May 14 2013

Toy Shopping with a Feminist Mom: Ugh!

Charlotte Hays

Going toy shopping with a feminist mother sounds like a drag.

Feminist mother Carolyn Jones recounts the perils of such an expedition:

I march my family through aisles of pink plastic to find educational toys in the bowels of the warehouse. It’s dark and dingy back there. “How about a floor puzzle?” I say optimistically. My mom’s face twists in doubt. “Construction blocks? This fractions game, perhaps?”

Luckily, intergenerational warfare is postponed by the disappearance of my daughter. A frantic search finds her in the pink toy aisle, sitting inside a miniature car. The motorcar is plastic, it is pink, and it is branded by a well-known doll whose breasts are bigger than her feet.

I’ve never seen my child so happy.

But feminist mom is not happy. I mean, the motorcar is pink, and a doll is a doll whether it has DD cups or is as flat as a pancake. I have to admit I am personally horrified by shanky dolls for children. But the vulgarity is, as you may have guessed, not what troubles feminist mom:

Naturally I’m horrified. This busty doll, in whose brand my daughter has taken a sudden, zesty interest, is at the epicenter of feminist critique. After all, she glorifies superficiality and the kind of oversize homes last seen before the housing crash. Worse, she touts glittery pink products named Glam Vacuum Set! and Glam Laundry!

As anyone with a mop knows, domestic duties are not Glam!

Furthermore, the pinkness of the products bolsters the lie that housework is girls’ work. A vision of Sandberg’s book, Lean In — a feminist manifesto still fueling debate about women’s internal barriers to leadership — hovers before me….

But little girls love dolls, and it’s a known fact that countless girls who have played with dolls go onto become women who achieve great things, whether in the business world or as stay-at-home mothers. Maybe Feminist Mom should move to Sweden, where gender parity is rigorously imposed, even in toy shops.

Christina Hoff Sommers wrote a great piece for the Atlantic on the attempt to eradicate gender differences among Swedish children by making ridiculous, politically correct rules for Swedish toymakers. It’s not working, though—as Hoff Sommers points out, you can give a boy a doll, but you can’t make him play with it. Indeed, Ms. Jones saw the primal pull of dolls for little girls.

A Ricochet blogger who goes by the name of “Western Chauvinist” is critical of Feminist Mom’s denigration of house work in a post entitled “What Feminists Really Want for Their Daughters: A Maid.”

I also have a message for Feminist Mom: Lighten up.

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