Gendered Toys? Define Gender

I’ve just discovered the beautiful blog that is Raising my Rainbow.
Yes. I’m late to the game.
But these posts got me thinking about gender toys and roles and what they might say about, but more importantly to all the precious, precious children…
In doing so I started dwelling on my own memories of playing with barbie.

I know I had them, I know I played with them.
I know that when I played with my siblings or other kids that we did ‘girl’ things, shopping, matching outfits, combing their hair.
Boring things.
But those boring things were what other kids did with them.
So that’s what I did too… when I was with them.
But what I liked, I needed to be secret… I don’t know why.
I don’t know where the sense of shame even came from at that age…

I liked to tie them up.
I liked to pretend that they were my helpless, pretty, little prisoners. I was fascinated with their smooth, alien skin and the rush, the inflated sense of control I had over something just slightly larger then my hands.

I reread that now and still feel uncomfortable admitting it. The urge to delete it and never post this is quite strong.  Especially now. Since with age it only seems more and more likely that this play had a strange sexual component I had yet to be aware of and yet… barbie is still the only toy that ever inspired me to play this way. Building toys were for building. Wheeled toys were for zooming. Barbie and her expressionless face and fully inanimate body were meant for capture.
I also had a teddybear. I still have a teddybear. His name is Teddy.

His ears acted as his eyebrows, he danced on boneless, noodley-legs and my siblings favorite stuffed friends, would refused to play with him.
Unless, of course Teddy got hit with the ‘baby ray’ that made him well… a baby version of himself.  His normal personality, his tone was too superior, too talkative for them to find him fun otherwise. But he remains my sweet, kind, nonjudgmental listener with years of tears soaked into his tatty fur. He is as REAL as a toy can get.

I can’t remember a single one of my barbie ‘victims’. Not their ‘style’ or even a memorable outfit type. Except maybe… I think there was a space suit…?
They never even had names. They were all just Barbie… I can still hear the vapid giggle in my head at the intoned chime of that name alone.  Barbie, those interchangeable lumps of pretty plastic that only inspired a strange sense of confined and conflicted childhood inquiry.

So you tell me… what ‘gender’ am I and what toys ‘should’ I have played with?


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