I asked anyone with an opinion on toys, play and gender stereotyping to get in touch. I got great responses and I thought you may find them interesting too. If you have anything to say on the matter feel free to comment below!
“Gender neutral gifts, birthday card AND wrapping paper! there’s another gender neutral gift in the bag in the background too! A Beatrix Potter wooden puzzle. So no gender stereotyping AND no plastic environmentally unfriendliness either!! ” – ANONYMOUS
“Why cant a boy play with dolls, he’s in a family, why can’t he play families.” – JAMES
“My usual thoughts about toy advertisements when watching cartoons on TV with my two boys are along the lines of ‘boy’s have more opportunities to learn skills through play’ and ‘why are girls toys so focused on female gender stereo types’? The reality is that all children who play only with toys intended for their gender are at a loss. Not only are girls unlikely to be given toys that provide scientific or engineering learning opportunities but boys are excluded from toys that give them the opportunity to learn social and emotional skills. ‘Boys have the best pick of toys’ I think to myself but I hadn’t taken into consideration that lots of the toys aimed at my children’s demograph promote violence. A simple answer to this is to present your children with a range of toys not specific to their gender however, this is also problematic. Because toy adverts are so gender specific, children are making important, long lasting assumptions about what gender roles mean to them. I try at length to explain to my children that you can play with whatever toys you want to and that toys are for children not boys or girls. It’s pretty clear that they’ve already made their minds up about a lot of social issues purely based on advertisements.” -RHIANNON
“I think despite the toy companies separating toys into gender categories it is really important for us as parents to ignore that and focus on what the toy itself can provide for your child: baby dolls – social/communication skills, how to care, role play, imagination. Same for dollhouses, action figures, dress up etc. Construction sets/building blocks- imagination, problem solving, logical thinking, self confidence/sense of achievement when completed. The lists go on and I believe every child regardless of gender should have the opportunity to gain these skills through play. My daughter was 2 when she first showed an interest in dinosaurs. I’m not even entirely sure why this as been typically deemed a boys interest, but I do wonder what if the first time she picked up a dinosaur in the toy shop I’d steered her away to buy a doll or something instead. 3 years later she is still obsessed, she knows the most incredible facts and we have learned so much together over this time. She enjoys looking up different species in encyclopedias, watching educational programmes, collecting her favourites and dressing up. Somehow I can’t see this level of interest ever taking place in most of the products aimed at girls, they seem to focus on fashion and looks and not a lot else which is really sad.” – CAT