Monday, December 10, 2012

Forty years later: "William wants a doll"

Today I heard Marlo Thomas interviewed on NPR (a lovely interview so worth clicking on the link) about her landmark song "William wants a doll" which was based on the 1972 book William's Doll by Charlotte Zolotov.



I showed my boys the Marlo Thomas clip tonight and it started some interesting conversations about bullying and sexism (a term my little guys are very familiar with). They watched it twice and my youngest couldn't stop humming the tune (which means I am going to have to buy the album!).

It is disheartening to fast forward 40 years and realise that while the world has definitely changed for the better in terms of gender equality and expectations, in the area of toys things have in fact gone backwards.

In most stores toys are rigidly divided along gender lines. When they are not actually separated into girls and boys aisles - which may be indicated by explicit signs or colour coding - the way toys are packaged often sends a not too subtle message about who a toy is intended for. And in no section of the toy department is this more true than the packaging and placement of dolls.






10 comments:

  1. My youngest has a 'baby'. Its a teddy he drags about everywhere. It doesnt ever get left behind, gets cuddled, put in safe places while he plays, and tucked into bed. My youngest is also empathetic, caring and affectionate. If thats because I let him have a 'baby' I'll let him have as many as he likes.

    I have seen too many little boys turned into hard tough kids. They need to learn its ok to be mushy every now and then.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awww... I love that. And of course boys and girls both need to learn empathy and nurturing. I have found my small boys playing mummies and daddies with their dinosaurs ;-)
      And completely agree on the way boys soon learn to cover up and act tough. Is heartbreaking.
      Michelle

      Delete
  2. I love this clip. I'm just like the nana in it having bought my grandson his first doll. Of course bought his father a doll when he was little too. And that was 33 years ago. I think 'william wants a doll' will contribute to the #destroythejoint campaign. Fabulous!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so that Nana! You and mum were always the bomb on this stuff. Remember the carpentry sets and technical lego for K? I of course just wanted my dollies ;-)
      And following your lead I of course inundated J with dollies. His favourite with hairdressing head Barbie because it had hair he was allowed to cut.
      You need to dive down the you tube whole - there are heaps more songs and clips of explicitly anti-sexist material all from the 70s.
      M xx

      Delete
  3. Well that was just GOSH DARN adorable! Great post and great point. I love Marlo Thomas. Would you even believe me if I told you I have a DOLL of HER? Because I do. Would you believe me if I told you I worked in Toys before too?

    The theory of conditioning over innate desire is a very tricky one. In one experiment, a group of researchers hypothesised that the boys would play with the tea set and the girls would play with the truck. They let children into the room and their hypothesis was proven: The truck was painted pink, and the tea set was black and set with rubbery spikes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have fallen down the you tube hole! There is so much material. And yes I would believe you have a Marlo Thomas doll ;-)
      For me, I really don't even care so much if it is nature or nurture. The culture still so strongly promotes particular ways of being male and female that it is impossible to untangle. A great book on this is Pink Brain, Blue Brain by Cordelia Fine (for your spare time).
      I have tried to take a similar approach to my 70s mum and provide my kids of both genders with all the different sorts of toys. And while they often do conform to gender expectations, they don't always (thank god says the feminist mama). In fact this weekend my daughter spent her pocket money on a pricey remote control car.
      Michelle

      Delete
  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I wanted tο thanκ уοu for this
    grеat reаd!! Ӏ аbsolutеly enjoyed
    еvеry bit οf it. I've got you book-marked to look at new things you post…

    Here is my web-site :: what does going green mean ()

    ReplyDelete
  6. I drop a leaνe a resроnse ωhen I espеcially enjoy a article οn a website or if I have ѕomething to valuable to cοntribute to the conѵersation.
    Usually it’ѕ а result οf thе sinсeгneѕѕ communicated in the pоst I read.

    Αnԁ aftеr this article Quееn Of Charms

    my web site - losing weight after 50 with pilates

    ReplyDelete
  7. I every time ѕpent my half an hour to reаԁ this weblog’s content еvery day along with a mug of coffeе.



    Herе іs mу ωeb-ѕite :: gardening - https://projects.eloraconsulting.com/ -

    ReplyDelete