Gendered toys, boys and dads

Image

My wife tagged me in a post of the above picture on Facebook the other day. It was posted by the White Ribbon foundation, a non-profit group lead by males against violence against women. It’s certainly hard to disagree with such a group.

I found it interesting that this group would post something like this. The group asked people what they thought about the abovementioned picture. At the time of writing, the picture had 7790 likes, 1667 shares and 312 comments. Of those comments, about 50 were from ‘males’, the rest women.

To me, this post I think was designed to inspire conversation, perhaps even mild controversy. A majority of the comments were from mums stating that their sons played with dolls and they grew up just fine.

The picture is trying to link three things that really don’t mesh. To me (and I’m happy to be challenged) it says:

– People who believe in ‘gender roles’ are bigots

– People who put their ‘gender ideals’ on children are bigots

– Boys who don’t play with dolls won’t become good dads

It implies that boys need to play with dolls to be, well, women, who, inturn, make good dads.

I’m also unsure why the White Ribbon foundation, a foundation set up by ‘males’ (note, not men, males) against violence against women (not females, if you are getting pedantic about words) is now wanting to discuss parenting.

Let’s not beat around the bush. A boy playing with dolls will not make him gay. There. I’ve said it.

Sometimes I cop some flack when my boy wears his blue tutu and fairy wings. You know what – I don’t like it, but I’m not going to stop him. He’s having fun, it’s certainly not against any deep seeded values or really challenges me. I just don’t like my boy wearing a fairy outfit. Here’s the rub. I hate being referred to as a homophobe when I express my desire for him not to wear that get up. I have a daughter who’s two years older than my boy. She plays with dolls. He plays with her dolls. Do I care? Not in the slightest.

Just because a dad does not want his son to play with a doll, it does not mean that the dad is a homophobe. It does not mean that the dad is worried about his son becoming gay. It does not mean that the son’s creativity, individualism or whatever is being ‘crushed’ as some commenters of that post would suppose. All it means is that a dad does not want his son to play with those types of toys. And what’s wrong with a dad expressing his wishes on his son, under his roof?

In the end, a boy is going to play with anything he wants. My son loves playing cafes. He’ll do bakingย and painting.ย He dresses up in a blue tutu and does performances. He builds train sets and sets up soldiers. He plays lego sets, kicks a soccer ball and wrestles with the best of them.

Just don’t vilify a dad for expressing his wishes. Don’t call him a homophobe. Don’t label him as living in the 50’s. The last thing you want to do is disengage a man from being a father, stating that his dreams and desires for his boy are wrong. Let a dad be a dad. Let a son be a son. Let them grow in their roles, their love, their mateship, their relationship, their dependence and independence of each other in their own place.

I know this post has been a bit ranty and no, I’m not apologising for that.

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54 comments

  1. paulfg

    Vidins – what I love about this is not necessarily the detail (always room for a good argument in the small print). What I really love is that you care enough about being a father to not only see that in this message – but then to thoughtfully express those thoughts. I do not see Dad’s do that very often. They/we should. Good on you Dad!!

  2. Rosemary Peteranec

    So true Pete, why does someone always have another agenda. I was told that every little boy should,have a teaset! It doesn’t mean they have to play with it or should or shouldn’t, it just means it’s available to be played with if it fits the game. Isn’t that what toys are?
    One policeman friend of mine didn’t like his little boy dressing up in a bride dress ! But the child did so sometimes. He grew up and became a chef. He’s a really nice fellow who doesn’t seem to have any identity issues one way or another. I think some folks just like to make something out of nothing just to push their own agenda.
    Keep writing … I’m enjoying your thoughts.

  3. sothislife.com

    Great post, what a good Dad you are being. I looked at this pic and saw something totally normal, my sons were like yours and did all those things (except the wings but they would have loved them) both straight. My friend had fits over how I raised my sons and would not let hers do anything but “boy” things he’s gay. What children play with does not effect their sexuality that is there at birth, what it does affect is how they treat other people and their children. My oldest has a daughter that has been allowed to play with what ever she liked or wanted. She has been through the princess phase, the monster phase, the soldier phase (encouraged by her uncle, other son, who is in the military), and whatever her mind could think of being. But my children grew up with gay uncle, gay great-aunt, straight uncles and aunts. They just don’t care about the child’s sexuality just that she be the best person she can be. And my daughter just wanted to be bigger so she could climb as high in the tree as her brothers.

  4. Amelia Claeys

    Thanks for your thoughts. I saw this little cartoon on Facebook the other day and liked it without putting too much thought into it. I like that it challenges the notion that it is somehow “wrong” for boys to play with dolls because that implies that they will grow up to be gay. Your post has made me put a bit more thought into what the picture really means and furthermore how my reaction to it will shape my parenting of my son (due in one month!!!!). Thanks for your thoughts and caring enough to blog about them.

    • vidinsinbrisbane

      Congratulations on the upcoming birth of your son!

      Like you, I didn’t think too much about the picture. On reflection, it made me feel a bit ‘miffed’!!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      P

  5. pmwraight

    What a great post! I haven’t been all that interested in my boys playing with dolls either. Although it usually ended up with unrecognizable pieces of doll everywhere, but that’s not important. Thanks for stopping by my blog and allowing me to see a little into your world. By the way, the difference between men and males is significant!

  6. michnavs

    It’s amazing to read dads writing something about well…being a dad…as obvoius as it is…males don’t usually talk about how they feel about certain issues..much more wrotw about it….great work. ..

  7. joenel0627

    Actually my brother started brushing my sister’s doll when we were kids… But now that we grow-up, he brushes and make fabulous styles for women’s hair to impress everyone and i envy him because he turned more beautiful than I do….

  8. JackDusty

    The question really has to be WHY don’t you want you son to wear his fairy outfit or WHY don’t those people want their son playing with dolls. The reason it implies homophobia is that there is not really any valid justification. ‘Just because you don’t like it and it’s your house’ omits justification altogether and that is simply an awful way to raise your kids. It’s essentially teaching them that justification isn’t needed as long as you have power.
    Also, your kids will have a harder time knowing where they stand in future or judging what is ok because they can’t apply critical thinking, the most important lesson a parent has to teach.

    • vidinsinbrisbane

      Thanks for the reply, Jack. What can I say – you don’t have to justify personal preference. I don’t like bellbottom pants. I don’t have a reason, nor do I need one. I just don’t like them.
      In my house, I don’t always need a reason for a decision. Simple as that. Of course my children have input into decisions. Of course they can apply critical thinking. I encourage them to think for themselves.
      Thanks for the parenting advice mate. Parenting isn’t a democracy.

      P

      • JackDusty

        You don’t have to justify personal preference UNTIL it affects others. I don’t care if you wear bellbottom pants or not but I care if you try to tell me I can’t. The same is (or should be) true for your children.

  9. Prosper B. Wealth

    The fact is that toys are toys. Children don’t have adult minds to decipher the perceptions associated with male or female type toys.

    Enjoy your fatherhood… and let no one dilute your parenting convictions.

    By the way thanks for visiting and liking one of my posts at Lovegeria.

    You’re important!

    • Tiffany Ann Joslin

      Except unfortunately toys aren’t just toys. My half-brother is four and he refused to play with a girl’s game because it was pink. It was the same game, just pink, but he wouldn’t even open the box and made my grandparents take it back. He already, at four-years-old, views girl’s toys to be less good. Maybe if my dad had done a better job of introducing him to all sorts of toys (which are undoubtedly stereotypically gendered… pink is for girls, blue is for boys), and not discriminating in what he bought for him in the first place, he wouldn’t have as much of an issue. But now, pink stuff, girls things, are bad and I’m afraid he’s going to grow up into a little macho man who thinks that boys are innately better than girls. I’m afraid he already has.

      • Pete Vidins Blog

        I don’t think there is anything wrong with ‘discrimination’ – we discriminate every day- coffee instead of tea, a red shirt instead of a brown one. It’s human nature.

        I think we discriminate, rightly or wrongly, against or for people too.

        What is wrong & I do agree with you is when one sex is better than another. Both have strengths, both have weaknesses, both similar & different. Is one innately better than the other? Of course not!

        Thanks for your comments & thoughts!

        P

      • Tiffany Ann Joslin

        I’m glad you say you agree that one sex is not better than the other. However, not all discrimination can be treated equally. Coffee vs. tea is not the same as viewing one type of person as less than another. I disagree that it is possible to discriminate ‘rightly against other people’, like you said, but that’s certainly what’s being taught by showing little boys this machismo.

      • Prosper B. Wealth

        Tiffany, at four years old, you’ve still got a major role to play as his big sister. He is still young and his mind is still fresh for positive ‘programming’. Don’t you think so too?!

  10. hadassahministry

    Hi, I had a cowboy outfit that I wore, most of my friends were boys, (because there were very few girls living nearby) and I turned out allright. thanks for reading my blog hope you get inspired to draw closer to God. Blessings. Catharina.

  11. Pingback: Gendered toys, boys and dads | shraderphotography
  12. zarephath

    Thank you sir for the follow. I enjoyed reading your views on several things and feel it is nice to read/hear a fellow parent with their head on straight. Keep it up!

  13. Peter James Webster

    True parenting isn’t about creating another human being into an imposed image, it’s about being there. Guiding the child to be sure, but allowing the child to express who they are. It’s obvious that you love your kids and your family, and that you appreciate these people for who they are. Fantastic!
    Gender roles are gender lies. People, male or female, have their own individual roles in life. Society fails when it attempts to fit individuals into group boxes. Boys can play with Barbie, girls can play with G.I. Joe, boys can wear tutus, girls can wear army fatigues….what does it matter? Life is all about one thing, being. Anything after that is a personal choice. Love you! Aho!

  14. eraigames

    I agree with your point. I would “follow” or “like” this post if I knew how, but, for now, please accept this post as a sign that I appreciate your viewing my blog and evidence that I have viewed your blog and also quite enjoyed this post.

  15. robertadennis2013

    When my son was in pre-school, I went to pick him up and all the boys were playing with dolls. I was surprised and I asked the teacher why were they playing with dolls and she said, “that they are all curious and it is best to let them get it out of their system.” It made sense to me. Many thanks for your Ministry and thanks for your support!

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