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December 7, 2007

Sexist Toys You Should Avoid This Holiday Season

We all accept the premise that males and females are different. But why are they different? There may very well be biological innate differences between the sexes, however that can't be the only reason. Common sense tells us gender roles are societal constructs that children are socialized on from birth (as early as pink or blue blankets in the maternity ward). How much of these apparent differences are influenced by the media and most importantly - the toy industry?

It goes way beyond Barbie and G.I. Joe - and all too often parents are blind to it (or just don't care?) This year, we urge you to consider the gender stereotypes your presents perpetuate, so we've compiled a very short list of this season's most sexist toys, that you should avoid this holiday season.



The Evil Slut Clique's Guide to
Sexist Toys You Should Avoid This Holiday Season



The "doctor" costume (which features a boy in the photograph) consists of two-piece scrubs, cap, mask, syringe, thermometer, and stethoscope. The "nurse" costume on the other hand, is clearly "for girls" as it is a) pink, b) a dress, and c) comes with a purse. When was the last time you saw an actual nurse dressed like that? Most of the nurses I've been in contact with wore pretty much what the boy's doctor costume has. It pretty much reinforces the really really old and outdated stereotype that doctors are male and nurses are female. And while a girl could reasonably wear the doctor's outfit, what if a boy wants to be a nurse instead of a doctor? How many parents out there - no matter how open-minded and forward-thinking they are - are going to buy their son a pink dress to wear?


  • Hasbro's line of Tonka toys that are apparently "built for boyhood".
(I'm sure you've already read about this one on pretty much every feminist website and blog). Apparently trucks are just for boys now because boys are "built different" according to the commercials. Now there may very well be evidence of innate differences between males and females, but we hardly think that applies to playing with these kinds of developmental toys. Last time we checked walking and motor skills were something all children needed to develop.

"Where dreams have rooms to grow". Yeah, okay. Because all little girls dream about cooking and cleaning and raising babies and home decorating. Because all little girls grow up to be housewives. (And since when is doing laundry considered fun anyway?)


At the moment there are only six cars on their website (out of the 29 shown) that are pictured with female drivers. They are either pink Barbie cars or have Dora the Explorer all over them, because apparently little girls don't want to drive a car that doesn't have a trademarked character on it? Compare that with the other versions that all have boys driving (a few have boys driving and girls in shotgun, but not a single one of a little girl driving around a male friend). No wonder there are so few female race car drivers.



We always thought Legos were gender neutral. Apparently not. If you search Lego's website by category there are currently fourteen different categories of Lego products you can browse. Along side the Action Figures and Robotics categories is a section called simply "Girls". (Note, there is no "Boys" section because obviously all the other 13 categories are for boys?) So what makes these Legos special for girls? They're pink. Either that or they're princess/fairytale themed. There's also only about 5 choices. The other girl-Lego brand is called Clickits which aren't blocks at all, but rather clickable beads you can use to "build" - what else - jewelry and other accessories.

Instead of buying real estate, little girls can go on shopping sprees or pay their cell phone bills. Because, like, that's totally what girls love to do - shop and gossip!! Do we even need to explain this one?

8 comments:

May said...

doesn't it suck that most of the made-for-girls toys are the most boring things ever? No wonder I played with dirt so much when I was a kid.

About Snaptacular Photos said...

It doesn't end with childhood toys. Pink hammers, anyone?

TiTi said...

Everyone can play with whatever they want. Commercials and websites and categories don't raise strong kids, parents do. Who cares about the corporate classifications? I bought my godson and goddaughter the tonka toys because I (girl) played with them as a child. Sometimes I rode my Barbies in the truck dump area and sometimes GI Joe and his crew commandeered the Barbie motor home. Today, pink is my favorite color and I am an engineer. These products have always been marketed gender specific but my PARENTS (the ones most responsible form my development and growth) didn't allow media to raise me, and introduced me to all aspects. I don't think avoiding these toys makes a difference. I think avoiding the marketing does. Parental responsibility trumps everything.

THE EVIL SLUT CLIQUE said...

TiTi, of course we agree that parenting is the most important factor. But we also think that "avoid the marketing" is easier said than done when kids internalize so many messages from media, friends, classmates, etc. And we also believe that part of being a responsible parent (or godparent or adult, for that matter) is pointing out when companies are reinforcing outdated, sexist, harmful stereotypes and trying to hold them accountable for the messages that they send out.

Snaptacular, we can't believe you don't like those pink tool sets for women. They're totally 'built for ladyhood'! After all, women couldn't possibly want to use regular tools or anything that isn't pink.

Adam said...

I certainly believe that the ultimate responsibility rests with the parents. There's just some feeling in me, some antiquated principle, that if you are sending a message to the masses, you have the responsibility to ensure your message doesn't demean others or spread prejudice. It's why racist propaganda isn't protected by the first amendment. Why do we allow it in advertising?

Sharnanagans said...

I do think that some of the stereotypes are just over the top and need to change. The doctor/nurse one being very much one of them.
As the kids from the baby boomer age are having kids of their own, i don't think the stereotypes shown in toys are actually up to date with what is being done at home about them. and i wonder if it actually is affecting young kids as much as it is affecting the adults who don't like it.
perhaps the pink hammer is chosen by women because they like the color and not because corporate America has gotten to her.
i will say i havent put any real thought into this ahahha-pretty much talking out my you know what.
S

Vertigo said...

Excelletn Post!

motherof5boys1girl said...

i dont know..i have 5 boys and 1 little girl and although she enjoys pretending to blow her brothers away and rolling around in the dirt as much as they do, she still chooses her dolls and the color pink over anything else. boys and girls can be different and its not necessarily a bad thing.some things are more distinctly female. we dont have tv either so its not any sort of media subliminal messaging either.
what i really wish is that they would make toys that cant be taken apart or smashed or any of the other things my demolition experts seem to partake of on a daily basis.