Toy Horse

Childhood and gender

Beginning in the 19th century, childhood education was conceived of as learning the roles of adults, and the toys of the time were clearly created with this aim in mind. Boys and girls had different toys depending on their expected gender roles. While a boy’s childhood was considered a training ground for adult masculinity, young girls prepared to become wives and mothers by playing with dolls, with which they would act out maternal and domestic scenes. For young girls, dolls represented the very essence of the female condition, transforming maternity and domestic chores into a game, in contrast to the action and violence that characterized boys’ games, preparing them to become providers and to function within the public sphere.