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Gendered toys- why so bad?

(95 Posts)
ThePollyAndTheIvy Thu 26-Dec-13 23:53:42

I just don't understand why they're such a problem.

Don't get me wrong, if my DS (once born) wanted to play with barbies or dolls I would have no issue with it, I just genuinely don't understand the MN dislike of gendered toys?

Please don't think I'm being sarcastic or facetious, I honestly don't know enough of the reasoning to form an opinion and would like to know more!

Beavie Fri 27-Dec-13 00:00:53

I don't really understand why either. I guess it's a feminist thing, as so much of mumsnet is, but both of my dds have naturally gravitated towards dolls and toy hoovers etc, and I don't have a problem with that. DP is frantically trying to get dd2 into superhero toys but failing miserably.

MidniteScribbler Fri 27-Dec-13 00:01:37

Why can't they just be "toys"? Why do they need to have a gendered assigned to them?

JassyRadlett Fri 27-Dec-13 00:05:36

Because they are marketed exclusively at their target gender, thus socialising small boys to the idea that dolls/cooking/caring are 'for girls', and science/sport/action figures/etc are 'for boys', reducing the likelihood of inclusive play and true choice by children.

Social conditioning of types of play doesn't exist in a vaccuum. By telling them through play that boys and girls are (a) exclusive of each other in terms of play and that (b) girls are for nurturing/homemaking/beautifying and boys are for dominance/aggression/action. Increases separateness between boys and girls and further embeds gender stereotypes. When the dressing-up costumes have a doctor outfit for boys and a nurse for girls (as Sainsbury's did recently) what's that telling kids?

toobreathless Fri 27-Dec-13 00:06:23

Can you think of any toy that a child of a particular gender shouldn't play with should they show an interest?


Then why group them as girl vs boy toys?

What this does is influence some peoples decisions and makes them feel that a boy shouldn't be playing with a doll or girl with a train set as they are for the opposite gender. Then the child misses out and negative gender stereotypes reinforced.

Which is nonsense.

Toys are toys to be enjoyed by children regardless of gender.

SPsWantsCliffInHerStocking Fri 27-Dec-13 00:09:26

No idea either. Doesn't bother anyone I know in RL.

sleepyhead Fri 27-Dec-13 00:12:28

Because gendering toys is pretty stupid.

Cars = boys toy. Really? Do women not drive? Are women never interested in cars?

Pram = girls toy. Really? Do men not push prams? Do men not have babies and do they really not look after them?

Pink = girls. Why? Show me the 2 year old who doesn't gravitate to pink sparkly things if they're allowed to. Pink is a nice colour but it's got bugger all to do with having a vagina.

BTW, I'm totally against the whole "pink stinks" thing. Nothing wrong with pink or glitter or feathers and I think all children should be allowed to play with whatever they want to. You're kidding yourself if you think society is ok with this though.

JassyRadlett Fri 27-Dec-13 00:12:41

Sorry, grammar went horribly wrong above.

Here's an example. I have a 2-year-old DS who loves dinosaurs, Duplo, cleaning (he loves his you mop and broom) and pushing his animals around in a toy buggy. He loves washing and caring for the dollies at nursery as well as more 'boyish' pursuits. It sort of breaks my heart that before too long, he'll get the idea (from a variety of sources) that some of that play is not for him, regardless of what I do and nursery do. There's absolutely no reason for dolls to be 'for girls' and action figures/dinosaurs 'for boys' but that society has decreed it so and marketers have exploited and entrenched the divisions.

JassyRadlett Fri 27-Dec-13 00:13:43

Well said, sleepyhead.

Chippednailvarnish Fri 27-Dec-13 00:13:48

Try this

Clunch Fri 27-Dec-13 00:14:00

My male one year old's favourite colour is pink, he has a toy kitchen he adores, and one of his favourite activities is pushing his baby doll around in a toy pushchair. None of these activities is gendered in itself, but before too long he will be old enough to absorb the social messages associated with toy marketing and advertising - that these things are 'for girls', and he will need to assimilate himself to an appropriately masculine world of khaki and diggers. Not that there's anything wrong with khaki and diggers, but it's as limited and limiting as pink princess stuff is for girls.

foreverondiet Fri 27-Dec-13 00:14:16

Because my oldest is a girl we have lots of what I think are unisex toys that we have in pink eg toy piano, dolls buggy plus other stuff that ds2 says "is for girls". Can't bear it. Refused to buy dd a pink bike.

ilovesmurfs Fri 27-Dec-13 00:15:53

PigsInTinselToppedWellies Fri 27-Dec-13 00:18:56

Pink doesn't stink. Pink is a beautiful colour. I wish more boys clothes came in pink. I buy him clothes from the girl's section as I think it really suits him, although I try to choose stuff which isn't too frilly.

Anniemousse Fri 27-Dec-13 00:23:07

This may help

WaitingForPeterWimsey Fri 27-Dec-13 00:24:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

IamInvisible Fri 27-Dec-13 00:24:12

I've got no idea either.

I just bought my boys the toys they liked to play with. It didn't matter if it was a car or a doll, a workshop or a kitchen. The fact it was on a shelf marked "boys" or "girls" made no difference either because I have got a mind of my own!

perlona Fri 27-Dec-13 00:25:13

I don't think toys should be advertised as for one gender, dd gets boys and girls toys, she likes both. Children should be able to make their own choices and not fear playing with something because it's 'for' the opposite gender.

whereisshe Fri 27-Dec-13 00:27:41

I think Jassy covered the issues, but I would add that this is generally less of an issue for parents of boys. Toys targeted at boys are far more likely to be both aspirational (pilot vs stewardess) and more interesting (meccano vs dolls). Toys targeted at girls stereotype girls in a very limited way.

JadziaSnax Fri 27-Dec-13 00:28:17

A toy is a toy. There should be no gender expectations attached to any toys, they're just toys.

A lot of the toys marketed at girls are either to improve appearance or play at domestic duties, which socialises girls into what's expected of them as they become adults. They narrow the horizons for young girls.

It really shouldn't matter what children play with but unfortunately it seem to be encouraged for boys to play with one type of toy and for girls to play with another. I don't care what they play with, DS loved to copy us both with tidying, cooking & washing now we give him a real brush & cloth & let him get on with it

I look at the so-called boys toys that DS has and with a lot of them, Dsis and I had them when we were little. We had lego, a marble run, domino run sets and shedloads of toy cars and this wasn't unusual for girls in the 70s. It seems far worse now than it was then.

It really annoys me that anything aimed at girls is pink and glittery. What is wrong with making toys for children in bright, interesting, different colours?

DD is still a baby, I hope that she'll play with whatever she wants to play with and won't feel that she is restricted in what toys are for her. DS plays with what he likes, it could be a tea set or a PC game. It doesn't matter and at 7, he completely understands that a toy is a toy.

MrsWembley Fri 27-Dec-13 00:33:17

Are you seriously saying that when your DS gets the head-nods, frowns and strange looks that will turn, over the years, into rumours, then quite blatant name-calling and possibly worse, all because he likes playing with 'girls' toys', you'll be fine with it? When his whole personality is questioned because he enjoys playing with something that has been deemed by 'society' (by which I mean the consumer culture) to be for the other gender only, you will stand there, shrugging your shoulders and saying, 'well, he always liked playing with dolls when he was a baby.'

When he starts to question what he does and how he is and looks to you for reassurance about his love of things 'feminine', you honestly think you will be able to stay 'fine with it?

The idea that this is another thing that I will have to stand up and fight against as my DCs grow older is utterly depressing and leaves me with a foul taste in my mouth. Others have said it far better than I here about what is intrinsically wrong with the gendering of anything , but I can honestly say there is nothing that gets me quite as vocal in shops as seeing certain toys labeled 'for girls/boys'. I try to rant about it with as many people listening as possible, though DP doesn't always stay around these days, having heard it once too often.wink

IamInvisible Fri 27-Dec-13 00:38:19

No-one ever passed a comment when DS2 used to push his doll in it's pushchair. Lots of little boys had little buggies with teddies or dolls in at the time.

BIWI Fri 27-Dec-13 00:39:03

But your post presupposes that toys are gendered:

if my DS (once born) wanted to play with barbies or dolls I would have no issue with it

Why should this be?

Why is it that boys should play with cars and girls with dolls?

Why should boys play with stuff that is colour-coded blue or girls stuff that is colour-coded pink?

It's horrible that we should segregate our children like this based on their gender.

And I'm shock that you can't see that this is an issue.

JassyRadlett Fri 27-Dec-13 00:40:48

Iam, how old was your DS when he stopped pushing it about?

Alisvolatpropiis Fri 27-Dec-13 00:43:38

Regardless of how shops market toys, it is down to the parents,surely?

As a little girl I was as likely to be found playing with barbies as I was dinosaurs.

My younger (male) sibling inherited my toys. He played with some and not with others.

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