The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Little Mommy: Where Early Gender Conditioning Meets The Anal Phase

Posted by Clem Bastow on November 29, 2008

Watching Australia’s Funniest Home Videos just now (don’t hate, I bet you were too), I was horrified by the following commercial for (storied feminists) Mattel’s Little Mommy “Gotta Go” potty-training doll:

I’ve always had a problem with baby dolls (i.e. since early childhood, when I was given one and left it in the garden until its “sleepy” eyes rusted shut) , largely because on many levels they say “This is what you have to look forward to” to young girls by contributing to the idea that women are first and foremost baby-makers and that the ultimate career is motherhood.

But combining that with near-obscene levels of infantilisation (“A teeny tiny poop”?!) and the idea that a mother’s lot is spent flushing the toilet for her lazy children surely makes this one of the most troubling in the long line of weirdo baby dolls that began with the creepy Baby Born.

I appreciate – or perhaps more correctly, will one day appreciate – the need, occasionally, for ways to make potty training less stressful for children, but Little Mommy isn’t about potty training the child. Am I the only one who is freaked out by this “playset”?


7 Responses to “Little Mommy: Where Early Gender Conditioning Meets The Anal Phase”

  1. lauredhel said

    I’m not freaked out by the idea of it, but the execution, is, as you say, completely ick. The ridiculously high voice and sickly speech, the “Little Mommy” name, the pinkification.

    However, in general sets like this often are about potty training the child through role-playing with the doll, and many kids (not just girls) love playing out aspects of their lives with dolls, so the concept doesn’t bother me at all.

  2. Clem Bastow said

    I hear that, although isn’t the bulk of potty training done by the time a child is four or five? (Genuine question, I can’t say I took an active interest in the topic when my brother was young, given I was eight at the time!)

  3. lauredhel said

    The age recommendation at Amazon is that it’s suitable from 24 months, which is a common toilet training age.

  4. cranky said

    I had a fit of laughter last year when I saw POTTY ELMO! ELmo does it – so can you!

    As I was searching for a link I found this and laughed – it comes with a STOOL! Oh…not that type of stool!

    I got a bit sidetracked here…what I wanted to say was a friend of mine bought a toy baby doll for her son when she had her second child…and the howls out outrage from other mothers was astonishing! More than one person suggested he would “turn out gay” if he had a newborn baby doll! Her reason for buying it was her son was very interested in babies and the care they need when seeing other families with new babies, and she thought it would help him with the transition when she had her new baby. Her husband is a very hands on father, and whenever he was doing something with the new baby her son would run and get his and mimic his dad. Now, I thought this was a great idea – yes, men DO care for babies, not just mothers! But as I said – the judging was incredible. No one would have blinked if she had given a newborn doll to a daughter, would they?

  5. Steven said

    It’ll also make great fodder come the kids 21st party…

    I don’t think for a second that playing with dolls will make a kid end up homo/hetero/tv/cross-dressing/whatever… (I had an extensive He-Man collection, playing with musclemen in leather and loincloth toys didn’t make me end up on a float) and if it makes kiddo happy to play at copying his Dad, good stuff. But isn’t it a tad much to think the son will be done damage by not having some preparatory coping tool?

  6. mary said

    We no longer need to talk to or about our children as if they were dogs.
    The correct term for the transition of nappies to toilet is TOILETING
    Thank you

  7. lauredhel said

    No need to scold, Mary – I used the term “training” with aforethought. These sorts of toys, IMO, are typically used in families who are taking a training approach. In a closed-door environment, simulator toys are used as a surrogate for a more organic, example-based toilet learning. (Or, in infancy or with a child with a disability who needs more parental input, elimination communication.)

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