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Guys & Dolls

Pinkydinkydoll My son has a doll. Actually, he has several -- including a realistic-looking baby doll we bought to prepare him for his new baby brother and help reinforce lessons like Why We Don't Pick Babies Up By Their Eye Sockets -- but only one of those dolls has his heart.

Pinky Dinky Doo. That's her, over on the left there. Pinky is a character from his favorite preschooler cartoon. She tells stories, uses her imagination, solves problems, likes "big fancy words," etc.

Pinky is not a stuffed animal or an action figure. She's a doll. And she is also, in case you didn't notice, a girl.

So why do people insist on calling my son's doll a "he?"

PInky gets dragged everywhere by her neck, cuddled in bed, hurled around the house during Many Great Adventures, and the plushy nap of her cheeks is already wearing down after hundreds of peanut-butter-faced kisses from the Boy Who Loves Her. We've even witnessed an argument or two, with Pinky being banished to the floor behind the couch instead of taken lovingly to bed at night, but things always seem to be resolved by morning, with my son jumping out of bed and immediately asking for his beloved toy.

We spent last weekend with family, and of course, Pinky Dinky Doo accompanied us. And that's when I first noticed other adults' tendencies to call the doll a "he." Despite the pink pigtail and purple dress, despite us explaining the background of the character and the show and that YES, IT'S A GIRL, they all insisted on referring to Pinky as a "he" and a "him" and "aw, is he your best buddy in the word?" I kept waiting for someone to suggest that Noah and Pinky hit the bars to scope out the laaaaadies.

Finally, I noticed a couple adults made a slight concession and started calling Pinky "it" instead.

So. My toddler prefers Dora to Deigo. He loves loves loves the Olivia books. And yes, Blue the dog from Blue's Clues is a girl, EVEN THOUGH SHE IS BLUE OMG! Pinky Dinky Doo actually hates the color pink, and no, Noah would not prefer the Tyler doll, regardless of whether or not Tyler has hypothetical penis underneath his non-removable cotton/poly blend shorts. 

I'm not trying to make a big thing out of a few people mixing up their pronouns when referring to an inanimate object, but still. Two-year-olds are smart. Mine outsmarts me on a regular basis. I'm down with him picking out the smart, non-whiny (cough Caillou cough Franklin cough) female role models from the television lineup. And I'm down with acknowledging that those role models ARE female.

I'm sure he'll get made plenty aware of all sorts of gender stereotyping bullshit by the time he hits kindergarten, but for now, can't a little boy just carry around a damn doll in peace?

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Amy H

If he likes it that much (and good for him! and you!), you should be sure to get him one or two more for when that one gets too gunked up and torn up to be repaired. My parents learned that lesson the hard way when my beloved "foxy" was eaten by a dog. No one slept for 3 nights until my dad finally drove to Florida and bought several more from the place they bought him originally. (but that was 27 years ago...there is always eBay now)


Someone should have sent you the memo that a boy who plays with dolls is going to grow up to be a masochistic sinner who hates woman...oh wait, I'm sorry, what I meant was that he'll grow up to be a person who empathizes with humans of both genders.

When I was a kid, I'd steal my brother's GI Joe who would then be turned into Barbie's boyfriend (even then I knew Ken was a douche), and look how well balanced I turned out! *ahem*


Is it really any wonder that boys like girl dolls? All toys I have come in contact with that speak or sing have a womans voice. For those of us who stay home with our kids, they spend the day with a woman. Hell, if your kid is in daycare or has a babysitter it is typically a wowman who is looking after them. So, big stinking deal if the boys like girl dolls, get over it! Kids like girls, they are comfortable with girls- SO WHAT if they have a girl doll!
Good for you both for not caring. The inlaws can just suck it up.


Yeah. People see what they want to see, and not reality. Your boy is carrying a toy. Ergo, the toy is male.

I have a black, muscle-y kinda dog. With a pink leash and flowery collar (and no penis). And yet, "How old is he?" "He's a good looking boy." "Does he bite." I've given up.


I spent weeks trying to get twin toddler boys to get interested in dolls. I was their nanny at the time and they were extremely aggressive. To counteract all the throwing and hitting and yelling I showed them dolls. One of them took to it for a little while. He started carrying around this squirrel like a baby and asking me to change it's diaper. He became a little more sensitive and sweet and even calm. Then he forgot about the squirrel and started poking his brother with sticks again. Still, I think those few weeks were really good for his brain to think about empathy and other people in general. So, yeah, dude, the kid should have a doll and it can be whatever gender Noah decides it is, because who cares? The other people can suck it.


Michael just got into Pinky Dinky Do. I don't understand that show AT ALL.


Hello?? Doesn't ANYONE remember "William Has a Doll" from Free to Be...You and Me ???? "'Cause someday he is gonna be a father, too."


PINKY DINKY DOO DOLL? OMG. I wish Charlotte still loved her, that is fab'.


According to my mother in law, she works on a kindergarten, she says that boys like to play with girl stuff, like teacups, and like dolls, and it is normal, and I found it out when my nephew (3 yrs old) was playing with the tea set my daughter (19 months) had just received and that she threw away because she wanted to play with his cars (that he has just received)so it is pretty normal and cute! someday he will be mad at you if you tell his girlfriend the story of him playing with Pinky Dinki Doo when he was little ; )


I just wanted to say that my soon to be three year old son, also loves Pinky. He also has a tonne of stuffies, his favourites are usually pink. Shrug. Whatever. The things that usually bother me are his Dora Dishes, and pink plastic water bottle. It only bothers me when "outsiders" see them though... go figure.


pinky pinky doo is a TOUGH girl, though, b/c she's giving us the finger with her ponytail. so that makes it ok.

seriously, that jumped out at me right away. does her hair really look like that?


Oh, turns out my mom says when I was a baby everyone thought I was a boy. She would put me in little dresses, and even taped a pink bow to my head, and yet still.
So at least they're not doing THAT.


i'd rather my son preferred articulate, imaginative Pinky over whiny Caillou and Franklin (you're right on with those two!) any day.
my daughter prefers diego over dora. so what? but people keep trying to force-feed dora and disney princesses on her.
why are people so into projecting their expectations (read 'fears') onto small children?... one of the many reasons i try to avoid family functions, even though that's near impossible.


My son (now 19) had Trini the Yellow Power Ranger. She went EVERYWHERE with us. He turned out just fine.


Great post! Gender stereotypes and roles are a major issue for me, and I find myself getting up on a soapbox about it probably too often. It's nice to read it from someone else every once in a while!


well... our son likes his toes painted, went with me for a pedi, asked for some play outfits -- a dress -- and plays with barbies... do I think he is gay? Nope, but if he is o well. I beleive you love your children for everything they love and all life offers you. Embrace the toys.. soon our kids will be so caught up in what is cool, and what thire class mates have/want I am cherishing the simple joys of pure children. After all pretty is just plain pretty -- it's not a he thing!


I used to sub in a 3 year old class at my moms CDC, and the dress-up high heels were ONLY used by the boys! :) However, the parents would make snide comments about us letting them wear them. So what did we do??? We would only pull them out in the middle of the day when the parents weren't there!

Kids will be kids. They don't get worked up about it, so neither should we!

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