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dear plan toys

15/03/2014

Dear Plan Toys,

I love sustainably harvested wooden toys as much as the next person (and more than I care to admit, actually), so I was quite dismayed to discover that such an apparently forward thinking company would be peddling such tired stereotypes.

I am talking about the character « farmer’s wife » that you sell with the « farmer » for the « PlanCountry » dollhouse.

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I, of course, have no problem with farmers having wives, but those wives are oftentimes farmers themselves or have other occupations that could be used as identifiers. If you feel the need to sell a character called « farmer’s wife », you should at the very least consider adding a female agricultural worker (you could call her a « farmer ») and a « farmer’s husband. » They do exist, I know a number of them.

It would be really stellar if your female, like you male characters, could be identified for their occupations instead of their roles in relation to men. Or, by all means, put an emphasis on roles. It would be a lovely way to teach youngsters that our identities are interdependent and that we all have roles and responsibilities towards one another. But do so for the male as well as the female characters.  (You could rename the aforementioned dolls and sell them as a pair : « farmer’s husband » and « farmer’s wife »).

Also, the heteronormativity of the families on offer for your dollhouses and the tight gender rules that exist for your « boy » and « girl » children dolls should be rectified. It would be helpful to think of girls and boys as children first (and of women and men as people first) and of a person’s sex as one of many qualifiers. In fact, I think youngsters would just as eagerly play with a « child doll » than a « boy doll » or a « girl doll ». Something to consider.

In your 2010 catalogue, you say that « PlanDollhouse is a wonderful way to encourage creativity and imagination through make-believe play. » Let’s not limit a child’s understanding of what human beings can be and create based on their sex or gender. Encouraging creative play starts with not boxing in. And let us remember, the excessive gendering of a child’s world serves no one.

Looking forward to seeing more diverse families and agricultural dolls in your next catalogue.

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