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An Analysis of "why Don't Boy Play with Dolls"

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An Analysis of “Why Boys Don’t Play With Dolls”

A very powerful social movement in history has succeeded in many institutions. This was the Feminist Movement that spawned reform in politics, the workplace, but has failed in the most important institution in American society, the family.

Pollitt’s "Why Boys Don't Play with Dolls" examines traditional gender roles within American society, specifically when it comes to parents and children upbringing. The article seeks to understand why boys and girls respectively have different toy preferences during the stages of childhood and connects these findings with feminism and gender equality movements.  

Pollitt begins her essay with “It’s twenty-eight years since the founding of NOW, and boys still like trucks and girls still like dolls.”, pointing out the fact that although feminism has succeeded for ages, boys and girls still remain invariably in terms of toy preference. By presenting research and scientific experiments further that suggest boys and girls inherently favor certain toys over others, Pollitt questions whether these preferences are in fact genetic determination or something else entirely, such as behavior learned through culture, social norms or even the influence of the media. She eventually gives few credits to those “valid” scientific findings and still negates such theory as “differences in behavior by sex are innate”.

Pollitt then proceeds to examine whether this behavior could be encouraged and increased by parents. There are a number of parents who become concerned that their children are flawed inherently if they stray from the typical gender roles and behaviors assigned to them. There are still a number of parents who panic if they discover that their sons indulge in baking or washing. Supported by lots of examples, Pollitt manages to state that parents, especially those feminists, subconsciously inflict their “agenda” on children, although they understand “we choose to be what we want to be” better than anybody else.

The ending is comparatively brief and clear. Pollitt concludes in only one paragraph, implying it’s no use that parents worry too much since the entire society adheres to convention. Not until American society and families truly accept gender equality and neutrality, will the entire feminist ideal succeed.

The most intriguing respect of her argument I found lies in the very beginning. Normally, people cite scientific experiments and theories to verify their points of view. When I approached to Pollott’s mention of researches, I considered it a proof of her argument. However, just a few lines bellow, she instantly criticizes that “If the results hold up, we don’t need studies of sex-differentiated brain activity in reading …” with a tone of satire. It just exerts a shock on me. How great and bold the author is to challenge the authenticity of science. She does not have to provide another experimental conclusion. Her mere courage is enough to win respect and reverence from readers. Moreover, the astonishing research-challenge keeps the essay going up and down, which adds attraction to this article.



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