No, I don’t mean it in that sense. I mean literally: why so many distinctions between toys for boys and toys for girls? Let’s even make an assumption with which I don’t really agree: that boys and girls have some innate preferences as to toys — boys liking trucks and girls liking dolls, for example. (Cf. Larry Summers on his girls turning toy trucks into a “family.”) Can we still agree that we shouldn’t push gender roles on kids unnecessarily? For a specific example (the one that’s setting me off on this rant): do we really need to designate certain blocks as being for boys and others as being for girls?
We were shopping for a one year-old girl’s birthday. We bought her the “boy” blocks and said a prayer to Larry Summers that we’re not giving her gender identity issues that will scar her for life.
For my daughter’s one-year birthday, a friend bought her a fire truck she can ride that, when you push a button, plays one of three “firefighter songs” — a male voice singing about how he’s on his way, etc. Actually, all three voices are male, which I found troubling because firefighting is such a male-dominated field (in contrast to policing, which has gotten pretty diverse, even though the basic skills needed are pretty similar) that I don’t think it’s a wonderful idea to convey that only men are firefighters. Ultimately, it’s become her favorite toy — and she uses it as a truck, not as part of a family, like Larry Summers’s daughter. So I’m quite proud that Piper Moss aspires to be a firefighter. (I’m trying to ignore the possibility that I’m interpreting her interest wrong, that her real interest is in being a “fireman groupie”!)
– Scott Moss