Don't Make Toy Genitals Interactive

See? Not a genital button in sight!
See? Not a genital button in sight!
Image: SEBASTIEN BOZON/Stringer (Getty Images)

If you’re a caring and attentive parent and/or obsessed with Satanic, ritualized child trafficking, you’ll be familiar with the concept of “grooming,” in which an abuser slowly convinces a child that his or her sexual advances are normal and acceptable, culminating in the unthinkable.

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This morning Sam Parker, a failed senatorial candidate from Utah, showed the world this video of a Poppy the Troll doll who had a button on her genitals. Parker, whose Twitter feed is even more disturbing, suggests this particular doll is aimed at “grooming and facilitating child abuse.”

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That’s the button.
That’s the button.
Image: Twitter

If you’re of a conspiratorial bent, you would assume that this button is there to normalize sexual touching. If you are Hasbro, you say it was a mistake. We reached out to the company, which explained that the button was designed to activate when the doll was seated.

“This feature was designed to react when the doll was seated, but we recognize the placement of the sensor may be perceived as inappropriate,” a Hasbro spokesperson said. “This was not intentional and Hasbro is happy to provide consumers who purchased this product with a replacement Poppy doll of similar value.”

The company has since pulled the doll from stores.

As a parent of three with a house full of toys, I’m willing to accept that Hasbro isn’t in the business of grooming. Since the troll’s primary interactivity depends on pressing her belly, this extra button suggests you can interact with her by tapping her head, and not poking her privates. That said, I implore toymakers not to put buttons on a toy’s junk, even if it seemed funny at the time. It invites unsavory characters to scrutinize your work, and it baffles parents who just want to shut the damn thing up so they can listen to their podcasts in peace.

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John Biggs is a writer from Ohio who lives in Brooklyn. He likes books, boardgames, watches, and his dog. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Gizmodo.

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