I was afraid to let him play with them before he was even born. Our house was dominated by Cinderella’s glass slippers, Tinkerbell’s magic wand, and pink Lego castles. We had plenty of gender-neutral toys at the time; an impending barrage of boy stuff was on the way from doting grandparents; his room was painted blue; but his older sister’s stuff could not be avoided.
As he passed through the ‘six to twelve month phase’, he began to crawl and select toys on his own. Mostly, his choice was whatever he could most easily chew on, or whatever his sister was playing with. He has looked up to her from the moment he first laid eyes on her, and I hope that he continues to do so forevermore. As a result he wanted to play in her pink room, with her pink stuff, quite often.
To this day I still try to ‘even it out’. We had three ‘girly’ dollhouses in our living room; now there are three plus one castle for ‘knights’. Funny thing is, our daughter loves his stuff (probably because she thinks it’s rightfully hers) equally as much as he does hers. Yet at the same time, they both love ‘what they should’. He like sports and does not ask to dress up in drag. She loves to be a princess and so forth.
They’re just little kids having fun. They are too young to know what they will be sexually. This is not an issue for them; it’s an issue for me. I was afraid that he would turn out to be gay, feminine, or cross-dress.
For me to go around the house yanking a doll out of his hands, inserting a hammer instead, is ridiculous. The fact that he wants to play LaLaLoopsy with his sister for ten minutes does not mean that he is going to sleep with another man 14 years from now.
Why did I fear this for him? Why didn’t I fear this for her? Those are the two questions that need to be asked. I can tell you that the process of writing (for me) over the last few months has initiated an internal change. I’ve backed off the toy swapping. I’ve come to vocally support gay marriage and I am vehemently opposed to the Olympics taking place in Sochi (unless change happens).
My fear was unfounded. My kids will be who they will be. I can’t lie to you and say that I don’t want them to be straight; I do. That may be the culture I know talking; it’s part of my worldview. It may never fully disappear. Above that, though, I want them to be happy.
My wife and I will love them and teach them and send them on their way into the world. Hopefully it will be a world that is not afraid.
Bravo! The genderisation (and if that isn’t a word yet, it is now!) of young children’s toys is an outmoded throwback to the ideas of a much less advanced and enlightened society as that which we like to think exists today.