The Ban Has Been Lifted!
By Joe Kort, MSW

I am not talking about the government’s "Don’t ask, don’t tell" policy on gays in the military. I’m talking about my walking down the Barbie aisle at my local toy store.

My sister recently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl — her first, after three boys over the last eight years. My eldest nephew is all boy and not interested n anything pink or "girly" in any way — despite my best efforts! Believe me I tried. When he was three, I steered him into the Barbie Department to see if he would be drawn or interested in anything about dolls or doll accessories. He wasn’t. At all. In fact, he banned me from going down the Barbie isle.

After my second nephew was born, and we all visited the toy store, my older nephew said to his little brother, "Don’t like anything pink or girly." At age five, when my oldest nephew was trying to understand my interest in Celebrity dolls and Barbie dolls that fill my home and office, he said, "I think I know why you like girl toys. You want a girl to kiss you." Boy was he wrong!

When I was a little, boy, I loved to play with my sister’s dolls. I vividly recall her Barbie Dream House, Barbie Camper and Barbie Airplane. I would enjoy them alone, since I knew that my parents were against me playing with these toys. When my sister announced she planned to have children, I hoped and prayed that one would be a girl, so I could have a second chance at playing with girl toys — only this time, without someone telling me I couldn’t. But sure enough, she had boy after boy — until now.

Many people still believe that playing with girl toys will turn a boy gay. If children were truly affected by their playthings this way, we’d see adult males pretending to be Spiderman, Batman, and Superman, or strutting around with light sabers, pretending to be Luke Skywalker. If that sounds ridiculous, it is! The truth is, boys who play with dolls are not going to become gay or want to be women. At worst, playing with dolls will only make a boy a better father in years to come. Is that so very wrong?

The book Sissies and Tomboys, edited by Matthew Rottnek, contains an article called "Homosexual Boyhood" in which author Ken Corbett says, "Feminine identifications for homosexual boys are not so much an expression of a wish to be a girl…" and that "…passive longings and feminine identifications reside alongside a masculine identification, often creating … ‘mixed gender feelings’." In other words, we sissy boys just aren’t the type of men our fathers and other straight men were — or wanted us to be. This doesn’t mean we’re not really men or were (or are) any less masculine today! We are discovering the concept that gender is a mixture of male and female traits.

However, many still voice protest. Take A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality, a superficial, shallow book by Joseph Nicolosi. He reinforces rigid gender roles for children, coaching parents to "lovingly" take away opposite-gender toys and give them away to a girl or boy who really needs them. This is hogwash!

So with the ban lifted from my 42-year-old life, soon I’ll walk down the Barbie aisle with my head held up high, holding my Inner Little Sissy by one hand, and my niece by the other, while my three nephews troop alongside, carrying their GI Joes.

Unless, of course, when my niece starts to talk, she may say, "I don’t like dolls — I want to play with trucks!" Then you will hear over the PA system, "Cleanup in Aisle Four! We have a man crying, and he won’t let go of Barbie!"

I am not talking about the government’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military. I’m talking about my walking down the Barbie aisle at my local toy store.

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