Why Boys Don’t Play With Dolls: Exploring Stereotypes Through Childhood Play

Challenging Gender Stereotypes in Play

My generation grew up in a world where media, social expectations, and cultural practices made us believe that men and women are very different species. We are all familiar with this men stereotype – they are natural leaders, more aggressive, they do better in science, while women are stereotyped as caring, nurturing, and supportive. Using stereotypes is a bad practice, and it is doing more harm to kids from a young age. It may discourage girls from pursuing mathematical skills or becoming community leaders. It can stop boys from pursuing careers in nursing or becoming famous ballet dancers. I believe we are not that different and with the right message from media and parents, we can eliminate such stereotypes.

The Power of Childhood Play

I have my own experience when, in my childhood, boys and girls, mostly the same age, played together; for each season of the year, we played different games, primarily sports and active games. We had one specific place where we gathered in the evening after doing our homework. We went to different schools and classes, but we shared the same interests. We laughed, we cried, we argued, and sometimes hurt each other. In some cases, girls were more aggressive than boys. With time, when we became adults, we built our own lives that seemed to follow cultural rules; boys became leaders and managers, and girls turned out as nurses and housewives. If our society did not expect us to follow certain rules, we could become somebody else. We may see this when reading Katha Pollitt’s essay,” Why Boys Don’t Play with Dolls.” She tried to catch readers’ interest by saying, “Sometimes it a same kid – the boy who skateboards and takes cooking in his afterschool program; the girl who collects stuffed animals and A-pluses in science.”

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Every small kid’s life begins with toys. In her essay ”Barbie’s Hips Don’t Lie,” Megan Garber describes these toys as “objects we invite into children’s lives to entertain them and also to shape them.” She also calls toys lessons because they teach “bravery,” “curiosity,” “empathy,” “creativity,” and “beauty.” At the same time, in her essay, Katha Pollitt tries to convey to the readers her similar idea that toys are tools for teaching little ones, but this time, they teach about sex roles in life, “A girl with a doll and boys with a truck ”explain” why men are from Mars and women are from Venus, why wives do housework and husband just don’t understand.” As a parent, I raise my kid with my vision of this world; I think about what is better for my child and how she will meet this world and not lose herself. I taught her various things, and toys helped me to do that. She had a ball and a doll, a slingshot, and a mini kitchen; she played with Legos and cars; we melted plasticine together and built houses for birds. I did not want to be like the women from Pollitt’s essay who” buy for their children, without too much guilt, the unbelievably sexist junk ”(480). From my side, I just wanted my child to make her own choice. She explorer the world by playing with different toys.

Toys as Lessons: Shaping Identities

There are theories of innate differences that “Tell adults that the adult world- in which moms and dads still play by many of the old rules even as they question and fidget and chafe against them- is the way it supposed to be” (480). I was a victim of the same theory. I thought that girls were supposed to dance, and I brought my daughter to the dance class. Very soon, she told me that she wanted to play soccer because women’s soccer was very popular at that period. This exact moment reminds me of a time in my childhood when I attended a shooting school. Deep inside, I worried that she would hurt herself, but it was her decision, and I did not discourage her from trying. With time, she understood that it was not for her. She told me that players run a lot, but she does not like it, and she changed her mind and became a dancer. We do not need to facilitate kid’s tasks and reduce their games to monotonous and stereotypical games. We should not limit the child’s abilities to do independent, meaningful actions. It is our responsibility to help our kids in their development.

When we talk about toys, the first thing that comes to our mind is Barbie Doll. The first Barbie was introduced in 1959, and since then, she has come through many changes. She was criticized for many things. According to Garber, “she represented the awkward disconnect between cultural expectations and physical reality. (That waist! Those hips! Those perma-Heeled Feet!).” People complained that she did not represent our diverse world, where we have women of different shapes, hair colors, or skin tones. The media discussions about diversity, representation, and inclusion made Mattel Company produce “the varied-shaped and varied-shaded new Barbies” as “ part of Mattel’s attempt to make things right.” These changes were very good because our vision of modern beauty changed with time, and people never stopped buying Barbie. As Katha Pollitt says, “ To reject her is to say that what Barbie represents- being sexy, thin, stylish- is unimportant, which is obviously true.”

Redefining Play and Embracing Individuality

Boys and girls may play with the same toys, and I do not see anything bad in that kids play with dolls, change their clothes, take care of their hair, and do makeup. By playing with dolls they may become a fashion designer or stylist. I remember, in my childhood, when my cousin came to our home with his parents, we played in my room with toys that I had, and he took my doll torn off her legs and hand to take a closer look and see how they connected to the body. At that time, I was so upset with him. He looked like a vandal to me at that time. I cried that he broke my toy, but now, when he became a doctor, I realized that he was just trying to explore the human anatomy.

Toys are a part of our lives, and they cannot disappear in one moment. The most important thing is what message these toys convey to us when we are kids and how they influence and change our lives. If the child tends to be like her/his favorite dolls, girls like Barbie, and boys like Superman, why not? A doll is a generalized likeness of a human. Children love to play with dolls, girls are tinkering like a baby, and boys replace her as a friend for games. Dolls play an imperceptible but very important role in the development of a child in the process of the formation of his/her personality. We are different from the beginning, and it is determined before we are born. Each of us is unique. According to Katha Pollitt, “Instead of looking at kids to “prove” that differences in behavior by sex are innate, we can look at the ways we raise kids. Why do we make boys wear blue and girls pink and not yellow or grey? Without knowing, we tend to automatically make choices for our kids; following stereotypes, we tend to buy dolls for girls and cars for boys. After all, people argue that men are more aggressive than women; women are more loyal than men are.

Not everyone will agree with these stereotypes because they cannot be related to all people. Our world changes constantly, and with time, our kids must be themselves; they will understand that they came to this world with unique abilities. Became an adult, they will realize their respective equal roles and strive to complement each other in their way to improve life. Men will concentrate on using their dominant qualities for good and use their strength to protect and preserve women and help them realize their true potential. I hope that our girls and boys will not devote their lives to the style of Barbie or Ken, will not change their appearance to fully resemble a famous doll, and will not constantly improve and improve their image only for one target to get the whole army of fans.    

References:

  1. Pollitt, K. Why Boys Don’t Play with Dolls. 

  2. Garber, M. Barbie’s Hips Don’t Lie.

Army Effective Listening: Empowering Leadership

Mastering Effective Listening: A Vital Communication Skill

Over a few weeks of the Basic Leader Course (BLC), I learned many useful skills that can help me become a better leader. The purpose of this essay is to inform future soldiers of the process of becoming a great leader. As a beginner in the course, learning about some of the requirements to pass seemed difficult, but I overcame them and became a more confident leader by the end of the course.

Communication Mastery: The Power of Effective Listening

One of the best lessons I learned was how to listen effectively. In the Army, communication is an especially important concept. Without proper communication to get your message across, missions will most likely fail. However, to communicate effectively, we must first learn to be an effective listener. Proper listening means to fully understanding the speaker verbally and nonverbally. It is important to use effective listening skills. Once you become an effective listener, you will be able to communicate information without misguiding others.

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Crafting Marketable Resumes: Elevating Professional Appeal

Another lesson that I enjoyed was learning how to write a marketable resume. I think writing a resume effectively is an essential skill that everyone should know. Knowing how to successfully write a resume not only helps you find a job but also makes you more marketable in comparison to other job applicants. So, knowing how to write a resume with proper keywords and format is important.

Embarking on Leadership Journeys: Public Speaking and Team Dynamics

In addition, I learned the qualities of being a great public speaker and learning how to conduct individual training. Public speaking usually makes me nervous, but once I am familiar with the information I am about to brief, it is easier. Rehearsing the information made it easier for me to stray away from the podium and able to walk around the class. It also taught me about time management and being able to share information in the allotted time. Prior to BLC, I would not have considered myself a great public speaker.

The most memorable part of the entire course was being in a leadership position. I had the opportunity to lead a squad through physical readiness training, drills, and ceremonies and conduct individual training classes. Leading the physical activities showed how simple it seems from the student’s point of view, but teaching a class is a challenging task.

One thing I realized through the course is as individuals, we all have strengths and weaknesses. We all came from various places of the world, not knowing each other, but were able to work as a team. We were able to work together and correct each other when needed respectfully. In areas where others fell short, we took time to rehearse or help with physical activities and written assignments. Working as a team, we accomplished more and built trust in each other.

Conclusion: A Transformational Journey

In conclusion, the Basic Leader Course was a success. There is ample information that soldiers can learn to apply to both military and civilian life. You would not know how capable you are of succeeding until you are challenged to show your worth. All the things I told myself I would not be able to carry out, I achieved on my own. I gained knowledge and skills that I can report to my unit to become a great leader. I can guide my squad and unit on how to become better, effective leaders. I can guide them on how to do things correctly by always referring to the Army regulations.   

References:

  1. U.S. Army. (n.d.). Basic Leader Course (BLC). Retrieved from https://www.army.mil/blc/
  2. Krauss, S. E. (2005). Research paradigms and meaning making: A primer. The Qualitative Report, 10(4), 758-770.
  3. Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (2009). An educational psychology success story: Social interdependence theory and cooperative learning. Educational Researcher, 38(5), 365-379.
  4. Adler, R. B., & Elmhorst, J. M. (2015). Communicating at work: Principles and practices for business and the professions. McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
  5. Ellis, A., & Miller, W. R. (2002). Motivational interviewing in the treatment of psychological problems. Guilford Press.
  6. Lambert, M. J., & Barley, D. E. (2002). Research summary on the therapeutic relationship and psychotherapy outcome. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 38(4), 357-361.
  7. O’Hair, D., Wiemann, M., & Fritz, J. (2015). Real communication: An introduction. Macmillan Higher Education.
  8. Lucas, S. E. (2012). The art of public speaking. McGraw-Hill Education.
  9. Zigarmi, D., Blanchard, K. H., & O’Connor, M. (2018). Leadership and the One Minute Manager: Increasing effectiveness through situational leadership II. William Morrow.
  10. Bass, B. M., & Riggio, R. E. (2006). Transformational leadership. Psychology Press.

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