If You Buy It, They Will Play

What Women Really Think
March 9 2011 1:49 PM

If You Buy It, They Will Play

/blogs/xx_factor/2011/03/09/most_boys_dont_play_with_dollhouses_because_they_dont_have_dollhouses/jcr:content/body/slate_image

Holly, I love that you're thinking about buying your boys a dollhouse. I'd do it, and here's why: Yes, some researchers have shown that even though a lot of the boy/girl, pink/blue toy divide is adult imposed , boys may indeed have an innate preference for cars and girls for dolls . But it's hardly conclusive research-and who cares? I'm pretty sure neither boys nor girls show an innate preference for blocks-but building with blocks is fun, and no playroom should be without them. By buying a dollhouse, setting it up and establishing Woody, Buzz, and the Army men as residents, you're setting up a whole new way for them to play with their toys. What 3-year-old wouldn't love that?

Advertisement

Here's the catch: At some point, they will be in a public setting-preschool, toy store, doctor's office-and they will wander over to the dollhouse, and some other boy will say: "Hey! Boys don't play with dollhouses!" It's going to happen. I live, as one of my friends put it, well behind the tofu curtain in a land where boys are given dolls and allowed to wear dresses pretty much as a matter of course, and it happens here anyway. Your hope, of course, is that your boys will look at the interloper, point out that he is inherently wrong: They are boys, and here they are, playing with a dollhouse-and get on with smashing Buzz into the dollhouse toilet. But if they don't have a dollhouse at home, how will they know?

I have two boys and two girls, and a too-wide selection of toys. In fact, of my two younger kids, the boy is far more likely to play dolls with his older sister than the girl is, although they're equally likely to play with trucks. I'm always surprised, and a little disappointed, if I do go to a friend's house where the toys are all purely gender biased. And I suspect those boys who look at my son's American Girl doll with scorn come from just such a house. Don't let it be yours!

Photograph of dollhouse courtesy Wikimedia COmmons.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Alabama’s Insane New Abortion Law Gives Fetuses Lawyers and Puts Teenage Girls on Trial

Tattoo Parlors Have Become a Great Investment

Natasha Lyonne Is Coming to the Live Culture Gabfest. Are You?

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

The Secret Service’s Big Problems Were Reported Last Year. Nobody Cared.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 2 2014 11:01 AM It Wasn’t a Secret A 2013 inspector general report detailed all of the Secret Service’s problems. Nobody cared.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 2 2014 12:10 PM Women of America, Here Are the Cities Where You Can Find Marriageable Men
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 2 2014 11:07 AM Mapping 1890 Manhattan's Crazy-Quilt of Immigrant Neighborhoods
  Double X
Doublex
Oct. 2 2014 11:34 AM Alabama’s Insane New Abortion Law Putting teenage girls on trial may finally be too much for the Supreme Court.
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 2 2014 12:04 PM The Audio Book Club Debates Gone Girl, the Novel
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 2 2014 11:41 AM Dropbox Recruiting Video Features Puppets and Data Privacy
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 2 2014 9:49 AM In Medicine We Trust Should we worry that so many of the doctors treating Ebola in Africa are missionaries?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?