I’d like to argue for a more inclusive way of talking about toys. Instead of using the word “girly” as a synonym for “dopey” or “frivolous” or referring to “playing with dolls” in a dismissive way, let’s recognize the value of “girl” and “boy” toys. To say that playing with dolls is not as important as playing with blocks, we are creating a hierarchy of play and sending children the message that some interests are better than others.
And it has implications on the professions that grow out of these interests- it’s no secret that the salaries in the male-dominated engineering (building stuff) field are much higher than the salaries in the female-dominated teaching (communicating and taking care of people) field.
Here are three toys that are generally thought of as being for girls and why they are not to be dismissed. In fact these toys are so important that children’s museums include them in their exhibits, and though I’m completely biased, I happen to think that’s a great metric for evaluating a play experience.
1. Baby Dolls
A boy and girl with baby dolls at the Iowa Children's Museum
Photo by Jody Landers.
Historic dollhouse on display at Boston Children's Museum.
3. Play Kitchens
The Rainbow Market at Children's Discovery Museum of
San Jose features a play kitchen with child-sized appliances.