Pirates for boys?

boys and piratesAll the recent news about the pirates and the navy and hostages has got me riled up. Why do girls get to be pretty princesses and boys get to be pirates? Why is it that girls get to pretend to be industrious, constructive creatures while boys have to model destruction? Why is it that Disney fed up with no franchise for boys flooded the market with pirate gear making it suddenly fashionable to dress up and pretend to be criminals, thieves and killers.

Some may say that boys love destruction. Do they really? Or do we make them love it?

I wonder at what point boys look back and say ‘Oh, so all these years my mom encouraged me to pretend to be a thief’ while teaching me other values.

I have avoided pirate toys and weapon-toys at home, but in boys circle it is unavoidable. Go to a friends house and sure enough, you will run into an eye patched and pirate capped toddler. Go to summer camp and suddenly its OK in preschool to maraud as a killer and thief. No, no dont hit your friend, but yes, its OK if he pretends to pierce you with a sword.

And oh so hypocritically we would cringe if someone suggested a game around terrorists, but we ignore pirate games as ‘boys will be boys’. Even if you take away the weapons, pirates were always about breaking the rules of normal society and hence their allure.

I wonder how it would be if we could have ‘explorers’ or ‘scientists’ or ‘sportsmen’ or engineers as heroes or people to imitate. To me they have thrilling lives. To me they do plenty of interesting things, even physically challenging activities.

But yet as girls are channeled into areas that help them solve problens through thinkin, boys are indulged in role models that model violence.

I have two boys and this is something I will have to struggle with. Does anyone else think this way? What do you feel?

You can comment below or join the site and let me know what you think on this topic and others. And no, I am usually not this angry about society 🙂 read some saner posts here.

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11 Comments

  1. Yasmin

    Khushi, I agree with you a 100% I too have avoided buying any weapon-toys till now. But I know that eventually they’ll end up playing with one at a friend’s place/party…it’s unavoidable.

  2. Asha

    I agree to. Why dont you write to Disney?

  3. sarmila

    yes, i agree with you, when my elder one was around 2 or 3 yrs, he wanted all those toys, but I used to make him understand why those are not good..

  4. Girls are channeled into just as damaging roles. Pretty princesses? We’re teaching them how to be complacent, and dependent on a man to do anything. We’re also teaching them how important outward appearance is.

    The stereotypes are terrible for boys, too. But when you’re trying to raise a confident, intelligent, independent girl — the princess image doesn’t help things one bit!

  5. joysree

    i also agree these type of toys should not be encouraged.some toys should come up which help the boys to vent out their energy at the same time is not destructive.if we want a violence free world we should start teach them through games and toys.this is true for both boys and girls.ihope some toy designer take it as a eye opener.

  6. Khushi

    Thank you everyone for your comments. Yasmin, Sarmila, Asha, joysree, thanks I am with you. Maybe I will see how I write to them. Anjali, you are right pretty princess is not an ideal role model. But my point was its not destructive – not something that harms other people. But the toy manufacturers do need to take note.

  7. Rajvi

    Hi Khushi,

    Really good post. I have been against the weapons as toys. I hate to admit though that before the recent spate of pirate attacks, I had not given much thought to boys pretending to be pirates. I thoroughly enjoyed the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and in my ignorance thought that piracy was a thing of past. Sadly its not.

  8. Indrani

    Khushi, Lovely post and I could’nt agree with you more. We do stereo type toys as boys and girls toys… like Spiderman, superman etc are ‘boy toys’ while Barbie and Dora are ‘girl toys’. Somewhere it starts with all of us and its time that WE put this to an end. Us parents, need to take the lead.

  9. nikki

    I agree about the stereotype/destructive toys and images on the shelves these days. But instead of boycotting toys and leaving my boys feeling deprived, I have taken an approach of teaching values through these toys. So when we play with these toys, we pretend to be the good guys (cops/detectives/army men etc) getting rid of the evil from society. We have banned words like ‘kill’ and ‘hate’, instead we use words like ‘capture’ and ‘don’t like’.

    My feeling is that more you make a big deal about certain kinds of toys (weapons), more curious your child gets about these and have secret desires to own/play with them. I suggest we use these props to provide a postive/fun education about non-violence and the legal system.

  10. Khushi

    Thanks Rajvi, Indrani and Nikki. Rajvi, when I watched Pirates, I thought so too – these are well in the past. Who would have thought that these would become current issues. Indrani, I know what you mean about it being a parents job. Our job does get harder. Nikki, you bring up a great point of increasing the allure of the weapon toys. Thanks for suggesting a way to deal with it.

  11. Tana

    Khushi,
    I too cringe at the stereotyping toys do to our children. My dream is to give a boy child and girl child the same types of toys consistently and see how they develop…
    But I agree with Anjali’s thought that the stereotypes for girls are ALSO negative. YES, they too do much harm, because what they teach is a less visible but more insidious harm. This harm is the yin to the yang of male violence!
    For a more balanced society, both stereotypes need correcting to the middle.
    Last but not the least, there IS an adventure gene in males that cannot be denied, and I agree that the more you deny / ban things the more curiosity will draw them towards that very thing. So, as Nikki has suggested, allowing those toys and games while replacing the metaphoric connotations will perhaps teach your boys to think for themselves, and re-assocate their values with the same activities.

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