Wednesday, December 26, 2007


by Jo Robertson

We often use the terms “gender” and “sex” synonomously, but sociologists tell us that “sex” refers to male and female and is related to genetics, that is, the presence or absence of the male chromosome. Gender is a term that has nothing to do with biology and everything to do with environment and socialization.

As I made the rounds this Christmas, seeing what Santa had brought all of my grandchildren, I noticed something interesting. Toys are no longer gender specific.

Now, this isn’t a new trend, but there’s an increasing attitude among young parents that children should get the toys they WANT rather than what society believes they should HAVE.

When I was a girl, boys got baseballs and bats, bikes and projectile implements (we can no longer call them guns). Girls got dolls, easy bake ovens, and crafts.

But what if the boy wants to be a chef or a tailor? Or the daughter wants to be a professional basketball player, a lumberjack, or Spiderman?

Steve and Megan have a six-year old daughter named Sydney. We call her monkey girl. She’s been extraordinarily alert to her surroundings since infancy and began demonstrating amazing kinesthetic skills as a toddler. She’s fearless and the best player on her soccer team. She learned to ride a two-wheeler after one try, and at four, wouldn’t give up until she could jump rope.

They also have a four-year old boy named Jake. He’s more cautious and examines any situation for possible danger before plunging in. He likes Barbie dolls.

Jake loves to help his mom with the vacuuming, but her machine is too heavy for his little strength.

Their gifts this Christmas? Sydney got a catcher’s mitt and a skate board; Jake got a play vacuum cleaner. It’s no longer politically correct to say that toys are gender specific. There are no “boy” toys and “girl” toys, specifically. Personally, I think it’s cool that children aren’t stereotyped into the kinds of toys appropriate for their sex.

I got lots of dolls growing up, but what I really wanted was my brother’s Be Be gun and scout machete!

On the other hand, studies have been done where boys whose parents had never exposed them to guns as toys in any way, were given Barbies to play with. They used them as weapons. Along with carrots and celery sticks.

Girls, also with little conditioning and given the same dolls, pet them, combed their hair, and engaged them in tea parties.

Whereas the boys just butted the doll heads together.

What do you think, readers? Is it the end of the world if your baby daughter hates dolls? Or if your baby boy wants a Cabbage Patch doll or ab easy-bake oven? Do you secretly want your little girl to be, well, girly? And your boy to be manly?