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Adventures in Babysitting: Gender and Stuffed Animals

I've been babysitting for a family with three kids for over a month now and I've gotten a chance to observe the dynamic between siblings. 

I never had siblings so this is all new to me. Trying to keep the 6 year old girl and 5 year old boy from fighting each other is harder than it sounds. On top of that there's a 6 month old little girl. But I'm not going to write about how hard it is to help raise three kids part time in this post. I wanted to write about something interesting I observed today that i never really payed attention to before.

Stuffed animals! We all had them. We love them... I still have mine lined up above my bed...
But does anyone remember assigning your stuffed animals a gender? I do. Most of mine were boys, I don't really know why. Some of mine changed gender depending on how I was feeling that day. 

Well today I noticed that assigning your stuffed animals a gender wasn't just something I did as a kid. The 6 year old girl, lets call her A, and the 5 year old boy, let's call him B, got out all their stuffed animals and put them in a pile.

From that pile, A segregated hers and B did so too. I noticed that most of A's were pink and red, while B's stuffed animals were green, blue, and brown. So here's the interesting part...

They started lining their stuffed animals up and A asked B if he had any girls to which he looked over all his stuffed animals and replied "no." Then, A made two lines, one for the boys and one for the girls. 

Now I assumed that all of A's were going to be girls and all of B's stuffed animals were going to be boys (just like he said). But about half of A's were considered boys. This was so interesting to me, how A had both boy and girl genders assigned to her stuffed animals but all of B's were considered boys.

Why is it that young girls have both boy and girl stuffed animals but young boys it seems like wouldn't be caught dead with a pink flamingo stuffed animal?

Does society really shun little boys who want to play with a pink or lilac stuffed animal but not bat an eye at a little girl who plays with a green and brown alligator?

These are stuffed animals... and colors, why do people make such a big deal about it. I mean, this topic can be opened up to toys in general and who they are marketed for.

I know this has been the topic of debate for quite some time now, but I had never experienced it first hand to where it sparked my attention. Like I said.. most of my stuffed animals were boys or gender benders, so I never knew what the problem was. (Now that I think of it... I don't think I had a single pink stuffed animal... but my favorite color now is pink - growing up, it was green).

These kids play with each others toys. A plays with B's Transformers and B gets his nails painted when A brings out the nail polish. These kids don't understand gender yet and how society views things, but when it comes to something personal, like stuffed animals, B is set on an all male population. This to me is so interesting. 

Are females more open than males are? Or is it that we are subconsciously teaching our children that girls can be girly or a tomboy but boys have to be only manly or they are considered girly? And even though we are trying to get rid of this mindset, it is still so ingrained in our minds that we can't help but fall into these traps? 

Why is this so complicated?

Maybe this is just an isolated example, but I know many other boys who only have boy gendered stuffed animals or toys, yet girls who have both.

These are the things people trained in psychology think about when babysitting. Haha.
Oh dear.

This post first appeared on Agunia's Secret Garden, please read the originial post: here

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Adventures in Babysitting: Gender and Stuffed Animals


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