Swap The Toys – Dolls For Boys, Cars For Girls.

By Sinjini Sengupta in Fashion & Lifestyle 15/09/2016

Hello, reader! Thank you for reaching till here and for reading this. But before that, I hope you’ve had a good day so far?


For me, well if you ask me… No, let me tell you anyway! Remember, what happens when it is a Saturday? Birthdays! Here’s a simple maths for you… I have a 5-year-old daughter. Now the thing is, she has 27 friends and enemies in her class, and another dozen or two more in our society, condominium, family friends. And then, of course, you know, that there are just 52 Saturdays in a year. So you see, over the last couple of years in my life, Saturdays have become synonymous to birthdays! And so has it been today. It started the exact same way… with a family visit a Gift shop in the morning! And this is how the conversation ran:

Swap The Toys - Dolls For Boys, Cars For Girls. | Feministaa.com

Bhaiya, can you show me a gift for 5 years old?


Sure Ma’am. Is it a girl, or boy?


How does it matter if it’s a boy or a girl?


Ma’am, I can show you suitable gifts, that way! (This young man replies, rather innocently.)


My husband looks at me. Have you ever heard that quotation, that “Silence is louder than words?” Well, he looks at me silently, that way! “Don’t you get started again!” But then, you know me. I’m incorrigible!


Bhaiya, they are all kids, they all like playing. What do you mean by suitable gifts?

Madamji (now this man looks positively harassed at my ignorance). If it’s a girl, maybe you can buy a doll, a do-it-yourself jewelry set, beading sets, or princess story books. I also have cooking sets, doll houses and role play toys.


I see. And, what do you have for boys?


You can take a car. I also have superhero toys. Remote control planes? Soldier sets, guns, rifles? I also have a kid’s monopoly set, and business games. Doctor sets, cricket bat and ball?


This man tries hard, very hard. I cut him short. I buy a Lego set and close the deal.

Swap The Toys - Dolls For Boys, Cars For Girls. | Feministaa.com

You saw what just happened, right? And can you see the future from here, too? I can! The little girl grows up with her doll-house, role-playing a mother as she sees them to be, dressing up and plating hairs of her doll children, making them breakfast in her plastic kitchen and putting them off to sleep right next to herself. Cut to twenty-five years later: She is that one of the two parents who, always, worries more for her kids than the other one, and always knows what they love to eat. She calls on home in between her office meetings, to check upon if her baby has had its food and gone to sleep. She coos to them over the phone, lulling them into stopping to cry. She can never say yes when her job needs her to travel. Instead, she takes the day off when the baby is unwell, always. Her colleagues snide! Her manager, eternally unhappy; worst, her mind guilty to its brim. Always. Always. She rushes back home after the clock strikes its time, never putting up her hand for that extra mile project, giving away her promotion to what you call priority changes.


Maternal instincts, you say? Well, perhaps there is more to it. Perhaps… she has been taught to do that, she has been encouraged to do that, ever since she was 5 years old! Through her dolls, through her kitchen sets.


So, for once, why not start right back there?


Right! Teach your boy kid to nurture a baby doll, too. Teach your girl to play with fast cars, as well. Let them into everything by their age, irrespective of their gender. Dolls, kitchen sets, cars. Beading sets and Legos. Jigsaws and Doctor sets. Cricket bats and balls. Take them out, to the Boutique next door and to the Basket ball court. Both.

Swap The Toys - Dolls For Boys, Cars For Girls. | Feministaa.com

Charity begins at home. Why not start with buying a doll when it’s a boy’s birthday and a car when it’s a girl. In all probability, s/he never had that before and s/he’d love it all the more.


And, next time the shopkeeper asks if it’s a girl or a boy, fix your gaze on him and say – Just. A. Kid. Make a point to say it.


And, if you would, gift a gender opposite toy the next birthday you attend. A doll for a boy, and a racing car for a girl. Please.


Start the chain!


PS: Oh, and one more thing if you please. Make sure you do not buy a gun for a kid. Never!


Sinjini Sengupta

Sinjini Sengupta is a major in Economics from Indian Statistical Institute by academics, a qualified Actuary by profession. She has recently started to devote conscious attention to the side of her passions, which are many. She is a writer cum web-columnist cum script-writer cum poet, and also an artist in acrylic and charcoal painting. As a web-columnist, she writes mainly on gender issues, social reforms and on parenting in Huffington Post, Speaking Tree, Youth Ki Awaaz, Anandabazaar Patrika, Readomania, Our Front Cover, Baby Destination, World of Moms, Feministaa and several popular magazines. In fictions, one of her stories recently made into a short-film got selected at the 69th Cannes Film Festival, 22nd Kolkata International Film Festival among many others and won best film award in Caleidoscope (Boston). As a poet, she also won the national level English Poetry contest – Rhyme India – hosted by Times of India in 2016. She is now working on her book, which circles around the theme of parallel reality. Sinjini’s blog “Poems, Prayers and Promises” can be found at: www.sinjinisengupta.blogspot.com.


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