“Mummy, can I have a blue dollhouse?”
This is one of those strange and unexpected sentences from your little one that bends your tired parent-mind at the least expected moment. “A blue dollhouse…?” Looking down at my little boy, eyes wide and eagerly waiting for an answer, a few things rush through my mind. First of all, my brain scans the words “dollhouse” and “blue” and the boy’s request itself. Then, I find that I’m asking myself some weird questions I’ve never thought of before.
- Are dollhouses for girls only (?!)
- Is blue for boys only (??!)
- Are there really no blue dollhouses out there (???!).
- Are there in fact – no dollhouses for boys?
- Why does my son not feel comfortable going for a pink one, and why is there nothing on the market that makes him feel comfortable to choose?
Moments like these, where we fail to neatly untangle all of this confusion to produce a clear and automatic answer for ourselves and our kids are usually defining ones. In other words, ones that provoke thought, and subsequently – change. What the boy asked for, and the way he chose to ask for it, means a lot.
2 Quick Google Image Searches: “Dollhouses” and “Dollhouses for boys”
Searching online, one can get a clear indication of what’s available out there. Here are 2 Google Image Searches to demonstrate the point:
- IMAGE 1 – When putting the words “kids’ dollhouse” into Google Images, you see a decidedly pink landscape, clearly geared towards girls. Only girl models are playing with the toys in the pictures. The essence is clearly domestic (cooking, cleaning, caring for babies).
- IMAGE 2 – When putting the words “dollhouse for boys” into Google Images, the leading theme is superheroes, firefighters, and other very non-domestic, non-realistic scenes which do not represent real life in the house. The essence is clearly adventure orientated.
There were no classic dollhouses for boys to be found, and none in blue. For example, the only ones available were light-wood in colour, completely dull – and and for some reason – the detail and charm in these neutrally coloured toys seemed to be flushed away with the colour itself! These were bland, non-committing and decidedly minimalist. Frankly, just not exciting for a child. Also, these anaemic dollhouses seem to be pretentiously “niche”, and more to make a point than for the kids to actually enjoy. In my view, these “gender neutral dollhouses” should not be niche whatsoever – but the norm!
Bottom line, our sons will grow up needing to know domestic skills, and let’s face it – all kids love a miniature and realistic simulation of REAL life, in the form of a dollhouse. No boy should feel ashamed to want to play with dollhouses, a simple simulation of real life around the house.
Domestic-Play for Girls, Adventure-Play for Boys
This categorisation of “domestic for girls, adventure for boys” reminds me of an inverse example. In 2014, a 7-year old girl wrote a letter to LEGO that as a result, went viral. She writes in the letter: “all the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach and shop… boys had adventures, worked, saved people, had jobs and even swam with sharks! I want you to make more lego girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun ok!?!”. More on LEGO and Gender here.
Why this Division is a Problem
Based on the above, here are 2 important questions we should ask ourselves:
- If the goal of the classic dollhouse is to emulate real life, why do boys not get this marketed to?
- Why are our shopping choices, and the growing character of our kids defined by the retail market?
Shifting Perspectives & Questioning Norms
When you become a parent, it all changes. From the micro-reality of managing your daily life to the macro-reality of time and space itself. Sleep becomes a whole new currency in its own right, and there’s way too much “stuff” everywhere. The most striking bolt of change is probably how we question our perspectives. Each and every one of them. We tend to reopen ancient and ironclad conventions after decades, and suddenly we realize that the more we thought we knew, the less we actually do. Above all, we have a brand new will to be even better than ever, more than we thought possible. For them.
The division itself of boys and girls in the retail market, with the dollhouse being the perfect example, creates an astonishing ripple effect. Likewise, many of us are a product of this exact engineering – this is for boys, that’s for girls; this is in blue, that’s in pink. In fact, the blue-pink divide neatly holds this whole questionable consensus together – kids and parents can identify quickly what’s for boys and what’s for girls. Dollhouses, which are to emulate domestic life, are for girls. They are also typically pink.
Why are our kids’ toys lagging so far behind?
The answer is probably inertia, habit and well – profit. An “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude. This deadly combination between legacy and retail strategy creates the picture we see before us today. As a result, this divide by gender doubles the amount of merchandise that will be bought and the reasons for producers to maintain it is very clear. For our little ones though, how confusing must it be? At what cost is all this coming to their confidence and learning about how this world truly is? This is the very reason that finding boys’ dollhouses is still a nearly impossible feat, and this predicament is extremely telling and symbolic about our kids’ toys as a whole.
Today, we live in an age of idealistic awakening in many fields. People are questioning everything, and are less afraid of change than ever before. Currently, anything that involves divisions and sectioning of humanity and even species are being viewed through a new lens. In other words, inconveniencing our Now, for a better future. For progress of humanity. This should be no exception and we ought to strive for a progressive childhood for our little ones based on freedom, pure thought and absence of meaningless divisions and moulds.
To sum up, kids should be empowered to explore a variety of toys and activities that emulate and mirror the real world, in order to build confidence, express themselves freely, while finding their true passions. This is the recipe for happy and empowered kids, and this is our duty as parents to give them the widest pallet of thought paths and activities in order to grow and flourish.
New Dawn Kids Domestic-Play Line, Including Gender Neutral Dollhouses
In our domestic category of toys, you will find a wonderful variety of gender neutral and domestic toys for boys and girls – and we even have a selection gender neutral dollhouses for boys and girls! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or would like to know more about our collection. We would like to make “boy dollhouses” a thing, as they should be, and remove gender from the topic of toys. The reason is simple – it’s unnecessary.