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Labelling toys (no not another pink thread...)

(4 Posts)
grimbletart Wed 31-Oct-12 16:07:38

I was (only half) listening in the car to a report on Radio 4 about the annual Christmas toy fair and how the toys were divided into categories e.g. techie, craft, boys, girls and so on....

One of the interviewees was saying that while girls were happy to play with boys' toys, boys were not happy to play with girls' toys.

Obviously she was generalising (wildly), but it got me thinking...

If true is this because boys perceived girls' 'stuff' as inferior and girls' perceived boys' 'stuff' as superior (in other words, perpetuating the old myths about gender worth) or are girls being let down in terms of choice by labelling their toys as specifically for girls when the truth is they are simply for children.

Not expressing that very well as I presume toymakers label their toys and design for girls and boys to target their market and increase sales but could they actually be missing out on sales by trying to herd girls into a ghetto?

OatyBeatie Wed 31-Oct-12 16:14:56

There are probably several factors, but one large one is surely that (not always but often) the "boy" version of a toy is a default and the "girl" version is the default plus some gender marker -- glitter, pink, pony, whatever. So girls that play with boy toys are often just girls playing with toys, whereas boys that play with girl toys are boys choosing something explicitly labelled as female.

The mixing of the default with the masculine is so horrible, so marginalising.

YoullScreamAboutItOneDay Wed 31-Oct-12 21:51:16

I heard that. On Woman's Hour.

What Oaty said. I was in Hobbycraft a few weeks ago. There was a selection of colouring books. Most were 'animals' or whatever. One was 'things girls like'. There was no equivalent for boys. I hid it at the back

Also, I shall bring out my oft used quote from the Cement Garden (actually the film version, the book version is slightly less pithy):

"Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short, wear shirts and boots, because it's OK to be a boy, but for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, because you think that being a girl is degrading."

I think you are quite right. Boys see it as degrading to have something labelled as 'for girls'. Think of all those 'don't let his dad see him doing that' comments when a boy plays with a toy pram (someone mentioned them on one of those 'are boys and girls different' threads this week). Think of all the 'gender policing' children do - and how much more often it is boys being told that something 'for girls' is silly or worthless (whereas similar messages about boys toys seem to simply be that it 'isn't for girls').

Also, many 'girls' toys relate to things that simply are not valued in our society in their real form - childcare, housework, etc.

PosieParker Thu 01-Nov-12 08:01:40

Women's work, therefore girls toys, are undervalued and so no boy wants to do a woman's job.

This is true on many many levels, even down to the way we dress. Yesterday my niece got drenched trick or treating and so had to borrow my son's clothes, she thought it was a bit amusing. mIf the roles were reversed my son, despite loving to dress as a princess, would have been mortified.

Terms like 'crying like a girl' and so on are massively damaging.

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