because at an early age children are taught preconceived notions about their ideal role in society. However in my opinion, a child playing with dolls or trucks doesn’t make one more or less masculine or feminine it just means they are engaging in activates that they find pleasure in.  In that same aspect instead of this normative idea that boys who plays with dolls are feminine one should think this boy could grow up to be a nurturer. It’s less likely for people to label boys who play with dolls as potential fathers but more so like potential sissies.

The article “When Boys wont be boys” also spoke of this gender consciousness, and were victims of this labeling obsession that I had mentioned earlier. The authors (NICOLOSI) even translated that a female who plays with dolls could be seen as a mother/ daughter relationship but as the young boy played with dolls it was seen as an identity problem and in essence this child would grow to be isolated from males. The boy who plays with female toys later will not grow to be a man or “father” as the author says this boy identifies with being a female. But the problem with this view is that it only targets “boys” because stereotypes of what a male role is in society dominates the minds of people (NICOLOSI, p. paragraph 3).

The (NICOLOSI) believes that pediatricians who insist that children will grow out of it when faced with children who take to opposite gender toys are being irrational. He believes that little boys should be taught to be a man. What I wonder is why can people look at it from another perceptive. a little boy that is constantly being roughhoused, is rarely consoled and is taught that boys don’t cry could instead of taught how to be a man but taught how to be aggressive taught not to be a nurturer but emotionless.  Since when did a little boy playing with toys have to be translated into a gender role or as this author constantly says a gendered problem. I noticed that this author had a hard time providing examples of a female who undergos this “ gender identity “ problem because society is more accepting of the girl that plays with trucks then the boy that plays with dolls.

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5 responses

  1. merlekassab says:

    Last year I remeLast year I remember seeing an add in the newspaper for J Crew. It was a picture of a mother painting her sons toe nails in hot pink nail polish. This add got so much speculation and negative feedback. Writers said that this add made the boy look “feminine” or even “gay.” I do not understand how some people believe that the toys a child plays with or the fact that they wear nail polish determines their sexuality. Gender norms are something that society has constructed yet if you do not abide by them it does not make you closer to the opposite sex. Children’s masculinity and femininity should not be judged based on the toys they like to play with.

  2. biancaghad says:

    I believe that parents nowadays are worried about their children being judged harshly or negatively. They think that if their sons are playing with dolls, the other parents or kids in their class might label him as possibly “gay”. Parents have a fear of their children being the odd one out even if he or she is doing something that has no meaning behind it and is just simply an activity he or she enjoys. When girls play with “male” games they are less likely to be picked on because it is seen as more “normal” for girls to be tomboys than for boys to be feminine. I do not think there is really anything bad or wrong with boys playing with dolls it may just be he is more of a gentle child and does not want to play aggressively with trucks and superheros. However, I do understand why parents may feel a bit worried about their children, just wanting them to be seen as “regular” and not to stick out…even though there is no real definition of “regular” anymore, people still try to maintain the traditional roles for males and females of all ages.

  3. S.Gutmann says:

    I think parents, especially in the city, are faced with more and more difficulties when it comes to toys and playtime. All the toys you can see in the stores are specifically gender split. Lego, cars, and superheros are on the right side, while dolls, jewelry’s, and princess’s are on the left side. Clear cut! One side for boys one side for girls. All too often I see children in these stores who are also interested in some toys that are not gender appropriate for them, and it doesn’t take long until a parent comes and tries to convince the child of a more gender appropriate toy.
    It seems so automatic for parents to choose gender focused toys, cloth, decoration,backpacks and much more, that many are not aware of what it does to the child. Children don’t see men and women, but rather just different people. Children do not understand why they can’t play with certain things. Childhood is so important in terms of development, and adults should praise their creativity, and encourage them in their play. Playtime is so crucial for a child’s development, and we should not take it from them. If we want our children to be self-confident, and feel good about themselves, we should give them the space and freedom during childhood to explore and grow, without focusing on gender.

  4. AdenaR. says:

    After reading this article, it made me think of the many times where I have been in the exact same situation, and watch the same reactions happening amongst the parents. Little boys and girls were being somewhat scolded for playing with toys that are specifically made for a specific gender. In my opinion if a boy wants to play with a doll, or a girl wants to play with a Tonka truck parents should not be so quick to jump and try to “correct” what their children are doing. I feel that by doing so, they are in some way preventing the child from expressing themselves the way that they want to. There are no right or wrong ways on how a child can play. Parents shouldn’t look at little girls playing with boy toys or vise versa in a negative way, they should allow their children to play how they want to.

  5. Vickie Horowitz says:

    I am actually doing a persusasive speech in class on why little boys should be allowed to play with dolls. In my opinion I think it makes for a better man later in life. Hats off to all parents who allow their children to express themselves as children.