Should little girls play with dolls? (1914)

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Should little girls play with dolls? Kids and noted women differ

Mrs Charlotte Perkins Gilman, reputed one of the most intellectual of American women, has advanced the theory that little girls should not be allowed to play with dolls.

To our New York correspondent she said: “I mean this literally, that when girls call dolls their babies, they are harboring thoughts that should not be in the minds of children. It is abnormal. To be perfectly natural, little girls, like little boys, should be as responsible as little savages.”

Should little girls play with dolls? (1914)

Girls may disagree

There’s certain little girl, known to the editor of The Day Book, who does not agree with Mrs. Charlotte Perkins Gilman that doll babies should be barred from the nursery. This little girl, when interviewed, gave some excellent reasons in favor of dolls. Here is the conversation between her — she is half past four — and a reporter:

“A lady who knows very much and is very wise doesn’t like to have little girls play with dollies. Now what do you think of that?” the reporter asked.

“I think,” she said, “that it isn’t very nice to say that about little dollies.”

“But the lady says that you should all little girls should play with hoops and balls and tops and run about.”

“Well, I’d rather play with my dollies than with tops and hoops. Those are for boys to play with. Dollies are for little girls. My dollie’s name is Marjorie, and she has this pretty hat and coat to wear, and she goes to sleep with me every night with a real nighty on that mamma made, with lace on.

“Sometimes we play that she eats cakes and pies, and once I made her face all sticky and some of the paint came off when I washed her, but I only played that she was sick and pretended that the doctor came and gave her parrygorack [paregoric], and next morning she was well as anything!”

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“So you think Mrs. Gilman, the lady who thinks little girls shouldn’t play with dolls, is wrong?”

“I guess she didn’t ever have any little dollie when she was a little girl.” The reporter became very stern and said: “Little girl, tell me just why you think every little girl should play with dolls. The editor wants to know.”

A moment of hesitation and then she said: “Because we love them and it’s fun. That’s why.”


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