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or is this gender stereotyping gone mad?

(94 Posts)
NarabugHitWindscreen Sun 16-May-10 09:55:06

I was in ELC yesterday and browsing the wonderful Happyland stuff. A mum with a little boy (2 at a guess) was browsing around, and looking at the storage boxes that go with Happyland stuff. She asks the shop assistant whether there is a 'boys' one.

Basically there is a pink fairy girly one, a space one (that she didn't want) and a generic one that looks like this this

Shop assistant shows generic one, and the mum says "Thats not for boys, it has flowers on"

I'm a bit clueless (as I'm a mum to a DD) and I know its none of my business, but I'm just curious - are mums with boys perturbed by unisex toys with flowers on etc?

Another e.g. apparently when my ex was a little boy he wanted a plastic tea set, but his dad refused to let anyone buy him one. If DD wanted a boyish toy I'd get it for her.

Just spit-balling for opinions, please don't roast me!

LynetteScavo Sun 16-May-10 10:00:24

I once witnessed parents returning an unwanted gift - a Happy Land set in ELC because it was for girls. I was confused

My boys had dolls and tea sets, but the first time DS1 pushed a toy pram, DH insisted on calling it a "truck" hmm

FranSanDisco Sun 16-May-10 10:00:51

I am doing my dissertation on gender identity in the early years and what you say is quite common. Many parents/practitioners don't bat an eye at girls doing unisex but not boys.

Nellykats Sun 16-May-10 10:01:05

I have bought my son a pink toy washing machine, as he loves playing with the real one. Contrary to the ELC mum's belief, flowers do not harm little boys either.

SilveryMoon Sun 16-May-10 10:02:51

Lol. That is a bit crazy isn't it? I have 2 boys and would be quite happy with that box, or any box that would store a few toys!
My ds1 who is 2 has to stop every time he sees a flower to smell it. He loves flowers!

bronze Sun 16-May-10 10:03:08

Just as worrying that theres a 'girls' one

wastingaway Sun 16-May-10 10:04:21

DH says it's got too much pink on it, hmm but he's winding me up. grin


wastingaway Sun 16-May-10 10:06:17

DS actually got a pink toy buggy for his birthday. Why they can't do a green or black one I don't know.

AndieWalsh Sun 16-May-10 10:07:49

Awful. People are so brainwashed by the ridiculous gender stereotyping in children's toys that they have come to expect it and even to actively seek it out.

I try my hardest not to buy 'boys' and 'girls' stuff.

lolapoppins Sun 16-May-10 10:08:29

Really winds me up. I always bought ds whatever he wanted regardless of what it was. He loved kitchens and teas sets. Dh used to know one guy who would always make stupid comments about it, dh could never understand it - he uses the kitchen, makes tea and pushed ds' pushchair so why are those things seen as girls toys?

Ds favourite thing ever was a little three wheeler pushchair that he used to wheel his teddy to nursery in everyday, until one day one of the teachers laughed at him and said it was for girls (he was only 4 bless him).

He still gets stupid comments as he's 7 and really good a dancing, tap and ballet in particular, but he's grown a thick enough skin now for it not to bother him. A little boy called him gay the other day (!) and told ds what it meant, which set ds off pissing himself laughing - one pfthe reasons he loves his dance school is that he is one of the few boys and allthe girls love him, he has so many little girlfriends, lol. It made ds chuckle anyway.

NarabugHitWindscreen Sun 16-May-10 10:09:55

True bronze, very true.

I have often quizzed ex (cos its fun) about what we'd let DD have if she was a DS. She like In The Night Garden, and has the talking cuddly Makka Pakka and Upsy Daisy. He said he'd get her/him the Makka Pakka and Iggle Piggle instead. I asked why and he said because Upsy Daisy was a girl! Lol!

I'm really bad for getting DD pink stuff, she is only 1 and does have a pink trike and a pink waggon full of pink bricks, but if they only had blue ones, I'd get her a blue one

burnthedummy Sun 16-May-10 10:10:22

I had a girl first who was bought everything pink by her doting grandparents, pink bike,a pink one of those elc cars, dolls, prams etc etc, if it could be pink then it was!! ,now my little boy, 19months quite happily plys with all of them sporting a pink fluffy tiara, I don't care because he is happy, learning, and he is enjoying himself. My DH sometimes rolls his eyes, but I think we are both mature enough to know that a little boy playing with pink toys is not going to sustain any psycholgical damage (his doting grandparents almost choke at the sight though!!)and my little girl by the way is usually found up to her elbows in mud and worms in the garden!!

FranSanDisco Sun 16-May-10 10:13:30

Lolapoppins, what a stupid teacher hmm. Ds used to dress in a pink ballet tutu when dd's friends came round so he could play with them. Dh used to look slightly bemused but knew I would give him a tongue lashing if he said anything grin.

porcamiseria Sun 16-May-10 10:15:00

DP wont let me get DS a baby pram, even a blue one!!!!

sunshine2010 Sun 16-May-10 10:18:47

I work in a nursery and all the boys dress in disney princess dresses, play with prams and love pink etc. No one is bothered and they all have pictures of them in their dresses in their learning diaries.

Most of our fights between the children are over who is getting the pink plate or cup that day (we have all different coloured plastic ones). The boys attempt to have actual fights over them as pink has been everyones favourite colour for months.

mummytotwins Sun 16-May-10 10:50:00

I have boy gIrl twins (age 2)and they play with anything and everything, they have though started to slightly adhere to the stereotypes, my DS is currently obsessed with Thomas the Tank whereas my DD loves nothing more than rocking her dollies to sleep and pushing the buggy around but all toys are shared, it is not DD's buggy, they are not her dollies, my DS reguarly takes the dollies for a walk.

If a LO likes something they will play with not matter what colour it is or how many flowers are on it etc!

mummytotwoboys Sun 16-May-10 10:57:27

I dont think its the type of toy - eg kitchen tea set, washing machines, hoover etc as my boys have all of these but they arent pink - I wouldnt ever buy them any pink toys because they are cleary aimed at girls - so why would you. Also you would never find many little girls in the monster truck and diggers section in toys r us.

I watched a study about this with chimp babys (just like our little monkeys) and the boys naturally gravitated towards the cars and the girls went for the dollies because they like to care for things and boys apparently like things that move! I thought it was a great docu so i think that "Types" of toys they go for are probably a bit instinctive.

Having said that, I wuold buy my boys the floweriest thing in the shop if they asked for it, they just dont!! (also dh wouldnt like it lol)

sapell3 Sun 16-May-10 11:06:47


lazarusb Sun 16-May-10 11:07:12

My 7 yr old ds says pink is his favourite colour & loves flowers etc. My friend once asked if I was worried he'd 'become gay'. I told her I couldn't give a monkeys whether he is or not. Have gone out of my way this year to buy him bright clothes rather than dark blue, khaki and combat patterns. Nobody comments on 9 yr old dd living in jeans!

Nellykats Sun 16-May-10 11:22:56

mummytotwoboys I don't see what the trucks and dolls to chimp babys proves really... Trucks are a lot more fun and clearly outside of any chimp's world whereas dolls that look like babies are similar to the babies that any animal bears. I mean, baby chimp girls probably know that's what their mums do no?

My assumption would be that it's not that boys choose trucks, it's that they reject dolls rather. I can understand somebody claiming that females are genetically prone to mothering (though not agree 100%) but males hardwired towards trucks?? Where did trucks enter the evolutionary world of chimps?

By the way, I'm only commenting on the theory, not that you came up with it...

Nellykats Sun 16-May-10 11:24:22

off to chores, will hop back later, very interesting thread x

Jamieandhismagictorch Sun 16-May-10 12:23:50

I wouldn't have a problem with it at all. It's patently ridiculous to think flowers and trees are only for girls. And I wouldn't foist that sort of stereotyping on my DSs either.

There does come a point, though, when society "gets" to your sons and they suddenly announce that pink is a yucky colour and only for girls (around 4 in the case of my two).

I do think that gender stereotyping is much more of a pressure for girls though - they are a big market for advertisers. All that pinkness - horrible

Cretaceous Sun 16-May-10 12:28:10

My friends and I have gone out of our way to buy our girls boy-toys, and our boys girl-toys. Surely that's a good thing. I don't think flowers or pink are really confined to girls by nature, are they? That's surely a learnt thing, encouraged by advertisers.

However, we've all been surprised to discover that there is such a strong gender difference in how they play - obviously, not in all children, but on average. I remember one of my friends being upset because her son pulled the head off the baby doll she'd bought him to encouraging nurturing skillsgrin.

edam Sun 16-May-10 12:39:22

I'm a bit suspicious of that documentary, mummytotwo - do you remember who made it and who ran the study? How did they set it up? I really do doubt very much whether juvenile chimps show an innate gender preference for toy cars or prams, tbh. (Not criticising you, just suspect whoever ran the study wasn't entirely free from bias.)

It's incredibly hard to run research that filters out all gender determinism because it is so pervasive. And, especially in social science, the results are always filtered through the values of the observer.

Don't know if you remember, but there was one study a year or so ago which purported to 'prove' that female preference for pink is innate because in ancient times women were gatherers, men hunters, and women needed to find red berries. Only the researchers had forgotten to do a very basic check - whether 'pink for girls, blue for boys' is a constant over time and place. Actually if they had bothered to ask the question they'd have realised it used to be the other way round. So it can't be innate, it is clearly socially determined. (In Edwardian times, pink was for boys as people saw it as a pale red and red = active, danger etc. etc. while blue was seen as passive and calm therefore for girls.)

TulipsInTheSunshine Sun 16-May-10 12:40:16

I've never understood this nonsense.

My eldest is a girl and was bought 'girly' toys but until the age of about 4 would have sold them all for more toy cars grin

I've had two boys since her and they're happy to play with her dolls, prams, tea sets, dressing up clothes, etc and it certainly hasn't 'infected them with de ghay' like certain people round her would like to suggest when they see my lads proudly parading around wearing a pink necklace hmmgrin

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