From the Stacks: He Plays With Dolls

This Ann Landers column was featured in the No Comment section of Ms. in December 1974.

It may be OK for girls to act outside of their stereotypical gender roles, but boys who do need psychological help. Gee, thanks, Ann.

Fun Fact: Ann Landers (Esther Lederer) believed in 1973 that homosexual behavior was unnatural: “I am with the psychiatrists who believe homosexuals are sick and that sex between two men or two women is unnatural.”

She changed her mind in 1992: “Homosexuality is not a learned behavior, it is genetic. It can be suppressed but not altered.”


  1. Wow! I know we still have a lot of progress still to make, but it’s good to know things have changed that much since 35 years ago. Free to Be You and Me!

  2. PioneerGrrrl says:

    But like you’re suggesting the Ann of today would change her mind. My brother decided that he wanted to play with dolls and my parents allowed him when we were little.

  3. Society needs to move forward and encourage children (both male and female) to play with whichever toys they feel a preference toward. My paternal grandparents worried when my father played with dolls. They actually asked his pediatrician about it. The pediatrician said that his behavior was excusable since he only played with the dolls when his two younger sisters wanted him to join them in playing (the rest of the time, he played with trucks and building blocks). It makes me wonder what “treatments” my dad would have been subjected to if the context was different.

  4. When my son played with dolls, his father (my ex) worried. I told my ex two things — (1) he’s playing “Daddy taking care of the baby” which is a role he learned from his father and (2) if he’s gay (my ex’s unspoken fear), then he’s gay and we’re going to continue loving him as we’ve always done. Glad we’ve made progress as a society, but I think we’ve a ways to go yet on this issue.

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