Girls, Boys, and Toys

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9 Responses

  1. Letta Page says:

    Readers might also like to check out some recent posts on Sociological Images, another of the TSP Community Pages, about this toy ad and others, along with a piece on Jo Paoletti (the author of the linked “Pink & Blue” book featured in the piece above) on our Editors’ Desk!

    Thanks for this write-up!

  2. Sarah Van Valkenburg says:

    I think that this idea is an interesting one, though I doubt it would work in the United States. Parents are very focused on having their children grow up in the “correct” gender roles, even though they do not reailze it. We call girls beautiful and boys handsome when they are babies, strangers hold and play with children differently based off of their gender (girls more delicately and boys a little more roughly), and parents buy toys for their children based traditional roles and actions for each gender (dolls for girls and guns and trucks for boys). Parents and society give children an identiy to live up to based on how they treat the child, and the child acts accordingly. Anything different causes contorversey and everything short of an uprising. I remember reading a story about five years back about a couple that decided to raise their child without a gender. They gave the baby an ambigious name, dressed it in ambigious clothing, and gave it no gender roles to follow as it grew up. Everyone around the parents lashed back, and said that they should not be doing that, and some even said the baby should be taken away from the parents. I am not sure how the child is doing now, but it is an interesting thing to think about growing up with no roles or requrements to live up to, especially in this day and age. It reamains to be seen if this really would be a good thing or not, but it is one action going toward breaking the bonds that hold male vs female and dominate our society. I appluad Sweden for their destructurelizing their gender sterotypes, though I feel that the United States is a long ways away from adopoting such a thought process.

  3. Jordan says:

    While I completely agree that gender stereotypes run rampant in the toy industry, children’s personalities are not completely formed due to this socialization. Saying that dressing a boy in pink and giving him “girls’ toys” will make him gay, as many people believe, is completely ridiculous. Gay men are completely diverse when it comes to family and gender socialization; there is no set procedure for parents to follow to “make” their children gay. Children often develop their own likes and dislikes, as well as fully unique personalities, despite their parents’ best efforts to gender socialize them at an early age. Sometimes, little girls who were laden with pink clothing and baby dolls turn into masculine, pink-hating young women. Could society play the biggest part in forming these “deviant” personality traits? Or are some traits and likes/dislikes inherent and unique for every individual?

  4. TLG says:

    I agree with Jordan and I think you might be placing more value in these toys than is evident. Much to my dismay, my daughter is in full ‘pink mode’ as are many of the girls in her class. But in no way is she as you described focused on “domesticity, passivity, and superficiality” or does she believe that her place is in the “home, taking care of husbands, houses, and babies.” While I agree that the toy store and advertising is usually visually offensive – the abundance of pink and dolls as well as guns and action figures, these toys are not the whole of my child’s personality. I think you hit the issue right at the end of the piece – the family. The child’s single influence are not these toys. It is largely up to the parents, siblings and family (and the school) – these are the people who are more influential in terms of shaping who the child will become.

  1. 25th November 2013

    […] a boy plays with princesses or fashion. I can think of one exception from Sweden. Last year, the Swedish version of the Toys R Us catalog featured boys and girls participating in both masculine and feminine activities, meaning […]

  2. 17th March 2014

    […] is fantastic news, as children’s books (along with toys) are some of the earliest and most influential objects in the creation of children’s gender […]

  3. 11th December 2015

    […] With Black Friday fast approaching and the holidays right around the corner, most parents’ thoughts usually turn to shopping for their loved ones especially their kids. But despite toys becoming increasingly more elaborate and expensive today, the gender binary in children’s toys has remained constant. For birthdays or Christmas presents, girls get Barbie dolls, baby dolls, anything with a floral design, and many things that are considered to be “appropriate for girls only”; while on the other hand, boys are most likely to receive toys like cars and trucks, superhero action figures, and toy guns amongst other things. These learned preferences are partly because of social ideologies on gender and partly because of capitalism. But in Sweden recently, a toy catalog seems to deviate from this standard and completely reverses gender expectations. It shows little girls wearing blue and wielding toy guns and boys in Hello Kitty tees playing with dolls. Though some may think this change in marketing strategy may just be another attempt at generating more profits, children may still benefit from the catalog’s message and encourage everyone to think differently. Read the full article here… […]

  4. 17th June 2016

    […] Amanda, 2012. Girls, Boys and Toys. Last accessed: 22.05.16 ( […]

  5. 17th June 2016

    […] Amanda, 2012. Girls, Boys and Toys. Last accessed: 22.05.16 ( […]

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