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August 09, 2006


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hey, I have emailed you a few times, and the email keeps bouncing back to me... I don't know why or what to do.

For the bibliotherapy fans: Look for "William's doll" by Charlotte Zolotow and "The Paper Bag Princess" by Robert Meunch. (sp?) They rock.

My 17 month old carries her "Cars! Trucks! Vrrroooom!" around in a little pink purse.


My son loves trains, trucks, and books. And pink. Isn't it great that they can just have fun? :)

Though we have lost most of the make up, Leah also has a My First Purse, though it is all soft so she can't assault anyone with it. LOL.

She is SO going to put her matchbox cars and dinos in that purse. And then if some boy tries to boss her around, she'll wack him upside the head with it.


(As in, amen. Not, um, @ 'men')

You rock, because you are such a thoughtful, considerate, big-hearted mother.

And the blogosphere rocks for getting you. (Well, those that *do* get you.)

My God, it's Utopia in this comment section! I'm basking in the warm glow that eminates off progressive parents!

The line for some folks may be drawn if a boy takes his girl-toys and/or girl-wear out of the house and into the world, say, on a trip to the store.

When Molly was 3, she had a marvelous guy friend named Louie. They attended day care together at a co-op on the Stanford Campus. Much to his deilght, one of their teachers made Louie a skirt as wearing long majestic skirts, scarves and gloves made him feel like a million bucks. (Fashion note - His outfits reminded me of Katherine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story)

Louie's mother thought the skirt was fabulous; Louie's dad thought otherwise most especially when Louie would insist on wearing the skirt to the mall and elsewhere.

My take - though we're comfortable with little girls in tough jeans and overalls running around in the playground, I'm pretty certain that a little boy dressed as femme as the girls are tomboyish would make many folks as queasy as Louie's pop.

Further to Gloria Steinham, she's downright femme. Have you ever seen her perfectly manicured hands? They're an elegant sight to behold. If the revolution came and we were all made gender equal, Ms. Steinham would not be ready to milk cows on the people's organic dairy farm.

Thanks, as always, Kristen, for sharing your provocative and eloquent writing.

(Also, it was an honor and pleasure to meet you at BlogHer. I apologize that I was too manic to sit down with you and anyone to shoot the mommyblogging shit, but perhaps next year at BlogHer 07)

My daughter was putting lipstick on thomas the tank engine today-makes me feel good to see her cross the streams. I love your blog and have been lurking for quite some time.

I think my daughter is lucky to have two older brothers, because she will have their toys to play with,plus any "girl" toys she gets as gifts. She's still in the chewing on everything stage, so her favorite toys are big plastic cars and Power Rangers.

But I must admit, I'm looking forward to seeing her cradling a baby doll in her arms.

Choice is good. A bad thing would be to ban all pink and princess stuff. I've seen that backfire on a friend who declared her daughter would not be exposed to those tools of the patriarchy. Well, guess what? Her little girl could not get enough of that stuff. We always want what we don't have, eh?

My girl has a "first purse" and now my son plays with it as much as she does.

What will make me sad is when they go to school and learn what other kids think is right and wrong, which most likely will be extremely gender-specific. I am enjoying their current innocence and openness.

choice. yes. that's the goal.

change this statement:

"Here honey. Make sure to put the eggs in the refrigerator because your husband won't like bad eggs with his toast in the morning."

into this:

"Here honey. Make sure to put the eggs in the refrigerator because your sexy boy-toy needs to find them easily. You wouldn't want bad eggs to be served to you in bed, now would you?"

much better.

Sounds like you have it figured out. If she ends up being a total girly girl who likes shopping and shoes and purses, at least you'll know she likes that stuff by choice, not because she doesn't know the flip side of the coin.

My sister in law runs a daycare out of her house. She has all boys and one girl in her charge. She bought a second hand kitchen ensemble at a garage sale, the first "girl" toy she's ever gotten. Pink and all. And the boys fight over who gets to play with it just as much as the girls. It's easy to fall into gender roles with toys, but unless kids are told that boys play with trucks and girls play with dolls, they don't know the difference and make their own mind up.

Psssst-- my son has a stove. And a Little People Dollhouse with a PINK roof. And he loves them both.

Of course, he also has lots of cars and trucks. And, despite my best gender neutral toy offering efforts, he loves them more. He loves cars, in fact, with an unholy fervor that must be seen to be believed.

After constantly badgering us for "car names" for several months, he can now recognize and name the symbols of every major automaker. Hearing a two-year-old shout out "Look! Cadillac! Look! Infinity! Look! Mitsubishi!" has turned many a head in the grocery store parking lot, I must say . . .

Hi, I found your blog through Notes from the Trenches and it is great.

Dinosaurs and purses, hilarious. No wonder I feel so locked into my gender role. I didn't get enough purses as a young boy. On second thought, I got my ass kicked enough growing up.

You're doing a great job with that girl, I'm sure. She'll make Gloria proud.

I'm glad she likes the toys! :) What happened to the other dinosaur...do you need me to do a return?

I buy my daughters both "girl" and "boy" toys. The two year old isn't very maternal with the dolls, in fact, she likes to boss them around rather than hug and nuture them. I think exposing them to all different toys make them whole beings. Since dad was the one taking care of her )pre sister) in the mornings, she doesn't put on makeup like the rest of the girls, instead she thinks she's suppose to shave her face and trim her nostril hairs with the little trimmer.

A few things...

Jennster is smack on (god that whore) - we need to model doing everything - not meaning DO EVERYTHING around the house - but fix stuff, carry stuff, and not just say "oh, that's daddy's job" or whatever.

And Mom-101 hit it too - Daddy needs to make eggs too.

I think when we take on too much we're doing our kids a disservice by not showing them that 1) it's okay to ask for help and 2) we don't need to be tied by societal "roles"

That said - I have no problem with dolls, but if we buy them because we have a girl and girls like dolls, I take issue with that line of thought.

If my daughter is loving babies and dressing up her stuffed animals or I'm expecting a baby, I might buy her one.

I just bought my son this adorable little kitchen in reds/ blues - mainly because he loves the one at daycare, but I just couldn't bring myself to buy him a pink one! I love that he plays at his kitchen while the hubby and I are in our kitchen cooking - He mainly sees daddy cook, too! I am horrible at it!

It took having more than one to really open my eyes to how different kids are. I so second what Wordgirl said. It's one thing for kids to be programmed to be a certain way (some parents get children into certain things really early based on their own ideas vs what the kids wants - of course, I hesitate to list any of them for fear that someone here has a kid doing that, lol).

Our oldest daughter is a tomboy even though most of the toys she received as a toddler were more geared to girls. She loved to use her toys to build things and make structures as she called them.

Our next two girls are extremely girly, but with a bit of an edge too. They love sports and Polly Pockets. That sort of thing.

When our son came along, I was sure he'd be on girl stuff overload. He likes to play with the girls toys too, loves to play house with them etc... But he really is a boy to a "t". He sought out things to knock down, put together, take apart, or make cars out of.

It's definitely interesting to watch them develop. I'm sure it will be a lot of fun for you too.

My sister has an issue with the whole "gender specific" toy thing. But for heaven's sake, does it really matter? My kid plays with old cardboard most of the time, ignoring the huge toybox full of plastic tools and plastic plates and dishes.

I seriously doubt anyone is going to accuse me of betraying my gender if I buy my daughter a doll. After all, if she decides to have kids, she'll have to dress them, feed them and put them to bed. So will the daddy, but she will, after all, be the mommy. And I think we all know that is just. different.

I'll get off my soapbox now.

i think that YOU are her biggest rolemodel. more than any toys. so maybe if she sees you doing both, she'll know she can do both too. you know? plus, just keep talking to her- encourage her to be whatever and whoever she wants to be. she can be a princess one day, and a bad ass rescuer the next. you know? :)

I love wordgirl's comment -and your last line about choice. My parents always tell me about how they put a toy soldier light switch plate in my room and bought me matchbox cars along with the dolls. What I really liked to play with though were the books of games (geek). I think all you can do is give her all the options and let her choose.

Also? She needs to see daddy making his own eggs sometimes. Can we work on that?

this has always been a major concern for my wife and i. we've a four-year-old daughter and two sons two and 6 months.
on some occassions it seems like there is a definite chemical difference between girls and boys and then my son is found wandering around with his sister's tutu on with a pair of heels or my daughter wants to pound as many nails as possible into a 2x4.
as long as we aren't rigid and freakish about the gender thing it seems that it will work itself out. if we decide to be rigid we're just making some future therapist rich

There's CHOICE and there's PROGRAMMING and I'll be damned if I can tell you which is which anymore.
I feel your pain.

Before we knew whether we were having a boy or girl, I fretted over how to raise a girl without a lot of gender pre-conditioning. Both my sister and I went into a non-traditionally female field, largely because my dad already worked there and we had a good role model. If I had a daughter, I would want to open those doors also.

We had a son instead, and I thought it'd be much easier. I'm finding that I do have bits of my own gender bias pop up unexpectedly. I need to make sure that I have all those same doors open for my boy too!

so i have two boys and my oldest, 4, is obviously into trucks and trains and building...all the traditional boy things and anything that's loud. but he's equally interested in all pink and girly...dressing up as a princess, asking me to to put my make up on him, castles and dolls and babies. and especially girl shoes, because they are so glittery and cool compared to the boys shoes.

one day she'll see one of those cool yellow toy cranes with a working hook and she'll think it's the shit. then you'll be singing bob the builder. all the time:)

I’ve let my girls choose (for the most part) what clothes and toys they would like to have and guess what? They’re all very girlie-girl. What can you do?

I also agree that most girls want to be just like their Moms– purse, cell phone, lip stick and all. But, there does become a stage in their lives when they can see beyond their own mother’s world and have different desires and aspirations. I think it’s called the teenage years.

I am, and always was, a very girly girl myself. Ironically, all my Barbies, Easy Bake Ovens and Little Tykes kitchens did nothing to help instill in me any fondness for or skill in the womanly arts (as far as cooking, cleaning, and shopping goes, anyway...). I figure my daughter will just play with what she gravitates toward and that will be that. I'm not going to worry too much about gender roles in the theoretical. She'll see what I do in practice, and that will have to be enough. It's enough for me.

For what it's worth, my son LOVES the purse/ hair/ makeup toys that my daughter has too. Sometimes I look at my daughter and feel a little embarrased because she doesn't look girly enough. This is not intentional--but she wears a lot of her older brothers' hand-me-downs, and she trips when she wears dresses. Plus she's a total slop and I'd rather have her ruin t-shirts than those cute dresses (that she never wears).

It's hard to know if you are giving them leeway in choice, or not intervening in forced societal gender roles. I thought for her 2nd bday, we woudl get a dollhouse OR a train set. Found the dollhouse at a garage sale (she loves it)so a train set it is. And this my first purse you speak of. I think she would like that too. My opinion is, present kids with choices from both sides, and let them choose what they like!

It's hard to know if you are giving them leeway in choice, or not intervening in forced societal gender roles. I thought for her 2nd bday, we woudl get a dollhouse OR a train set. Found the dollhouse at a garage sale (she loves it)so a train set it is. And this my first purse you speak of. I think she would like that too. My opinion is, present kids with choices from both sides, and let them choose what they like!

I totally just wrote about this a few days ago... though I'm raising a boy and I don't want him to think that kitchen toys are just for girls! (http://thejhatfields.org/blog/2006/08/07/kids-toys-commercials-gender-roles)

My 17 month old boys see both Mommy and Daddy cook and clean and diaper and nurture and cut grass and move furniture, etc. And they both still gravitate to the "boy" stuff - cars, balls, trucks, etc. They do "play" in the kitchen set but that generally consists of climbing on it and/or banging the shit out the pots and pans.

They even knew to make the "vrooom" sound the first time they played with a matchbox car. No one taught them that. Its got to be some nature/some nurture since they also do that with my vaccuum.

For what it's worth, my older daughter is sitting on the floor beside me, having dressed herself in a skirt and she also put her own hair up in little flowery clips. And as she sits here looking veyr girly, she is playing with a dump truck and some pieces of wood.

You really CAN have the best of both worlds.

Last night at McD's (long LONG story about how we ended up there), I asked Tacy if she wanted the Happy Meal with the truck or with the doll. I was pleased that she actually gave it some thought, but sure enough, she chose the doll.

Love My First Purse. Tacy doesn't pretend to apply lipstick, but she sure loves the credit card.

"The more choices someone has, the more authentically themselves they become."

That rocks.

My mom actually experimented on my younger brother and sister when they were little. At Christmas she wrapped up a doll for my brother and a truck for my sister. As soon as they opened them, they immediately switched. I see the same with my kids. They have girl toys, boy toys, and gender neutral stuff. Damned if my son, at only 16 mo., wants to read the book "Mighty Movers" (pictures of various vehicles) about 400 times a day. It's amazing.

The more choices someone has, the more authentically themselves they become.

My daughter is a girly girl to the end. Most of her clothes contain some kind of pink and you walk into her room...her toys are girl overload. Luckily, her best friend is a boy...and he is ALL boy. She is just as happy playing with his dinosaurs and cars and he is just as happy wearing her princess crown.


I bought Hailey plenty of fire engine and trucks but she still gravitates to the dolls. I bought her a masculine monkey and she put it in a pink nightie and a hairbow on the ears.

I guess if you end up with a girlie-girl you support her the same way you would a tomboy.

Both of my boys have a good mix of toys. They have the toy kitchen that they play with outside everyday. They love making mud dinners.
They also have dolls, shopping carts, and their fair share of boys toys such as cars and transformers. When my oldest was 3 he was obsessed with Dora. He had all kinds of Dora stuff but has since given it away as he has gotten older and has been more active with other boys his age. Obviously they have influenced him.

My First Purse. I must have it! I've actually been looking for a fake makeup kit, because my toddler loves to pretend to put on "lipsticks" beside me when I'm getting ready.

Personally, I love being a girl. I love girl things. I don't have a problem with what they say about women's roles in society because I grew up playing with dollhouses and Barbies and never once thought I would be limited IN ANY WAY when I chose a profession as an adult. And you know what? I wasn't.

So my child can play with whatever the hell she wants. Whether it's pink or blue or whatever. :)

My son loves to play with toy kitchens (we don't have one, but we are around them at playgyms at friend's homes). You know what? Other little boys love kitchen sets as well. It's because at this age (18 months) they imitate what they see - and what they see is that their parents work at a kitchen to put food on the table. I can't say I blame him.

I don't have a problem with gender-specific toys. If I ever have a girl, and she likes dolls and plastic make-up - so be it. I HATED dolls growing up, and ended up working for L'Oreal.

To me, toys are toys.

That's the best. A purse over her shoulder and a fireman's hat on her head. A dinosaur eating oatmeal, perhaps one day, wearing some doll clothes. Perhaps I am too laid-back, but I think if you let her play with whatever she gravitates toward - you and she will be just fine - which you already are. And I can just picture "the flourish!"

Sigh... I loathe girl toys.

In the shops its either babies or kitchen and/or cleaning supplies (vaccuum?... ironing board?... WTF?)

So, for my daughter's last toy, I got her a little guitar. She loves it.

I have fretted over the gender thing myself and have found that left to their own devices, kids will choose what most interests them, even though they will imitate what they observe at times. As noted, giving them the freedom to choose is the best option.

Oops- I said "their is nothihng wrong..." I meant to say "there"

Spelling errors like that irk me. Sorry, had to correct myself.

Man, the gender stuff is impossible to avoid it seems. We were SOOO gender neutral with our first son Aidan. He didn't watch TV either (now he does, but that's another story). After his first year at daycare, by the time he was 2 years old he would routinely go for the trucks and "boy" toys. So no matter how neutral we were with him, he picked up that society isn't neutral about gender.

He did play with his kitchen set at home an awful lot, making us tea and eggs and all sorts of culinary delights- but out in the world, he was alll boy.

Anyway their is nothing wrong with a purse and lipstick toy. She wants to be like her mommy, and if mommy is a hot chick with a power drill, ain't nothing wrong with that.

hehe I could not agree more! It is all about the choice. My daughter loves loves loves *gasp* Disney Princesses. However, she has a distaste for dolls, loves her firetruck and firehouse (in lieu of a doll house), trains, and dinosaurs. When she uses her kitchen it is to feed the animals. Best of all the worlds I figure :)

At least she knows that pink lipstick is important when feeding your dinosuars! Wouldnt want them to see you without it!! :)


hehe I could not agree more! It is all about the choice. My daughter loves loves loves *gasp* Disney Princesses. However, she has a distaste for dolls, loves her firetruck and firehouse (in lieu of a doll house), trains, and dinosaurs. When she uses her kitchen it is to feed the animals. Best of all the worlds I figure :)

Yes! I've got this great mental image of Q slathering on lipstick, mid-pedal. Loving that.

I grew up with two boy cousins and we alternated between building forts outside and decorating Barbie's Dream House.

It was a good mix.

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