As a good reminder that evangelical Christians don’t have the corner on crazy when it comes to girls’ toys, take a look at a recent Sojourners article, “The Top 10 Worst Toys To Give Your Daughter this Christmas.” Some of the toys featured in Carrie Adams’s round-up are truly, truly awful: like, awful in the way that makes you think maybe a Vision Forum doll, equipping your girls for biblical womanhood, wouldn’t be a bad choice.
The gifts Adams lists on Sojourners include
·The Pole Dancing Doll, because becoming a pole dancer promotes exercise and the opportunity to meet new people in exciting venues;
·The My Cleaning Trolley Set, because every little girl dreams of holding a vacuum in one hand and a mop in the other, especially if both are pink;
·The Future Hooters Girl t-shirt, because every girl should dream big;
·Smart Like Dad/Pretty Like Mommy onesies, because infants need to know straight away that boys are meant to be smart, and girls are meant to be pretty.
The last gift on the Sojourners’ “10 Worst” list is something from an evangelical marketer: the Modest is Hottest t-shirt. This newer trend in evangelicalism is proclaimed “biblical,” but guess what? The idea that Modest is Hottest still focuses on a woman’s sexual self as her primary identity, the idea affirming and objectifying sexuality by pointing to its sublimation. (We’ll tackle the “Modest is Hottest” movement in a future blog post, for sure.)
The comments following our own post about “Christmas Toys for Girls and Boys” gave me hope, at least, that people are not buying gifts that will reinforce the messages children receive in countless places about what it means to be a boy or girl. Girls are getting Tonka trucks and toy tractors. Boys are getting tiaras and Easy Bake Ovens (to which I say, “no fair”: my mom never got me one of those).But somewhere, a boy will be receiving toys that equip him for some version of biblical manhood, because his parents believe that boys are called to fill certain roles. And somewhere, a girl will receive a “Too Pretty to do Homework” t-shirt, because her parents will think the shirt cute, projecting onto their daughter beliefs about her goals and ambitions and about who she can become.
The Sojourners article challenges its readers to affirm girls for their contributions to this world, for their intellect, for their unique gifts and callings. This affirmation seems to come more easily for boys, especially as toy manufacturers don’t often create items that tell them they are to be appreciated only for their appearance, their bodies, their service to others. Still, I feel especially compelled this year to make sure my boys—and, now, my new grandson—are encouraged to pursue the things in this world that give them the most joy, rather than those things that the world says they should pursue, just because they’ve been born male. That means next year, if my son wants an Easy Bake Oven, that’s exactly what he’ll get. Especially because I’ve been itching to play with one for over thirty years.