Sunday, July 7, 2013

He's Gonna Be G@y: On Boys Playing with Dolls

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A while back, I was talking with someone very close to me as we watched Bear play.  He was in the driveway pushing a baby doll in our stroller.  That's when the words came out of the person's mouth:
Them: You know, if he keeps doing stuff like this, he's gonna be... y'know...
Me: Stuff like what?
Them: Playing with dolls, dressing up, y'know.  He's gonna be...
Me: No.... gonna be what?
Them: Y'know... He's gonna be g@y.
Before I continue, I need to note... I'm spelling the word g@y that way to avoid searches from pervs finding this post.  Not because I consider it an obscene or offending word.
Back to the incident.... I have never been more offended in my life.  My entire 33 years.  Seriously.  I can venture to say that I had a little bit of momma bear mixed with rage bubble up. 
And thus began the conversation...
I explained that gender bias surrounding what little girls should do and how little boys should act were antiquated notions that not only pigeonhole children, but can also create shame in their creative play ideas. 

Playing with dolls allows boys to explore the roles played by the caregivers in their lives.  By taking care of their baby dolls, they are practicing and learning how to nurture and exhibit emotions.  In this post from Picklebums, Kate puts these sentiments into words better than I.  In reference to her son playing with dolls, she says "He plays with dolls so that one day he may be a confident, loving and nurturing father, uncle, big brother, friend or partner." Doll play can also help boys and girls prepare to become big brothers and sisters, as pointed out in this post at Dirt and Boogers.  This idea is properly illustrated in a children's book William's Doll by Charlotte Zolotow.  I had no idea this book even existed until I read this post from Small Potatoes.

The ridiculous classification system that some use to categorize g@y vs. straight has become tiresome for me over the years. What in the world does hairstyle, clothing style, or  recreation activities have to do with $exu@l preference. {note: again anti-perv coding}

These stereotypes are even more asinine when they are applied to children's appearances and play choices through the categories of "sissy boys" and "tomboy girls", i.e. children who don't follow the gender behaviors prescribed by society.  Granted there are some children that at a very early age, are aware of their orientation, but discussing the $exu@l!ty of children is just absurd to me.

But, I mean, seriously?  Does it matter? It's not even a learned behavior anyway.  God made my son exactly how he wanted him.  Toys that he plays with and dress up clothes that he wears isn't going to "teach" him to be drawn to his own gender romantically when he's older.  It saddens me that this theory is still in play in 2013.  But, no matter what orientation he is drawn towards when he's older, what does it matter?  What does that have to do with his 4.5 year old life?  It shouldn't even be an issue.  And that's just what I told them.

The bottom line is this:  No matter what he grows up to be, whether it be g@y or straight, law-abiding or criminal, Christian or atheist, polka-dotted or striped....
He will always be my son. 

And nothing, nothing he does will ever change my love for him.
For more info on how playing with dolls helps girls and boys develop, check out this post from Mama OT that was written by  Katie Yeh, pediatric speech-language pathologist and writer at Playing With Words 365 and Laura Hutchinson, a clinical psychologist at PlayDrMom.

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