At the Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood blog, we were warned this week about a “troubling development in the realm of video games.” A new version of Grand Theft Auto, perhaps? I mean, there’s reason to be troubled by the extreme level of violence in that video game, or in one like Mortal Kombat. So I understand a “troubling development” where players are allowed to stab and kill their graphically-represented enemies at will. But no, turns out it’s nothing like that. Instead, the “troubling development” about which we should be wringing our hands is a Star Wars game, called Star Wars: The Old Republic, that “has announced that it will include ‘same gender relationship arcs.’”
To be fair, the blog post was quoting Focus on the Family’s Citizen magazine, which had this to say: “There are lots of video games you wouldn’t want your kids playing. But a Star Wars game—well, that’s pretty safe, right? Guess again . . . The way it works is that players will have certain ‘companions’—not other players, but characters built into the game. When (say) your son Johnny is playing, ‘companions’ may ask him whether he wants a gay relationship.”The whole scenario strikes me as kind of stupid, but then I find every video and computer game to be a colossal waste of time. I’m actually surprised that Focus on the Family would believe a Star Wars game “pretty safe.” We don’t allow Star Wars Wii games at our house, not because of the potential for same gender relationship arcs, but because they are exceedingly violent—even the Legos version of the game. You’d think, at least, that Lego characters wouldn’t be in to blood and gore.
At any rate, thank goodness the folks at the Vision Forum have come through with Christian toys for every girl and boy on your list, so that you won’t have to deal with those presumably pesky gay-themed Star Wars video games. And, just to make it easy, they’ve distinguished the list of boy toys from the girl toys, so we can make purchase decisions based, they tell us, on toys that will “equip boys for manhood,” and those that will “equip girls for womanhood.” Because I’m a good mother of two boys, and because I definitely want to use this Christmas season to equip my kids for their manhood, I decided to look at these toys first. And thank goodness I did; no whiff of “same gender relationship arcs” here!
In addition to the stagecoach action set I could buy and dinosaur figurines (what? There were no dinosaurs in the Garden!), I can also purchase those very things that will make my kids men: that is, the Camo Hunting Truck with Boat Action Figures or the Deer Hunter with Bow & Rifle Action Figures Set. ‘Cause nothing says Christian manhood like a Camo Hunting Truck. Should I want to go for something else a little more manly, I could click on the Vision Forum’s “weapons and gear” link, and find all kinds of stuff, from play rifles to handguns. Since my kids like Lego, I could check out the “Lego-compatible” toys(which apparently are another attempt by a Christian manufacturer to circumvent trademark laws instead of inventing their own damn ideas). Again, I might find there the manliest of toys, and know my boys would be drawn most to the Lego-compatible military action sets, which come with guns and missiles, so I could equip my boys for manhood by teaching them to bomb the crap out of enemies, for sure.
A friend first pointed me to the Vision Forum site a few months ago; she has a new daughter (after three boys), and was intrigued by the toys offered to “equip girls for womanhood.” To their credit, the Vision Forum offers a listing for “adventure and outdoors” toys for girls, and not all of these toys deal with camp stove gear and first aid kits (to nurse others back to help, I presume). There are lots and lots of dolls, which is logical, including more American Girl doll knock-offs in the vein of the P31 dolls. This is the Beautiful Girlhood Doll Collection, promising little girls lots of “mommy practice.” Inexplicable, at least to me, are the specifically designed, historically accurate outfits you can buy for the Beautiful Girlhood Dolls, including Sacagawea, Dolley Madison, Maria Von Trapp, and Nan Harper, who once strolled the “deck of the Titanic” (before the deck sunk, I hope).
I was actually feeling a little underwhelmed by Vision Forum toys for girls site, wondering if my snarkiness had been tempered by the haze of Christmas joy. Until I read the site’s commitment statement. Turns out, the toys created specifically for girls are intended to “rebuild a culture of virtuous womanhood.” Their toys achieve this vision “in a world that frowns on femininity, that minimizes motherhood, and that belittles the beauty of being a true woman of God.” The toys they’ve created will cultivate in girls “enthusiasm and industry” (because the beautiful girl “is one who sees her life as a mission of service,” and nothing says play like a toy that challenges girls to work hard!); “home and hospitality” (because the beautiful girl is not “driven by wanderlust,” like other kids, but finds “true contentment at home,” and nothing says playtime like a toy bereft of imagining worlds beyond the home); and “femininity and grace” (because truly biblical girls “enjoy dressing like a lady and being about the business of women”).
Once again I’m thrown into this vortex of wondering why Christian toys need to indoctrinate children into prescribed roles of “biblical manhood” and “biblical womanhood.” Do girls really have to learn so early that their number one role in life will be serving others in the home with grace, because that’s what women do? Do boys really have to learn that their role will be as a warrior shooting stuff and protecting the women folk? What happened to those toys that let kids be whatever they wanted to be, rather than teaching industry and femininity?
I’ve just finished Christmas shopping for the boys this year: some Wii games, some castle Lego sets, a few movies and books. Using this website’s criteria for toy selection, I think I’ll be equipping my kids for a lifetime of sloth. And Benjamin is also getting a cookbook, because he is developing a love for cooking. I wonder what the Vision Forum folks would think of that.