Overheard on CNN.com: What's a girl toy anyway?
December 22nd, 2011
05:20 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: What's a girl toy anyway?

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Lego launched a new line of toys for girls that features lots of pinks and pastels and introduces characters like the beautician, the social girl, the girl who loves animals and "the smart girl."

This has upset some parents, who say the toys bring back outdated stereotypes of women's roles in the world.

HLNtv.com Art Director Kelly Byrom wrote that her 5-year-old boy would love the "girly" Lego toys and has been known to pair his fireman costume with a tutu to play "fireman princess." She asked why their isn't similar outrage over the "macho" stereotypes in the boy toy aisle.

Her story sparked an interesting conversation about gender roles and how grownups expect little girls and boys to act.  Some commenters said letting a boy run around in frilly pink outfits would make him weak, a target for bullies and possibly even gay. Others said they're just toys and that kids should be allowed to use their imagination.

Where's the outrage over 'macho' Legos?

Some commenters said that boys and girls are different, and that children should be raised knowing that.

Luke Vissering
My son will wear a tutu the day I'm dead. I'm raising my son to be a man and a good man at that. To be helpful, polite and caring. If he plays with a doll, that's fine. He wants to wear a tutu and I'll tell him no. I draw the line there. There is nothing wrong with raising a boy to be a boy.

David Huntwork
If you are indeed truly letting your boy run around in a tutu playing 'fireman' princess not only is that disturbing but probably borderline psychological child abuse. I have three daughers and though we do things like throw the football around or go 'bug hunting' they are still young ladies and not only do I reinforce and encourage that, I remind them of that. Nothing wrong with influencing your daughter with feminine things and your boys with macho things. Understanding and encouraging feminity and masculinity and helping to reinforce gender identity is an important part of being a parent, and you are failing miserably at that if this article isn't just a bit of weird, twisted satire. And where is this boys father who should be providing himself as a proper male role model? If he is in the picture he is doing a horrible job.

Lauren Campbell Bedell
BTW, girls were made to be MOTHERS, and with being a mother we are geared to have certain traits (gentleness, gracefulness, a certain affection for things)...boys are to be men and provide for their families...which means MACHO...hello...that is how nature (and God, if you are a believer) intended it to be. Do you see males acting like females and taking on female roles in the animal world? It does happen, but very rarely...and they're probably the gay ones. LOL. I have nothing against the gay community...I'm just saying. It doesn't make sense for a boy to love things glittery and girly. It just doesn't! Whenever my boys see pink things, they say Ew! I did not TRAIN them that way...in fact, each of my boys have gotten a dollhouse to play with (the Little People kind) as toddlers, but they still grow up hating pink.

Other parents said toys don't have anything to do with kids'  gender identity:

Joe Hatch
Oh dear God people, will you let the kids be kids and play. At 3 my son wore a big purple tutu, he is the center for his hockey team and he helped me drag our deer out this season. My daughter is all girl totally 100% girly and wants an old Chevy pickup with a wood stake bed. Let your kids be kids!

Janeen Winne
I absolutely agree. My son is into princesses, glitter, and rainbows. I constantly have to field questions about how I might be turning him gay. I respond with "what's wrong with being gay" and end up with the litany of "well it's such a hard life" to the traditional religious "it's against God's plan". Meanwhile, it's perfectly acceptable and encouraged for his mother to be very athletic and do hardcore obstacle course runs. For whatever reason, people are really put off by perceived threats to masculinity.

Owen Yarbrough
If she were to constantly restrict her sons interests in pink or her daughters interest in dragons and masculine things, she would raise a child that now is an adult that perpetuates the lessons taught by their parent that pink is for girls ONLY and boys should want to be masculine things when they play, or even worse, the child could grow up hating themselves because they love feminine things and they know their parents feelings towards these objects is negative and the role of their gender in society is not what their parents think is appropriate....moral of story...by repeatedly telling your child that they need to fit a certain gender type or role in society you could potentially make them grow up to hate themselves for not "fitting in" to the things that you consider to be normal. Do you want to indirectly make your kids think you hate them by their inability to meet your expectations.

Reader Jared John Haddock said that letting boy wear pink and tutus might create problems in the future.

You may not care if your boy wears a tutu, but lets talk about the world as it really is. He will not grow up and be confused because he played with a tutu. He will grow up and be confused because the LGBT community will tell him "you played with tutus, you must be true to who you are and be gay". Television will tell him, "you played with tutus as a boy, you must like men", and "it's ok to be who you really are deep inside". It's sophisticated, but it's brainwashing and stereotyping at its best, and by those who claim they are the victims of such stereotyping.

But one gay reader said it didn't work that way.

Adam Zahn
As a gay man, I never played with "girl toys" as a child. I always played with stereotypical toys for boys. That being said, kids will be kids. Forcing a truck in a kid's hand does not make him want to play with a truck anymore then say forcing your kids to play a sport year after year.

Too many people are equating (though not implicitly stating it) that a boy playing with a girl toy is going to end up feminine and gay. That is not exactly how it works. There is a lot of grey to gender.

What do you think? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Filed under: Overheard on CNN.com
soundoff (60 Responses)
  1. Barack-a-buddy

    you could use all the pink bricks to build a Lego gay-bar full of gay Lego firemen. wouldn't that be special!

    December 22, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tcr c2

    I used to find the barbies my older sister would hide and cut off the heads and leave the barbie and take the head and throw it away

    December 22, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ Tcr c2:
    That's too good.
    You brightened my evening.
    Thank you.

    December 22, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. gung hoe

    @banasy barbie probably did that to kens genitalia because shes a lesaian and ken is gay thats why ge did that to barbie!!!

    December 22, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ gung hoe:
    You're...different tonight.
    Well...I'd like to see how far we can go with these ideas.
    We'll certainly need to hear more of hamsta's Wisdom.
    Gee, hamsta, I never knew where those words came from. Sodom. Wow. Mind-blowing intellect!
    did god really destroy those places boy they were really disgusting
    If hamsta claims that he scored more than 105 on an IQ test there's a lie or some money's changing hands involved.

    December 22, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    I am truly tired of hearing stupid people making fun of gay people.
    It is not disgusting to be gay.
    Stupid people and bigots disgust me. That level of thinking is what disgusts me.

    December 22, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tcr c2

    @hey joey, thanks man one of the better things was to find them in a new hiding spot and take all tha clothes off the dolls and hide them in the last hiding place of my sisters leaving barbie stark naked with her friends and ken .or change barbies head with kens head and put his head on barbies body

    December 22, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mark Youngkin

    Parents have the obligation to raise masculine sons and feminine daughters. If your kids reject that teaching, they will reject your teachings and spend thousands of dollars complaining about you to therapists. You can't help that, but you can raise them appropriately. In fact, it's wrong not to.

    December 22, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. banasy©

    I totally agree with your 8:40 sentiment.
    It's amazing to me how people will go out of their way to willfully say stupid things, and when called out on it, say, "whaaaaaat?"

    My jokes about Barbie, Ken, and G.I. Joe (with kung fu grip) were just that: jokes.
    Any thinking person should know that.

    As an aside to Barbie lovers everywhere:
    Why did all of my younger daughter's Barbies end up without clothing in my pool?
    Their eyes would get all black and they'd be Emo Barbie...
    What is *up* with that?

    December 22, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. gung hoe

    @JiFER hey my friend I wasnt making fun of gay people. I hope that you didnt take my post that way. I was just using that as a example of how a childs imagination may be in a continuation of banasys post.And for gods sake the last thing that I would ever do is make fun of gay people one of my best friends was gay until he passed away.

    December 22, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. BOMBO

    I think it would be frustrating to waterboard Tickle Me Elmo. No matter how harsh you were, he would just laugh at you.

    December 22, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Not another Gay rant

    This is not the way we evolved or intended to evolve. There are male and female for a true scientific reason. Whatever you were born, be it male or female, that's the way you were made. Just as the anus is a one way check valve. Evolution gave us a specific s*e*x. Deal with it. Accept it.

    December 22, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. BOMBO

    Hey do they still make those dolls with eyes that closed automatically when you laid them down? Those were freaky.

    December 22, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. india tours

    thats well written..

    December 22, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. banasy©

    @Gung hoe:
    Your friend was gay until he passed away? Then what? He went straight?
    I'm just kidding.

    December 23, 2011 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
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