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The Gendered Toys Debate

Date: December 1, 2014 Categories: Blog

Toy department shoppers can often see, even before entering an aisle, whether it contains an abundance of pinks, purples and princesses or primary colored superheroes, automobiles and legos. If this gendering of toys is good, bad or otherwise, has been debated for some time.

There have been studies indicating that babies who haven’t been influenced by anyone yet tend to pick toys intended for their own gender. Toy makers may just be marketing what kids like, this argument states. Whattoexpect.com has an article explaining biological differences impacting how boys and girls tend to play.

On the other hand, play is how children learn and practice many of the skills they will need for adulthood. It is theorized that a boy who isn’t allowed to play house, may not practice nurturing and domestic skills that would make him a better father. Girls who focus on makeup and dolls may not realize that they enjoy and are good at strategy and planning, which they might have learned from building toys, traditionally reserved for boys. Each toy teaches children different things.

Those against gender specific toys have stated that restricting children to only the toys intended for their gender, may force them into stereotyped gender roles and not encourage them to express who they really are. It may even cause them to believe that they cannot be good at school subjects or jobs “reserved” for the other half of the population.
Some parents get around this gender divide by selecting toys that are not clearly meant for either boys or girls. Scholastic has a list of suggested gender neutral toys. These are also a good option for parents who have or are planning to have multiple children of different genders and don’t want to feel pressured to re-buy a toy because it isn’t the “right” color.

What are your thoughts on this subject? What sorts of toys do you buy for the children in your life and why?