Ms. Teddy Bear

In a rare attack of generosity, I piled the kids in the car and took us all off for a trip around the toy shop. I don’t do this often because in a toy shop I come over all like a, well, like a kid in a toy shop. I get so over-excited by the sight of all those gleaming toys we could never afford when I was a kid mixed with the presence of a credit card in my name that I find myself thrusting toys into Boogie’s hand before tearing them back out again and throwing them in the trolley (yes, I get a trolley – I know my weaknesses, OK?). Among the plethora of tut of forced on my uncomplaining children today was a cute-as-smush-and-twice-as-cuddly teddy bear. I never lacked cuddly toys as a kid purely because I was never much interested in them but I’d realised we hadn’t got a single ‘comfort’ toy for L’il Boo. Not that he craves them either – I’ve never attempted to give either of my kids ‘comfort’ objects, being safe in the knowledge that as soon as they developed any degree of fondness for said thing, I would immediately leave it in the pub or somesuch. But, dammit, a kid needs a teddy bear! And it was only 4 quid and almost as tall as L’il Boo. In keeping with my desire to fuck with gender norms, when it came to naming the bear, I announced it was in fact a female bear. This blind-sided Boogie for a minute because already – and despite my efforts – she knows that nothing, nay, nothing, is female unless it has clearly visible eyelashes. What the fuck is it with toy manufacturers/TV programme makers and eyelashes? They are used as the sine qua non feature of ‘female’ in the absence of any other identifying gender marks. After an afternoon watching children’s TV, I often find myself startled by the fact that L’il Boo has these strange hairy things growing around his eyes. It’s ironic, really because L’il Boo happens to have the most sumptuous eyelashes I’ve ever seen, so long that in addition to doing the normal curving thing that eyelashes do, his arrive at the end of that curve and, finding nowhere else to go unless they want to serve as cat’s whiskers and stop him jamming his face into anything too small to get out of, do a sharp flip to curve right back towards his face. In short, they’re gorgeous. When I point out L’il Boo’s eyelashes to Boogie, however, she ‘Hmms’ dubiously in agreement but eyes L’il Boo suspiciously like he’s some kind of genetic fuck-up. Of course, by declaring the bear female, I’m in no doubt that I’m condemning ‘her’ to the life of a naked transvestite. See, I know she’s actually a he. I know this for certain because he wasn’t born naked; no, in the shop he was resplendent in a blue T-shirt. And we all know what that means. In any event, even without this distinct marker, even naked, I know she’s a male bear, don’t I? Because I know that, without any of those obvious female markers (eyelashes, anyone?), any bear worth its salt is a boy, of course. Of course, of course, of course. To be female, bears, much in common with the human female, have to show their ‘femininity’ in unmistakable ways. They have to wear a dress – in pink preferably – and maybe carry a handbag and, oh, I don’t know, only shit in the woods if the nearest toilet is some miles away and they have dysentery and everyone promises not to look. So the fucking bear’s female, much as I hate to trample over its right to determine its own gender. Boogie, not the most imaginative with names, calls her Teddy anyway. So now we have a male bear whose sex we’ve re-assigned without consultation, with a basically male name. Got that? Do keep up. Teddy has turned out to be very popular as a throwing object. But, love her as she does, I have to constantly remind Boogie to refer to her using female pronouns etc. This wouldn’t be so bad, except I find I have to constantly correct myself on the same point. It’s quickly become apparent to me what a number the Patriarchy has done on me with regard to teddy bears. Shit, they just are male to me. This has turned out to be a real education for the whole family. And I just love me a bit of education.


About MistressofBoogie

Feminist. Loud-mouth. Sometimes those two are linked. Sometimes not. View all posts by MistressofBoogie

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