"Mattel says it’s responding to research that shows “kids don’t want
their toys dictated by gender norms.” Given the results of a recent
study reporting that 24% of U.S. adolescents have a nontraditional
sexual orientation or gender identity, such as bisexual or nonbinary,
the decision makes business sense.
As a developmental psychologist who researches gender and sexual
socialization, I can tell you that it also makes scientific sense.
Gender is an identity and is not based on someone’s biological sex.
That’s why I believe it’s great news that some dolls will better reflect
how children see themselves.
Unfortunately, a doll alone is not going to overturn decades of
socialization that have led us to believe that boys wear blue, have
short hair and play with trucks; whereas girls like pink, grow their
hair long and play with dolls. More to the point, it’s not going to
change how boys are taught that masculinity is good and femininity is
something less – a view that my research shows is associated with sexual
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics