The toy store is a zoo this time of year as we all impatiently line up to drop major coin on crap for our kids. A zoo is a fitting analogy because we’re all robot monkey parents with shit for brains. This diagram that’s been popping up in my Facebook newsfeed a lot lately points out why. It captures, in the simplest possible way, the absolute absurdity of gender specific toys.
Now, technically the wording in the yellow circle should read: “It is for both boys and girls.” Using “either/or” implies it’s one or the other, not both, which is exactly the opposite of what this meme is trying to encourage. But whatever. I get it. And I can’t tell you how much it rots my balls to see that the vast majority of parents are still subscribing to this gender specific bullshit. I talk about this topic a lot because it truly baffles me that in 2014 we can all be so gullible to the marketing machine and, in turn, be so unfair to our children.
If you’ve managed to train your son to recoil from dolls and all things pink like it’s a bag of deadly viruses, well done. I mean, not only might dolls turn your manly prince into a flaming homosexual; they might also make him a good father. For the love of god, let’s not let that happen. Let’s keep the women in the kitchen pureeing the baby food, and the men in the garage shining their weapons for the battlefield.
We all know girls are getting shortchanged in the toy department. They have “Legos for girls” now, for god’s sake. I mean obviously we gals don’t want to build fire trucks or dinosaurs (ew). We just want curvy little Lego chicks with pink and purple houses to decorate and pink and purple beauty shops to visit. But boys are getting the shaft too. With no dolls on the “boy side” of the store, and drone-like parents never questioning the way the world is laid out for them by marketing dicks – “girl stuff over here, boy stuff over there” – we’re doing our sons a disservice. Did you know that as recently as the 1920s, pink was for baby boys? True story. Look it up. Pink is arsenic to boys now, of course. And good luck finding a doll on the “boy side”. I mean, a replica of a small child to be held and changed and fed by a little boy who might be a dad someday? That’s just absurd. Give this child a sword!
Bitch please. This is not Leave It To Beaver. The world has changed. Dad is folding the laundry and feeding the baby and frying the bacon that Mom just brought home. Or maybe he’s doing all these things because Mom didn’t come home at all, because there is no mom, or Mom lives on the other side of town. When it comes to the modern family, anything goes. There is no normal. Every kid needs nurturing, to learn how to nurture. And that’s not just Mom’s job anymore.
His name is Dustin Nolan: The Cabbage Patch Kid I gave Max for his second Christmas. He ripped off the giftwrap and gave Dustin a once-over like he was scanning for motors, wheels, switches, and levers. Within the hour, poor Dustin was facedown in the dog dish. It was too late for CPR (Cabbage Patch Resuscitation). But he is still in Max’s toy-box, having survived several toy purges and trips to the donation centre. Dustin doesn’t come out to play much, but he often gets a role in the bedtime puppet show. Mostly he just lies there facedown in the toy-box, his powder-fresh sutured buttocks sticking up from a sea of superheroes and monster trucks. But his presence there is an important message: It’s perfectly okay to have a doll in your big blue toy-box.
And it’s perfectly okay for my son to choose not to play with him – but for the right reasons. To reject a doll because it’s “girly” – something typically enjoyed by the girls – is not cool. Are we girls really that repulsive? In this house, “girly” is right up there with the F word. Statements like “Don’t be such a girl” imply that being a girl is bad. It’s contempt. And we all know what contempt leads to: violence. Dudes. With all the rape happening these days (fuck you, Bill Cosby), maybe we should be teaching our boys how great it is to be a girl, how girls and boys are more alike than different, and how we should maybe, oh I don’t know, stop raping them?
Knowing the world is laid out for my son in every shade of blue and all kinds of messed up, it’s on me to make sure he understands that blue is for all of us. And so is pink. And so are Legos, and sparkles, and tractors, and dolls. No matter what the people around us have been hypnotized into thinking, everything is for everyone. I will keep pouring his juice into a pink cup as long as I can, because pink is just a colour, and a cup is just a cup. I will keep showing him, in as many ways as I possibly can, that the world is his oyster – and he can harvest the pearl with a hockey stick or a princess wand. Whatever he wants to do.
There’s a campaign happening right now called No Gender December, calling on parents to pledge that “stereotypes have no place under my Christmas tree.” It’s in Australia unfortunately. But hey, social media bridges oceans, so make the pledge anyway, in your own brain if nothing else. If your son wants an Easy Bake Oven, put it at the top of the shopping list. He could be the next Jamie Oliver. Or he might just learn to bake and, oh I dunno, take on at least half of the household responsibilities when he grows up. If your daughter wants a toy airplane, get her one and, screw it, get her a helicopter too. She could be the next Amelia Earhart. If they haven’t asked for things outside the expected scope of their gender, ask yourself if you’ve really introduced them to these other things… Are they so caught up in the bullshit themselves they’re afraid to ask for something that might get them teased on the playground… Have you been a robot monkey parent with shit for brains? It’s never too late to wise up.
Adapted from "Guys and Dolls", page 96 in my book MotherFumbler.