A topic close to my heart
Well, this is a topic that I can relate to! Our little girl just turned 3 and until about Nov was only interested in "boy" things. She has two boy cousins (she is an only child and will stay that way). She is so into Thomas the Train BUT all of her trains kiss each other and she nurses the trains. This shows me that she is exhibiting typical "mom" behavior to her toys and is nurturing them. She loves bulldozers, airplanes & matchbox cars too. EVERYTHING has a mommie, daddy, baby, momom, poppop & lela (aunt). Horses, trains, houses, you name it, it's got family! She absolutely LOVES horses and this comes out of nowhere. We don't have them, but she is totally into them, so it must be instinctual!
About Nov. she only wanted to wear dresses (I wear skirts/dresses only when I absolutely have to) and the girly things started to appeal to her (she had to have the Step 2 kitchen - I got her the beige & green one that looks like a miniature kithen with the moldings & stuff, not all pink and cutesy) and she is big into My Little Pony. The only video she has ever sat and watched without moving is Strawberry Shortcake, so she's into that too. The other day I got her the first Barbie (a red headed hippie band member Barbie with musical instruments
"Chelsie" from the My Generation collection) it was on clearance and came with accessories, so I figured it was worth $6 (originally $20). I noticed that she has fully articulating elbows & shoulders, smaller boobs and her waist is not as thin.
I DO plan to get her the pregnant Midge doll and her hubby (although I plan to "loose" the baby bottles or have only daddy use them). But I think 5 is a good age to actually do the whole Barbie thing since they need manual dexterity to change the clothes & stuff. (We'll see if she beggs for it at X-Mas). I really like the "Happy Family" set, I've seen grandma & grandpa out there and that is the first time that I have seen "older" Barbies (with gray hair & wrinkles). This is something that mimicks her life and allows her to roleplay nurturing activities (which I would encourage any boy to do).
When she got the My Little Pony Castle (birthday), her 4 yr old boy cousin wanted to play with it but his mom said "it was for girls" I hate that!
I told him that he could play ponies too if he wanted!
I am also a tabletop roleplayer from way back. I was usually the only girl and definetly the only girl GM (D&D, VTM/WOD, my own creation I called supernatural "college" and CyberPunk). At college I ran 4 adventures a week with 4 groups. I was the only girl playing and GM's were always in demand, I got quite the reputation for the twisted, sick plot tists that people STILL talk about 8 years later! People hate to watch movies & tv with me because I can predict the plot twists "because that's how I would write it". Except for Alias, that's why I love the show, it's unpredictable to me.
I think D&D is a good place to start. Very imaginative for them, just don't get bogged down in all the rules, that comes later. With kids, I tend to recomend the goody two shoes "awfly lawfly" approach. IF the friends play make sure to talk to the parents first and explain it to them, otherwise they freak out!
I also read comic books as a teen and my heroes were women. Wonder Woman was my fave because she was super tall, looked damn good and wore flats when she fought crime (pet peeve of mine: super heroines who run in heels). Rouge, She Hulk and Phoenix were also my faves. Encourage your daughter to have strong female role models in the media. Alias, Electra, La Femme Nikita, Dark Angel all featured take no crap women.
I also like Smallville and Angel as the girls in that are pretty take charge, don't wait to be saved.
If you push too many "boy" things on her she could rebel and go in the opposite direction, so be careful. Let her develop her interests naturally. Maybe guns are not her thing but cars are. Have your hubby include her in typically "boy" activities (such as fixing the carburator - anyone remember "My Cousin Vinny"?) and be a role model. Do things that are outside the gender norms and she will take her cues from you & your wife (her example of what it is to be a woman, mother & wife).
But I have to wonder, would you encourage a boy to play with Barbie? Would you buy him pink Dora undies if he really liked them (I know a 3 1/2 yr old boy who loves pink & wanted Dora undies, but they are only girl undies)? Would you encourage him to play house and help your wife with "women's" chorses (cooking & cleaning). Just keep your ideals in perspective, if she was a he, would you find his interests in baby dolls and "girl" things a threat to your masculinity, would you be afrais it hakes him gay? Not to say that you wouldn't, I'm just beinging it up.
That is my litmus test for myself. It has to be a two way street to be fair.