Great news and good progress made towards putting an end to retailers categorising toys according to gender. Toy retailer, The Entertainer has re categorised the toys it sells and will no longer use gender specific signage. Hooray!
I’ve been banging on about this for years, basically it boils down to blatant gender stereotyping. It’s rife when you think about it.
Labelling toys as pink or blue, girls or boys. Separate aisles for what’s classed as boys or girls toys. Pushing children (and parents) towards objects of play, ways to behave, things to do, that have been decided are for either girls or boys, not both. Thus reinforcing stereotypes of what it is to be male or female, right from the off. The Early Learning Centre. This is where it all starts. The rot sets in and girls begin their towards the sparkly world of looking pretty, acting dumb and becoming a princess.
Can’t bear the way they have aisles of pink packaged fluff for girls and label construction or making toys as blue so girls don’t want them because they’re boys toys. In the early years children are oblivious to this, everything is an object to explore, yet to be labelled, everything’s potentially a toy! It’s adults, society that apply the labels and supply the constructs of signified meaning of what the object is.
Children are mirrors and copycats, they want to do as we do, they copy each other and are particularly interested in what the elder ones are doing. This appears to have more sway than what gender the toys are stereotyped as.
They may well develop favourites, but its ‘us’ that decides they are into it because they are a boy, or a girl. Having grown up with society’s constructs on how to behave, parents may well encourage play with the toys that reinforce their child’s gender, over another, that labels their child as a ‘tomboy’ or ‘cissy.’ My sister once said, why do you always give my kids toys that involve sticks, because they always end up fighting with them.
My daughter went from playing with all sorts of bits and bobs, including the predominantly vehicle and construction based hand-me-down toys My youngest has the pick of the bunch as he’s got all the things they barely played with anyway, Im glad they get another chance of use. And it happens that the best kept and plentiful collections are those of his father. As in his day, kids took care of their toys. Personally I’d rather suggest playing with the Matchbox vehicles too.
He also watches the older ones on various digital games which are predominantly about ‘taking things out.’ So whether annihilating opponents or blowing things up, this invokes excitement from the otherwise occupied siblings. So it’s no wonder the little one shouts out ‘Sire!’ This cracks me up.
Forced between choosing a a pink or a blue low level table once in The Early Learning Centre, I muttered to myself, why don’t they have a yellow, or green, a non-gender-specific colour and thought how ridiculous that I knew my daughter would want the pink one of course, because blue is a boys colour. I bought a T shirt in a charity shop, for my daughter. I liked it because it was green and because it had a cool robot on it. When I got home I noticed the writing on it said, ‘only for boys’ , we both agreed this was stupid and she would wear it anyway, she liked robots too. Furthermore it served as a good example of ignoring the nonsense and playing, doing, wearing what you like. She’s getting it.
Need to sort out advertising and packaging design next.
Let children be children, and toys be toys. Let them decide what they want to play with…. which tends to be a computer or console from 5+ these days. Gaming world dead guilty of gender stereotyping too. I could go on, perhaps I will. Pleased in recent years to read others writing and campaigning on this now. Such as the Pink Stinks campaign, (what was that book?) Keep up the good work (will add contacts, groups, campaigns etc)
TBC… tired now and haven’t tidied the toys away yet!