I'd Buy My Son a Barbie Doll, But He's Man Enough Not to Want One

Rant 39

Barbie cat fightI'm a sucker for a good monkey story. And when that story involves a study between children's toy preferences and gender, well, just call me hooked.

A recent Huffington Post article revealed that in various experiments, male adolescent monkeys chose to play with wheeled vehicle toys, while females liked the dolls. It was a study that actually suggested a biological explanation for why girls like dolls and boys like trucks. Now I don't know about you, but I haven't seen too many HDTVs in the jungle airing Barbie or G.I. Joe commercials. So I kind of have to agree with the study.

Are humans already wired to like gender-specific toys? Well, it's no silver bullet, but I pretty much agree with the monkeys. My sons have never really liked girl toys. I never flat out told them they can't play with Barbie dolls, they just never had the desire.

Does that mean boys will never play with dolls? Or girls will never want to play with superheroes? Of course not. In general, for the majority of the time, boys will play with boy toys, and girls with girl toys. The whole nature vs. nurture thing seems kind of moot. I'm a big believer in both.

I think, yes, we are predisposed toward certain types of activities. For the most part, boys like roughhousing, playing war, fighting, smashing trucks, etc. And girls generally like tea parties, dressing up, dancing, and playing house. I'm not saying that's how it has to be, but I just think those actions and desires are based on overall gender traits.

Now if I had loads of Barbie dolls in my house and talked about them all the time and played with them with my boys when they were little, would they be totally into Barbie, or would they be laughing at me? I have no idea. Most likely my kids would be including Barbie dolls in their massive Battle Royale fight with all of my superhero and Star Wars action figures.

I know plenty of parents who are adamantly opposed to the whole gender-based toys and seem to go out of their way to avoid it. Moms won't get their daughters any Barbie dolls at all, instead buying them only Batman figures. Knowing how kids rebel a bit, if they're already predisposed to wanting a certain toy, then forcing them not to have it is only going to make things worse.

Would I buy my boys a Barbie doll if that's what they asked for now? I guess so. But I'd much rather get them a Captain America action figure. I'm just waiting for the day Mattel puts out a Transgender Barbie figure. Then we'll have a whole new debate on our hands.

Do you think toy preferences are biologically set when we're born?

Image via Sebastyne Young/Flickr

behavior, toys, boys, girls


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

Cel7777 Cel7777

There already is a cross dresser Barbie lol


nonmember avatar momoftwo

My mother-in-law thought it would be a good idea if my sons (twins who are now 7) played with dolls when they were toddlers...said it would make them better fathers. My husband and I were totally against it, but trying to argue with her was (and still is) pointless. So, from about 2 to around 5 thhey were on a doll kick. They would not play with cars, trucks, superhero toys...nothing but their dolls. I am SO glad they outgrew it prior to them going to school, otherwise they would have probably be in for major ridicule. It was bad enough when they were little.

nonmember avatar Emily

I have three girls 8,5,4 and I have a son 2 1/2. My girls love doing girly things - and my son goes right along with them because he wants to play. But he also loves trains, cars, football, baseball and going to a rodeo! I don't worry about it.

cecil... cecillesmommy

I think kids like what they like without seeing the gender aspect of it. My daughter loves dolls and dress up and tea parties but at the same time carries a batman around and loves robots and pirates! I think as long as we foster both sides and don't push any biases on them, kids will be fine.

geeky... geekychick

My son never really played with dolls. They were easily available as he has 2 cousins both girls that are about his age he just never really liked them. He did have a baby though that he use to sleep with. It was a little boy in overalls when he picked it out he wouldn't look at the other ones that were girls he wanted the boy baby and he was about 2 at that time.

stace... stacey541

My son does dress up alot in poofy dresses with his big sister (they are 2 and 4) but I think its more her dressing him than him choosing it....and he does play with her barbies-makes me laugh because he generally uses the barbie as a gun to shoot things with :-) i think boys and girls just naturally play with different toys-we have never pushed either girl or boy toys on either of our kids but our daughter loves little dolls and setting up elaborate homes and our son loves to be rough so cars make the best choice for him because he can crash them.

Javi0... Javi05Eli07

We let our boys play with what they want.  They play with the normal boy toys like cars, trains, and superheros.  They also happen to like playing house with kitchen sets and My Little Pony.  

MsRkg MsRkg

My son plays with whatever he wants. He has both girl and boys toys. My hubby and I don't believe in only making him play with gender specific toys, or toys geared towards boys. When we go shopping we pick out and let him pick out what he wants. To that extent so far he has picked put a play kitchen, one of those easy-bake ovens, a baby doll, a doll house, and a girl-colored arts and craft set, and at the same time he has picked out monster trucks, guns, cars, robots, swords, battleships, etc. A toy is just a toy. My husband and I believe in letting our son be exactly what he is ,a child, who simply is having fun with his toys.

Mocha... MochaCocoaBean

I agree with your points, but I find your headlines (ie No Son of Mine Is Wearing a Dress to School) provactive for no good reason.

MomLi... MomLily67

I think a lot has to do with instinct. Males are set to provide and protect and females to procreate and nurture. That is the primary biological intention. But when it comes to "modern times",  we tend to get caught in a fight of how gender roles are demeaning. For kids, toys are just play things. My daughter is a dinosaur lover, mommy, princess, handy man.  If you let them pick by them selves, you will be surprised.

1-10 of 39 comments 1234 Last