Why Are Dolls Usually Female Gender?

chisue

OK, some are neuter Baby Dolls, but I wonder if it's 'cause' or 'effect'. Girls first role-play as mothers, then use dolls to represent themselves (Barbie, etc.). It seems to me that boys do not role-play as fathers, and they use costumes and actions to represent themselves in other guises.


Yes, someone has too much time on her hands...and a mind that is stuck at the "Why?" stage. (Age 4?)

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amylou321

My nephews all play/played with dolls. Including our old cabbage patch kids, which came in both genders. We had an equal number, male and female.

Is G.I Joe a doll?

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Toby

There was a boy doll in the Sears Christmas catalog and my sister and I circled it every year but Santa never brought us one. :(

We each had a boy when we grew up though.

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ritaweeda

I think if there had been a male gender doll back when I was a kid I would have played with it more than a female one, I was a tomboy and didn't like the stuff that girls liked. I wanted to be outside hanging with the boys, they did stuff that was interesting to me such as climbing trees, riding bikes, shooting BB guns and bows and arrows, etc. I don't remember when GI Joe came out but I'm pretty sure it was way after I was at the age of playing with dolls.

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patriciae_gw

Dolls are part of the cultural forming of genders. Girls are offered dolls and boys get cars and guns. You might think it would benefit mankind if boys also practiced being parents. I was not a fan of dolls. I remember wanting a Gerber Baby. 50's. You could feed it boxed food-sort of fine sawdust- that ended up in a little bin you could empty out. I wasn't interested in babies, I was fascinated with the little bin you could empty. I knew all about babies and sawdust is not what you fed them nor was that what came out of them. I was six. got a cheapo plastic Shirley Temple that my younger sister painted red with the paint from my older sisters paint by numbers set. Outrageous? My mother was not watching my sister obviously. She had a tiny brush and managed to paint the whole doll that she hung on a doorknob. I could care less about the dumb doll but it was mine after all and my mom was totally unrepentant that my three year old sister had the time to paint the doll.

ETA I forgot to say female because of the clothes-frilly things while boys babies have boring stuff if you are aiming for gender appropriate girls.

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OklaMoni

In the 80's while in Germany I found a "boy doll". Face looked like all the girl dolls, but the doll had a penis. It sat on the shelf, without pants on.

I bought it for my younger daughter.

Her friends and her loved taking it to the bathroom and feeding it water with its bottle... and watch it pee.

It was hilarious. Only doll I had ever seen with a penis.

Moni

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jemdandy

I think it was traditional, that's why. Sixty to one hundred years ago, girls were given 'girl toys' and boys, 'boy toys' to play with. Girls got dolls, doll clothing, make-up kits, toy sewing machines, and dollhouses. Boys got bows and arrows, pop guns, baseballs, bats, basketballs, trucks, cars, tractors, tinker toys, and erector sets. It was the parents and relatives who gave the toys and perpetuated the idea these were the most appropriate things. The stereotype continued with 'dress-up' play costumes. Boys were given Dr.'s white cloaks and medical bags while girls were given Nurse's outfits. The list goes on; you can generate your own based on your experience of years gone past.

As children aged, their toys between the sexes began to merge. Both got bicycles, but a difference still existed. There was a girl's bike and boy's bike. The girl's bike had a step-through frame and the boy's bike did not. The girl's bike tended to be little lower geared and lower seat height reflecting an assumed difference in stature and strength, or maybe it was real.

By high school, academic sex differences disappeared in courses such as Chemistry, Physics, and Math, however, the Physics and Math courses tended to be dominated by boys. The die had been cast. Boys had been taught they should excel in 'boy' things and girls were to indulge in 'girl' things. That's too bad. Females tended to fear math when in fact, they have the capacity to excel in that field.

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whatsayyou18

As a kid I had no use for dolls. I thought Tiny Tears was cool for about 10 minutes (give her a bottle of water and she pee'd it out) but, other than that, I thought they were ridiculous.

Our first child was a boy. We were not going to restrict him to gender specific toys. He had no use for dolls, totally gravitated toward toy cars, trucks, Legos and the like.

Second child was a girl. She loved all of our son's toys as well as girly toys. I remember watching her play with her dolls for hours and I'd be absolutely mesmerized, wondering where she came from. Then, she'd go outside and hold her own with the boys.

It was interesting to watch which toys and forms of play they gravitated toward.

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dedtired

My boys played with male action figures all the time. There was also a female action figure who was part of the gang. Maybe Wonder Woman? I do agree that most dolls are girls.

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Lars

The reason that there have been more female dolls than male dolls is that women's fashion is much more interesting than male fashion and women's hair styles are much more interesting and varied than men's. I wish that were not the case, but that is what I observe.

When I was four, all I wanted for Christmas was a doll, and I wanted one that had hair that I could comb and style, and I wanted to make high fashion outfits for it. I did get a doll for Christmas when I was four - only because I had learned to say that I wanted a doll and nothing else. The year before when I asked for a doll, my parents asked me what else I wanted, and I got the what else and no doll. When they did give me a doll, it was a large boy doll, almost as big as I was, with plastic hair that could not be styled. I think what I wanted most was a doll with long hair that I could wash and set, but I also wanted to make dresses for it.

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bpath reads banned books too

My. brother had a doll who looked liked him, so we considered it a boy doll. TBH, though, it was only in the face and hair that it looked like him. The rest was, well, like all dolls: no gender at all. No male ir female organs,

I had a set of dollhouse people, a full family including dad, brothers, sisters, mother, grandfather. But when I was looking for some for my son, they were hard to find! Everything dollhouse-related was pink, and only girl figures. I finally found a family with a dad and a baby brother, as well as mom and big sister. But anything related to a dollhouse was heavily pink.

I also was happy to find a toy kitchen that wasn’t pink, at the rummage sale. It was red! The boys and their friends had a good time playing “diner” with it, which consisted mainly or asking me “yes ma’am, what would you like?” And “hey, Sid, one tuna salad and a lemonade!”

My own favorite dolls were my cowgirls :)

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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

Those baby dolls that are like real newborns come equally in both sexes. Many of them look so real. I watched a few of the videos on you tube and wow so real looking!

I was not into dolls. I was a Tom boy. I did have a barbie and a good many clothes. I just didn't really enjoy them.

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raee_gw zone 5b-6a Ohio

I wonder also if some of it isn't a natural tendency to want a doll like oneself, for play acting adult roles (which is what children do with dolls mostly). So since women, for centuries, were to be the homemakers (for reasons both fair and foul), they were given dolls that were also "girls".

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Texas_Gem

Growing up in the 80s, my brother had a doll named Aaron. He still has it and his 4 year old son plays with it now.

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matthias_lang

I do remember playing with dolls along with my sisters, younger brother, and neighbor kids, but not by myself. And I never owned one myself. I think we played just baby dolls who needed to be taken care of-- fed, dressed, washed, diaper changed, put to sleep. Yes, hair needed to be brushed a lot too, ha-ha. Seems like we washed their clothes a lot, too. We might have scraps of fabric to wind around them, saying it was a dress, shirt, pants, etc, but I don't think we ever actually sewed them. Pretty sure we used scotch tape to hold the scrap clothes on.Uh, I think a lot of the dolls got chicken pox which involved putting red ink dots all over them. Th next door neighbor, Jill, always wanted to pretend that the doll had been naughty and needed to be spanked on a bare bum. Yiii, I wonder about that, now....I think this kind of doll play for both myself, my sisters, and my younger brother ended by the time we started school.

My own son was an only child and had an anatomically correct doll in the early 1990's. They were easy to find at that time. He wasn't interested in it at all, however, he loved stuffed animal toys and played with them every day with lots of imagination and tenderness.

I remember one day when he was 9, he had over a couple friends, both of them boys, and they played with stuffed dog toys, pretending that they were wolves on a hunt . The father wolf was teaching the wolf pups to hunt. Their story unfolded that they were unsuccessful with the hunt and had to go back to get the mother wolf to help them. With the mother wolf hunting, too, they were successful! I was intrigued that all three boys thought that was a good way for the story to work out. It was a vignette of cooperation rather than of might.

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watchmelol

I was not much into dolls (much preferred playing cowboys and Indians with the boys) but I did have life sized one baby doll I played with for several years. I treated that doll like she was real. i had the wooden highchair and crib for her. Every night I would tuck her into her crib and make a wish. I was a child with an active imagination who lived in a neighborhood of large families. My only sibling was 6 year older than me, my parents weren't going to have more children and all I really wanted was a baby sister like the other kids had. So I was convinced that if I treated this doll like a real child she would become one.


My DS and DD grew up in a neighborhood of mostly girls. So dolls were a big thing for DD. I also bought DD a baby Ruthie and DS a Joey Stivic doll, both anatomically correct. Later there were the endless Cabbage patch dolls of every color and gender tha they both played with. I also bought DD a pair of life sized anatomically correct newborns. Not those creepy looking things they make and sell today. They still looked like dolls but had all their parts and were very detailed. I still have them for DGD.


I guess you can't please everybody. Right now LOL surprise dolls are very popular. The boys like them too so they introduced boy dolls with two tiny raised dots and and a little bump. Oh. The controversy. Parents are upset that their kids will find out that boys and girls are built differently. LOL

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Marilyn_Sue

I was never much into playing with dolls at all. When a bit older I liked paper dolls and would go to my neighbor girl's house and we would have fun. Mostly at home I liked playing with the little cardboard barn and farm animals. My love was my pony and my dog. My sister loved her dolls. My little granddaughter has dolls but she does not play with them much at all. Only ones she does play with at times, are some the size of the American Girl dolls.

Sue

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arcy_gw

What constitutes a "male" doll? Most "male" dolls do not have a penis. I think the penis is the issue. If GI Joe/Ken etc. had had one I would not have had it in my house. I don't appreciate naked barbie much for that matter. A baby doll is what ever you dress it, but good luck finding male baby doll clothes. Ours wore newborn garage sale "real" clothes. My son didn't play with dolls, or cars or balls. He liked to swing, play in the sand box, play in his kid kitchen, ride on things, playdough. My two girls came after him and were pretty much interested in similar things. Stuffed animals were more a thing than dolls. I was a stay at home mom as long as they were not in school--so if dolls are about copying mom maybe that's the issue., but mine didn't play house just because I was here--or not the part where they take care of babies. Sure they had one or two but they weren't THE TOY to have. Truth is kids spend little time at home, at play. Day Care is all about inclusion and diversity, any gender toys, so everything fits everyone all the time. Finding a boy babydoll is like finding a black or Asian one. What's that about?

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chisue

LOVE all of your stories!

I had two neighbor girls who were 2-3 years older than I was. I would complain to my mother that I was sick and tired of always having to be Baby when we would 'play house'.

As an example of a child's magical thinking, I believed that my three favorite stuffed animals had feelings -- but only came to life while I slept. (Cue "Toy Story"!) I was careful to give each one a turn to be tucked in beside marvelous ME at night! (Children are pretty insistent about *fairness*; when does that stop?)

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sjerin

And on the other hand, why don't we see most girls play with toy cars/trucks/trains much? I really don't know. I tried to get my (2, at the time) girls to play with an earth-mover type of truck that had moving parts, in the sandbox. But one wouldn't even touch it and the other indulged me and pushed it along for about a minute. It looked like a fun toy to me so I really can't explain why they never touched it again. And why don't girls, in general, makes guns out of anything and everything including their fingers? Spending several years in a daycare (many years ago,) I was quite fascinated by that. Even though the boys knew it was a no-no, they still often persisted in creating those guns. I don't recall any girls doing this.

Chi might have some good input on this subject as I believe she used to work in a preschool.

Chisue, in my case that *fairness* thing never did stop. Injustice drives me nuts.

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lily316

I had a few dolls(female) back in the day but never played with them that much. I was a tomboy and was out biking and hiking. When I had a daughter I bought her the sweetest Madamn Alexender doll that looked like her down to the pink checked dress and she never played with it. it's still sitting on her old bed. However, when I was pregnant with her I bought my son a doll baby to prepare him for the new arrival. My parents and older members of my family were aghast. This guy they were sure would be a 'sissy' is a nationally known mountain bicyclist and wins races all over the country and is certainly was unaffected by his doll baby at three years old.

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arcy_gw

HAHAH the gun thing with boys has driven more than one "enlightened" mom crazy. If little girls ASKED for male dolls more often would the manufacturers step up? Supply and demand is real.

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patriciae_gw

Cultural pressure is a strong thing. A neighbors daughter had a large collection of cars and trucks that she played with all the time. While her mother 'allowed' her to play with them there was always that subtle air of 'if you must'. We (and there was a herd of us) all played cow boys and Indians and war games equally though I was not much interested in it. My oldest sister was as much an instigator of war games as my brothers. Now with the dolls my next oldest brother and I played French Revolution. We tried to invent a guillotine. It was my game and I cant for the life of me figure out where I heard of a guillotine. It must have been some old movie. We had a large collection of old dolls typically missing body parts or with fried hair. Our plan was to chop off their heads but it didn't work at all. I am pretty sure it was the technical challenge of figuring out how to do it that motivated me with the historical context for color. My brother was a helpful minion. We were 8/9

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chipotle

Speaking of dolls --- we were walking through a very merchandise crowded WM today and on one of the end aisle displays were dolls without hair for girls dealing with cancer. That speaks to the need for a doll like yourself. I didn't see any boy dolls, but hopefully they had some.

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adellabedella_usa

I was never really into dolls since we had real babies around. My boys weren't interested either. People love to give stuffed animals as gifts. My boys ignored those. I had a pile ready to donate. Dd latched onto them. She got excited about stuffed animals before she could talk. She would line her babies and stuffed animals up and put covers on all of them. She played with the boy toys too. Her and my middle son both loved the cooking sets.

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chisue

I think I'm asking if most girls WANT dolls or if they are EXPECTED to not only play with them, but later model themSELVES on Barbie-type dolls (and then pop stars).

I've seen many a little girl in a grocery store wearing a tutu. It's a rare boy who gives a hoot about what he wears -- unless it is a Batman cape, for instance. children aren't buying these clothes. Do they ask for them, or is it a parent's idea to encourage these costumes? (My DGD could open a shop with all the hair bows she owns.)

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Lars

I think quite a few boys do care about what they wear. I knew a lot of them in high school, and I also had a couple of friends in elementary who were very concerned about their appearance. I was interested in fashion from the time I was four, and my sister used to dress me in some of her clothes but did not do a very good job of it. My father hated this and would take pictures of me to embarrass me, but instead I collected the photos and still have at least one of them. I remember at four saying to myself, "How could my sister have thought that those shoes went with that hat?" My sister (1-1/2 years older) did not like shopping for clothes, and so I would go to the children's boutique where my mother shopped and picked out clothes for her. I had a lot of cute shirts when I was little. Fortunately, my mother did let me pick out my own clothes, and I would also go with her to dress boutiques and critique the dresses she would try on. Back then (in the 1950s), the salespeople would bring dresses to my mother that they thought she would like, and so she did not have to browse herself.

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mtnrdredux_gw

My experience is like most parents I know; even if you try to give your kids exposure to all the toys, they tend to gravitate to the "correct" gender, and will treat neutral toys in gender-specific ways. Also, like most parents I know, their early play does not seem to foreshadow their development as adults.

When boys have dolls, we call them "action figures." When big boys have minivans, we call them Sport Utility Vehicles.

You know how when someone need something they might say, for example "Hey, would you be a doll and get me a spoon for my coffee?" In our house we say "Hey, would you be an action figure and get me a spoon?

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watchmelol

Both my DGD and DGS have dressed themselves from an early age and both care what they wear. Not in a name brand fashion sense but to be as creative with their clothing as they want to be. DGD age 7 has always had a unique sense of fashion. she likes to mix up colorful clothes and somehow it all works out for her. She has always loved black too and she rocks it. DGS aged 5 would change into a different superhero costume daily last year the minute he returned from preschool. He wore his costume to all the outside activities like parties and picnics too. He was thrilled to get new boxer briefs the other day in a pattern he likes. Both kids are big for their ages and it is really hard to stay with the cute "in" stuff with a 5 year old who wears a size ten and a 7 who wears a size 14/16 and can wear some junior sizes.

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Hot Rod

I've never seen a doll with a vagina, so are you assuming dolls' genders by their clothing alone?


All dolls I've seen are neuter.

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jupidupi

I was the youngest and only girl, so of course I was given dolls. I had zero interest in them. The only one I remember was a life-size doll that I got when I was about three. We had a neighbor named Florence, and I thought that was a beautiful name, so that's what I named the doll. Then one day I saw Florence in the yard cutting her grass and my mom explained that what she was pushing was called a lawnmower. Well, I thought Lawnmower was an even more beautiful name, so that's what I called the doll.

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Ladydi Zone 7A NW BC Canada

I bought each of my boys a doll hoping to teach them sweet nurturing skills but they were so rough with them I found myself constantly explaining to them that they needed to be gentle with poor baby. They would spin that poor doll around by their legs, cut their hair ... you name it. Our neighbors young daughters would be cuddling and rocking their own dolls and I was having nightmares about mine growing up to be brutes. Thank God that didn't happen HaHa! They are both wonderful loving parents. Sometimes I wonder if we overthink these things. Sorry, got off topic with the memories.

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yeonassky

This article talks about gender specific toys in 3 month old babies. It says the more male hormones the more likely the boys are to like trucks. This is measured through their eye movements. There are monkeys that were also tested for their toy related interests. Anyway I tend to believe that a large enough percentage of people are influenced in some bio chemical way to like male or female toys. I don't know about people who don't have strong gender identification or are more centrally balanced gender-wise. They might react completely differently.

https://www.bustle.com/articles/89866-do-girls-really-prefer-dolls-the-science-behind-gender-preference-in-toys

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jill302

We bought my son a boy doll when he was young, he basically ignored it.


While I had several girl dolls growing up, I also had a boy doll. He was more a toddler aged boy than a boy baby doll. He was one of my favorite dolls. This was in the 60’s. Played with dolls, Lincoln Logs, Legos, play kitchen, Hot Wheels, Barbies ... basically all the toys of the era. Was not into playing with toy guns like the boys but I played with most of their other toys.

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chisue

mtnrdredux -- Oh, boy, love that. Be an *action figure* and get me a spoon!

When I was 20 I dated a young man who often called me "Doll". Only later did I think about this being clever for a guy who was dating several different women.

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nycefarm

I had raggedy Ann and Andy!

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patriciae_gw

Reading Yeonassky's article it also says that no such link was found. I cant figure how a three month old would know that a truck was a "boy" toy in that they wouldn't even know what it was for. Dolls on the other had do have that baby link. I personally think babies are much more influenced by people around them at a very early age. I remember a study that showed that people are much rougher with babies they believe to be boys and more gentle with "girls" the same babies being used to represent both sexes. I noticed when my sibs were young and when I baby sat that young children are absolutely fixated on babies. Two year olds will baby a younger child, they of course NOT being babies. I don't recall that being gendered.

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rob333 (zone 7a)

My son wanted a doll when he was young and we got him a My Little Buddy doll and a stroller. He liked pushing Michael around. He named him after his favorite friend. He later wanted a Sky Dancer and I think it was more about it's movement. Which injured kids and they took it off the market.


Sky Dancers

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matthias_lang

Sky Dancers, yes, rob333! One afternoon when my son was five, we were watching kids' programming. A commercial for Sky Dancers came on-- smiling girls outside launching those spinning, helicoptering fairies to the sky. Immediately following, came a commercial featuring a camouflaged jeep bumping over rough terrain and some sort of elbows-out, knees bent, posing, grim-faced, yelling boys shooting their big toy guns. If I remember correctly it was actually the jeep being advertised, not the toy guns. When that commercial ended, my son said to me, "I think I'm more like a girl than a boy." Here, I understood that he was saying he liked the Sky Dancers better and understood, even at five, that those were presented as being for girls, while the jeeps were presented for boys. Heck, I had to agree with him: the helicoptering fairies were much cooler than the vehicles which were really pretty common if you take away the camo paint job.

I did talk to my son then and who-knows-how-many other times about being aware that people were trying to persuade us, to bend us to spend money in order to feel or look the way the commercial seems to be. And that we have the ability to weigh, to choose, to go with our own assessment. I told him that the idea of boy toys and girl toys was not right, but that he was going to run into that idea a lot.

That Christmas we bought him some launchable spinning 'copters that came two in a package, at a much better price than the Sky Dancers. I see nowadays that the very same toys are sold in the same packaging at Harbor Freight. They come in several cheerful colors--no camo, just wings.

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marilyn_c

I didn't play with dolls. My favorite toy, like Marilyn Sue was a farm set...a lithographed metal barn with all the animals. I also had a doll house with furniture that I played with. Like Marilyn Sue, also, I had a horse that was the center of my life, and lots of other pets. I also had cap pistols and a bb gun. I hated wearing dresses and wore jeans every day, except picture day at school, when my mother insisted I wear a dress. I wore jeans every day until 8th grade when we could no longer wear pants to school.

I think most dolls were girl dolls because in my day...late 40's and 50's, an anatomically correct boy doll would have been unheard of.

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rob333 (zone 7a)

Were girl dolls anatomically correct in the 40s and 50s? Seriously. I have no idea. That'd be interesting if it were so, since they've devolved to lack the portion that would make one so by the 70s.

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marilyn_c

Well, in the sense that dolls didn't have penises. As far as girl dolls being anatomically correct, of course they didn't reveal every detail of a females' anatomy, but by a glance you could tell it was female.

Barbies were after my time, but despite being quite busty, they didn't have nipples, and I am sure they still don't.

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rob333 (zone 7a)

so devolution is a moot point. That would've been interesting.

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patriciae_gw

There was certainly no indication of sex at all but a dolly face is traditionally interpreted as a girl. I had a friend who believed she could tell a boy by hairline but it really is the clothes and assumption. A head full of curly hair is going to be assumed to be female.

The only thing between the legs of your average baby doll was a little hole for the water to come out of if it was the sort you could feed as in a Betsy Wetsy type.

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liira55

who remembers this doll?? Archie Bunkers grandson, Joey Stivic anatomically correct doll?


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nickel_kg

My sisters and I (no brothers in our family) weren't too much into dolls, except to style and cut Barbie's hair. Paper dolls were more fun because we could draw and color all sorts of fashions without needing to actually cut & sew fabric. I think Lars & others upthread were right, that there are more girl dolls than boy dolls because girls have better clothes, hair, and makeup than boys in the general culture we grew up in.

I find anatomically correct dolls of either sex kind of weird. Dolls are for play, not for scientific learning. What's under the bathing suit is irrelevant. When I was about 4, my little boy cousin visited and Mom and Aunt showed us he could pee standing up. Well, so what, who cared? Just let us go outside and play already.

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watchmelol

liira55 My son had Joey Stivic and now my grandson has him. daughter had anatomically correct Li'l Ruthie and now grand daughter has her. There was also a boy doll counterpart to Li'l Ruthie called Li'l David. I don't get the controversy. If a doll can have a belly button ,why not a penis or a vulva?


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