Great toy stereotyping article in Sunday Telegraph magazine

(12 Posts)
grimbletart Sun 15-Dec-13 17:52:36

Great feature in Stella - the Sunday Telegraph magazine today. Unfortunately I can't find it online unless anyone else can. It's by Clover Stroud and the headline is 'Once upon a time…'

Apologies about the length but it is a four-page feature.

It is challenging the whole boy/girl stereotyping/sexism bollox in toys and pretty much echoes everything we have been saying on here and other threads. It includes the Let Toys Be Toys Campaign and Mumsnet quoting Megan Perryman and the impact they are having. Is the author a MNer? It talks about children's films, the skewed casting of girls (research by Dr Stacy Smith, University of California). It also quotes Debbie Sterling the CEO of Goldibox, "a toy company on a mission to inspire the next generation of female engineers".

Too long to c&p but worth getting hold of. Maybe the tide is turning…..

I've posted before that when my daughters were small (late 1960s/1970s) they were never bombarded by pink tat and had clothes in all colours of the rainbow and I wondered what had happened to change things. The article quotes Dr Elizabeth Sweet from the University of California saying that in the American Sears catalogue of 1975 few toys were marketed specifically towards one gender and had pix of boys playing with kitchen sets and girls with building blocks just as I remember in the UK. It was the 1980s when amplification of age and sex differences took hold as a marketing strategy (the article says).

This all leaves me wondering if there was more to it than just marketing, in the UK anyway, as it was in 1970 that the Equal Pay Act became law and 1975 the Sex Discrimination Act was passed.

So was it simply marketing - searching to expand the market by brainwashing children so they could double their sales by labelling boy/girl - or was there a more, perhaps even subconscious subtle agenda i.e. to reverse the unacceptable march of females towards equality by putting us back in our little pink boxes where we ought to be? I do love a good conspiracy theory grin

However, the author, who has given her daughter a selection of toys from trucks to to train sets and from dolls to teapots admits she smiles a little more enthusiastically when her daughter kisses her dolly than when she pushes a truck across the floor. "Holding her doll, she looks like a mummy, like me. I am a feminist, yet old habits die hard."

Great article, shame about the ending…..

I've always thought you could be a mum and an engineer and I am a gran brought up in pre-liberation era smile

NutcrackerFairy Fri 03-Jan-14 08:13:00

Interesting post thank you.

I wish I could find it on line, I also can't.

I have two young boys, 4 and 2, and am trying to not buy them purely 'boy specific' toys... though it's difficult as they love cars and trucks! But I guess that's okay, the point is that it would be equally acceptable if they wanted to play with dolls and a girl wanted to play with cars and trucks...

However I guess it's not as simple as pure preference, we can't discount the bombardment of gender messages via marketing from a very early age, ie tv and specific characters being marketed as for boys or for girls to identify with and role model themselves on such as Lightning McQueen and Barbie.

Ev1lEdna Wed 08-Jan-14 16:41:27

Grimbletart I hate to ask but do you still have a copy of the article? I have a student writing about this issue and I would dearly love to see a copy of it - she has a lot of other research.

Would it be possible for you to scan it and email it - if you still have it?

Sadoldbear Wed 08-Jan-14 16:52:38

Thing about Barbie was in the past she could be "anything. So she was an astronaut in 1965 - well before any US women were. Shes had over 130 "careers" - vet, doctor, pilot, police officer - and yet now all it seems that people want to buy is the overwhelming pink girlies. Sometimes it seems to me, listening to young women - who all want to be treated"like a princess" that we have gone back 50years

frugalfuzzpig Wed 08-Jan-14 16:54:22

Thanks for the heads up, I'll see if we have it at work smile

grimbletart Wed 08-Jan-14 17:28:44

Ev - so sorry, it went out in the recycling sad

frugalfuzzpig Wed 08-Jan-14 18:54:57

Ev1, I'll try to remember to look at work (library) as I think we still keep a back catalogue of 3 months for the newspapers we buy in. It might be at another library at the moment but I'll try and find out when I'm next in (Friday) - if I find it I can scan it and email it.

orynque Wed 08-Jan-14 21:07:30
Ev1lEdna Fri 10-Jan-14 11:31:40

Thank you, frugal and Orynque - if that is the link no need to worry frugal and I appreciate that you were going to look. smile

grimbletart Fri 10-Jan-14 16:02:21

Thank you orynque. I am usually pretty good at finding links but that one got away smile I like to think that it went up on line after I did the search….

Ev1lEdna Fri 10-Jan-14 18:43:23

Thanks to you too grimble for the heads up about the article.

Deliaskis Sun 12-Jan-14 20:27:08

Another Stella article today about whether 2013 was a good or a bad year for women and equality. The balance of the piece was broadly that it was not a great year, citing, among other things, the rise of 'rape banter', and atrocities against women in various parts of the world. Some interesting points, and more to the point, nice to read that a mainstream (and fairly conservative) paper finds the issues worthy of debate.

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