Just some random musings from me about this really. I read a few weeks ago that Marks and Spencer are removing all gender specific labelling and packaging from their toys, so there won’t necessarily be a ‘pink’ section or a ‘blue’ section in their toy departments. The comments I read about this news story were so varied and it got me thinking as it is also quite relevant to Monkey at the moment.
Does it matter if some toys are marketed to boys and others to girls? Does that reinforce gender stereotypes or does it just show that most boys prefer some types of toys, and most girls like other types? On the one hand boys and girls are different so what’s wrong with boys being boys and girls being girls? But then they are also all individuals and everyone is different regardless of gender. Therefore some boys and some girls may be interested in the same things sometimes.
Even though we knew we were having a baby boy we didn’t go and get everything blue. His room is yellow and multicoloured and his baby clothes were similar, a real mixed bag. We try to have the attitude that there are no boy colours and there are no girl colours, there are just colours. Not everyone feels this way though, my mum and step-dad have semi-jokingly moaned in the past that Monkey has ‘girly’ stickers because there are some pink ones in the sticker book that say princess, as well as ones of digger trucks and dinosaurs. My response is that they are the cheapest stickers I have found (£1 for 2000) and neither Monkey or I care what colour they are. Besides, Pink wasn’t even thought of as a ‘girly’ colour until about the 1940’s!
Then a few days ago I was out with Monkey at a local shopping centre with our cheap basic buggy (which happens to be a bright purple colour). He was playing by a ride on bus and another little boy was hanging around and talking to him. As we were about to leave he says ‘is that a boy or a girl?’ pointing at Monkey. I just smiled and told him he is a boy and then he says ‘well I just wondered because that (pointing to the buggy) is purple.’ He looked so serious as if a BOY in a PURPLE buggy was the most stupid thing he’s ever heard. Made me chuckle but also shake my head slightly.
It’s not just the colours of toys/clothes etc. but the toys themselves. Why should some toys be designated as for boys while others for girls. Can a woman not work on construction? Or a man not work in a kitchen? Of course they can. We are now much more equal as adults but seem to reinforce the stereotypes when it comes to children for some reason. Why shouldn’t they be free to play with whatever toy interests them at that time without them being labelled as for girls or for boys. When hubby was little he had a ‘home corner’ and loved his toy kitchen and iron etc. and what is wrong with that?
Monkey does love a lot of his ‘boy’ toys, cars and trains are two of his favourites. Then on a play-date last week he was obsessed with my friend’s little girl’s dolls house. He played with it for ages! It reminded me of the news story about Marks and Spencer. It also reminded me that I had a doll’s house stored at my brother’s that our uncle made me when I was a little girl. I asked my brother to bring it round and Monkey loves it! It’s quite well worn and the door and a couple of windows are missing but Monkey has been finding it hilarious posting people through the windows and putting his Postman Pat and Mrs Goggins dolls in the beds and on the chairs. I guess you would categorise a doll’s house in the girl toys section but I don’t see any reason why boys can’t enjoy it too.
We’ve also been finding recently that rather than sit in his buggy, Monkey sometimes like to push it along (being a 3 wheeler one it then tends to bash into fences, bushes, people, etc. great fun…). So I decided to buy him a doll’s pushchair. Another traditionally ‘girly’ toy but again he loves it and is pushing his teddy round the house with glee. We also bought him a little tea set ages ago and he loves toy tea parties and pretending to pour the tea, stir the tea and drink the tea. It’s learning about life so why is that more for girls than for both?
It goes both ways and a lot of my friend’s little girls love cars and trains etc. so maybe I agree with toy packaging being less gender specific… though I’m not sure if that will suddenly stop people considering some toys as boys’ toys and others as girls’, but maybe it would be a step in the right direction?
What do you think? Should boys not play with girls toys and girls not play with boys toys? Or should they be free to play with whatever they enjoy most at that time?