I was very recently at an event where two toddler boys were running around and enjoying themselves–being normal little boys. Their parents were within eyesight and the people the children were running among were all friends, family, and trusted associates. One of the little boys noticed a doll lying on a seat. He grabbed it to begin playing with it and the other little toddler boy joined him.
A woman from within the onlookers quickly grabbed the hand of the little boy and removed the doll from him. “No honey. You are a boy! You cannot play with dolls!”. I politely asked why she thought this and she responded that she didn’t want those boys to become gay.
WHAT?! Say what, now?!
I calmly told her that allowing a male child to play with a plastic doll would in no way, form, or fashion make a child gay. I also informed her that my son actively plays with his sister and her dolls with her to make her laugh and smile. That boy already has eyes for the fairer sex and has began to ask questions about when he gets married and has children, etc. (sigh, he’s growing up). I certainly don’t think playing with dolls is going to change that anytime soon.
The woman looked positively shocked that I allow Superbug to play with dolls if he so desires and told me she was always raised that little boys were not to play with doll babies because of the reason she mentioned to me. I was about to list all of the male members of my family who actively play dolls with their daughters, sisters, cousins, and are not gay, but decided to politely excuse myself from the conversation. The two toddler boys were now running again and I decided to enjoy watching their play.
After the event was over, I found myself fuming. I’m from the south. My great-grandmother raised me. I know all about the old traditions that were passed along from generation to generation. You would think that someone would start questioning some of them. I was a huge tomboy growing up. I didn’t even start carrying purses until I started dating my husband. This never seemed to be an issue except once. My uncle came home one day and I was wearing overalls and boots. I’d been to school like that with my signature ponytail and one cornrowed braid across the forehead (ha!). My uncle looked at me and asked shouldn’t I be wearing dresses or girl shorts like the other girls. He didn’t want anyone thinking I was “playing for the other team” (how rude!). My great-grandmother was within earshot and told him that as long as I was bringing home good grades, behaving as a lady when I went out (i.e. respectful, polite, and non argumentative), I could wear all the non-feminine clothes I wanted. She invited him and anyone else who had an issue with that to speak to her. It’s one of my favorite memories.
Still, gender and sexuality beliefs have always been there. I’d like to think that children can be children and play with toys be it doll, truck, or jump ropes for all long as they have an interest in such things. In a world where almost everyone has their face glued to a screen, it’s refreshing to me that children are still using their imaginations and not letting screens do it for them.
I don’t know. Am I wrong for being upset with her line of thinking? It just bothers me that people can make such generalizations. I actually Googled it and saw a lot of people think similarly to her. I don’t get it. Since when did playing with a doll equal an indication of whom a person will become when he or she is older.