Monday, September 12, 2011

Hurry Back to Me (My Wild Calling).

Not that this is really news to anyone, but raising kids these days is hard. And by hard, I really mean OHMYDEARGODPLEASEHELPMENOTKILLMYSELFOROTHERSTODAYTHANKYOUVERYMUCH. It really is an age of unprecedented stimulation, and it's everything I can do to keep them occupied in healthy and productive ways.

Their birthday was recently, and as a gift, they received...well, iPod Touches. Before you judge, in my defense, they were chosen as gifts in lieu of a birthday party, and actually turned out to be cheaper than a fete at Chuck E. Cheeze or some other bastion of horror. I also made sure to load up exciting apps like Math is Awesome and King Lear For Grade Schoolers. No matter. My daughters asked if I had that song "about the boyfriend that looks like a girlfriend? By The Killers?" (This, I blame on their uncle, one of my dear brothers. Again, shirking responsibility, here.) Sigh.

The girls also received Target gift cards from one of their aunties, and off we trudged to redeem them. The little munchkins had assured me that they wanted to buy useful things, like clothes and shoes, but upon entering the retail paradise, changed their minds entirely. Although I had warned them there was a time limit, they spent ages looking at almost every single item in the toy section as I tried to keep track of where they were.

As they were shopping, I came across the above-pictured doll. The Perfect Boyfriend! Incredible! Just what I've always wanted! I doubt I have seen anything quite as disturbing in recent memory. Ken's shirt is emblazoned with the phrase "The Ultimate Boyfriend" in a plethora of different languages, in case you didn't get the hint. What makes him so great, besides the preternaturally blondish hair and sculpted abs? Ken already is missing his manly bits, and The Perfect Boyfriend has taken this castration to new heights. "YOU MAKE ME TALK!" So, utter any phrase into his diminutive little noggin, and he will repeat it to you in his own voice. Sweet Talker. Imagine the possibilities, if you could make your partner parrot things back to you! No disagreements, only perfection. And unrelenting boredom.

I think this doll is absolutely wretched for lots of reasons. Firstly, girls that play with dolls should not be thinking about boyfriends, perfect or not, at that age. Secondly, it gives a terrible touchstone for what a healthy relationship should be, showing that it matters not if your beloved has the brains of a boiled cabbage, as long as he does whatever you say. Also, that it's OK to have a guy's cojones, as we say in these here parts, crushed into oblivion, making him meek and submissive and unable to voice his opinion without further damage to his already fragile psyche. It's demeaning to boys, demeaning to girls, demeaning to society as a whole. I know, I know. It's just a doll, right?

I'm not the mom that banned Barbies because I thought they portrayed an unrealistic view of a woman's body (although I did nix cheerleading because I wanted them to PLAY a sport, not cheer for one, and I hate the skimpy costumes. Yes, cheerleaders were awful to me in school. Why do you ask?) There is just something about THIS particular doll that rubbed me the wrong way - if you could even be rubbed by a eunuch.

(Dislaimer: The above discussion does not mean that I am above berating my husband for his poor dishwasher-loading skills or his inability to listen to more than half of every sentence I utter. But that's another post entirely.)

Thankfully, the girls avoided the Barbie section altogether, and settled on Legos and a Harry Potter DS game and remote control cars. Now I have to contemplate the subtext of THAT....


  1. Maggie, jut to cheer you up, here's my comment to this post:

    it's going to get WORSE, MUCH WORSE, when they stop playing with dolls and play with boys instead.

  2. Mags, this was awesome. And I love the playlist.

    And I remember some of the cheerleaders at the school we attended together. Some by name. Pray tell, how were they so evil? ;)

  3. i love this maggie. amazing that the whole barbie/ken thing persists.....i hated my ken doll with a passion - to think they now speak? ahem, i mean repeat everything the girl says? i imagine girls have some choice words for him then! what WILL mattel corporation come up with next? this is just gross - reminds me of a game we used to play as kids called 'mystery date' - we were supposed to like the clean and neat guy dressed in a suit but i always ended up liking the guy you were supposed to avoid - the bad boy dressed in leather and riding a motorcycle. guess these toy companies should study psychology... ;-)

    — how cool that your girls love legos and power cars!

  4. This was hilarious, Maggie! I was sort of a late bloomer (psychologically speaking) and played with Barbies until it was time to start thinking about boyfriends, ha! So this would have been perfect for me :-) Ha ha!

    What a conundrum. We want men who are strong and have their own opinions, but we also want them to agree with us and listen with the same devotion our girlfriends do!

  5. Ah finally, someone who shares my thoughts about cheerleading. I find it so sexist but when I said that to some of my American husband's friends, they thought I was just a crazy European. Oh well, now I can direct them to this post :) Maggie has spoken. Just kidding.

  6. I'm not sure I want a doll I can make talk, but at times I wish my husband had a mute switch. BTW, I gave you a pair of bloggy awards, come by to see if you would like to claim them!

  7. "I also made sure to load up exciting apps like Math is Awesome and King Lear For Grade Schoolers." Ah, good try, Mom!

  8. Friko: I am now in tears. Thank you.

    Suze: Ha ha! No names! I think they were probably perfectly nice. It's just that clique thing, you know? Popular girls vs. arty girls. :) You just happened to straddle the line better than most. My self-inflicted asymmetrical haircut did me no favors.

    Amanda: Mystery Date sounds like the story of my life! Who doesn't prefer the dangerous ones?? Hello, Clive Owen! I'm talkin' to you!

    Lorena: You SO hit the nail on the head with that one. Poor men. We expect so much from them! :)

    Loree: What, no Maltese cheerleaders?? :) I think college cheerleading is actually ok, except for the fact that I read somewhere it is the college sport that has the most injuries and fatalities. Those kids really work hard, and the routines are amazing. Otherwise, I HATE very little girls cheerleading (I'm sorry, the outfits are not cute to me, they are sexy) and the reason I don't like high school cheer is that I feel it's just a weird thing at an age when girls are really trying to figure out so much about who they are as individuals, and discovering more about their sexuality. To me it isn't innocent. And professional? Well, that's glorified stripping!!

    Julie: THANK YOU!! I will pick up my awards soon!!! Ah, a mute button would be universally useful. :)

    Susan: I know, right? I should have remembered that they like Hamlet best....:)

  9. I never had a Barbie. I begged for one and never got one.

    And this Ken doll seems absolutely bizarre.

    I love the idea of educational apps for kids. You did good. An iPod is better than a pizza party.

  10. "The Perfect Boyfriend has taken this castration to new heights" haha

  11. Being that this Ken looks like a bit of a hipster douchebag, I think there's a good chance that the shirt is intended as irony.

  12. J: Glad to make you laugh! :)

    Elliot: although I can hope the shirt was ironic, I do have to disagree with the first part of your statement. Ken is not wearing his little sister's jeans, and he does not come with a tiny iPod loaded with Vampire Weekend.

  13. Oh man, I SO agree with every word you said about that doll! How insipid! I'm really glad to see that I am not the only female who thinks "girl power" can be taken too far -- men shouldn't be walked all over any more than women should! This kind of reminds me of how offended I get about those ridiculous calendars and birthday cards and whatnot that depict men vacuuming or cleaning dishes as "sexy" or "every woman's dream." I think it's demeaning. And imagine the uproar if men received calendars of women doing those things. It's a two-way street, folks!

    Haha okay sorry, didn't mean to make your blog an area for me to rant and rave! I tend to get carried away!