By Cory Doctorow at 4:48 pm Wed, Nov 30, 2011
Mataklap sends in this picture from a Dutch toy brochure. For girls, there's a "washing the dishes" playset. For boys, a microscope.
I’m a man who discovered the wheel and built the Eiffel Tower out of metal and brawn. That’s what kind of man I am. You’re just a woman with a small brain. With a brain a third the size of us. It’s science.
Women have smaller brains than men.
Women have smaller bodies than men.
Brain-to-body is about the same, women versus men.
Brain-to-body ratio — not absolute brain mass — correlates with intelligence.
See The Dragons of Eden by Carl Sagan. (Published in 1977, still relevant and engaging today.)
Are you saying that fat people have bigger brains, or that fat people are stupid?
Using brain/body ratio to compare between individuals doesn’t work. It’s a valid estimate of intelligence when comparing different species of animals, that’s what it’s really used for.
I…. um….. wait….. errrrr…. thanks.
Hey, check out this excellent piece of musicianship!
Sitting on my kitchen table waiting for its first read. Can’t wait!
Moreover, the microscope appears REAL, while the dish washing set is a cheap toy.
For what it is worth, the girls’ toy is for LITTLE girls (3-8). Maybe the toy for older girls that is less insulting, like an actual floor-mopping set. :-(
The advanced version doesn’t come with plates – you just do the damn dishes, already.
You’re correct, Stephan. I was a package designer for H.G. Toys in the 70’s and they really had a Broom and Dust Pan Playset for girls. No kidding!
The microscope is for checking the girls’ work, obviously.
damn, i just made that joke 20 minutes too late, haha.
Are you sure that this isn’t from some sort of satire? The girls set was marked UP in price.
I thought so too, but if you look closely it was marked down from 19.99.
You’re right. I mistook that for a currency symbol :-/
I found the whole catalog: http://folder.intertoys.nl/speelboek-intertoys-2011/magazine.html#/spreadview/0/ (The dishwashing set is on page 141, the microscope on 207.)
and the selection looks somewhat representative, despite the apparent difference in target age.
Clearly the microscope is for examining those dishes when she’s done, right?
Why is it more expensive to wash the dishes? Is it because math is hard https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NO0cvqT1tAE ?
look at the ages and you may see it is not gendered but aged. Meisjes means little ones and jongens is youths
interesting… so OUR interpretation of the pages’ colors is what is “heavily gendered,” not the catalog publishers’ toy choice.
edit: shaming appropriate. translation FAIL, taking-someone-else’s-word-for-it FAIL. I… I’m so ashamed.
google translate shows it to be girls and boys not little ones and youth.
I stand corrected! I was going on a translation from my wonderful wife but should have googled it first.
I don’t speak Dutch, but every online Dutch-to-English dictionary I can find translates “meisje” as “girl” and “jongen” as “boy”. And the Dutch wikipedia articles for the two words are pretty damn unambiguous, even if you have to guess at the meanings of words like “mannelijk” (male) and “vrouw” (woman). The neuter Dutch word for “child” would be “kind“. The language is kind of like German and kind of like English, really.
Do you speak Dutch, McMe.
Got the link to the wikipedia article for jongen wrong… I liked it when there was a preview function here.
You can edit your comments.
It confuses me, too, when commenters have similar or the same name.
Jongens means boys and Meisjes means little girls.
Dutch person here. Altough literally ‘meisje’ means little girl, it’s used for all girls. ‘Meid’ is not in much use to describe girls. ‘Jongen’ does have a dimunitive ‘jongentje’ but that’s only used for really young boys.
So even our language is very gendered…
Gender and sexism aside, why would you spend 2 cents for a washing up toy? Drag a chair over to the sink and let your ‘boy/girl/other’ play with the warm water and bubbles all they want. Let them wash a plastic bowl or plate if they want. Nothing to dispose of when they get tired of it, either.
Plus, look how much cheaper the microscope is!
Gender and sexism aside, why would you spend 2 cents for a washing up toy?
Because sometimes kids — boys and girls alike — want their own versions of the things they see their parents doing. They like to play house, with play stuff.
My daughter has spent her allowance on some pretty bizarre things, like dishes (real ones), and it’s not for any sexist or cultural reasons (at the Ambiguity household, it’s me, the male, who does the dishes every night). She’s also purchased things like fancy cocktail toothpicks. Last year for Christmas she wanted her own set of sharp cooking knives. At 7 we figured it was a good time to learn knife/cooking safety, so we got it for her.
I can still remember the time she sat on Santa’s lap and the one thing she asked for was her own towel set. It wasn’t because we didn’t have towels for her.
When my son was young one of his favorite things to play with was play food. He would spend hours preparing wooden pizza, complete with wooden toppings, Velcro-ed on. Now, at 11, he’s becoming a pretty good cook, and will occasionally prepare the family’s dinner.
So yea, it’s great to let the kids help out around the house, but a lot of times they want their own stuff… just like adults.
My son (2.5 years old) also loves to cook with his toy pans and cloth vegetables. He also has a plush rabbit he loves, and he enjoys carrying it around like a baby, or riding it around in a toy stroller. In fact, when I was a kid and my little sister had just been born, I put a teddy bear in a toy wheelbarrow, as if they were a baby and a pram.
Most toys are unnecessarily gendered. Boys love playing with dolls, girls love playing with cars. At least until we ruin them with our cultural bias.
I also really abhor the whole “girl stuff needs to be pink” thing that you see way too much recently. Though hypocrit that I am, I still refused to buy my son a pink romper when he pointed it out in the shop.
toddler + stemware = glass shards everywhere
Clearly the insinuation was to have the kid clean the Tupperware, not the fine fucking china.
What sort of china do you use for your fine fucking?
These Chinese beauties are 5,000 years old!
Sadly, even when science toys are marketed toward girls, they are still inappropriately gendered.
Themarysue just posted an article to such an effect.
This reminds me of my childhood when my mom would order a happymeal for me from McDonalds and the person at the drive-thru would ask “would you like the boy’s toy or the girl’s toy?”. My mom would curtly respond “My DAUGHTER would like the hotwheels cars, please”.
FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFffffffffffffffff gender binary.
A bit off topic…..but as someone who is around age 4-6 kids quite a bit, they LOVE (both genders) kitchen playsets. I honestly don’t know why…..but they just love to play pretend meal, pretend chef, pretend waiter/waitress. If you set up a huge room of toys for this age group and let them loose, in about 7 minutes you will find them all clustered around the play kitchen pretending to make and eat fake meals. They won’t all play exclusively with that playset, and groups will eventually splinter off to do other things, but they are just initially drawn to kitchen play. Both genders pretty equally.
This accords to my own experience, too. While my kids are mostly beyond that age, we still have our play foodstuffs at the house, and whenever the younger kids in the neighborhood gravitate to our house, they are still quite popular playthings.
I bought a huge box of misc. Fisher Price Fun With Food items for my kids (boy and girl) they both love it. We, the parents, secretly love the nostalgia they bring as well.
I’ve started lately washing out and giving empty spice cans and things to them and wiring their name in marker on the bottom. They enjoy having a real retail item to work with.
I’ve always want to do a cooking show with them using plastic food, but, when they take it out of their “oven” or take the lid off of a pot, it would be real food. like magic! :)
Don’t have to go all the way to the Netherlands to see heavily gendered toy adverts. (Unless of course you live there already.) Just visit Target. The girl toys are on Pepto pink shelves, the boy toys on aggro blue shelves. The girl shelves actually make me feel ill, and not only because most of the toys are about how to be pretty.
See also the recent Bad Astronomer where they point out that girl science kits are pink and about being pretty and mystical while boy science kits are fun.
Note that the girl toy costs 150% of what the boy’s toy cost.
Yeah, the gendering thing is outta control. We have a 2-year-old kid with a penis and a 4-year-old with a vagina (though she pronounces it, hilariously, as “vagiña”), and we don’t go out of our way to dress the boy in ruffly feminine things and deny them to our daughter, as someone used to recommend to us, but it’s kinda depressing how much our daughter loves the pink femme stuff, complete with unicorns and rainbows and sparkles. And she largely picked it up from friends at preschool. Our son seems to have a good balance. He loves Godzilla movies and dinosaurs, but he also digs wearing flowered hats and occasionally playing princess dress-up with his sister. He likes mechanical things, and he likes cuddling baby dolls. He picks and chooses freely from both the pink and blue aisles, but for whatever reason we have a determinedly girly daughter. Which is fine; we don’t give her any shit about it. But the heavy attention paid to All Things Pretty & Pink is disheartening.
Still, she’s only four. Maybe when she’s six or so she’ll take an interest in helping Daddy change the oil. Or maybe not. Maybe she’ll be into shoes and sparkles and frills and fairies and ballerinas her whole life. It’s up to her. We just wish she’d occasionally take an interest in the alternatives we present, but so far: no dice.
Careful with your projections. In one sentence you say your daughter can be what she wants and then you say how its disheartening when she chooses pink, frilly things. Kids pick up on their parents unspoken desires.
Never fear. We don’t try to talk her out of what she likes, and her tastes are catered to (within reason) with a smile. Her mother and grandmother, in fact, are the ones who were most concerned with giving her as gender-neutral a childhood as we could, and they’re the ones who are most aghast at the stubborn weed-like appearance of the pink unicorns and rainbows and hair ribbons. Well, I shouldn’t say “aghast.” Nobody’s even remotely upset about it. It’s more on the level of planting a plum tree that you later discover also produces apricots. “Where the hell did that come from?”
And it’s certainly not the worst thing a kid could pick up from her classmates, or our society and its culture. Future years might have our daughter picking up smoking, shoplifting, slut-shaming, and cheating on tests from Jenny Piccolo. There’s plenty of time to look forward to those bad influences.
As you bring up, the thing about this debate that I always wonder about is how far these preferences extend beyond childhood. I would be a bit dismayed if I had a daughter and she was really into stereotypical girly stuff (as yours apparently is) despite my best efforts to present alternatives, but I’m honestly not sure if it makes any difference later on.
As we know, most girls are into pink and girly stuff as kids. But, some of these girls end up being interested in stereotypically manly stuff later on. The ones that stay obsessed with pink girly stuff through their teen years and beyond are, let’s face it, not the most likely girls to become engineers anyway.
In my case, I was a fairly typical male growing up, playing with typical boy stuff and so on. The colors in my closet rarely strayed from grays, greens, and blues until fairly recently. Despite my stereotypical male childhood, my favorite color has pretty much always been purple – but I used to claim either blue or green when I was younger. In middle school home economics, I chose purple for the duffle bag we sewed while the other boys all chose red, blue, black, or camo – I said mine was for my sister.
Now that I am more confident wearing things that aren’t gray, green, or blue I pretty much have to restrain myself from buying all my clothes in purple when available. Rarely a day goes by when at least one article of clothing I put on isn’t a shade of purple (which, admittedly, is not quite the same as wearing girly pink stuff as a male).
I love that you’ve embraced your love for purple! It’s a powerful colour that represents wisdom, mystery, magic, depth, thought, strength, royalty and wealth. It is not JUST either masculine or feminine. Also pink was a colour associated with males before it became all princessified…ugh, my dad always insisted my room be painted pink, I loved BLUE!!! It made me insane, and later in highschool psychology class I discovered that this is a real reaction of people shut up in pink rooms…..parents don’t do it!!!!!
I still love blue and wear it and paint it and stare at it all the time…
While we’re on the subject of colours, (which I care about very much) I’d just like to bring up my intense annoyance with the gay population for stealing the rainbow..rainbows symbolize so much more than the way you like to get down, and I am launching an official campaign to reclaim the rainbow. Colours belong to everyone!
What’s wrong with purple for boys? I admit I’m no fan of pink, but I love purple. Most of my house is purple, I have some purple shirts, and while I didn’t have so much purple when I was a teen, I saw nothing wrong with it.
In primary school, however, I did learn at some point that red was a girls’ colour. No idea why.
What’s wrong with purple for boys?
Purple, specifically lavender, is the LGBT color since it combines pink and blue.
I’m in my later 30s now. As a child my mom always hated pink and girlie things. I would receive some from other family members and friends but she would constantly disparage them. It simply made me feel like I just failed to like what she wanted me to like, it didn’t make me feel empowered or more inclined towards science. I think what she didn’t notice is that while I loved all my pink and frilly things I also liked building blocks and chemistry kits and transformers. Just as you seem rather blasé about your son liking things that are primarily targeted at boys, but also showing an interest in things primarily targeted at girls, you can see your daughter the same way. Her love of “girlie” things doesn’t exclude an interest in non-gendered or male targeted toys.
Just my 2¢ :)
Just as you seem rather blasé about your son liking things that are primarily targeted at boys, but also showing an interest in things primarily targeted at girls, you can see your daughter the same way. Her love of “girlie” things doesn’t exclude an interest in non-gendered or male targeted toys.
Well, before preschool she liked all sorts of non-gendered or male-targeted things. She’s at an age now when she and her peers feel most comfortable dividing colors, toys, and activities into definite “boy-things” and “girl-things.” She’s at a very progressive preschool, and we and her teachers will often ask the kids why they think long hair, for example, is a girl thing, or why playing with the dump trucks is only for the boys. Little by little, the kids realize that all these outward indicators have nothing to do with gender, even though the preferences and percentages might stack up one way or another.
My daughter has a lot of baby dolls, including one “anatomically correct male” doll. She gave them all names, and all except “Paul” were given feminine names, even the nongendered babies. She’d say they were all girls. I asked, “But what about Paul?” To which she replied, “Paul’s a girl with a penis.” This was before she was two. We figured that was a pretty good baseline for a 21st century kid’s ideas about gender determinism.
And now that she seems to have contracted the pinkprincessaphilia from her schoolmates, we don’t express any disappointment about it around her. She may outgrow it, or she may not, and she’s pretty awesome either way. It was just surprising (and yes, a bit frustrating) that she caught this particular bug, when outside of school she was always presented with so many other (IMHO more interesting) choices and opportunities.
But I’m just some guy. Maybe there are many fascinating layers in the Pink Princess realm. Some people spend years of their lives happily poring over stamp collections or organizing their Lego minifigs. I don’t get those either.
My understanding is that, much like the “no” phase of the terrible twos, attempting to understanding gender and social norms is a completely natural phase in human development and not a precursor to life of staunch misogyny.
I think that along with all the ridiculous assumptions made by toy manufacturers, there’s a certain archetype we’ve come to assume that smart and feminist women all started out shunning girlie toys and girlie ways, but I think that’s really untrue. There are certainly plenty of fantastic women who could never be bothered with pink and ponies and frills and princesses but so too have many very progressive, capable and thoughtful women grown up loving all things girlie or being somewhere along the spectrum between the two extremes. And it seems to me that where women fall on that spectrum has very little if anything to do with what their parents would prefer their interests to be. We’re all idiosyncratic in our own way.
It sounds to me, though, like you are doing what’s most important, namely, talking with your daughter and asking her questions that make her really think, but in a non-judgmental way. That makes for good rational thinkers who can also go ahead and enjoy the things they like without feeling self doubt.
Thank you. That is, indeed, our goal. It occurs to me that part of our concern stems from the fact that we wonder if she likes these things because she really likes them, or because she thinks she’s supposed to like them because her favorite friends do. Once or twice this month she’s asked us to call the mother of her best friend in the morning to see what she’s wearing (long sleeves or short? skirt w/ leggings or dress w/tights?) so she can wear the same thing. We cheerfully declined to do so, pointing out that she should wear whatever makes her comfortable, not whatever Jenny Piccolo is wearing.
It’s just funny that it seems like we’re running into these stereotypically 20th-century American daughter situations just like our parents did, even though we’re actively trying to be a bit more mindful of our parenting choices than it seems our parents were. And those parents of ours, I have no doubt, just sit and laugh their asses off at us.
My daughter is now 14. At age 4, she wore only dresses, only in pink and purple. She also declared most rock music “boy music” and mostly liked to listen to mezzo soprano opera arias which she felt was appropriately girly. She continued to wear dresses, no pants, until well after most girls were done with dresses, and still today likes to wear dresses and skirts.
BUT, she is also no doubt going to be a structural engineer. She is so smart. She loves to build things and has since she was very small. I spoke with a co-worker with an engineering degree and she told me that I should buy my daughter toys with lots and lots of instructions – dollhouses, for example, or Kinex – to teach her the skills she needs to be an engineer later on in life. She loves these kinds of toys.
Don’t despair! Girls can be cool and smart and wear all the pink and purple stuff they want.
One doesn’t need to go to Holland to get heavily gendered toys. A short walk through any ToysRus or Walmart toy section is quite enough. The boys get war/truck/work/machine stuff (and combinations thereof) in various shades of blue, green, camo and red. Girls get dolls, dresses, kitchens, strollers and such in about two shades of teeth-aching pink.
That said, I don’t know if the marketers are shaping the kids, or just selling what the kids will buy. I have two boys and despite our fairly gender neutral parenting they gravitate to the truck/war/machine stuff.
People really need to calm down. Everyone becomes offended over the simplest of things. It is NOT sexist. It’s statistics. They are advertising their products to their target audience. If you/your child are female but don’t like feminine things, good for you. If you/your child are male but don’t like masculine things, good for you. But you are NOT in the majority, and it is not sexist to be.
Did you just make the argument that because something exists, it can’t be analyzed or criticized?
You know who else had statistics?
I think Tylith just made the argument that when you analyse or criticise something (perforce extant), you might not need simultaneously to take consequent offence at its existence. Remain calm, in other words.
I call Godwin’s Law! ;-)
Yup, nearly did it, almost went there, eh? Such a tease.
They actually *create* their target audience, for the most part. Just look at tv adverts,
I believe you. Because I’m inclined to believe you. But it’s a tricky chicken/egg deal. Is there any way to prove such a hypothesis?
For example, were you to create a market for something which you knew there to be absolutely no demand whatever, this would still demonstrate only that it could be done, but not that it was done in any particular case.
Oh, there is demand for toys. Has been for millennia – children emulate and ape adult behaviour and adults give them either the read deal (when sufficiently safe and cheap) or watered-down make-believe stuff.
Or children take something and use their imagination to prop it up.
That’s apparently hard-wired.
The pink/blue She-Ra/He-Man stuff, that’s the artificial part and carefully moulded to appeal to kids, like sugar and fatty foods.
But I’ve not challenged the demand for toys. All you’ve done there is restate your assertion. What I’m asking for is the nature of the experiment one’d have to undertake to provide evidence for the hypothesis that the vendors alone create this genderised market and that they’re not simply reacting to a pre-existing condition. Not such an unreasonable question.
Like I’ve already said – I already believe you’re right. But I’m not just going to take your word for it!
There’s a demand for toys. And a demand for colourful stories.
Do you really think there’s a demand for tv adverts?
No, I don’t believe there’s a demand for tv adverts (other than from the tv advertising industry). But I’ve no idea what I’ve said that would prompt such a question. It has no bearing whatever on the question I’m asking.
It’s a shame, because I’d genuinely like to know how to test such assertions, and you’re coming across with such authority as leads me to believe you might actually have some knowledge underpinning it.
But, if you want to keep that to yourself … that’s fine. I’ve no right to demand it of you. Shan’t waste your time any more – see ya ;)
They actually *create* their target audience, for the most part. Just look at tv adverts,
To an extent, I guess, but the full picture is somewhat more complicated. We don’t even have TV — so my kids are not exposed to much advertising — but that didn’t keep my daughter from going through an all-pink, all-the-time phase.
People lament that their kids pick this up at preschool, and while that’s true, in the human species we call that “socialization,” and most developmental psychologists say that’s a very important part of being that age. You may take exception to what they’re picking up (one of the most troublesome to me was the fact that my kids knew the difference between and adjective and an adverb before they were spending a lot of time with other kids, but not afterwards), but that’s a slightly different discussion than “the advertisers are forcing this on us and creating the market.”
Sure, but the other kids work as a proxy. People will, as a rule, go with what the majority understands to be correct, even if they know better.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Any large scale manufacturer – the kind who can afford to buy screen time on a national level – tries to get people into this mode.
It’s also totally unrelated to the actually quality of the products.
It’s a self-perpetuating myth.
Your statement also reminds me of the time I was offered a job in apartheid South Africa. When I recoiled in horror, the person hastened to “explain” that I wouldn’t be taking a job from a coloured person because “coloured people aren’t interested in doing it”. That person wasn’t being consciously racist, they just didn’t think things through logically. At least, I hope so.
You do not force social stereotypes on people. That is wrong, demeaning, immoral, all the bad words you like. Don’t do it, don’t advocate it. Sell/buy the toys if you like, but don’t put them in stereotyped colouring and label them “boy” and “girl”.
i have something even better: anecdotal evidence! having lived in holland for more than 10 years, i can attest that i have never before lived in a society that is more preoccupied with gender stereotypes. too many times i’ve heard people start sentences with “women are…” or “men can…” and then rattle off some 1950s stereotype. the kind of stuff that would immediately raise debate in the uk, australia or n.america. perhaps it’s to do with their cultural trait to categorize? (see what i did there? very meta.) sorry neds, there are many things i love about you, but not this.
Interesting. Having grown up in the Netherlands, I always felt that I learned most about gender stereo types by watching US shows.
Now that I live in the UK, I haven’t noticed any big difference in how much people are preoccupied with these stereotypes at all.
Just some more anecdotal evidence, I know. But I figured it was good for balance.
I can beat that – I’ve visited the Netherlands lots of times and not just the cities but the smaller towns and even just industrial estates. But I’ve not been there this century. So I’ve even less anecdotal evidence than you – just a flavour, a tang, of people and places!
Anyway, they’ve always been lovely people and very well kept places and I’ve always found ‘em pretty well organised (you don’t have to be a fascist state to have your trains run on time) and socially advanced.
In this way do I contribute nothing to the argument, but attempt to bolster universal harmony and understanding betwixt our peoples. (cough).
Us Dutch people are always bemused when foreigners describe our trains as “running on time”…
You mean it could be even worse?! ;-)
What can I say? :)
Ah, the eternal question – do we have any intrinsic preferences, or are all of our preferences forced upon us during our early experiences?
And if the latter, is having our preferences forced on us through some edited set of experiences better or worse than leaving the forcing of preferences down to random chance?
And if the former is better, who is to judge which edited set of experiences is the ‘best’ one? The world is complicated once one starts to ask questions…
I don’t know, about 15 years ago in the UK there would have been questions. It seems that all the positive work for choice and diversity has been actively destroyed. Only the other day in Asda I saw a Dora The Explorer Princess toy. That sounds like a contrived joke; sadly, isn’t.
If you think that’s awful, you’ll love this: http://www.wildscience.net/girls.html
Which can lead only to girls growing up into women who fall for this kind of nonsense.
In the past I have put pink nail polish on my tools so that male co-workers/classmates/friends are less likely to walk off with them. In that case, men’s socially-enforced aversion to pink worked in my favor.
Ja, Lebowski! Tomorrow vee come back and cut of your jongens…
These toys here appear to be from the 70’s. I can’t imagine that they’re actually contemporary!
The ones shown here are a real “throwback”, culturally speaking.
When I went to Holland, my friend there thought “fuck” was pretty casual, but woe betide ye if you use “Godverdomme” (God damn it).
That’s not surprising at all. It always amazes me how casually Americans throw around “shag” on prime time TV, even though it means exactly the same thing as “fuck”.
Swear words aren’t inherently bad, they are only bad in the context of the society in which they originated because of the connotations it evolved to have there. I’d say “godverdomme” in the Netherlands is about comparable to “fuck” in America in level of offensiveness.
One is an extremely common reproductive activity, the other is unambiguous blasphemy, understandably offensive to people who believe in a god.
Though I also suspect that imported foreign swear words are also automatically more casual.
It’s certainly not limited to the Dutch. The thing that I’ve noticed lately (my daughters are 3 and 6) is that even toys that are entirely ungendered–Legos, Tinker Toys, cameras, board games–come in “boy” and “girl” versions. Given the choice of a pink Tinker Toy set or a primary colored Tinker Toy set, nearly any socially conditioned little girl is going to choose the pink set…and get trained, very early, to believe that this is the way to tell “what’s for girls.”
I’ve started intentionally looking for and buying toys, like Stomp Rockets, that avoid taking an ungendered toy and creating a gendered version of it–not because I’m paranoid about my kids getting warped–but because I think the pink/blue divide is just dumb.
Stomp rockets? If there isn’t a more phallic symbol among toys…but I digress. ;)
There is a lot of research that shows children learn by modeling their parents actions at an early age. As they get older, they individuate and separate their own ideas from their parents. Suppression of ideas in children almost always results in an out of balance condition leading to “acting out” later on.
In a nutshell, the largest factor in how a child develops is what kind of parents they have and not what they see on TV or in school.
It’s actually not as policaticlly charged as the selective headline picture makes it seem.
yvetteu linked to the full catalog at the top that feature a wide range of toys in a wide range of catagories. They only lumped the tradional girls toys and traditional boy toys in those labled catagories, most of the other toys have no gender specific catagory.
It only looks weird if you cherry pick those 2 toys out of an entire catalog and putt it next to each other in a completly different context then it was originally meant to be.
I still think it’s stupid to label those particular categories “girls” and “boys”. Many of the “boy” toys are completely appropriate for girls, and quite a number of those “girl” toys are perfectly appropriate for boys.
I don’t have as much of a problem with marketing some toys to specific genders as many people do. I have no problem with marketing dolls to girls and Tonka trucks to boys, I think that aligns reasonably well with little kids’ natural tendencies.
However, this is pretty egregious. Marketing a dish washing set specifically to girls is pretty much like saying that women belong in the kitchen. And a microscope is just as much of interest to girls as to boys.
From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink#In_gender
“An article in the trade publication Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department in June 1918 said: “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. 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.” From then until the 1940s, pink was considered appropriate for boys because being related to red it was the more masculine and decided color, while blue was considered appropriate for girls because it was the more delicate and dainty color, or related to the Virgin Mary. Since the 1940s, the societal norm was inverted; pink became considered appropriate for girls and blue appropriate for boys, a practice that has continued into the 21st century.”
I do feel I should point out that this catalogue has 316 pages, only 44 of which are specifically for girls and 18 for boys, and there’s just a few examples as egregious as this one. And many toys from the gender specific pages are actually repeated in other sections. I wouldn’t say it’s a huge structural problem.
But I think it’s time to just lose the whole distinction altogether and have no separate sections for boys and girls in things like this. Just group the toys according to category, for instance “house hold toys”, “science toys”, etc.
I had a microscope as a boy. As an adult I’ve used the edge of a potato masher to slice a pizza because I was out of clean dishes at least three times.
We all know enough guys like that… so much so that Carl’s Jr based their whole without us, some guys would starve campaign on it.
I had a microscope, and a toy toolbox, and plenty of Hot Wheels, and though I never was into sports I still loved dinosaurs and rockets and dump trucks. And yet I’m a big washer of dishes, mopper of floors, changer of diapers, and shameless purchaser of feminine products when the household has the need. Whenever anything needs ironing (which isn’t often), I do it because my wife doesn’t know how and is cleverly uninterested in learning.
You never know how people are gonna turn out, even though sometimes you can guess right.
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Who will be eaten first?
Jason Weisberger, Publisher
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