Okay, so what's with all the politics being dumped on children lately?Some moms are complaining
about a new line of Polly Pocket Matchbox cars
, because they're shiny and pink and apparently there's a story line that the girls are racing to the mall.
Some mothers are up in arms that a Matchbox car doesn't have to be pink for a girl to play with it, which I don't dispute completely. And of course, they ask why aren't they racing to the geophysics lab instead of to the mall, because girls can be geophysicists, too. Umm...
Well, yes, of course they can. But do they want to be when they're only 4 years old? Or is that mom asserting her politics and sense of self onto her preschooler? I mean come on, what's wrong with a little pink and a trip to the mall? I'm not one to say men do X and girls do Y...with two girls of my own, I want nothing more for them to be whatever they want to be someday. But I don't think a pink Matchbox car and a trip to the mall is going to prevent them from being a doctor someday...if they want to be, that is.
For some reason, the fact that the goal of the game is not only to win, but to win a shopping spree at the mall, is setting apparently oppressed mums into a tizzy. As if baby dolls, Barbies, tea parties and ballet classes -- along with their counterparts -- trains, GI Joe, emergency resuce play and karate classes -- aren't traditionally accepted definitions of what it means to be male or female.
My big question really is: why are some women obsessed with trying to neutralize girls, but at the same time not seeking to feminize boys?
You don't see mum rushing to sign her son up for ballet. Or turning his next birthday party into a princess tea. But little Sally is supposed to jump behind the wheel of a Tonka truck and make mud pies, because if she goes to the mall, she'll forever be banned from the science lab.
So I decided to give it a little test myself. I purchased two of the said Polly Pocket Matchbox cars for my girls to see what would happen. They were incentives for staying in bed all night when we slept over at Nana's house. And both girls stayed in their beds. So, I told them if they got dressed themselves, I would get their prizes. Skylar was the first to cooperate, so I produced the pink convertible, with shiny silver wheels and an orange trim. It came with a little mini Polly Pocket doll to drive it, and she was thrilled! "It's pink!"
Then it was Fiona's turn. She saw her sister's car, and was intrigued for sure, but she was not feeling too cooperative. I got the cheeky sideways "I'm desperately trying to show no interest or intrigue whatsoever in what you're saying even though I'm totally into it" look to which she owns the trademark. So, what do you think she asked me?"What color is MY car?""You'll see when you get dressed."
Well, she was intrigued enough by the pink convertible car to get herself dressed so she could see what color fate had for her. When I produced the super shiny silver convertible, complete with hot pink interior and blingin' wheels and a little brunette figure that drives it, she was over the moon."It's better than yours, Skylar."
I took them out of their packages and gave them to the girls, with nary a word of where to play, how to play or what story went along with the cars. And they proceeded to play, politely and with much storytelling and excitement, for 30 minutes, driving the cars all over the place. And, I kid you not, here's a little of what I overheard: "Ok, friend, you go live over there and I live here."
"Ok, friend. That sounds good. How about if I drive over for a visit."
"No, friend. I will drive and you will drive and we will meet at the mall before our party. Let's go shopping. Drive to the mall and I will meet you there."
"Ok, friend. I LOVE shopping. And now I can drive myself to shopping."
"I hope everything that I bought will fit into my car. I'm going to drive it all home, and then I will drive back and meet you, friend."
"Great! That sounds like a good idea. Then let's drive to get ice cream."
Without prompting, both girls immediately saw the cars as a means to get to the mall. Do we think this means neither will become a geophysicist someday? Absolutely not. Do the pink cars and shopping role play make them stereotypical girls who have no future? Of course not. Did the fact that the cars were pink and silver make them more appealing to them? For sure. Is there anything wrong with that? I don't think so. Would they have been just as happy with a blue Jeep or red pick-up truck? Probably. Would they have used them to drive to the mall or get ice cream? $10 says yes.
Here's the thing -- regardless of what toy we give our children, youngsters tend to role play their lives. Mom and Dad put us in the van and we go run errands -- to the market, to the mall -- or we drive to a party, or to a game, or to a lesson, and yes, sometimes to get ice cream. Those cars -- pink or blue -- are symbols of the family van. So when they're given the chance to play it out, they do what we do. It doesn't mean they're smothering under a blanket of stereotype.
Fiona says repeatedly that she wants to be a veterinarian. She has a little doctor kit that she loves, and she uses it on her stuffed animals to take care of them. Skylar is obsessed with cash registers, and she calims she wants to be a "payer" someday -- a cashier. Of course, I balk at the cashier comment -- and my wife always reminds me they will be whatever they want to be and we'll love them just the same. She's right. But maybe I should run out and buy some boy colored toys so she'll want to be grow up to be something more. Now, even I know that's downright silly.
Tomorrow...personal property rights and kindergarteners.
Check out what people are saying about Polly Pocket cars:Salon.comEdmunds.comStroller Derby
Labels: boys vs. girls, crazy parents, social issues and parenting