Boys and Violence
The toys that children play with and their associated messages play a crucial rule in social norms. There is no doubt that certain toys are accepted as being for boys or for girls respectively. It is long argued whether this is due to nature or nurture, but I think that it is important not to lose sight of the fact that it the message that is carried that needs addressing. Violence perpetrated by and against men and boys is a major public health problem*. Not only is it a problem for how males treat females, but also violence in males has associated links with risk taking behaviours, drug and alcohol misuse**.
Changing Perceptions: Lottie Dolls – Finn
Lottie dolls (by Arklu) are designed to let children be children without thrusting messages about how they should look and behaviour thrust upon them. The new boy doll, Finn, has been designed to show that being a boy does not have to involve violence and aggression. We received the Kite Flyer doll which comes with a short story on the back setting the scene for play. Finn looks like a real boy. This means that boys do not have unrealistic ideas of their appearance being big and muscular. Being fit has been found to be an important aspect of both boys and girls body ideals.*** I think the doll is designed to give girls who play with Finn a good idea of how males should behave – and what kind of men they should aspire to be with: One who can be creative, nurturing, caring, and skillful. I think that young boys also get the message that it is okay not to be violent and aggressive – that learning is fun and useful.
I liked the little pieces (such as the shoes and manipulating the rod and kite), a good way to help develop fine motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination. It is nice that Finn is able to change his clothes. However, the small part are not suitable for children under 3 years old and in our current social climate I fear that there is a limited number of boys for the target audience who will sit and play with it. I am ashamed to say that my 7 year old took one look at it and immediately saw a “doll” and dismissed it as not for him. This is in a house where the boys have had toys of both genders including having pink toys. My 5 year old (who has special needs and less aware of social “norms”) however was thrilled with Finn. Hopefully these dolls are a step in the right direction for change.
I was not keen on the shark picture on the gone fishing top – as it had sharp teeth – which I do feel are a bit aggressive. This is also the same on the Finn Kite Flyer box.
In the future I would like to see the Lottie dolls range target more towards changing attitudes for boys in a way that boys relate to – such as via computer games. Apps, etc. I do believe that boys and girls are different and play in different ways. These dolls feel to me that they are designed for stories and imaginative play – which my personal opinion is that the majority of girls are more likely to go for.
Find Lottie Dolls on Twitter. And just in time for Christmas readers can benefit from money off the entire Lottie and Finn range, just in time for Christmas! The offer code is LOTTIE10 and it works at the AMAZON checkout only (not on the LOTTIE website cart) and this offers shoppers the chance to get 20% off their purchase across entire range using the code (once the order is over £20). Offer ends Midnight on Sunday, 14 December 2014
* (Jewkes, R, Flood, M, & Lang, J 2014, ‘Series: From work with men and boys to changes of social norms and reduction of inequities in gender relations: a conceptual shift in prevention of violence against women and girls’, The Lancet, ScienceDirect, EBSCOhost, viewed 7 December 2014.)
** Reingle, J, Jennings, W, Lynne-Landsman, S, Cottler, L, & Maldonado-Molina, M 2013, ‘Original article: Toward an Understanding of Risk and Protective Factors for Violence Among Adolescent Boys and Men: A Longitudinal Analysis’, Journal Of Adolescent Health, 52, pp. 493-498, ScienceDirect, EBSCOhost, viewed 7 December 2014.
*** Tatangelo, G, & Ricciardelli, L 2013, ‘A qualitative study of preadolescent boys’ and girls’ body image: Gendered ideals and sociocultural influences’, Body Image, 10, pp. 591-598, ScienceDirect, EBSCOhost, viewed 7 December 2014.
I received a free Finn Kite Flyer doll and Gone Fishing kit in order to do an honest review.