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Toys for children

(21 Posts)
JacksonPollocks Mon 11-Jul-11 14:26:14

Honestly, how many of your child's toys are gender neutral or even toys supposedly for the other gender?

This thought was sparked off by a chat in the children's centre this morning. A woman who otherwise seems pretty in line with equal rights (equal split childcare, not overly girly etc) expressed shock at my one year old's pink dolly (he's a boy) and pink cardo. Her girl (and another) were in shorts/ playing in the mud, typical 'tom boys' to quote my nan. However seeing my son enjoy all things girly provoked quite a debate on if this was 'fair' for him to 'encourage'. I don't encourage it, I simply let him play with any toy regardless of the gender it's aimed at. He plays with a mix of things, and as part of that he love pink and glitter/ shiney things. alongside his love of cars and mud To me equal means both sexes free to choose, simply being oneself. I haven't thought about it much, just did what is nautral to me but his bloody pink cardigan is starting to feel like a huge political statement I need to jutify constantly (Which although I'm happy to do so it feels sad, it just a nice top). It got me thinking though:

1. How hard it is to buy any gender neutral toy/ clothing now. In BHS yesterday there were two baby ranges- blue and pink. Every toy in sainsburys on the way home was clearly aimed at a certain gender, with many otherwise gender neutral toys, such as mini-laptops, being made in blue and pink only.

2. One woman identified herself as a 'feminist' when showing off her daughters outfit clothes. Was her brand of feminist simply rejecting 'effeminate' things as worthless/ superficial whilst valuing traditionally male looks, manners and activities/ traits? How often do we fall into this trap? Judging pink and sparkly as shallow/ silly whilst respecting tamer/ manly looks.

3. 'Tomboys' are generally seen as normal, yet little boys with tutus or dollies are seen by a wide part of the population as 'not right' with a potential trans-gender/ gay future ahead, we can even be encouraged and needs to be stamped out of them effectively.

DontCallMePeanut Mon 11-Jul-11 15:54:23

Most of DS's are quite "boyish", I'll admit. He has a fair few gender neutral toys though, snd a pink, girlie "cleaning" set.

The Disney Store is one store which infuriates me. Most of their toys are extremely gender biased. DS is a fan of Tangled, but more specifically a fan of Flynn Ryder. Yet, considering the film was supposed to be gender neutral in terms of it's target audience, there's a lack o "gender neutral" toys. I'm buying him the Flynn Ryder doll, and Rapunzel doll, yet as far as I'm aware, he's never expressed an interest in the dresses. Although, that said, he does want Mother Gothel's cape... (they don't sell it, otherwise I'd have bought it so he could do his Mother Gothel impressions. Might try and make one instead.

That said, I believe his Jessie Doll was marketed in the "girls" section from wherever we got it, and it's his favourite toy.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Mon 11-Jul-11 16:27:37

It's very easy to but gender-neutral toys. I don't think any of the toys my 2 yo dgs has, are gendered.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Mon 11-Jul-11 16:27:56


WiiDram Mon 11-Jul-11 16:45:41

Having just looked, all of DS (11 mo) toys are gender neutral.

He's got a dolly in a wicker basket, stacking toy, trolley with some wooden bricks, a set of peek-a-blocks, lots of wooden spoons (he loves them, no idea why hmm), one of those wooden peg toys with a hammer, a bead frame, some stacking cups, some play food, some wooden cars with a transporter, a lot of board books, a set of ocean creature finger puppets, and various 'musical' things like a shakey egg/rainstick/drum etc. Oh and loads of DD's old Brio, but he's a bit young for that yet.

Most of them were DD's before him, and some were mine and my brothers' before that!

Its not hard to get toys that are gender neutral if you avoid plastic tat and TV/film tie-ins. Not letting the DC watch television helps with that grin

The whole pink/blue thing is a bugbear of mine. DS, dressed in a purple flowery babygrow, was told by a mum at baby group last week that he didn't want that juice cup because it was a pink one. FFS. Like he cares. Its hardly going to make his willy drop off. But what do you say that doesn't sound wildly arsey?

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 11-Jul-11 16:47:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

msbuggywinkle Mon 11-Jul-11 18:56:58

The DDs (5 and 2) mainly have gender neutral toys with the odd girl or boy aimed thing too.

The most played with stuff is the playmobil and various soft animal toys, they have a vet kit which is pink, but their scooters are blue. DD1 chose red paint for her bedroom, has a blue bed and purple spotty bedding. I find gender neutral toys pretty easy really.

Now if only I could persuade MIL to stop buying the floor length flowery dresses...

BertieBotts Mon 11-Jul-11 19:05:30

DS has got

Happyland stuff - neutral, none of the fairy princess stuff or pirate/dinosaur stuff, just the town buildings and some farm animals. Admittedly he mainly plays with the cars.
Colouring books - neutral, animal themes, ABC, one about monsters
Stacking cups - neutral, multicoloured
Jigsaws - neutral, farm themes etc
Magnetic drawing board thing - neutral
Toy toaster - "girl" (though in blue)
Peppa pig thing which oinks
Toy garage - "boy" I suppose
Wooden thing, hard to explain, transport themed though so - "boy"
Toy pushchair and doll, in pink! - "girl"
Couple of horrible electric things which play tunes and letters of the alphabet - neutral
Train set - "boy"
Toy food and toy till - shopping, so "girl"?
Shape sorter - neutral
Toy phones/old phones - neutral? "girl"?
Footballs (various) and mini squashy soft rugby ball - "boy"

Quite a lot then I suppose, I didn't think he had that much.

TotalChaos Mon 11-Jul-11 20:01:10

agree SGM, since DS was a baby, 7 years ago, the polarisation of gender, and proliferation of specific pink variants has got worse and worse. I remember a few years back they seemed to want to make Dora appeal to a slightly older tween audience, guess that was when it went more hair and makeup ey.

DS (a very young 7, mild SN) has quite a collection of Disney princesses and plushes, and a few zoobles and My Little Ponies, and a big and little Bratz styling head. as well as gender neutral games/jigsaws and the more "boy" bakugan and cars type toys.

WiiDram Mon 11-Jul-11 20:10:20

cars and transport toys aren't inherently 'boy' though - nor balls, surely?

though i suppose it depends on the way they are sold/packaged/marketed - some are clearly aimed at boys

i mean we have masses of brio trainset from when dd was a toddler - always assumed its totally neutral really

i also think dolls are neutral though, and play house things - thats if you get ones that aren't nasty pink, which i'd refuse to buy for a girl either

i have to say imo if people just didn't buy this shit it might be less ubiquitous

i know it can be hard to find alternatives but i really think restricting exposure to adverts and sexist programming that is basically a vehicle for marketing tat helps a lot. also limiting toys in general.

TotalChaos Mon 11-Jul-11 20:15:24

I agree, that was why I put the "boy" in quote marks, as in stereotypically boyish.

BertieBotts Mon 11-Jul-11 20:16:48

I was trying to think back to basics, admittedly. I don't know of a child who doesn't have a ball, girl or boy, there are so many games you can play with one. I do think transport is supposed to be a "boy" theme though. You often see it on boy's bedding or clothes, diggers, cars etc where girls have flowers and baby animals.

I've never really thought when buying DS toys about whether they are girly or not, I just bought things I thought he would like.

Yama Mon 11-Jul-11 20:18:36

My dd had gender neutral toys until her 4th birthday party. I guess I can't control what other people buy her.

Ds is almost a year old and due to my efforts over the years we have had to buy nothing in the way of toys for him because we have kept all of dd's. He will have the benefit of all of her gender neutral toys, all her 'boys' toys and all her 'girls' toys.

I believe there is much to be gained from allowing all children to play with a breadth of types of toys.

There used to be a family with four boys over the road from us. Whenever they came over the two youngest boys, without fail, would make a beeline for dd's lovely wooden doll's house. They happily played with it for hours, not wanting to leave.

Walking down the isles of any toy shop these days does makes my blood boil though. They even label the isles 'girls' and 'boys'. I'm sure they didn't use to.

Yama Mon 11-Jul-11 20:21:18

Yes, agree with Wiidram. It is the putting of toys like diggers and cars etc onto the 'boys' isle which pisses me off. Not boys toys.

dustyhousewithdustypeople Mon 11-Jul-11 20:33:38

My 4 year old DS loves pink sparkly things and always chooses a girly dressing up outfit at preschool.

It really annoys me how toys seem to have to be 'boys' or 'girls'. I think it's just to make it less likely we'll pass them on to siblings and therefore spend more on new toys.

Dora has definitely got more 'girly', my boys have gone right off it now. I used to think she was a good, brave, interesting role model for girls.

Takver Mon 11-Jul-11 21:14:04

Jackson, your point no. 2 is one that I've wondered about a lot

"How often do we fall into this trap? Judging pink and sparkly as shallow/ silly whilst respecting tamer/ manly looks."

I think I'm definitely guilty of having been secretly very chuffed that my dd didn't ever particularly go for all the sparkly/frilly/dress-uppy sorts of things.

Logically speaking, there's no reason that this stuff is bad per se - lots of small children do love sparkly pretty things, and why shouldn't they dress up (girls and boys) as fairies just as much as firefighters.

I'm finding this very hard to put into words, but I do feel that there is a danger of achieving the opposite of what we mean to do, and actually teaching our girls that 'girly' things are bad, and therefore - by inference - that male things are better.

Clearly that doesn't mean that I want to dress my daughter head to toe in pink frills (good thing as she's stubborn thoroughly indoctrinated and won't wear anything but trousers). But somehow there needs to be a middle way of making sure we are just pointing out that pink/frilly doesn't mean female, rather than implying female = bad.

Damn, totally failing to say what I mean, I think.

JacksonPollocks Mon 11-Jul-11 21:40:16

Takver, you've expanded on my feelings well. It's almost as if pink/ girly is slightly shameful, or more specifically, is to be associated with lower intelligence and aspirations. Even though it's not my kind of film I always liked the sentiment of 'Legally Blonde'. Only in my twenties do I now feel comfortable having a bright pink diary at work and dressing in a traditionally girly way. I've been brought up that intellectual=a more manly style. Now I have the confidence to be girly without feeling I loose professionalism. A mix of styles and mannerisms, including my long pink nails, is healthy in my opinion.

I do feel there has been a change in toys since my eldest was young. I now feel I deliberately look out for more gender neutral toys, the reduced selection makes it less natural.

KD0706 Mon 11-Jul-11 23:36:46

I definitely think it's viewed as ok for girls to have 'boy's' toys, but not vice versa.
For example my DD (14 mo) has a tool bench. I think lots of people would class that as boys. But people either don't comment on it, or say how fab it is.

I think that in the example of the boy with the 'girly' doll, there would be much more negative reaction.

It's a good point, that we don't want to go too far down the route of viewing pink, girly sparkly stuff as 'wrong'. (disclaimer - I know pink doesn't have to be girly, but you know what I mean?)

For the record, I think that DD has lots of gender neutral toys, but I think that the real separation re toys comes later.

PurpleStrawberryGuava Tue 12-Jul-11 08:50:01

We have a mix of toys, those which are 'gender neutral', and those that are aimed specifically at boys or girls.

However, in our house, no gender is applied to any toy. DS2 plays freely with the tea set or kitchen, both DDs love Transformers! DS1 is 10 in September, and has grown out of most toys, he's more interested in reading and art (yet he still joins in to keep his younger siblings happy).

Hufflepuzzpig Tue 12-Jul-11 12:15:23

Grrr wrote a l

Hufflepuzzpig Tue 12-Jul-11 12:22:02

Oh FFS! Phone peeing me off now!

Wrote a long post earlier but it didn't appear, so basically my DCs (DD just turned 4, DS 22m) play with all the same stuff - babies/buggies, cars/trains, dinosaurs, piano, bricks anything at all really. DD did go through a brief phase (after starting preschool) of saying stuff like "cars are for boys" but we just laughed it off and said she can play with whatever she likes.

I totally agree that it's bad to shun everything girly in case it makes them ashamed of being female (or boys look down on women) - I always try to get neutral toys but if something is only available in pink then no big deal. For example I am really pleased that DS plays with dolls (we even had to get a second toy buggy because they fought over it) - he sees daddy being nurturing so why shouldn't he? smile

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