Friday, November 30, 2012 • 7:10 AM Comments (1)

What Toys Do Feminist Preschoolers Prefer? The Gender-Neutral Toys' Mania Installment

posted by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

It’s that time of year, the one when all the catalogues arrive and all the email blasts promise you holiday success and to the extent that the little girl says she wants any toy or thing it’s a Barbie (but that’s another story—although I did see this week during a promotion via Zuilly that I Can Be President Barbie not only started out more inexpensively than pretty much any other Barbie but once discounted, she was pretty darn… cheap—sigh).

It’s been over a decade since my blood boiled inside a Toys R Us with its blue and pink aisles (that’s because it’s been over a decade since I set foot inside the mall). I have to admit that although all those catalogues come to me (even after Catalogue Choice attempts to ditch them), I don’t look nearly so carefully as I once did (because we must have or have had every single toy I’d ever want to buy by now, right?). I read with interest all over the place about Swedish toy catalogues conscientiously going gender neutral—so much so they were photoshopped explains Deborah Siegel, herself a mom to boy-girl twins, and thus thick in the real-time gender-parenting experiment feminist moms seem to find ourselves “in” regardless of whether our kids agree to not-conform—or not (it’s early in the morning, forgive all attempts to be clever; they are bound for failure). Girl Legos did not pass the test, apparently; holiday gender-wars toy-mania is in full swing.

I’ve detached myself somewhat from the fray. Long, long ago, I picked the toy swords out of the Playmobil sets (and now my ten year-old wants a sword for a costume for a school assignment—how far you travel as a parent!). When the daughter arrived, I had no need to buy her a baby doll; we already had plenty. My personal issue this holiday season is giving toys away to make our house and playroom feel more livable but still, the what to encourage or whether to encourage question is interesting. What I see with my gal these days is that she likes to draw and write and her favorites are blank paper and a Thumbellina (Barbie) coloring book she managed to get me to pick up at our local independent grocery store (Why? I was probably really tired and said, “sure”). One thing I am: pro-drawing.

That’s to say I don’t have a smart answer. Not even about the Barbie (although even I am wise enough not to need Santa’s input on the fact that I Can Be President Barbie wouldn’t exactly “count” to the twirling dress-crazed girl, but that’s another post). What’s more vexing to me is the way my husband’s iphone is the favored toy so often—and even that, for kids who do lots else, well, I just have to remember not to get one so they take my phone the way they take his. No one really bothers with my aging, semi-decrepit flip phone.

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We went to Babies R Us yesterday for the first and last time (they have car seats and you can try the store model for fit in your vehicle). It was a bizarre experience, though with Nick there it was more funny as he pranced around with our little girl holding up frilly outfits to her (she was wearing a grey, orange and blue pj outfit with a red sweater). I expected the pink and blue aisles but not the vast array of things marketed to put your baby in (every kind of stroller contraption, things to make the contraptions snuggly-er, things to stablize your baby in the snuggly contraption so they can't move) or to feed your baby or to carry all this stuff around in. I have to confess that I kind of want the very soft, full-body grey cable knit hooded pj for tiny boys in my size.

fyi- for cell phones, you can easily find an identical, but less decrepit, replacement for your your flip phone off of craigslist for a few bucks. Then just have it activated or switch the sim card if it's att. (perks- you don't have to learn a new phone or spend much money, but it works again/better.)

Posted by SarahH on 12.9.12 at 12:05
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