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Would anyone like to join in an effort to convince retailers to stop categorizing toys by gender?

(1000 Posts)
OneHandWavingFree Mon 19-Nov-12 00:06:37

Following on from this thread and similar ones, a few of us are interested in discussing ways to send a message to retailers that it is not acceptable to designate 'boys' and 'girls' toy aisles which reinforce the message that science and adventure are "boys stuff", while girls should be primarily occupied with looking 'sexy' or practicing for domestic drudgery.

The first steps might be to draft a letter and identify a few retailers to target for an email campaign. Other ideas of how to get the message across are very welcome too, though.

Would anyone like to join in?

HalloweenNameChange Mon 19-Nov-12 16:24:29

Yes it would make infinitely more sense to things by category or alphabetization then trying to decide if you need to go the boys or girls section to buy a plastic paddlin pool.

DewDr0p Mon 19-Nov-12 16:24:32

Really stumpy? Couldn't the toy kitchen just be in the "playing house" section (or whatever you decide to call it)

HalloweenNameChange Mon 19-Nov-12 16:26:53

being a good big sister, and being a good pirate are very important TJPD grin

MummyPigsFatTummy Mon 19-Nov-12 16:27:45

Surely it would be easier Stumpy? Because instead of having to think 'Kitchen - ah ha - it relates to the house so must be a girls's toy, I will go to the girls' section', you would just have to head to the 'Play Kitchen' section or 'Household toy' section or whatever they called it and, behold, it would be there, whether you wanted one for a girl or a boy.

MummyPigsFatTummy Mon 19-Nov-12 16:28:11


HalloweenNameChange Mon 19-Nov-12 16:31:37

stumpy i shouldn't have called you ridiculous, I apologize. But seriously, do you really not think that by telling a child that something is "woman's work" form day one that you are doing your children a disservice? It's not about being political, it's about being aware that we are training our children to be grownups one day. It's why we teach them to read and do math and spell. So one day they will use those skills we know they are learning for the future. So if you tell them now that kitchens are for girls they will know as grown up daddies that their wife should really get dinner on the table

OneHandWavingFree Mon 19-Nov-12 16:48:05

confused If by "don't drag children into politics", stumpy, you mean that we shouldn't try to influence what children think about the implications of their gender, and should just let them get on with being kids without worrying about it, then shouldn't you be on the other side of the argument?

Grouping toys into "Boys" and "Girls" sections is what's political (and harmful). We're asking retailers to stop doing that.

babylann Mon 19-Nov-12 16:57:02

I'll do whatever I can to contribute to this. I have been very bothered for the past few weeks when my 2 year old who I have tried eagerly to shield from gender stereotyping held up two toys and said "this one [pink princess thing] is for girls, this one [red and blue mickey mouse version of the same toy] is for boys."

She doesn't watch tv with adverts, or have any family or friends who would express those sentiments, she's purely influenced by the subliminal messages of
The world and it made me want to cry.

OneHandWavingFree Mon 19-Nov-12 17:04:33

There seemed to be a will do to something about this issue, growing out of GretaGip's thread over the weekend.

I started this new thread in the hopes that instead of it being a debate about whether the issue is important, it could be a place for those of us who do think it's important to start talking about action.

I don't claim to have any brilliant ideas myself, but I would like to make whatever effort I can to have a chance at changing things by the time dd is old enough to feel self-conscious about what section she chooses things from. It would be such a small thing for retailers to do, such a simple change, I think there really is a chance that we could influence one or two of the main offenders if we convince them that there are enough of us who are being alienated by the current practice <adjusts rose-tinted glasses>.

I am in Ireland, not the UK, so would really love if we included chains that operate in both places (Boots and Debenhams do).

So, to summarise the suggestions so far:

* Email campaign targeting main offenders (to be identified).
* Campaign via a Facebook group, either a new one with a specific action
plan, or an approach to an existing group with a similar concern, such as
PinkStinks, A Mighty Girl, and Toward the Stars.
* Online petition via
* Some kind of recognition of examples of better practice - i.e. shops and
websites that group toys by age and interest, not gender.
* See if MNHQ can use any influence to help? (I threw that one in there

Did I miss any? Thoughts on the above? Practicalities, likelihood of being effective, etc.?

FireOverBabylon Mon 19-Nov-12 17:05:09

Halloween, I completely agree with you about dolls - DS has a pushchair and a pink drinking cup and couldn't give a monkey's about colour. I'm just noting that the omnipresence (is that a word?) of pink is speading from more traditional girls' toys into gender neutral stuff. We can agree / argue that dolls etc shouldn't be branded pink to start with, but Why TF would parents buy a pink slide or sandpit?

there was a uni student canvassing on here a couple of months ago about children's clothes, a couple of us replied, both saying that we wanted a unisex range of purple, green, orange, brown etc not "boys" and "girls" clothes - I'm still baffled what's inherently female about the owl shirt DS has from M&S's girls' range.

specialknickers Mon 19-Nov-12 17:05:22

I'm in! I find it infuriating that kids have to deal with such sexist shit in this country. It's actually not like that in other countries, so why here? If you even want to buy a bloody duvet cover you have to choose between blue (with cars and boats) or pink (with spots and birds) on. Even in John frikkin Lewis.

Why are we so regressive?

CajaDeLaMemoria Mon 19-Nov-12 17:08:36

I'm a copywriter, and trained in child psychology. If I can help, send me a PM. I don't know if I'll have time to check this often but I'd love to be involved if you need any skills I have!

RuleBritannia Mon 19-Nov-12 17:21:07

I quite agree with this proposed campaign. I also find the boys' and girls' aisles in toy shops annoying - also the aisles for their clothes.

One of my grandsons is 7 and he's been helping his mother parents for the last 3 years to prepare meals by chopping vegetables. He wanted to. I was a bit hmm about the sharp knives but it was not my place to interfere. When he was younger he loved getting out the vacuum cleaner to play with the cat. He's also allowed to stir simmering risotto for which he chopped vegetables. With evidence like this - and there must bne others - why do manufacturers and retailers think that cooking and other domestic work is just for girls?

tougholdbird Mon 19-Nov-12 17:31:55

I'm in! Sooooo pleased to see this thread, this has been a pet hate of mine since I had DD

AndIfATenTonTruck Mon 19-Nov-12 17:52:21

I'm in. My son chops veggies too. There is an online shop I like called the Happy Puzzle Co which is NOT gendered, yay! That's the only contribution I have for the moment.

stumpymosha Mon 19-Nov-12 18:25:54

Is everyone that doesn't share your opinion ridiculous? I wish I felt that important.
You knew exactly what I was getting at so there was no need for your pedantry. I will however elaborate just in case you really are lacking in intelligence.
Traditionally, a kitchen would be bought for a girl. Therefore we would know to find it in the girls section whether it was for a girl or not. I'm not saying that girls shouldn't play with boys toys and vice versa, I used to love playing with my brothers action men but I wasn't offended that they were sold specifically for boys.
Yes, I would find the lala loopsy doll in the dolls section, eventually, amongst the action men, spiderman figures, skylander figures, buzz lightyear and probably 100s of other 'boys dolls'.
It feels to me that a lot of people, and not just in this thread are deciding what is offensive to certain people without even considering their opinions, in this case boys and girls. I didn't say it's PC, I'm trying to say point out that this is the way it's going, equal rights are being taken too far here. Do you really think children care that their toys are categorized into gender specific sections? I know it didn't cross mine or my childrens minds.
We've already burned our bra's what more do you want?
I can imagine a day when we can't legally distinguish the difference between boys and girls toys which is a shame because children do realize the difference between boys and girls.
It's already happening in the adult world, it's only a matter of time before political correctness affects our children too. It's already happened to some of their nursery rhymes because of prejudice hasn't it? What next? Jack and Phil went up the hill? Holly put the kettle on, that's good because Holly isn't a gender specific name. I'm not trying to argue, I do understand how people feel but it's going to far. Most girls like looking at girls toys in the shops and most boys love looking at boys toys and don't want to have to look at the girls toys too. Shouldn't we be siding with the majority?

MrsDeVere Mon 19-Nov-12 18:29:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sunshine401 Mon 19-Nov-12 18:32:51

For real??

PeggyCarter Mon 19-Nov-12 18:34:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

stumpymosha Mon 19-Nov-12 18:36:00

When did I say you should tell your children that a specific job is women's work? I don't remember saying that, probably because I didn't. My son played with boys toys and he does the night feeds, cooking cleaning etc. Wanting to play with gender specific toys won't do your children any harm. Finding toy ovens in the girls section is not going to make boys think that cooking is solely a woman's job, give your children a bit more credit than that, please. Toys have always been split into gender specific sections and most children have grown up with modern, fair, healthy and realistic principles and values. If it aint broke, don't fix it. That's all I want to say now. You all have a good evening.

sunshine401 Mon 19-Nov-12 18:36:59

How do children know what about sections?
I do not get the big deal about this. It may be split into boy/girl sections in some places so what? So are clothes and women and men's gift aisle whats the big drama about really?

Zwitterion Mon 19-Nov-12 18:37:42

Count me in.

sunshine401 Mon 19-Nov-12 18:39:02

Although I hate shopping so I'm in and out in a dash so do not real stand about and look at section names smile

sunshine401 Mon 19-Nov-12 18:39:45


coocoocachoo Mon 19-Nov-12 18:45:43

I'm in <rolls up sleeves and marks place>

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