The blue toy kitchen. Pink Legos. Any parent who has tried shake it up in the playroom on the gender front knows that it can be a mixed bag. And that toys -- whether plastic and Disney-fied or wooden and organic -- send a message to our kids. (We're still not over the one delivered with the new and improved Easy-Bake Oven.)
Which is why we loved "The Gender Politics of the Dollhouse" post that we saw on Jezebel by Lisa Wade, a professor of sociology at Occidental College. After seeing a tweet about "gender-neutral dollhouses," Wade gave her professional opinion about the messages that some of the current offerings send to kids (okay, girls), writing: "Among the 22 bestselling dollhouses at Toys R Us, four came without people, six came with a preponderance of females, ten came with a male, female, and children, and there were two I couldn't categorize."
Wade then divides the dollhouses into two types -- family-focused (like the Fisher-Price Loving Family Home for the Holidays) and friendship-focused with a whiff of girl power (like the Exclusive Barbie Malibu Dreamhouse). The latter "had only women or, more often, a group of women and one man. They gave the impression of female home-ownership and female-dominated social interaction," she writes, adding that they somehow manage to send girls the positive message "that they can have fulfilling lives and own homes without a husband." (Just like the bikini-clad astronomer Barbie pictured.)
Of course, we have absolutely no idea where this leaves boys, but maybe that's beside the point. I gave my two boys the Playmobil "Summer House" above and when left to their own devices, it was turned into a "construction site." (Note demolition vehicles at left.)