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Let Toys Be Toys

A few days before Halloween, I received a holiday catalog in the mail from Toys R Us. I was a little miffed at the commercialism of the holiday season being pushed upon me  at such an early date!

Flipping through the catalog I noticed the division between boys toys and girls toys and I got upset. Companies are still advertising their products to promote the same gender roles of the 1950′s. These  stereotypes are so outdated! I am just about as outraged and frustrated as Riley.

“Boys toys” Screenshot from http://www.toysrus.com

“Girls toys” Screenshot from http://www.toysrus.com

Why do all the girls have to buy pink stuff and all the boys have to buy different-color stuff? Toys R Us is certainly not the only culprit here. On Amazon, or on the websites for toy makers Mattel or Hasbro, for example, toys are sorted by age, category and gender. The toy industry is so heavy with gender stereotypes that there’s little room for personal preferences. Is there any doubt as to why there are less women in engineering when they are basically told that the toys that foster development in those areas are not for them?  Do we really need pink Legos for it to be socially acceptable for girls to play with them?!

An early 80′s Lego ad featuring promoting the sets as gender-neutral.

In March 2012, a Swedish toy catalog made headlines worldwide after reversing traditional gender roles by showing Spiderman pushing a baby buggy, and a young girl riding a toy race car.

Gender-neutral advertising from the Swedish toy company Leklust.

Other countries are also stepping up – speaking out and making changes. An organization in the United Kingdom has said “let toys be toys!” Let Toys Be Toys is a grass-roots consumer campaign, run and organised by parents. It calls on retailers to stop limiting children’s interests by promoting some toys as only suitable for girls, and others only for boys.  Two months ago the UK division of Toys R Us agreed to drop the gender stereotyping of its products to girls and boys. The goal of the partnership is to eventually phase out gender-specific marketing and to promote the idea of boys and girls being able to fully enjoy the same toys, no questions asked and no suggestions made.

It’s tool time for both girls and boys! Excerpt from the 2013 Toys R Us Holiday Catalogue (This is how the English spell catalog.)

Anyone can enjoy playing house. Excerpt from the 2013 Toys R Us UK Holiday Catalogue

Anyone can enjoy playing house. Excerpt from the 2013 Toys R Us UK Holiday Catalogue

Megan Perryman, Let Toys Be Toys campaigner, said:

 “We’re delighted to be working so closely with a major toy retailer and believe that there is much common ground here. Even in 2013, boys and girls are still growing up being told that certain toys are ‘for’ them, while others are not. This is not only confusing but extremely limiting, as it strongly shapes their ideas about who they are and who they can go on to become. We look forward to seeing Toys “R” Us lead the way to a more inclusive future for boys and girls.”

 Dolled by Chris Hallbeck

#480 – Dolled by Chris Hallbeck

Hopefully Toys R Us and other retail outlets in the United States will adopt this gender-neutral approach to toys. It will be a step in the right direction to foster gender equality.

Check out these books about gender stereotypes:
Pink brain, blue brain : how small differences grow into troublesome gaps--and what we can do about it by Lise EliotMy princess boy by Cheryl KilodavisCinderella ate my daughter : dispatches from the front lines of the new girlie-girl culture by Peggy OrensteinPackaging girlhood : rescuing our daughters from marketers' schemes by Sharon Lamb

Check out these book about classic toys:
The LEGO book by Daniel Lipkowitz100 classic toys for generations by David SmithToy time! : from hula hoops to he-man to hungry hungry hippos: a look back at the most- beloved toys of decades past by Christopher ByrneToys! : amazing stories behind some great inventions by Don L. Wulffson

lauren @ CLP – Woods Run

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