• You are currently viewing our forum as a guest, which gives you limited access to view most discussions and access our other features. By joining our free community, you will have access to additional post topics, communicate privately with other members (PM), view blogs, respond to polls, upload content, and access many other special features. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free, so please join our community today! Just click here to register. You should turn your Ad Blocker off for this site or certain features may not work properly. If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please contact us by clicking here.

Female vs Male Pasttimes of "Childhood"

Totenkindly

@.~*virinaĉo*~.@
Joined
Apr 19, 2007
Messages
50,423
MBTI Type
BELF
Enneagram
594
Instinctual Variant
sx/sp
Not really sure where to put this thread.

With the Barbie film kicking off a lot of social discourse lately, I saw this post quoted by a female friend of mine on FB. Including here:

“I’ve seen a few men on this platform criticize the Barbie craze or admit they’re ready for it to go away. So, let me tell you a story.

In my early 30s, I went to the apartment (for the first time) of a man I was dating. He had a giant Death Star replica, a Luke Skywalker and a Darth Vader figurine. He was an adult man with toys visible and on display in his home. He wasn’t ashamed or apologetic. His friends thought it was cool. I thought it was odd but didn’t question it (imagine if a new guy/love interest showed up to a 30, 40 or 50-something woman’s home to find Barbie, Ken, Growing Up Skipper and Midge displayed on a shelf). That’s because it’s acceptable for men to acknowledge their childhood. It’s acceptable for men to have toys.

Heck, right now, my 70-something dad has a man cave full of model airplanes, a life-sized Batman and a Darth Vader. I think there is a Superman, too.

Girls and women, however, are societally expected to outgrow and move on from our toys. We’re expected to shift our focus from baby dolls to human babies and from Barbie dolls to being real-life Barbies for our boyfriends and husbands. We are expected to mother baby humans and become the dolls we once dressed up while managing critiques of our body sizes, shapes, careers, makeup and wardrobe choices.

I loved Barbie. I mean, I loved Barbie! But by my teenage years, my collection of Barbies was gathered up and passed on to a younger cousin simply because it was time for me to move on from childish things. But I never stopped loving Barbie.

In fact, I still get excited to see and even visit at stores the Holiday Barbie and all her finery when she comes out each year. I’d have a house full of Barbies if I could. And why can’t I? Well,….

Women are expected to leave behind our childhoods, that essence of who we were, that time of innocence, imagination and wonder. We are expected to leave behind play and playtime.

We’re not really even allowed hobbies except for those that center around home and family.

This is not the case for men. It’s acceptable to hang on to everything from video games to action figures to bike riding. I feel like every guy I ever dated in Austin would spend hours getting muddy on a mountain bike each week.

For so many of us, Barbie is the toy we had to give up along with our girlhood, our childhood. We not only miss her, we miss the girl inside each of us who still loves her and all she represented to us. Barbie could be anything and there was a time we believed we could be, too, before life, societal pressures, reality and patriarchy stepped in, hit us over the head with a pink 2X4, took away our toys, made us grow up and told us it was all our fault anyway.” -- Rachel Elsberry

Just curious whether others identify with Elsberry's comments and to what degree?

I feel only partially informed on this topic due to my trans background and the timing of my transition, as in some ways my experience is a composite of both genders as described. I do still have an awful lot of "things" related to hobbies and cultural phenomena in my house on display (comics gears, Star Wars and other movies paraphernalia/posters, a plethora of Funko and McFarlane figurines), play video games, etc -- although these things are important to me beyond a purely tangible quality.

I remember in my old life that people in my family tended to just view it as eccentric or at worst an endurable immaturity as long as I fulfilled my "adult obligations." Money spent on it was frivolous but a "necessary cost of doing business" I guess and overlooked depending on how much of my time it occupied. I think my AFAB sister had more pressure on her to "grow up" and conform to expectations for a woman esp in religious culture and this meant not playing with toys and being responsible for family -- although men also have pressures on them to grow up, provide, and "achieve." it just seemed like men could get away with it more.

Nowadays I still do/own these kinds of things, and it hasn't changed (except my pockets are much deeper, with my far better paying work, and less people to support in my household). If I still was raising kids and/or married, I think, I would still have pressure on myself to not prioritize any of these things or display such things -- unless I lived vicariously through a husband who approved of the spending and thus it would be "ours".

While females might have had to give up Barbies and similar, there have been things deemed more acceptable -- like dolls (American Girls?), Beanie Babies (remember when that was big?), hummels, Precious Moments figurines (things that "look expensive in a display"), good china (dear god, talking about china patterns when you get married, it's insane) which though ties to a female social expectation to be a hostess and invite large quantities of family, and so on. I think "female toys" are generally expected to serve a more practical purpose even when they exist.

I think less traditional families have more flex. There are a lot of women nowadays who play WoW and similar videogames nowadays, for example, or who enjoy and are invested in franchises. Also... sports is another thing... typically male, but i know a lot of rabid women sports teams fans who spend money on jerseys and other gear.

I dunno. Just curious what other people's experiences (of both genders) have been with this viewpoint.
 

The Cat

Offering FREE Monkey paws down at the Crossroads.
Staff member
Joined
Oct 15, 2016
Messages
24,193
Trigger warning: childhood trauma, existential dread, The color pink.


I'm looking forward to Barbie. Especially because it seems to be a perfect meta movie being exactly as aware of itself and its audience as it should be.
 

Julius_Van_Der_Beak

Up the Wolves
Joined
Jul 24, 2008
Messages
20,023
MBTI Type
INTP
Enneagram
5w6
Instinctual Variant
sp/so
This is interesting. I've never thought about this, but it checks out to me. I haven't seen a lot of displaying of Barbie collections, at least not on the same scale. I assumed a lot of women I've known didn't play with Barbies when they probably did, given the popularity. There is also alternative that always hated getting stuck with pink things and play with Legos or something. And then you probably have women that did played with both. I think kids can be sensible like that, and not care as much about some insignificant categories as adults might.

I played with my sister and her Barbies. I thought it was fun. I never saw anything weird about it. It only occurred to me much later that this kind of thing would really bother some adults (fortunately not my parents).
 
Last edited:

Z Buck McFate

Pepperidge Farm remembers.
Joined
Aug 25, 2009
Messages
6,050
Enneagram
5w4
Instinctual Variant
sx/sp
I don't relate much to the quoted comment, possibly because I never really played with dolls or barbies. When I did, it was only because we were bored and it turned into some outrageous narrative - like once I remember she kept ending up riding her bicycle naked, and this particular bicycle would speed out of control whenever someone got on it naked, so it kept speeding out of control and killing people because she kept (mysteriously) ending up on it naked. Or another recurring game was making sure all the dolls got on a spaceship to escape Big Bad Billy's (older neighbor who was bully) diarrhea fartballs. Super classy stuff like that. It was about making ourselves laugh as hard as possible and there wasn't much attachment to the actual dolls. I have no idea what happened to them, but I don't remember any pressure to leave them behind. And though it does seem acceptable for grown men to have 'collectables', I actually do remember boys in junior highschool being ridiculed mercilessly for still 'playing' with GI Joe or Star Wars toys.

I kinda want to say it's more about it being more socially acceptable to have sci-fi toys than Barbie toys than it is a male vs female thing, because it doesn't seem less acceptable for a woman to have sci-fi collectables? I was personally far more into Battlestar Galactica, Logan's Run (tv series), or V than Brady Bunch or typically girly shows, so that might be why I'm not seeing it. By sheer luck, I happen to align with the acceptable stuff.

ETA: I do vaguely remember pressure in grade school from peers and adults (other than my parents, who didn't really care) to like girl toys more than I did. I had to pretend liking Strawberry Shortcake or Smurfs when playing with other girls to avoid being made fun of. But that didn't really last past grade school. It's maybe indirectly relevant here.
 
Last edited:

Saturnal Snowqueen

Solastalgia 𓍊𓋼𓍊𓋼𓍊
Joined
Jan 9, 2019
Messages
6,139
MBTI Type
FELV
Enneagram
974
Instinctual Variant
so/sp
This is actually kinda heartbreaking to read. I wouldn't say I LOVED Barbie but as a kid I liked playing with them and sometimes...killed them off. I remember getting a Barbie at 11 and feeling old for one, but I excused it cause I cut her hair into my favorite character at the time(Tecna from Winx Club) and got a Ken to look like Timmy. My mom was worried I'd make them have sex. Oof. Luckily though, I had some "childish" interests for my age and my family was pretty accepting. I liked My Little Pony until I was 16 and had some toys(well, I still like it just not as hardcore). My family pokes fun at me for watching cartoons and my Pokemon tattoo, but I point out how many 40 year old men love Pokemon. I do get sad when I think I've found some adult merch of my nerdy interest but it's aimed towards kids, or if I see a certain brand/style I like is geared towards kids, or crafts kits when I just want to make stepping stones.

At 23, I love dolls more than I did when I was a kid. I only have a few porcelain dolls at the moment, but I want to get some ball jointed dolls and American Girl Dolls when I actually get the room to put them up. What can I say? There's so much history behind dolls, Barbie especially with all the progressive dolls they've made, and they're just so pretty. Ball jointed dolls require a lot of effort. And if your mom couldn't afford a $150 Molly McIntire doll as a kid, well, now's the time to get it. I even see it with my parents; my dad's part of the room has a bunch of Charlie Brown merch and my stepmom has well, nothing. I never really questioned it from a gender perspective, but the closest thing she has to toys is pinkifying her Jeep.

I am not ashamed of my toys. I have a shelf full of beanie babies, which ironically came from an old friend at work whose mom told him it's time to let go of the Beanie Babies. Pokemon figures, posters, the Annoying Orange plush my dad won me years ago after using 20 dollars on a crane machine. I think the women and toys thing has getting better over the years because of geek culture in general being more accepted, but it still hasn't gone away really. I used to think other women were boring cause of this, but they're kinda forced to be boring and it sucks cause we've been made to serve. Growing up is so pointless...
 
Last edited:
C

Curious-Skeptical

Guest
This is really interesting. Thank you for raising the issue. Obviously, this speaks to some, given the social media engagement. But does it go beyond that?

The question is whether these observations are accurate. It seems the author isn't familiar with Hello Kitty! The other cultural phenom is Cosplay - which is hardly male dominated. In fact, the opposite seems true.

And forgive my skepticism about ANY Barbie messaging that might encourage women to buy Mattel products. Elsberry is a fellow Austinite, best known for her TV work. She's left that (like so many in the news business) for public relations. Would the meaning of this messaging change if it were part of the massive Mattel marketing campaign (reportedly $150 million - bigger than the movie's production budget) - or from a PR person looking to get in on that action?
 

Siúil a Rúin

when the colors fade
Joined
Apr 23, 2007
Messages
14,061
MBTI Type
ISFP
Enneagram
496
Instinctual Variant
sp/sx
This could well be true of social norms, so it gave me a bit of a chuckle because I'm the worst for holding onto my childhood and I'm a woman. However, I don't "obey" social norms. I sleep with a teddy bear, order muppets on a whim, although my mother was a kindergarten teacher full of fun and childlike, and I also have a quiet "don't give a fook" about social norms because I've always found them kinda absurd.

This is in part because i was raised in a very conservative religion that would have meetings for men and women and would literally define the differences. For women they would say things like they are good at multitasking, love to talk on the phone, have many pictures of friends in their wallets, etc., and I was always thinking, you make it sound like I'm a man. It didn't make me feel I had to do it, but made me feel really out of place and like I don't belong or fit expectations. Socially I never tried to get approval from the attractive, wealthy, socially powerful group. I hung out with all the misfit toys to try to cheer them up and then I'd play with animals.

I am sorry for people who feel pressured out of their childhood, but I really do believe it isn't too late to have a happy childhood. Just buy and display the Barbie doll and Weeble Wobbles. I'd rather filter out potential friends and partners who can't handle it. If people think I'm weird, I'm comfortable with the notion "then we agree on something".
my room.jpg
 

Siúil a Rúin

when the colors fade
Joined
Apr 23, 2007
Messages
14,061
MBTI Type
ISFP
Enneagram
496
Instinctual Variant
sp/sx
I do have a doll collection I used to display in my 20's but either one or both of my last partners thought it was creepy, so I packed them up. I guess I did give into that pressure. In my 30's it felt creepy to me because i had dolls instead of children. They all have special meaning and memories, so I hope to eventually display them. I look forward to growing old in some ways because I'll be able to get away with even more fun as a charming little old lady. I will definitely get the full benefit out of that place in life when I get there and have a good head start.
 

Totenkindly

@.~*virinaĉo*~.@
Joined
Apr 19, 2007
Messages
50,423
MBTI Type
BELF
Enneagram
594
Instinctual Variant
sx/sp
For women they would say things like they are good at multitasking, love to talk on the phone, have many pictures of friends in their wallets, etc., and I was always thinking, you make it sound like I'm a man.
I am good at multitasking but that's about it -- I'm not sure that's even a gender-specific trait, it's just that men in western culture are allowed to work one career typically while the chores delegated to women (often around child-rearing and house-maintaining) demand that you multitask regularly. I dunno. I have a few male friends who seem to like the phone far more than me and I don't even have any kind of wallet now and rarely would have pictures in it aside from one of my kids.

people seem to identify their gender sense in whatever gendered expectations exist around them but it's not like people naturally align with them and they don't really think about how other cultures or contexts might modify the gender expectations.

I am sorry for people who feel pressured out of their childhood, but I really do believe it isn't too late to have a happy childhood. Just buy and display the Barbie doll and Weeble Wobbles. I'd rather filter out potential friends and partners who can't handle it. If people think I'm weird, I'm comfortable with the notion "then we agree on something".
I totally forgot about Weebles! :) I also had not thought a long time about my stuffed animals, but I loved stuffed animals growing up. I had a good 10-15 of them on my bed into late middle school (I don't recall about high school) and each had their own special place surrounding me at night, so I kind of had a wall of animals positioned there while I slept.

I do have one Barbie sitting on a shelf nearby in my office. Of course, she is "computer laptop guru" Barbie. Even my Barbie is a geek.

I think too as you say that it's not too late to just enjoy one's life. Adults are nothing more than grown-up kids and it doesn't mean the things we loved necessarily are things we no longer love. It's all still a part of us. All those years and ages, but they are all embodied in the individual.
 

The Cat

Offering FREE Monkey paws down at the Crossroads.
Staff member
Joined
Oct 15, 2016
Messages
24,193
I am good at multitasking but that's about it -- I'm not sure that's even a gender-specific trait, it's just that men in western culture are allowed to work one career typically while the chores delegated to women (often around child-rearing and house-maintaining) demand that you multitask regularly. I dunno. I have a few male friends who seem to like the phone far more than me and I don't even have any kind of wallet now and rarely would have pictures in it aside from one of my kids.

people seem to identify their gender sense in whatever gendered expectations exist around them but it's not like people naturally align with them and they don't really think about how other cultures or contexts might modify the gender expectations.


I totally forgot about Weebles! :) I also had not thought a long time about my stuffed animals, but I loved stuffed animals growing up. I had a good 10-15 of them on my bed into late middle school (I don't recall about high school) and each had their own special place surrounding me at night, so I kind of had a wall of animals positioned there while I slept.

I do have one Barbie sitting on a shelf nearby in my office. Of course, she is "computer laptop guru" Barbie. Even my Barbie is a geek.

I think too as you say that it's not too late to just enjoy one's life. Adults are nothing more than grown-up kids and it doesn't mean the things we loved necessarily are things we no longer love. It's all still a part of us. All those years and ages, but they are all embodied in the individual.
I still have mine
 

Saturnal Snowqueen

Solastalgia 𓍊𓋼𓍊𓋼𓍊
Joined
Jan 9, 2019
Messages
6,139
MBTI Type
FELV
Enneagram
974
Instinctual Variant
so/sp
I just came back to this thread to show off this doll I found at a flea market, she's so poofy and I love her. They're called bed dolls, and apparently an aunt of mine made some awhile back but she's long dead. I wonder where they all went, but I'm glad to find this little treasure. Only 10 bucks, so I was shocked.

IMG_20230808_161733.jpg
 

Maou

Mythos
Joined
Jun 20, 2018
Messages
6,143
MBTI Type
INTP
Enneagram
5w4
Instinctual Variant
sx/sp
I think its more or less to do with how much woman more willingly follow societal expectations. Guys tend to not give a shit about what people in society think or say about them, and do what makes them happy instead, to their own detriment sometimes (aka the man child). While woman are concern with appearing mature, and fitting in, and not wanting to be judged.
 

Julius_Van_Der_Beak

Up the Wolves
Joined
Jul 24, 2008
Messages
20,023
MBTI Type
INTP
Enneagram
5w6
Instinctual Variant
sp/so
The way I see it, most people regardless of gender are slaves to conformity, and the ones who aren't get forced into it eventually, anyway. Gotta love society.
 

Sacrophagus

Mastermind Fieldmarshal
Joined
Jul 11, 2017
Messages
1,700
MBTI Type
ENTJ
Enneagram
854
It's on her if she feels pressured to give up on herself. That's her choice. Sometimes men want to feel "mature" as well and discard part of themselves. If they leave their passion behind, it's on them as well. No discrimination.

I have two sisters who have grown up kids and they both are still playful, amusingly enjoy being childish, and they would gush at the idea of hugging a teddy bear. Playing is part of being a human being. Some embrace it, some choose to discard it. I want to display model cars, you want to display Barbies, who cares?

The way I see it, most people regardless of gender are slaves to conformity, and the ones who aren't get forced into it eventually, anyway. Gotta love society.

If you have some spine, don't conform and let them suck it. Do it on your terms and live with the consequences.
 

Totenkindly

@.~*virinaĉo*~.@
Joined
Apr 19, 2007
Messages
50,423
MBTI Type
BELF
Enneagram
594
Instinctual Variant
sx/sp
I just came back to this thread to show off this doll I found at a flea market, she's so poofy and I love her. They're called bed dolls, and apparently an aunt of mine made some awhile back but she's long dead. I wonder where they all went, but I'm glad to find this little treasure. Only 10 bucks, so I was shocked.
I remember seeing so many dolls like that in my grandparents' and great-relatives houses growing up.

The way I see it, most people regardless of gender are slaves to conformity, and the ones who aren't get forced into it eventually, anyway. Gotta love society.

It's really hard to be truly free sometimes -- one either gets sucked into conformity or one actively rejects conformity, but both are reactions against the forces of conformity and framed by it. Somehow you have to perceive what you really want and do it regardless of how it aligns with conformance.
 
Top