#868: Understanding gender issues, Part 1–Toys

With gender in the news this past week, I guess it’s appropriate that we pause and think a bit about how our children embrace or reject expectations of their gender.

As much as we always tried to have toy trucks and tools available to the Girl, she never really played too much with the former, though she did enjoy the latter. (To her credit, she played with dolls equally, and not exclusively.)

But I remember a rather funny incident when she was four years old, and playing with a six-year-old male friend. The gender difference between the two showed, despite both children’s parents’ efforts. He had shown her one of his favourite toys, a rather menacing-looking robot-vehicle thingy with claws. She played along happily with him, and with the robot. Inevitably the difference between how the two children played, showed through. So when he waved the his menancing robot toy around briskly and asked her what she thought the claws were used to capture, I think he expected an answer like “enemies” or “guns” or “other robots”. She replied hopefully, with a bright smile, “Butterflies?” 😀

Which makes me recognise that you can lead the girl to the “masculine” toy, but sometimes you just can’t take butterflies out of the equation.

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