I saw something about Barbie dolls the other day and it got me thinking a lot about childhood. I was born in the mid-60’s, the Vietnam War was discussed at every dinner table, and someone decided that Ken wasn’t manly enough for Barbie… and along came GI Joe.
Now there’s a question that every parent faces when they buy and give their children Barbie, Ken & GI Joe dolls. You know the question… “where’s his/her stuff?”. For those without children or a stereotypical childhood, it’s important to know that while Barbie has an incredible wardrobe in addition to her fabulous accessories, at her core Barbie is a nudist.
I have seen more naked Barbie dolls than I know what to do with. GI Joe usually fares better, I think it’s respect for the uniform. Ken, well we have a lot of questions about Ken. Sometimes he’s with Barbie in the Malibu Dreamhouse, sometimes he’s in the tonka truck with Joe… other time he pairs off with Skipper, which is where my concern lies.
Anyway, parents for the last 50 years have been forced to dance around the question of “who’s got the genitals” and it usually comes down to “don’t worry about it, he/she doesn’t need it.” And kids being kids, accept that answer without any further thought and go back to what they were doing.
Which leads me to the question… If you accept Barbie and friends, without genitalia or reservations, unquestioning their declared gender, and you teach your child to do the same, then why when it comes to transmen and transwomen are so many people fixated on their genitals? Maybe as a country we should remind ourselves of the old adage “practice what you preach.”