A Gay Dad’s Open Message to Toys R Us: Stop Thrusting Gender Propaganda on My Kids

ImageSince day one in the gay marriage debate, the “traditional marriage” advocates have leveraged cries of indignation, and hyperbolic circular arguments to make their points.  Most of these arguments listed the many things that same sex couples “could not do”, which, clearly they not only COULD do but were already doing.  The underlying point all the irrational statements have in common is one foundational core that its advocates desperately want to “protect”.  That point is that men and women hold mutually exclusive roles in the family and neither of those roles can or should be filled by a member of the opposite gender.     

The anti-gay advocates rail against parents like me because they fear that by being myself, I am incapable of fulfilling a role not defined for me.  They say that I will deprive the children under my care.  It seems self-evident to them that I, no matter how good a parent I am, will never be…”a mom”, a role never specifically defined, but seems to be understood by thousands nodding in agreement.

There have been studies done about whether this is truly a concern for the well being of children. Those studies and mounds of testimony were presented with legal arguments before the US Supreme Court several months ago.  The educated ruling determined that the fear was baseless, and as a result of that ruling, the domino effect of marriage equality has started throughout the United States.

The legal equality that has just started taking hold will not mean true freedom however, until the gender role fallacy is seen for the falsehood it is.  As it related to marriage and my right to be a parent, I wanted the fallacy exposed for my benefit. Now, in the way it is having an effect, I want it exposed on behalf of my kids.

I have to confess, I was oblivious to how this plays out for kids until I heard about the work of a grass roots organization in the UK called “Let Toys be Toys”.  They had persuaded their country’s Toys R Us to stop defining and marketing toys specifically to boys or to girls.  In the UK stores moving forward, the toys would be presented as they are, and allowed to attract whatever child found them interesting and compelling.  What a concept!

My first reaction was passive agreement.  It made sense to me, but was the in-store marketing really such a problem?  I decided to look at it further, with a fresh set of eyes.

I went online.  I found the Toys R Us website curiously disturbing.  They definitely segmented boys and girls toys—and each had its unique pre-determined categories.  Boys had action oriented categories, and girls had homemaking and beauty.  What was more intriguing was the categories under each that were the same like “Art” and “Electronics”.  Each had the same items in those Imagecategories but the girl categories had a few extra items.  Those extra items were all pink.  Boys had multi-colored items, like normal adult-oriented items.  Girls had them… in pink.  It became obvious to me that even in areas for boys and girls that were essentially the same, the gender message was clear:  separate but theoretically equal.  Sort of like the same job, but different colored pay scales and career paths.

When I went into our local physical store, the differences were not subtle.  As I looked, Cher’s recent hit song’s lyrics played through my mind.  “Have a truth, it’s a woman’s world.”   My thought was, “Cher has not been in a toy store recently…”

Mega conglomerates like Toys R Us are making sure that it won’t be a “woman’s world” for a long long time.   This SHOULD be a woman’s world.  Women make up almost 51% of the United States population but in store marketing clearly tell little girls where their world is.  It is a pink land that exists in between the easy-bake-oven kitchen and the frivolous glitzy fashion world, and no where else.  It is far from a woman’s, or future woman’s world, if we define that world as one of choice and pursuit of individual skills, aptitudes and talents. 

In this world of the toy store I saw, decisions have been made and guidance put in place for kids of both genders, but with heavy emphasis on girl segregation.  A walk down the aisle programs the eager, impressionable wide-eyed young consumers and gives them answers to things they have yet to question for themselves.  This would be true not only for transgender youngsters but also for the young who found their instincts consistent with their appearance.  For the former, it creates an intense pressure to identify themselves in ways innately counter to how they feel instinctively.  For the latter, it removes all choice beyond a set of role modeled interests and vision.  

There were six aisles defined as “girl toys”.  There was only one with a sign that said “boys”, but its color coding extended to several aisles with blue signage. The topics in the blue: sports, action Imagefigures, construction.  The girl aisles were pink.  Pink signs, pink toys, pink packages. Pink, pink, pink.  All the other aisles in the store blended with the “boy” aisles and provided a full spectrum of colors and variety. 

The “girl” section was literally a pink bubble.  The themes:  fashion, cooking and cleaning.  The promotional words on the packages were fun and frivolous. The toys that were meant for boys on the other aisles, by contrast, communicated literally and figuratively concepts such as “leadership”, “command”, “speed”, “agility”, “skill”, “winner”, “champion” and “might”.

I got the message, then and there.  If you were a girl, your aspirations were to play in elegance, nurture a dolly, and practice cooking and cleaning.  If you were a boy, you were to aspire to a persona of power.  You were to build physically, train and excel.

I really could not believe what I was seeing in front of me in this store I had visited hundreds of times before.  How could I have missed it?  I felt guilty in participating in this cultural child programming.  I have, for the last decade, walked through this mecca of child consumerism oblivious and complacent.  When I was there with my sons, to be honest, I was in defense mode.  I was an agent against the constant barrage of the “gimmes”, and it took all my willpower and focus, to the point that I was blind to the guidance happening all around me.

Even though I was not conscious of it, I already knew it was having an effect.  A few nights earlier we had been at a restaurant that had “kid gifts” with their meals. 

“Darn!  They gave me a girl-toy,” my youngest son Jesse declared as he held up a little Care Bear figure. 

“What do you mean?” I asked.  “It’s a Care Bear.  You used to have Care Bears.  You used to LOVE Care Bears.”

“It’s a girl toy, Dad.”  I was curtly informed.

“How do you know?” I asked.

“We checked with our friends.  None of the boys play with them or watch them.  They are for girls.  They have pink on them.”  I was given a reprimanding glare. 

It seems our family had not gotten the memo, and this conversation was LONG overdue in his mind.  I let the conversation go for the time being but I felt a sense of failure.  My sons were never raised with the idea that any toy was off limits to them due to their gender.  They were never taught that toys should be regulated to their friends based on gender lines either.  Obviously, peer pressure had intervened outside my watch.  But was that all it was?  Where and when did their peers get “the memo”?  Now I know.

After my trip to my local store, I decided to look at the strong executive teams in the industry, behind the toys, the business and the message.  I did my own gender profiling of the senior executives of Toys R Us and Mattel.  Of the twenty-some top decision makers, seventeen are middle-aged men.  Three, across both companies were women (and one of those was in Human Resources, not involved in market strategies).  It reminded me of the War on Women and panels made up of only middle aged men going before Congress to testify about women’s reproductive rights.

Women make up almost 51% of the population in the United States. Women only make up about 4% of the Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 CEOs.  Women make up only 20% of the U.S. Senate and 18% of the U.S. Congress.  I have heard woeful excuses for these disproportionate statistics since the mid-1970s.  Seriously, in forty years don’t you think there are some real ingrained biases in place to maintain so little progress to real gender balance?

There are those who probably think I am being overly harsh against the pink bubble.  Pink is a nice color.  I like pink.  This placement of it as a prison around little girls is completely arbitrary however. It is a recent development in the 20th century.  At the turn of that century, children, all children wore white dresses, had long hair and looked like …little girls.  As women’s power and Imageautonomy rose with the right to vote, the ability to own property and to rise in profession and employment, our culture seemed to react oppressively and the color coding started coming into play.  (That coding was so arbitrary that in the June 1918 issue of the Infant’s Department, a trade magazine for baby clothes manufacturers, said: “There has been a great diversity of opinion on this subject, but the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. The reason is that pink being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy; while blue, which is more delicate and dainty is prettier for the girl.”)

We have all seen the ramifications for fighting the pink bubble.  Women who fight to get free of its definitions are targeted with misogyny which can be deadly and ugly.  Boys are not immune, particularly boys from the LGBT community who want to choose things in the pink bubble’s warm, beautiful or artistic offerings for themselves.  Those boys are slapped down and abused with homophobia, misogyny’s equally evil twin.

This abusive oppression is the tool for those who fear people showing aptitude outside of the gender identified roles they want to impose.  They fear men who can “mom” well and they fear a woman who might be the first U.S. President.

For me, and my sons, I want them to be able to be welcomed into “the pink”.  I want them to be able to be nurturing, great cooks and appreciate beautiful elegance.  God knows, I would love for them to clean more.  I want for their girl peers to be encouraged to explore all of their talents as well.  Why on earth would we box the next most brilliant scientist, military hero, sports goddess or architect into a pre-fab role without choices?

After my trip to the toy store I am ever hopeful and engaged to see that organizations like “Let Toys be Toys” succeed in their mission.  The song that is now playing through my head is no longer the defiant Cher, it is the soft optimism of John Lennon, with my own minor modifications. “Imagine no kid gender classification, I wonder if you can, no need for pink or blue aisles, a sisterhood of man, Imagine all the people sharing all the world, you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one, I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will live as one.”    

The challenges of this world are escalating and we need the talents of every individual in it.  Why on earth would we intentionally limit the potential for any given accomplishment to only half of the available gene pool?

 

Please like the evoL= Facebook page here.

 Follow us on Twitter @JandJDad

Dedication to Rachel Hockett, a woman of empowerment.  In memorium to Heaven’s newest angels, Shirley Hockett and Betty Moody.

  

About robw77

A single gay dad who cares. His story can be read here: http://www.imagaysingleparent.com/2013/02/02/rob/ and here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/31/rob-watson-gay-family_n_4689661.html
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54 Responses to A Gay Dad’s Open Message to Toys R Us: Stop Thrusting Gender Propaganda on My Kids

  1. Wesley Bates says:

    wonderful story, I like it. thank you very much.

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  3. lynn says:

    Thank you for your article. In the UK, we do seem to have got it better in some shops, such as TRU. However, we still have the overbearing media focus on gender roles. This is, luckily, not too invasive for younger children though. TV advertising to the youngest children is very strictly controlled during shows for those younger, or pre-school. But there is still a wider issue that is not going away, attitudes need to change far more if we are to have real change. I have focused my daughter’s or life (14 years) of raising her on letting her expand her horizons and understanding there are no boundaries to how far she can go, and in what direction (or what colour!). It is exhausting to constantly have to be rebutting societies and media’s messages as your child grows. I am lucky, my daughter is now strong, independent and will fight for herself and her own rights.

  4. Reblogged this on DragonflyLady's Writey Ramblings and commented:
    My son is 7. He LOVES purple. My wife and I bought him purple pants & purple shoes & a purple dressing gown and he was ecstatic.
    His father was not pleased the purple coat we’d bought him was from the girl side of the store. My son doesn’t care that it is sold as a girl item. He loves his coat because it is purple.
    Last Saturday I was doing face painting at a community event. I painted a little girl’s face as Spider-Man like she’d asked. Her mother was apologetic about her daughter liking Spider-Man.

    This makes me sad. We’re teaching our children that there are no ‘girl’ colours or ‘boy’ colours, same with toys, yet the world is constantly shoving it their faces that there IS girl things and boy things, and they must not be confused…

  5. becky says:

    Growing up i prefered the toys designed for boys. the only reason i had barbies is cause they had been my sisters and those became “action figures” when my mom made little ninja costumes for them. i occasionally played with girl toys but mostly i would book it to the dinos and legos and avoided the baby dolls (frankly they scare me even now) and princess

  6. Chickenpig says:

    If you don’t like the big chain toy stores, don’t shop there. I personally can’t stand them for a variety of reasons, gender bias being one of them. Vote with your feet. My children have never stepped foot in a TRU, and won’t as long as I have something to say about it. With so many wonderful small shops that don’t buy into this pink bubble, like bookstores, museum shops, and on line, why would you find the need to poison your kids with this crap? It’s up to us, the concerned parents, to stop it. Enough concerned parents going to war over hormones in milk and high fructose corn syrup have been enough to make a big change. Like every other fight, whether it be racism, homophobia, or gender bias, the biggest battles are fought, and won, at home.

    • robw77 says:

      While I agree that not shopping at stores you don’t like is appropriate, it is worthwhile to speak out. After this story appeared, the store in question, and those in this territory at least, changed their signage policy. It is good to speak up.

  7. Mary says:

    From the mouth of babes, even a 3 year old can see the system http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CU040Hqbas

  8. Fantastic article. I agree wholeheartedly. We have to help our daughters aspire to be more than just pretty pink princesses, and we have to allow our sons to enjoy dressing up, dolls, glitter, sparkles, whatever makes them smile and giggle. It pains me to the core to see the sea of pink drowning our girls and shunning our boys in major stores, across the world. Let’s hope that little by little, as parents we can change this for our children.

    • Galen Muhammad says:

      Count me out. I raised my sons without dolls (thank God). There’s more than enough of a push forcing people to accept and embrace homosexuality. This is one case where it’s a good thing to be “old fashioned”.

      And we can still advance without accepting it.

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  10. Maria says:

    Wow, I am feeling such a sense of Shared Reality right now, I had to keep myself focused to finish the article before I started thinking of everything I wanted to reply! While continuing to read, happily present with your perspective, I came across a reference to the magazine that explained the color identification in 1918, the same research I thought I’d share. I discovered it while preparing to write a letter to my friends and family to share with them that my child is transgender and wanted to begin by shining a light on the cultural programming that we are allowing to impact how we view gender. Being a parent of a growing child who rejected the invitation to pink play-land will likely encourage some reflection on toys and gender. Toys are our first tools we have as humans to explore the world and practice interacting with it and they certainly have a coded message about what culture expects of you. I am just really grateful that you are spreading more awareness on this subject, it is encouraging me to post my letter so I can do the same. I loved your ending, I will imagine that world with you!!
    “…..we can have any interest we want, love any color of the rainbow and be any gender. Anyone can marvel at the pink in a sunset with a blue sky backdrop and enjoy both of these variations in earth’s palette.”

  11. Anna says:

    When I was little I had both “girl toys” and “boy toys”. I had a construction set and thomas the train and dolls and polly pockets. I remember I could name all the big construction trucks and I had some books that looked like trucks that had wheels on them. My mom’s an engineer so I think thats why I was always encouraged to do what I wanted and had “boy toys”. I never even realized there were boy toys and girl toys until I went to kindergarten and was promptly put “in my place” as a girl. However that didn’t o o well for hem because my mother was not pleased to hear what they were doing. Now I’m hoping to go to college to become a Biomedical Engineer. I wish all girls had a mom like I do.

  12. Kate says:

    Was it ” literally a pink bubble?” Something tells me no. The reason why women are perceived so poorly is because we fall into cliches and use improper adjectives to describe life.

    • robw77 says:

      Hi Kate- Not sure what tells you things in your head, but yes, it was literally six aisles that exuded pink– one of which is pictured above. I am not sure that “pink bubble” is a cliche, or improper, and I am not a woman. Hope that clarifies for whatever is “telling you things”. Thanks for the comment.

  13. Reblogged this on Legal Elite and commented:
    An interesting perspective on the gender equality in Toys R Us.

  14. Alan says:

    We need to be teaching people that it is alright to be different instead of trying to make everyone the same. 90% of girls like dolls and 90% of boys like trucks. That is the way it is. Stop trying to tell the 90% that they are wrong and we all should play with gender neutral toys. Instead lets teach it is ok to be different and you don’t need to fit into the 90% and accept people as they are.

    • robw77 says:

      Hi Alan, thanks for the discussion, but I am not sure you actually read the article, or I am not understanding your comment. I would love to see the 90% study you cite… fascinating that boys and girls would measure exactly the same like that. In any case, NOT gender profiling toys would be the means to teach “people that it is alright to be different”. Segregating children tells them who they “need to be” like. No one is advocating removing any kind of toy… trucks and dolls can sit happily on their shelves… this is just advocating that stores stop trying to manipulate who sees them sitting there.

      • Brooke says:

        Yep. I remember going into a Toys R Us as a kid (this wasn’t more than 20 years ago), and feeling like I had to stay in the “girl” aisles and select only a “girl” toy. It was obvious to me that the pink and fru fru stuff were for girls, and that showing interest outside these aisles would mark me as somehow not a girl or strange. I felt like invisible, peer-pressure eyes were watching me. My parents didn’t impose these thoughts on me (my younger brother liked his nails painted, and mom obliged). It was the unspoken message the segregated, color-coded setup communicated. I think commercials geared specifically towards boys or girls also don’t help.

  15. It’s interesting–we’ve been talking about this particular issue in my Children, Toys and Media class (university student, here). But I noticed something else, something that’s kind of subtle: while there are “girl” toys/colours/activities and “boy” toys/colours/activities, both of those are based on the concept of heterosexuality. In TV ads for dolls and action figures, you never see non-nuclear families–there are no multiple-generation households, no grandparents in the Barbie line, no gay/lesbian/trans/gender non-conforming figures or stories or presentations.

    And it sucks.

    • robw77 says:

      It is fascinating how we are allowing this level of cultural education to filter on through to our kids. Thanks so much Dominique for the comment. Study hard. We need future world leaders such as you!!

  16. Jen says:

    I don’t have anything particularly intelligent to add, but thank you for the post.

  17. Dee says:

    Lovely piece and so true! I am in a hetero marriage but our roles are reversed – I work full time with a busy career and my husband is a stay at home Dad. He does a better job at looking after our kids and our home than I ever could! I come home every day to a hug and a smile and a cooked meal. I am grateful every day for this gift that my husband has given me. My children (a girl & a boy) both like to cook, play dress-up and play with dolls. They also both love racing cars, lego, nerf guns and mud! My daughter will always love everything pink like barbies and princesses and glitter and my son always runs to the action aisle in the toy stores – but they both enjoy playing together and swapping their toys on a daily basis. I hate when I hear people say that men cannot be a “mom”. I am a very hands-on mother, I nurture and love my children with the spirits of a thousand hippies coarsing through my blood. Unfortunately I cannot be the one at home as my job supports us too well and if I’m honest I don’t think I’d be as good as a stay at home “mom” as my husband is. So what is as “Mom”? The person who minds them, teaches the, washes and clothes them? A man is doing that right now in my house and he’s doing an AMAZING job!

  18. 32 years ago I was buying baby clothing for an unborn child, in advance of moving abroad. The sales clerk was insistent that I couldn’t choose w/o knowing the sex! I have 2 sons, now 32 and 28 and struggled with these issues when I was raising them. I was criticized for not making them masculine enough–no gun toys, and they each had a doll. It’s sad. I love your message and the photos of the store aisles was a bit shocking!

  19. Michael says:

    My two year old boy loves trucks and train and soccer. But he also loves baby dolls and pushing them around in a little pink stroller. He also loves giraffes and pink everything and has a pink toy car. The point is we adults are the ones who are placing a sex identity on the color of the toys. Kid just like bright colors. If we just let them play with what they like, whatever color, and get over ourselves we could easily negate toys-r-us’ BS.

  20. Rob,
    Thank you for this. There are so many of us fighting this battle. (Soon I’ll be unleashing my own blog about this stuff from a single, auntie’s perspective.) You might want to check out Pigtail Pals, Princess Free Zone and the Brave Girls Want alliance. Although it sounds like their focus is only on girls, they are bent on making the world better for both girls and boys. They write things like, “Colors are for everyone,” “Let kids be kids,” and “There are many ways to be a boy/girl.” Good luck with your newfound perspective. All of us singing together can change the world chorus by chorus.

  21. I remember as a little kid going to McDonald’s and when my parents would order me a Happy Meal, they would be asked if they wanted a boy or a girl toy or if it was for a boy or a girl. We’d always have to make sure to say that we wanted a boy toy…because the girl toys were always something really boring like a miniature Barbie.

    This sort of thing always made me feel awful. I couldn’t understand why girls got the bad, lesser toys. Why did I have to have my parents say I was a boy so I could get the cool one?

    It wasn’t until I was an adult and went to college that it started to make sense to me. And now, if I go to a little girl’s birthday party, for example, and I see her parents and everyone else give her nothing but Barbies and pink toys that do very little to encourage her to use her brain, it bothers me a lot. But when I see parents who encourage their boys and girls equally and don’t force them into gender roles, it makes me happy!

    But that doesn’t happen enough. I see how boys are given toys that encourage them to use their brains. Girls aren’t. And then we wonder why men are the ones who go into more mentally challenging fields of work, generally.

  22. Andy D says:

    I have a six month old daughter. Instead of letting society dictate to me what I should purchase for my daughter, I choose what to purchase.

    If toys r us wants to have a pink girl aisle, that’s their own prerogative. If you don’t have the drive or enough independent thought to not be herded like a sheep, then having toys r us neutralize it’s toy selection is the least of your worries.

  23. Anneliese says:

    I am a straight female, pregnant with my first child. I have found out we are having a girl and am ALREADY fighting this. She isn’t even born yet and society (and certain family members) wants to shove her in a pink frilly bubble that I and my partner don’t want her in. This battle plays out before you are even born, go wander the baby clothes aisle one of these days…little onsies in pink with cutesy girly messages or green/yellow/blue with boy messages…very few non conforming options. The only way out of the bubble for baby girls, is to find the few “boys” clothes that don’t have specifics like Daddy’s boy on them. What happens when we don’t want to announce her to the world as Daddy’s little princess, maybe we want her to be Daddy’s little helper?
    Do I live this bubble? Sure (I hate pink though, so we can call my bubble purple), but by choice. I’m going to be a stay at home mom who does the cooking and cleaning. My partner works in a refinery and does “guy stuff” like fixing the vehicles. Despite this, I want my daughter to grow up able to do whatever the hell she wants, and my partner feels the same. We want her to be able to swap out her own clutch AND cook herself dinner. We want her to try everything without repercussions that shes being raised “as a boy”. No, she isn’t, shes being raised to be herself, in whatever that grows into. We are going to have to deal with those repercussions though, cause in order to not perpetuate this, I’m going to have to shop in the “boy” section. We are going get asked, Why are you dressing her like a boy?, Why are you raising her as a boy? We aren’t dressing and raising her as a boy, we just aren’t dressing and raising her as a “Girl”, and society doesn’t provide alot of options for that. I can’t wait to deal with it when we get to the toy stage.

    • Alyssa says:

      I was terrified of similar things when I was pregnant. (so. much. pink.) I also chose to stay home (mostly), and have hubby work. The Mommy Wars are wrapped up in this gender nightmare, that seems to start with that little wiggly worm growing inside. Good on you for being strong, for both you and your partner, and your daughter!

    • Emma says:

      We didn’t find out what we were having to try and bypass this sort of pigeon holeing, nevertheless, when our daughter was born (and despite our stipulated embargo of pink items) a veritable wardrobes worth of pastel pink items, with nauseatingly cutesy slogans on them arrived through the door. I do not wish to sound ungrateful and I did make a point of putting her in items that had been bought for her ‘specially’ and tried to make sure she was either around the person who had given the item (or sent a picture) but it frustrated me in the extreme that most of the clothes available to get were (and still are) predominantly pink!
      Personally, I’m like you, HATE pink, Never wear it, I also never wear skirts or dresses (no reason other than I just don’t like to) but this had not been lost on my three year old daughter who likes to say ‘we wear trousers – like daddy’:/

    • amanda says:

      @anneliese you might want to check out etsy.com. they feature crafty people who sell handmade or vintage/upcycled goods and a lot do custom work. i bet you could find a lot of gender neutral items there.

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  25. Ashten says:

    I actually feel like toys for girls have gotten worse instead of better. When I was a little girl, I had Doctor Barbie and President Barbie. I was at a toy store a few weeks ago and guess what I found… Flight Attendant Barbie and Dog Walker Barbie…. I also found a Barbie laundry room play set! It was absolutely sickening.

  26. Soul Dancer says:

    Rob, you touch a nerve many are more than happy to let lie. The nerve? Consciousness. The more awake and aware we become, the more we realize when and how seeds of gender conformity are both planted and nurtured. Like any weed, until we root out that weed, it continues to grow. This post reminds us how the weed of unconsciousness (not minding or questioning how big business subtly influences so much of our life) grows with abandon until we up-root it with consciously challenging that which harms us.

    Shelly’s reply baffles me. It seems Shelly’s at peace with the destructive outcomes of gender biased practices – practices you point out in your heartfelt post. While it’s true that ‘do-gooders’ have experienced harmful outcomes of even the most well intentioned acts (no good deed goes unpunished ehh?) – I’m puzzled at the level of vehemence she directs at souls who simply wish to point out deleterious ways of conducting business.

    Over the decades, as an out, gay monk, shaman and social worker, I’ve noticed a bell-curve relationship with issues like gender-typing child toys. At first – it’s no big deal. Then, as the results of gender-typing unfold (boys hurting other boys who like non-boy toys or girls feeling absolutely ashamed of being called a tomboy just cause she likes boy toys) , the ‘curve’ grows from a mound to a mountain. As parents begin to resolve this results of prejudice based on gender-typecasting, their children become more awake and aware of how important it is to be who they want to be – no matter what others thing. The curve levels out as more kids grow up to be more conscious of how insidious gender-conformity starts. When they have kids, they’re more aware of socializing their kids to be open, adventurous and more self confident.

    Evolution happens one toy at a time ehh?

  27. Pey says:

    I was lucky growing up. Mom and Dad didn’t try to push me into the pink. When I told them I wanted to grow up to fight dragons (still do), they handed me a foam sword and shield. When I figured out what video games were, they were more than happy to help me save whatever world I was living in. I didn’t want a dolly or a kitchen playset, I wanted a charizard that had roaring action and all the mortal kombat games I could get my hands on. So their little girl would rather vanquish evil than cook food for plastic baby. Is it really that bad? Toys are meant to help children grow their imagination. It is incredibly cruel to force gender roles on kids. Not only are you taking away their choices, you’re showing them that they HAVE to follow these gender rules because men and women are too stupid to take on different roles, and that’s completely untrue. Play is a magical thing for kids. Don’t take that magic from them because of your biased opinions. I love your article and I agree 100%. Let toys be toys so kids can be kids.

  28. As a 40y/o+ American girl who grew up to be gay (“lesbian” is the word others choose to use, I don’t)…I always thought it was more fun to play with the toys that I “wasn’t supposed to like” (ie, my brother’s toys).

    Why are people trying to take that FUN away from YOUNG GAY KIDS???

    Geez. Leave us the hell ALONE!!!

    Let us grow up. Monitor/progress/evolve/smear/tolerate/deal with us as we age. Don’t start this crap before we’ve reached puberty!

    What is it that you *think* you’re accomplishing? You think you’re changing the world? All you’re doing is FURTHER upsetting the natural order of life. Stop it. Your kids’s peers will let you know this in those cases where you’re get confused.

    As a gay person, I say…no, I BEG you: Let us live our lives as real people and PLEASE, STOP bringing all these fabricated issues into our lives. Let us live as real people that don’t need all the protections that you “do-gooders” seek to define for US!!! LEAVE US ALONE. Please.

    After all, you’re the ones that tell us day after day after day that “we’re normal” and that “we’re fine”. Do you mean that or not?

    What is your POINT with trying to tell PRIVATE BUSINESSES how they CAN and CANNOT display their damned TOYS??? (For the love of all that is good…is this ALL you can think to do with your day???)

    Here in the civilized world, us GAYS don’t NEED your “protection”.

    Actually, it’d be NICE if you’d leave us the HELL ALONE and just let us exist as we are!!! It’s not like we’re being stoned to death/hung/tortured/raped/shot/beheaded in the streets of America as we (gays) are in the streets of MANY muslim countries (and, soon in the UK)…simply because we exist.

    It would be nice if all of you (males, females, & those “in transition”) would grow a set and decide to FINALLY stand for something that ACTUALLY MATTERS!!! Stop wasting your time (and all of our time) trying to accomplish something that YOU have deemed to be worthy of your time & effort. (When, in reality, all these waste-of-time “issues” that YOU have deemed “important” don’t mean a THING to anyone but YOU & your circle of friends/relatives/acquaintances.) You’re downright embarrassing when it comes to human rights. You’re quite sickening, actually.

    Go do something that will actually affect the quality of someone’s life. Gay people are being targeted and MURDERED for simply EXISTING in other countries. What are you going to say about that? I can guess…but, we’ll say that it’s your turn…….now……….go…………

    • While going after a company for gendering toys is quite silly, please remember that while it isn’t sanctioned by the government as it is in other countries, Gay people and “Those in transition” are getting killed because we exist pretty much everywhere.

    • Willa West says:

      Wow Shelly- you really don’t get it, do you? Reading your post, you don’t sound like a gay woman, or a woman of color, and possibly not even a woman at all. Are you sure you are gay, or just a troll, trying to pretend to be a gay woman on this site? Either way I wish you well, and hope you can one day, whether you are a troll, a straight male, really a gay female as you claim– I hope you come to understand why your rant is so incredibly flawed. And just to clarify, if you were to read this sight or any other gay blogs more often, you would see that many–too many–LGBT people are killed, beaten, bashed, raped, etc. in the US, simply because of who they are whether they are L, G, B, or T.

  29. Ieshua Ceren says:

    This Post is a valuable piece of information for those parents that want to teach their kids how to be open to all posibilities in this world. We need to move on and take gender tags down for the sake of humanity.

  30. We pretty much left it to the kids to pick their toys from an early age. Both played with dolls, trains, water pistols and Polly Pockets. What amuses me is my daughter has an abiding hatred of pink, and has bemoaned the total lack of choice in colour her whole life. My son likes pink and doesn’t really care who knows it.

    I live in the UK but don’t know about Toys R Us. I’ve avoided shopping there. In the shops I go in there are still the girls aisles and the boys aisles, just as the homemaking equipment is aimed towards women and the garden equipment is aimed towards men. That is a generalisation but you only have to look at TV advertising to see times haven’t moved on.

  31. madgesw says:

    My sons are 42 and 40 and were given every chance to play with a doll, cook in a kitchen and play with so called “girl toys.” Since I was Another Mother for Peace in the 60’s, my sons were raised under the feminist movement. No assigned seats at the table, no head of household, no army toys, no guns. When we went shopping when they were young they picked trucks and cars mostly. Also sports paraphernalia was popular. I played on a woman’s soccer team and they came to many of my games in Sundays and in the end their peers ruled the roost. They would argue with me that girls weren’t the same as boys and boys were better. I tried my best. Today they respect women but I know in their heart of hearts, there are girl colors and boy colors, girl toys and boys toys. They are raising both sons and daughters and all were given dolls from me but soon the boys set them aside and soon considered their sister’s stuff was just that “girl stuff.” All the common areas seemed to disappear when kindergarten started. The grand kids are 9 year old boy twins and one sister and one daughter in the other household. They all play sports-baseball, soccer and rock climbing for the boys and soccer, dance and hip hop/jazz for the girls. Their choices in every decisions. I know marketing has so much to do with this and our societal norms but I also believe in nature vs nurture too. I have no answers but have struggled with this from the 60’s until present day and hope that I have instilled respect for everyone regardless of what one plays with and how one conducts themselves. As parents and grandparents we can only do so much and then really the kids decide in the end what suits them best when exposed to all avenues.Rob, your articles always are thought provoking.

    • robw77 says:

      Thank you so much… as always! I hear you, and I recognize there IS a difference in children, especially energies. I have been told by educators that the expectations of children behavior in school is based more on “girl temperment” and that boys often have too much energy to adhere. I definitely observed that in my sons classes. That being said, I also see how that difference is leveraged and directed towards things that kids might not gravitate towards otherwise. Guns are definitely a magnet for boys even with efforts for them not to be– but, it makes sense with their energies…they are wound up and ready to pop… so a TOY that explodes and is dramatic… seems like kismet. I think that energy could be satisfied in a different way. There are many nuances that I observed being segmented off from one gender and the other, and I think that is unfortunate. When I went in and observed what was being presented, I was actually shocked– and felt badly that I had not noticed it before. Thanks so much for the discussion– and that is the point!! 🙂 To get people talking.

      • Amy says:

        Robw77, I think it is interesting that you mentioned “girl temperament”. I don’t think there is such a thing. After spending a lot of time in my son’s classroom what I notice was a difference in expectations but not temperament or energy level. I saw teachers correct girl students for having high energy that was deemed disruptive but boy students, including my son, were given more leeway because “boys will be boys afterall”. The girls were encouraged to play house and dolls but the boys were encouraged to “run off their energy” There was a distinct message being given – there is a right and wrong way to be a girl.

        It bothered me enough that the head of school and I are having conversations about this and working towards change.

        I loved the article. It is great to get these conversations going. Now it is time to go one step further. We need to stop putting children in gender boxes all together. Children are children. Gender does not define them in any way.

  32. Renchick says:

    I appreciate your posts so much. Thank you.🙂

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