Oh, the Toys that I Have Seen

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What could be more harmless than Fuzzy Slippers in a toy store? Surely, a quick trip to buy a friend’s kid a “princess-y present that can be put together” would garner nothing more than the odd reminiscence of childish imagination, games once beloved, toys once cherished, right? But no. Do you have any idea what toy makers are making? What they are marketing to our children? I almost blew a gasket in there and might well have if I knew what one was.

Ask most people, men and women, if they think that women are treated equally in our society, in the work place, and in the home. Okay, maybe not in the home. But in general terms, I think that most people would argue that women have “come a long way, Baby.” Pah!

I used to teach literature courses in which I would occasionally (okay, quite often) challenge gender stereotypes, the depiction and perpetuation of gender roles. And it was always an uphill battle. Either the students were convinced that we have achieved a gender-neutral oasis of egalitarian utopian equality, or the students were convinced that biological imperatives were at work, and that women were therefore (and I shudder to recall this much less type it and thereby give it validity) better suited for maternal and domestic roles. Neither of these seems quite accurate to me, particularly when we consider that a man and woman with the same background (education, experience) in the same job–neither breast feeding nor hunting brute creatures for food but say, at a law office or hospital or factory–earn different salaries; the last I heard, women were making about $.75 to the male dollar (and let’s face it, the dollar’s not worth a whole lot these days).

Back to the toy store– let’s call it, Stereotypes R Us, so there I am looking for the pretty princess things and loving it greatly. I was a girly girl and loved that stuff as a kid. But I also loved my Lego’s and Lincoln Logs and books and puzzles. Browsing through the toy section, the “Girl” toy section, I was astounded to find not just the “Easy Bake Oven” of my youth (even then I couldn’t manage not to burn a cake. With a light bulb. Go figure.) but a whole range of domestic supplies for the up and coming domestic goddess. There were “housekeeping” kits complete with mini vacuums and brooms and dustbins; there were little mixers, wee little coffee makers, and teeny blenders nestled amid full blown child-size kitchen sinks (with little drain pans, even!). Gah! And there was an ATM machine and a “shopping” kit with little debit cards, so that every little girl can grow up to shop herself into debt and not be able to pay it off because she makes seventy-five cents to the male dollar.

What the hell is going on in this world? The boys had great things like science kits and models to build and galaxies to paste to their ceilings. There were robots and trains with moving parts and metal detectors and bug or bird studying kits. In the boy section, there were any number of educational but fun toys. Well, I guess the girl section had a lot of educational toys as well . . . . Sigh.

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I’d love to give props to Toys R Us for showing a picture of a little boy playing with the toy toaster (pictured), but I was just in a Toys R Us, and the toy toasters are right next to the Easy Bake ovens which are right next to the Princess outfits and pink plastic kiddie karaoke kits for the wannabe Hannah Montana or Brittany Spears.

Don’t even get me started on Bratz.

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7 thoughts on “Oh, the Toys that I Have Seen

  1. Amen sista! . . .my niece doesn’t even like dolls so all of her toys come from the boys’ departments. We can’t even encourage them to create anything other than dinner or the best date ever for Barbie. Very gender biased divisions in toy stores.

  2. Ah but who is to say that boys can’t play with the housekeeping toys. Children like to emulate adult activities – and lets face it – in every household – someone is doing the cleaning, and there’s no reason we can’t train us some domestic gods to go along with the goddesses.
    As for having Girl sections and Boy sections……I don’t have a Toys R Us close to me – but I’m surprised and disappointed that they define toys that way – I would have figured that all the “role playing” toys – appliances, tools, whatever – would all be in the same gender neutral place.
    And my son had an Easybake oven – though he never had a play vacuum….Maybe that’s why he can cook, but he’s a slob.

  3. Hi Darlink

    Firstly we don’t want to get our children off on a gender-bender so we have to establish the empirical difference between male and female; we aren’t built the same, some things a lady cannot do and some things a man cannot do. I *accept* that some things a lady can do better than any man and that does *not* mean in the kitchen either; but that doesn’t mean either are lacking ‘something’. I can reach that conclusion quite easily and for a number of reasons; some empirical and some purely by nature. I’m not saying you would disagree … (hmmmm, but with you one can never tell … ha-ha! LOL.

    The boy holding the toaster is good advertising! The girl sees it and thinks “Hey! … I want one of those!” but … if he was holding a Star Wars sabre, cloak and a mask chances are she wouldn’t; that is ‘chances’ are she wouldn’t, not categorically that she wouldn’t.

    I think women have come a long way; I have no doubts about that. I think (in general) women’s attitudes have come a long way in getting them where they are also. The days of the ‘Hunter’ and the ‘Hunted’ are well gone now; a young lady out in Society can call the shots any time she wants *if* it’s her choice to do so; I say choice because not all women would want to take that role. But either way men are certainly more aware of what are liberated women and in being liberated it means having a choice. And in that I’d certainly say women have more of a choice than they did 50 years ago (number off the top of my shiny head there.) There can be said there are places that wouldn’t apply … I can give instances of where it could be said the same rule applies to the male of the species.

    ‘Average wage.’ Well that’s one of those statistical quandaries that engulf the wages of a street cleaner up to the highest paid worker in the land. In the world of statistics I get that: ‘There are lies and there are damned lies’ feelings with stat’s. By the way; if I lived in the US I would be female if I lived in Texas according to stat’s; it’s absolutely amazing what you can do with stat’s!

    … ggeeshhhh, and so on! LOL
    ~FrankiE~

  4. Cultural beliefs to a great extent, influences parent’s decisions on their purchases however, I do not believe children should be raised with gender biases. I think the pic of the boy with the toaster is really cool. Thanks Fuz for sharing.

  5. Hei Fuzz

    Love this: “And there was an ATM machine and a “shopping” kit with little debit cards, so that every little girl can grow up to shop herself into debt and not be able to pay it off because she makes seventy-five cents to the male dollar.”
    Had me roaring laughing so it did. Sad as this fact is.

    I think it has gone massively backwards for when we were getting ‘stuff’ as in toys and whatnot for our daughters there was a better choice, i may say in Ireland anyway…

    DO keep so well and do keep blogging, Dear Friend. HUGZ Ikkle Finn Rii :)))

  6. Advertising gimmicks never cease, do they? :p That, in itself, is another subject entirely that could be discussed all day long. lol
    Why even segregate toys, anyway? Does it make toys easier to find, even? No! lol I can understand putting toys for certain ages together, however.

    I hear you loud and clear with the Bratz doll comments. Barbie was bad enough, and Bratz are, on some levels, even worse. That’s the end of that. 😀

  7. Yes, Oh Fuzziness, I would agree with you. But, overall, if you take a look at kids… and I’m not saying all, of course, but a vast majority of girls tend to go for the “girly” stuff, that’s what they like. We as parents, aunties, uncles, and such have choices as far as what we purchase, so don’t blame it on Toys R Us… blame it on what we may “force” our kids to play with because it’s what we chose for them.

    Personally I’m more appalled at the violent (Grand Theft Auto XXXX that just came out) and just plain “icky” types of toys such as “Gooey Louie” which involves picking boogers out of Louie’s nose… the kid with the more boogers wins?????

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