Its not like Christmas is the only time of year I shop – obviously there are birth day’s and of course the times my kids simply drag me to the toy aisle to beg for things they know I’ll say no to. But this time of year I spend a lot more time at the store and it becomes plainly obvious to me that there is still a huge gap of sexism when it comes to children’s toys.
I mean, there are the obvious things: you still can’t find a baby doll that’s meant for a boy, it’s a rare occasion to find a pink truck, and clearly Ninja Turtles are boy toys and Barbies are girl toys. But then you get into the toys that are starting to represent both genders (I’d say they’re “unisex” but it seems toy makers are still determined to make the girl toys pink & purple and the boy ones blue & black).
Take Legos, for example. They’ve been one of the first brands to really come into the 21st century and realize that, OMG, girls like to build stuff too!! So now you have pink and purple “girls” Legos to encourage girls to explore their inner engineer.
Great, awesome. It’s a big step forward. But then I found myself perusing these Lego sets the other day, and the brand is actually following the same gender guidelines in the 1950’s.
Let me step back a second. See, the biggest and most annoying difference between girl and boy toys to me lies in what the toys do. I’m going to lay it out very clearly here so you see exactly why this is frustrating for anyone raising a girl.
Stuff boy toys do:
- Build and construct houses or buildings
- Dig holes
- Beat up “bad guys”
- Fight for the greater good
- Play sports
Stuff girl toys do:
- Live in a mansion
- Go to the spa
- Take care of babies
- Go shopping
- Hang at the mall
- Visit the ice cream shop
- Ride and care for horses
- Get dressed, then change clothes, then change clothes again and again and again
- Put on makeup
Do you see me problem?? With the exception of taking care of babies (maybe we can be less sexist with this one, but this is a tough job) and caring for horses, girl toys DON’T DO ANYTHING. Seriously! What is wrong with this picture? Our little boys are growing playing with toys that teach them to build things and save lives while our girls are growing up learning to…bake a pie? Get a massage and facial at the spa? Hang out with girlfriends in a mansion?
The number one way kids learn and grow is through play so this is a big deal to me. And back to Legos, I was so disappointed to see the Lego sets representing the exact same types of activities – sure you get to build, but you’re still making a place for your toys to go to the spa, get ice cream, and a number of other meaningless activities. Where are the girls Lego pirates fighting for their spot on the sea? Or the girls Lego fire truck off to save a house?
My daughter is just getting old enough to start saying certain things are “girl” things and certain things are “boy” things. I want her to grow up believing she can do big things, but that’s hard when the only acceptable toy options in her eyes are Barbie mansions and pools. Barbie doctor is the closest we’ve come to breaking this trend (yes, my daughter has that one), but I want to see Barbie construction worker, Barbie super hero, Barbie police officer!
I’m sure my grandchildren will be lucky enough to live in a world much closer to that, but for now, if you happen to run into someone pissed of and grumbling in the toy aisle the next time you take a trip to Target, it’s probably me.