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Is there any hope for the next generation?

(28 Posts)
faxittome Sun 05-Jun-11 16:12:06

I was just looking for a playhouse for DD and came across this. It has left me raging. www.mothercare.com/Mothercare-Boys-Garage-Playhouse/dp/B001BX00LY?extid=google_product_extensions

In John Lewis the other day I was horrified to see that the toddler books were divided into 'girls' and 'boys' (obviously the boys' section had all the exciting, adventure-based, transport-related books, and the girls' section had princessy pink stuff).

What hope is there when this is what we're up against?

radancer Sun 05-Jun-11 16:35:20

The playhouse doesn't worry me as much as dividing the books does. That's outrageous. Do all branches of John Lewis do that?

darleneoconnor Sun 05-Jun-11 17:32:36

It's the same with facepainting now too. Chioces are divided into boys (monsters etc) and girls (fing butterflies etc).

SomersetBelle Sun 05-Jun-11 21:47:24

The Bristol John Lewis does this too. I am going to write to them about this, also the highly gendered ad they're running in weekend supplements.

I'm feeling totally despondent about the whole thing at the moment - I'm currently reading Delusions of Gender and it embarrassingly made me cry. DD is 17 months old and I truly worry for her future.

MillyR Sun 05-Jun-11 21:52:50

What I find so weird about in addition to the sexism, is that so much of it isn't natural. By which I mean that girls things tend towards the supernatural - fairies, mermaids, unicorns, and the boys stuff tends towards the constructed - diggers, cars, tool sets.

I have tried to find both my kids clothes, bedding, toys etc which depict things that actually exist in nature, but this was difficult to do because of the girl- supernatural/ boy-constructed divide that just seems to be getting worse.

Why would anyone want to dress their child up in clothes with pictures of cars on, or get them a playhouse that was made to look like a garage?

dittany Sun 05-Jun-11 22:29:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MillyR Sun 05-Jun-11 22:31:05

Next is selling a duvet cover with 'my prince charming' written between the pictures on it.

crispyambulance Sun 05-Jun-11 22:32:32

i have facepainted many a glittery butterfly on a boy darlene grin

IHeartKingThistle Sun 05-Jun-11 22:47:35

It's all appalling, the books especially, and the blue or pink only option on all those ELC toys is just awful.

But there IS hope. We bring up our girls the best we can, we teach them to be strong, we expose them to a variety of stuff and we trust them to do well in the world. I refuse to believe that my DD's future is going to be irrevocably affected by glittery stuff and I'd be pretty disappointed in her if she allowed it to be.

I know it's not that easy, I know attitudes in general and marketing in particular have to change, but don't think there's no hope because of bloody Mothercare.

mollycuddles Sun 05-Jun-11 22:50:15

This is all about money though. Everything now is divided into boy and girl versions - even car seats FFS. This was one big change I noticed from when ds was born (he's 13) and dd2 who just turned one. The stores are just hoping we will buy the girl or boy version and then when we have another baby of a different gender then we will have to buy another one. More profit for them. I'm not a fully signed up member of pink stinks but I've completely avoided this nonsense so far. I did have to buy loads of new stuff despite having 2 other dcs because I didn't keep much.
The books being separated bothers me more actually as books are the start of imagination and our children's dreams and they're limiting what our dc are supposed to dream about.
Good job I've a stack of books from my older dcs so I can give dd2 books about anything I want.

IHeartKingThistle Sun 05-Jun-11 23:01:15

That's true actually, I've just remembered that when I was about to have DS I went to get a pack of white babygros from M+S and they cost MORE than identical babygros in pink or blue. That is utterly disgraceful.

SomersetBelle Mon 06-Jun-11 07:12:01

IHeartKingThistle I like your attitude in your first post and aspire to it. I'm in that mind frame at the moment when reading a book opens your eyes, your world shifts, and everything everywhere is an example of theory in practice.

I hope I am bringing up DD to be strong and independent and that the way society is structured won't limit her. However this book is making me think that the gendering of early years products is an effective primer for future opportunities. So if DD won't play with a toy or read a book that's 'not for her', then education and career choices may follow the same route.

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 06-Jun-11 08:16:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SardineQueen Mon 06-Jun-11 08:31:55

It has to have an effect though. Once children get past a certain (very small) age, in the shops they go to "their bit". As I'm sure we all know, most children pick up the gender divide as soon as they hit nursery/school. And seek the things that are "for them". If the shops are divided like this children are quite literally removed from the toys that "aren't for them".

Obviously as sensible MNing feminist mummies we provide a large range of non-gendered toys for our babies and preschoolers, in lovely neutral colours, including dollies for the boys and cars for the girls, which are in all likelihood made of wood wink

But then they hit - what - 3 or 5 - and they know which bit of the shop they are supposed to be looking at, and bingo everything which has been deemed as for the opposite sex is not even on their radar. They won't look at it, they won't consider it.

I've only just realised this (my older one is nearly 4) and it's just shocking frankly.

SardineQueen Mon 06-Jun-11 08:34:12

I've just realised that my local toy shop (I think it's a TOYMASTER) isn't segregated at all! And thinking about it neither is the toymaster at the place where we go on holiday.

So maybe everybody needs to go to them. If enough people only went to non gendered shops they'd think again quick enough.

I'm shocked about john lewis. I thought they had more sense (foolish I know).

Himalaya Mon 06-Jun-11 08:45:18

Oh I hate this. I agree with Mollycuddles, it is, at least in part driven by the money making drive to sell parents two of everything, and generally make handing stuff down harder.

But it must also be driven by what sells (I.e. What parents want..)which companies are responding to. ELC started off all wood-and-primary-colours with earnest educational toys, but in the end went down the princesses or diggers route.

I hadn't thought about in terms of supernatural versus constructed, Milly but that is exactly right.

It used to be that where there were boys toys they were imitations of dad and prepartion to follow stereotypically male roles --, driving and fixing the car, doing woodwork around the house, understanding the world in scientific terms and doing engineering/ manufacturing job etc and girls toys were imitations of mum - the toy ironing board, dolls, and of the limited range of aspirations for women - nurse, teacher or glamerous wife to Ken.

Now its like we don't want to push girls into toys that are just about domesticity, so parents and toy companies are casting around for powerful role models for girls and the only ones they could come up with for the mass market was the power of woo and sexuality. It's profoundly depressing.

As for books, am I wrong in thinking that all pink/sparkly/princessy books and most spy/monster/adventure books of the kind you get in supermarkets are just rubbish, kind of junk food of children's literature?

meditrina Mon 06-Jun-11 08:50:54

SQ: thanks for posting a shop that doesn't do this!

I agree strongly with MollyCuddles that this trend has worsened over the last 15ish years. I think it is limiting to all children when there is (unnecessary) gender separation of toys and books, and I think it's harder on boys as the pink/fluffy taboo for them is much stronger than the tomboy taboo for girls.

And it's aimed at the parents too - back when I was having my elder DCs, a pink pushchair was unheard of. It was all unisex, as expected to last for more than one child.

Greenstocking Mon 06-Jun-11 08:57:19

I agree with you all.
I have two boys and two girls. All their stuff is gender non specific - all bikes are black or silver for handing round. All toys are played with by whoever.
My girls are tough and climb trees , ride horses and generally have no truck with pink shit.
it can be done providing you raise your kids in a feminist, non gender way. We don't allow the girls to be called princess. One wants to be a vet and my eldest son is the only boy in his riding class and couldn't give a shit.
It helps that their father is a feminist too!

SardineQueen Mon 06-Jun-11 09:10:13

<about to write post that shows DH and I have "mug" stamped on our foreheads>

You know those little scooters the preschoolers have? Mini something. They are really well made fabbo toys grin

Anyway we got one for DD for her birthday and... wait for it.. if you wanted one that wasn't blue or pink it was £10 more. We got a red one. PIL thought we were nuts grin

blackcurrants Mon 06-Jun-11 12:07:58

Yeah if you want gender-neutral stuff (that you could use for more than one kid and therefore not buy it all over again! SHOCKER!) it can cost you more. Bloody ridiculous.

It's bad over here (USA). I want to get DS some stuff for a 1 year old that isn't gendered and it's nigh on impossible to get, say, a cute green romper suit with a frog or a ducky or a dog or a giraffe on it. The shops that do sell relatively nice, relatively neutral clothing (Polarn O Pyraet and Hanna Andersson spring to mind) are bloody expensive. POP has quite good sales - DS is currently crawling around in a pair of their stripey leggings that cost me $6 - but I think they're about $30 full price, which is farrrr out of my range.

Ugh.
But in answer to your question OP, I think the next generation has a decent chance if their parents are able to instill some inner pressure to resist the out pressure (uhm, like a diving bell) and so they can learn to ask questions about things. Or .. something.
Would write more but the next generation is crawling up my leg and demanding to be picked up!

Himalaya Mon 06-Jun-11 12:36:03

Blackcurrants, SQ -- that gender neutral stuff is more expensive is a good sign. grin

That means it is coming into fashion, and pretty soon it will be picked up by the mass market.

Now that pink/sparkly and blue/khaki is so ubiquitous it is starting to look tacky and old. Pretty soon people are going to be ripping this stuff out, (along with their laminate flooring, brown leather sofa etc..) and babies will all be wearing primary coloured scando-chic.

I'm not saying all will be good or anything, I'm just saying that at some point pink will have had its day, and I think that day is coming soon....

WriterofDreams Mon 06-Jun-11 12:55:36

You know what, when I first started reading about this stuff on MN I thought "get a life" but now I'm experiencing it with my DS and it really gets my goat. We went to buy DS a bouncer at the weekend and the blue and red one was damaged so I picked up the pink one, the only other one available. DH said "Is that one ok?" and I said "Yeah it's not damaged," assuming that was what he meant and he said (jokingly) "Yeah DS you're secure in your sexuality aren't you?" WTF??? He's 5 MONTHS OLD!! I just gave DH a look that clearly said "you're an utter loon" and moved on. I took photos of DS in the bouncer and showed them to MIL later and of course straight away she said "It's pink!" with horror. I didn't want an argument so I said "that was the only one available" then she commented a few times on how "embarrassed" he looked in the pictures!

Before reading the feminism section here I wouldn't have thought twice about this but now I'm so aware of it I can't ignore it at all. What really struck a chord with me is that I know if I had a DD and bought her the blue and red one no comment would be made, but because DS is in a "girly" one it is beneath his dignity and he's "embarrassed" as having a boy associated with girl's things is wrong, as everyone knows girls are inferior and a boy would hate to be seen to be a girl!! GRRR! angry and damn you Mumsnet for waking me up!

faxittome Mon 06-Jun-11 13:00:25

Sorry - I posted and then my internet disappeared for a day.

Himalaya, I really hope you're right. I did walk out of Polarn o Pyret despondently the other day as it seems to be becoming less neutral than it used to be, no doubt responding to the what the average consumer wants.

I think I will complain to John Lewis; I just need to psych myself up for it as I'm one of those pathetic people who wilts under the uncomprehending 'you're a loony' gaze of the average shop assistant. I scuttled out of Gap the other day when I was laughed at for questioning why they had to actually print 'boy' or 'girl' in the labels of clothes for toddlers. So few people I meet in real life think this is an issue.

My problem is that in my rage against the labelling and the pinkifying, I end up buying 'boy' things for my daughter just to make a point, even when the 'girl' version is nicer/more suited to purpose. Also, she will probably rebel and end up choosing pink girly everything for herself when she is old enough.

SardineQueen Mon 06-Jun-11 14:32:28

Send them an email or phone them if you feel an arse complaining in real life faxittome smile

writer ha we gotcha grin

radancer Mon 06-Jun-11 14:57:54

When I'm next in my local John Lewis, which is Oxford Street and not really that local, I'll check and see if they do this. If they do then sure, I'll write disagreeing and asking them to explain their policy.

When my DD was a toddler her favourite books were 'In The Night Factory' and 'Where The Wild Things Are' - she loved this, at one stage I was reading it every night for weeks. Would John Lewis think she was reading the "wrong" books, I wonder? She's doing very well at school now btw, especially in English (starts secondary in September).

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