Research Topic 5: Gender Neutral Toys

Should toys be gender neutral? ?


Today, toy stores divide the many toys, games and movies into two primary categories: boy and girl.
In order to understand the influences today’s popular toys have on youngsters, it becomes vital to first understand gender socialization. "Gender" refers to the socio-cultural dimension of being female or male. Authors Bryjak and Soroka say, "Human beings are not born with any pre-existing knowledge of, or orientation to, their world. What we come to feel about life and about ourselves, we learn through socialization, the social mechanisms through which gender developments occur". In hospital rooms, babies encounter gender socialization occurs for the firs time when nurses place traditional "blue" or "pink" caps on their heads. Sociologist, LaFreniere states, "By the time children are 3 to 4 years old, they have already formed an image of themselves as boy or girl". Children form these images from parents, teachers, societal members, and the toys and games with which they play.

Due to the stereotypical activities based on gender that society expects children to abide by through the toys they choose, boys and girls become limited only to their own gender, not allowing them to explore different roles. Of course boys and girls show physical differences, but as a young child, they generally have the same mentality when it comes to play. Swanson says, "Before adolescence boys and girls are more alike than different in biology and attitudes". However, society defines "appropriate" gender roles, which eliminate cross-gender play. Gender stereotyping of children's toys may also play a part in the differences noted in cognitive and social skills of both sexes. Girls loose self esteem and are not encouraged to achieve, while boys become overachievers and loose self-esteem when they do not feel "adequate."

"Boys are doctors; Girls are Nurses. Boys are football players; girls are cheerleaders. Boys invent thing; Girls use the things boys invent. Boys fix things; Girls need things fixed. Boys are presidents; Girls are first ladies"
- Janese Swanson ????????????

gender socialization, through toys, teaches and reinforces stereotypical gender roles!!!



Toys such as 'spiderman' action figures and 'The Care Bears' divide boys and girls. Many conclude that the toys that children play with pass down stereotypical gender roles. Based on gender-biased toys, typically boys learn to be ‘tough’ and girls learn to be ‘nurturing’. Girls toys tend to focus on physical beauty and appearance while boys toys focus on respect for their physical abilities. It is vital to understand gender socialisation. ‘Gender’ refers to the socio-cultural dimension of being female or male.

The toys and games which they play with are linked with their gender stereotype is considered to be the beginning of their sex role development. The packaging of toys also presents gender stereotypes because most of the packaging for boys are blue and girls, pink. Notice that the female section of toys is much bigger than the male side this is also giving in to the stereotype that women have more material objects than men. However, despite these views toys also teach children duties such as household chores e.g cleaning.