Who decided that only boys should unwrap trucks on Christmas morning, or that only girls should find tea sets under the tree?

President Barack Obama asked just that question earlier this month while sorting gifts at an annual Toys for Tots drive held at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., where White House staffers donated 1,000 toys to the Marine Corps’ campaign. By “mismatching” toys, Obama quickly proved how rigid — and just plain wrong — our antiquated notions of gender can be. And he did it, of course, all while chuckling out a few ho, ho, hos.


First Lady Michelle Obama has been participating in the toy drive for six years, but this year was her husband’s first. As she took to the podium, she warned the audience that he might not know where things go. “He doesn’t usually deal in shopping,” the First Lady said. “So watch him, cause he could really make your work harder.”

“You know what? I just wanna make sure some girls play some ball,” Obama said as he dropped a basketball into a bin designated for girls. Calling himself “the big elf,” the president continued asking questions as he picked through the presents. “Tee-ball? Girls like tee-ball,” he said moments later, and placed the set into the girls pile.

When someone in the crowd of onlookers seemed surprised that he placed building blocks into the girls box, the Sorter-in-Chief replied, “Girls don’t like toys?” He added, “I’m just trying to break down these gender stereotypes.”

At one point, the president went too far in his mix-up of the accepted norms: “I am positive that girls, zero to two, [are] perfect for the Call of Duty video game,” he said. “Isn’t that right?”

But overall, the president wanted to express his thanks to Toys for Tots, a group that’s distributed more than 469 million toys to 216 million children. Whether for boys or girls, “that’s a lot of dollhouses, [and] that’s a lot of Ninja Turtles,” Obama said.