I sat with baby girl today playing with her dolls. Not that it’s an unusual thing – she asks me to play with all her Barbies and Disney princesses on a regular basis.
But today was a different day. Today was International Women’s Day.
This thought crossed my mind as I held the Anna Frozen doll, and she held the Elsa one. Sure, she was playing with Barbies. Barbies were typically portrayed as superficial dolls, dolls that until recent decades were typically associated with outdated and traditional personas, such as the trophy wife, not to mention their unrealistic and out-of-proportion body appearance and emphasis on the materialistic.
I wasn’t concerned, in the least. You know, the way a lot of ‘socially aware’ parents are nowadays. Baby girl played in the most well-rounded way. Sure she had her dolls. When she wasn’t playing with them, she was jumping on her trampoline. Kicking a ball. Playing catch with one of us. Drawing. Pasting and cutting. Looking through books. Watching Moana for about the millionth time (current phase). Loading her Shopkins into miniature bags for me to find later.
Basically, she wasn’t limited to one activity.
Still, I was aware. Aware of the youtube videos she watched of young girls playing with dolls, which she would then imitate. The dolls going out shopping. The dolls having tea. The dolls having an argument, and then making up. The dolls jumping in the pool. The dolls complimenting each other on their outfits.
So when baby girl stood one of her Barbie dolls on top of a plastic kitchen, and started yelling out “help me Ken, help!” being the day it was and all, I decided to change the rules.
The old rules. Of the weak girl. The strong male who swoops in to save the day.
Basically, the boy ‘hero’ image, versus the girl ‘weak’ image.
“Save me, save me Ken!” she shrieked.
“No Barbie,” I held Ken and put on my most manliest of manly voices. “Barbie you’re a strong girl, you can do it yourself. Just jump Barbie.”
“No, no, it’s too high to jump!”
“Just jump to the middle Barbie,” I urged.
I watched humorously as baby girl took the Barbie to the middle shelf of the kitchen, before getting her to make one last jump to the carpet below.
“Yeah, you did it Barbie, well done,” ‘Ken’ told Barbie, as I smiled.
And then, a thought. Sure, baby girl watched these videos where the dolls did all girly things and needed occasional ‘saving.’
She was happily naïve – she did not know about the world we live in.
A world where there is discrimination against women.
A world where there is a pay gap.
A world where the general population pity the man and verbally slam the woman over the same activity.
A world where women cannot do certain things, because it is considered not acceptable for them to do so due to their gender, or even moreover, because they themselves don’t believe they can do it.
I was happy, because I knew in that moment, that this world didn’t exist for her. She was too young to know about it, or understand it at all.
And then, another thought.
With the rise of the Time’s Up movement, a greater push and awareness of gender inequality and discrimination, and the increasing focus on women’s events, rights, and days such as International Women’s Day, my thought was…
She may never know.
She might never ever live to experience inequality.
She might never come across the excuse, “he’s just being a boy.”
She might never be told she can’t do something because it’s a man’s job.
She might be paid just as much, if not more, than her male friends when they enter the workforce.
She might just live her life with the same experience as every other being on this planet should experience: with fairness and an open heart.
She might live her life, without any focus on her female attributes.
Can you just imagine?
The thought brought me so much joy at the Hope it promised. Now that’s something to strive towards…
Let’s make it happen for the next generation…
So when you are playing Barbies with the little people in your life, remember, it’s not what you play, it’s HOW you play…
And how you play, is Everyone saves themselves, because they are damn well strong, confident, positive and determined enough to.
Happy International Women’s Day ♥♥♥