10 February 2008

What Boys Play With

Peggy Orenstein in "Girls Will Be Girls" in the New York Times today:

"In another study of younger children, Cherney and London found that if ushered alone into a room and told they could play with anything, nearly half the boys chose “feminine” toys as often as “masculine” ones, provided they believed nobody, especially their fathers, would find out."

Orenstein adds, "That made me question whether any more expansive vision of girlhood can survive without a similar overhaul of boyhood, which, apparently, is not in the offing."

In my household, the attempt is in the offing. It's an attempt that is thwarted every time we walk out the door. There must be other parents out there who are revisiting "Free To Be You And Me" but this time, trying to expand opportunities for the emotional and imaginative life of boys. It sounds terribly retro, I know. There's still work to be done in changing the limits on girls' lives. But it's a closely related challenge, to raise boys who will respect and honor the new generation of girls.