The essay “Why Boys Don’t Play With Dolls” by Katha Pollitt, is an essay angled at young people who are, or potentially will be parents. The piece begins with an analysis of the indoctrination of gender roles upon children, with the focus beyond societal influences. Pollitt says other people claim that the reasoning behind children’s affinity for specific toys can be traced to things innate in humans, listing “...prenatal hormonal influences, brain chemistry, genes…” (Pollitt 1) as the top offenders. She also includes “...that feminism has reached its natural limits.”
Children and young adults are identifying with gender roles at a young age due to mass media. Children develop within a society that is gender-specific when it comes to social and behavioral norms. These come from the family’s structure, how they play with others and by themselves, and school. Girls were expected to be more passive while boys were to be more aggressive and expressive with masculine behaviors. “Before the age of three, children can differentiate toys typically used by boys or girls and begin to play with children of their own gender in activities identified with that gender.
Most toddlers are given one of two categories of toys: those for boys and then those for girls. When parents see that their kids are born as boys then they will probably start buying them blocks, race cars, balls, and action figures while for their daughters they will lean towards dolls, baby strollers, crowns, and kitchen sets. At sight, these toys seem harmless and innocent; that is to say what is wrong with a little boy and girl playing with their cars and dolls; however, these toys are the just the beginning of their molding. These kids are slowly being molded into their respective gender role: which are behaviors learned by an individual as appropriate to their gender. For example, gender norms or roles for a girl would be that they’re supposed to be thin, passive, and submissive to males.
Sexism in America affects how children and young adults act within our society. Toys, along with playing, are extremely important to a child’s development. In, the article, Playland, the author, Alice Rob, discusses how gendered labeled toys are changing, and how more changes are needed.
These studies suggest that children observe gender stereotypes at an early age unintentionally. Since children’s brains are constantly soaking in new information about the world around them, they have to do so in a way that they are seemingly most comfortable. Studies show that children are most comfortable learning from people who are actively in their lives and attractive movie and TV
A child's earliest exposure to what it means to be male or female comes from parents. From the time children are babies, parents treat their sons and daughters differently. Parents’ dress their children gender specific colors, give them gender differentiated toys, and expect different behaviors from boys and girls. Parents inspire their children to participate in sex-typed activities. Such activities include doll playing and engaging in housekeeping activities for girls, and playing with trucks and engaging in sports activities for boys.
People are not born with knowledge of biases or differences among each gender. Bennhold, the author of the article “What Roles Do Nature and Nurture Play in Constructing Boys and Girls,” believes, “early stereotyping via gender-specific toys, clothes, and language, matters.” Teaching your children that differences between genders do exist molds their future abilities and behaviors. For example, people often associate certain toys, jobs, and even colors with male and females. Women are often portrayed as caregivers and Men are seen as the breadwinners.
Equal but different: gender-neutral toys and gender differences in childhood In her article “You can give a boy a doll, but you can't make him play with it” that appeared in The Atlantic on December 6th 2012, author Christina Hoff Sommers focuses on presenting the views of the Swedish community whose members feel strongly for obliterating sexual stereotypes and making toys gender-neutral, as well as the logistical and ethical problems that come with it. Sommers, a feminist herself, is a strong supporter of equality, something she has made obvious throughout her article as well as her life’s work, but criticizes the extreme cases of “equality” supporters and feminists who completely reject any gender differences, drifting away from the actual
The documentary “The Pinks and the Blues” and the podcast “Can a Child be Raised Free of Gender Stereotypes” discuss the unconscious gender stereotypes and assumptions that our culture places upon children. Children are enculturated with ideas about who they should be, how they should think and behave, and this enculturation has distinct effects upon the child psychology and way of living in the world. The viewer is left with the question: Is it possible to raise a child without gender stereotypes? “The Pinks and the Blues” states that gendered treatment of children begins within 24 hours of the child’s birth. Descriptors for male infants and female infants were different, with boys being labeled as big, strong, and alert while girls were labeled as being delicate, petite, and inattentive.
In the essay “Even Nine-Month-Olds Choose Gender-Specific Toys,” Jennifer Goodwin acknowledges the possibility of gender being innate, as a research showed that “even 1-day-old boys spent longer looking at moving, mechanical options than 1-day-girls, who spent more time looking at faces” (89). However, she claims that even actions this early in life may already be influenced by the parents’ different treatments, which start almost instantly after their child is born. Goodwin states that, even when their children are still infants, parents tend to show more affection towards girl than boys, who are dealt with in a more active and playful manner, which could explain the findings of the research mentioned. This difference in treatments is later
Although some people believe that nature affects the gender identity, others argue that, based on the education an individual receives, it is actually nurture. For example, John Moore, a teacher at a female-only school, says, “My findings suggest that, in some senses, the single-sex school is strongly feminist” (Moore, 2005). On the other hand, many societies teach the children gender stereotypes to try and limit them from becoming against what the society feels is appropriate. Gender roles or stereotypes are “a set of qualities, behaviors, and attitudes that are considered appropriate for males and females based on their biological sex” (Whalen & Maurer-Starks, 2008). Most of the time, these stereotypes are taught and explained to the children in the early stages of learning, since as mentioned above, gender identity is most likely detected after the child is two years old.
Until age five, children do not form object permanence and therefore assume that identity is something that changes with certain aspects of appearance, such as clothing or hairstyle. Thus, a set of rigid rules about physical appearance are put in place by the child to determine whether a person is male or female. Orenstein discovers that toy choice is also something that is innately different between the sexes. For instance, in an experiment conducted on primates, the male and female monkeys play with the toys that are the most traditional and specific to their gender.
Why Boys Don’t Play With Dolls According to Katha Pollitt, girls still prefer dolls while boys love trucks, just like the olden days. She argues that these preferences are hormonal and have no external influence. From their time of birth until they become adults, girls and boys orientate themselves differently on their own. Pollitt claims that although feminist organizations in America have helped women, they have never been able to change their sexual orientation.
Fixed Gender Roles Throughout the years, our society has made great changes dealing with the legalization of marijuana and same sex marriages. However, the idea that children who conform to their “fixed” gender roles is caused by “innate brain chemistry” has not changed at all. In the article, “Why Boys Don’t Play With Dolls” by Katha Pollitt, Pollitt believes roles are not caused by genes, rather it is the adult world whom in which conforms their children to their gender roles. Children always look up to their parents.
Some folks assume that girls and boys behave and like different things based on their distinctive innate nature and physical differences. While it might be true that they identify themselves based on biological traits like their gender/sex, Penelope Eckert, the author of Learning to be Gendered, argued that receiving different treatments and nurture can have influence on how girls and boys learn to identify themselves. Penelope suggest that there’s a social matter where an individual’s gender can be a heavy label on how he or she would be like, but part of the gender label is developed by parenting while growing up. Even at birth, gender roles are conditioned by their milieu. Baby girls are given flowery or pink gifts while boys are