Gender Specific Toys Is Nonsense

I don’t exactly get the idea behind gender specific toys.  Okay, I understand that once upon a time, little girls wore dresses and boys wore short pants until they were old enough to be breeched.  And then they went their separate ways: boys learned manly arts like hunting and finances while girls learned things like making lace and needlepoint.  That was a long time ago.  Most of us raising children today were born in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.  It’s been quite some time since the equal rights movement took place.

A lot of us grew up playing with gender specific toys of the opposite sex.  My massive metal Tonka dump truck was a bit gender bending, but it was mine and I quite enjoyed playing with it.  When my fifteen year old was younger, he had no problems playing with his cousin’s dolls.  (They lived in the same house, so they were more like siblings.)

So why is it now 2012, and we’re still seeing complaints about gender specific toys?  If anything, it’s kind of… well, foolish.  From a sales standpoint, if you’re marketing your toys to only one gender, then you’re kind of missing the boat.  You’re only marketing to half of the kids out there instead of all of them.  If you’re a parent, then why are you concerned about gender specifics?  (If you’re concerned, of course.)

Pop Culture Mom posted a simple meme on Facebook that pretty much described my thoughts on gender specific toys:

Gender Specific Toys?  Nonsense!

 

That means that if Eudora wants to play with GI Joe when she’s big enough, she can.  (Well, without the guns, but that’s another blog post.)  That means that if Norton decides that he wants to have a doll of his own, he can.  Or he can even *gasp* wear pinks and purples.  Heck, if I’m lucky, neither will care about gender specific toys and will learn to share nicely.

What do you think?  Is the Easy Bake Oven just for girls while the Vtech Baby’s Learning Laptop is just for boys?  Or does it not matter?

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.

Comments

  1. I feel the same way! I let my 2 year old boy play with dolls. He carries them in a sling and pretends to breastfeed them. I see absolutely nothing wrong with it. I think he’ll grow up to be nurturing and caring. Some family members on the other hand, give me a hard time about it. 🙁

  2. Pop Culture Mom says:

    I don’t get it. I’ve never understood it. When I was younger, I wasn’t allowed to play with Hot Wheels, because they were “boy toys.” Instead, I was forced to play with Barbie. I HATED Barbie (still do, but that’s another discussion for another day). My mom and aunt grew up in a different era. These days, few of those who denied me my Hot Wheels would do the same to their grandchildren. Times have changed. Formely ignorant people are also slowly learning that the toys one plays with as a child have no impact on your sexual orientation or gender identity, not that it should matter even if they could.

    Yet, in these so-called modern and enlightened times, every year I see some stupid debate on Facebook about whether someone should buy a kitchen or doll for his/her son or a football for his/her daughter. Interestingly, the footballs for girls are generally better received than kitchens and dolls for boys, which I think is a sad statement about our society and perceptions of masculinity… But whatever. Hopefully one day the toy movement will catch up to the equal rights movement. I won’t hold my breath, though.

  3. Ah it doen’t matter. I have a 10 year old daughter and I cringe whenever Skylanders is called the it toy for boys this year. I want to yell AND GIRLS TOO! Silly marketes.

  4. I completely agree. I think most things that are made to be gender specific for children, is stupid. I dress my girls in blue and green (colors that are typically for boys) because I don’t want them thinking that girls can’t like certain colors or play with certain things. Good topic. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. People have definitely gotten ridiculous about this type of stuff. I don’t think the toy defines what the child is going to be when they grow up. Let them play!

  6. I never played with baribe but did lots of cars. I’m an excellent road builder. The kids can play with whatever they wish. My son has dolls and my daughters have cars and blocks and a whittling set. My son and husband play dolls with the girls better than I do. They don’t like me playing ’cause I just don’t “get it”. DH does and he’s a big ol’ man so it’s extra sweet to see someone who was raised in a family with obvious stereotypes evolve past his upbringing. Oh…my son…13. And, he’ll play with my girls just like he’s playing a video game or such. It’s an activity to do and anyone is allowed to join in.

    ~Honey

  7. I let my kids play with what they wanted ” as long as it was safe”.

  8. The idea of gender specific toys really is ridiculous. I also hate that all the toy babies and cleaning items (broom, vacuum, etc) are all in pink in the “girls'” section of the store. I’m going to have a daughter soon, and I already have a son…I wonder if I’m supposed to keep their toys separated? haha…such an odd society we live in sometimes.

  9. I have no problem with gender specific toys. I played cops and robbers with my brother as a kid and one time he played Barbies with my sister and I. My boys play with whatever they want to, too. They have one female cousin that they are incredibly close to and she dresses them up as princess’ and they don’t seem to care. Toys are toys. They can be pink and be mostly geared towards girls, then so be it, that doesn’t mean it is off limits to boys. Same for girls. When my niece comes here, we only have boy toys and she plays with the cars and trucks, no problem. My kids are kind of growing up in the same sense that I did, play with what you want, who cares, it’s a kid thing.

    • That would suggest, then, that you’re not okay with gender specific toys in particular since you’re encouraging and accepting of use by the “wrong” gendered child….

      • I’m all for girly, frilly, and mommy-ish toys for girls. I’m all for cars, footballs, and super hero figurines for boys. I only buy gender specific toys for my kids. However, if they asked for a baby doll, I’d buy them one too. They have just never asked. KWIM?

  10. Agreed! My daughter loves Legos,as do many kids of both genders, and I was kind of annoyed when girl-specific Legos were marketed. I guess it’s okay, but I don’t think kids should think “oh these Legos are just for me, those other ones are for boys” or vice-versa.

  11. There’s a great new UK campaign called Let Toys Be Toys calling for retailers to stop promotong some toys as just for boys and others as just for girls. Children should feel free to play with whatever toys they want to. Find them on facebook and twitter, they also have a petition and website coming soon. Let Toys Be Toys fb page – https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Let-Toys-Be-Toys-For-Girls-and-Boys/104658933034521

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