I read A.M. Homes’ “A Real Doll,” a while ago and wrote some interview questions for her and then forgot about them. Well, here are the questions and some of my answers to them.
Did you have Barbies or other dolls growing up?
I had a large collection of stuffed animals and even a knock-off Cabbage Patch Kid for whom my mother made an assortment of clothes I’d dress him in. I didn’t play with dolls, but I didn’t have many “masculine” toys either. I wasn’t allowed to have guns including cap guns, water guns, or even figurines who would use guns such as G.I. Joe.
How do you think toys facilitate gender roles?
I feel this was more obvious in the past and seems less clear now, but I’m not sure. I guess I’m curious about specific toys, maybe Barbie, and how they shaped your ideas of femininity. I feel like I had a lot of gender neutral toys such as Legos, Lincoln Logs, etc. I don’t think my parents were necessarily avoiding gender stereotypes, but as a result it may have influenced a certain sexual confusion. I don’t know if these things are related or not, but I thought I might potentially be asexual for quite a while, until toys were no longer a part of my life.
Why do you think the story is told from the male pov? Is it the author’s view of how males perceive things/ operate? Or is it something else?
There is a certain amount of gender confusion or sexual ambiguity. I felt Jennifer acted more strongly “male” with her abuse of the doll and the narrator had definite feminine designations, such as his interest in the doll in the first place, putting the doll’s head in his mouth (oral sex/ mouth = his vagina), cumming inside Ken’s body, etc. Is this a product of the toys’ influence, society, the author’s influence or something else?
Where are the parents?
I’m half convinced that this story isn’t about toys at all but about the way genders relate to each other and part of my reason for believing that is the very small role the parents play. They have no function in the toy aspect of this story at all.
How do you think a male reader responds differently to this story than a female?
I don’t really know the answer to this question. But I’d like to hear how you respond.
Who do you relate to most in the story?
I would say Jennifer, because I was experimentally inquisitive with my toys.