>The adverts directed at children often bemuse me. The toys for girls are an intoxicating, sickening variation of pink. The toys for girls are often dolls to encourage maternal nurturing, plastic kitchens (because that’s a woman’s rightful place?), tea cup sets, princess dress up sets. It is in a word ‘pretty’. If you are not into pretty then you would be forgiven for questioning what do these toys say to girls? What do they promote to them? Should you be concerned? I wouldn’t worry personally, I would applaud her rejection of such stereotypical playthings but that is just me. I am a bit of a free spirit!
Meanwhile, in boy world you have a variation of blue. Here you will find an array of vehicles, battle ships, trains, weapons and construction kits galore. Boys are expected to enjoy these rather noisy and disorderly toys. What if your boy really enjoys colouring in quietly, reading books or what if he enjoys more creative pursuits? I know my boys adore Lego and cars but will equally colour in for hours chatting to each other.
My pet peeve is this deliberate separation of boy and girl world. If you have all boys or all girls, these opposing worlds can seem rather alarming. They are completely at odds with one another. Stand in boy world in a shop and peer over at girl world. It looks like a strange and unusual land from where you stand. Perhaps it is Narnia? Or is it fairy land? I am sure if you stood in girl world, boy world would look equally surreal. It can make you feel that boys and girls are from different worlds and they can never surely be friends let alone grow up and fall in love!
My question is how can we ever truly be equals as man and woman if we continue to separate boys and girls so intentionally? Once the blue and pink worlds are over how do women and men then engage with each other after very different child hoods. How can they understand each other better?
Why do we separate? Why do we allow marketers and organisations to promote such differences in our very vulnerable children? Why do we not encourage positive differences in our children? Such as, who they are as individual people and not what is between their legs. Why is gender so important to society? Why do we treat boys and girls differently? Surely they are just all children?
It is true that boys do appear to enjoy construction toys and cars. But I do wonder if a girl was given just cars to play with and she was never given the option of dolls would she ever seek out dolls? Are our children conditioned by society? Or are our children only doing what is natural to them and the advertisers are simply following suit?
We are nearly in 2011. Women have fought to vote, work and they are still fighting for equal pay. Women are gusty. Women are strong. Women have voices. They are not the delicate flowers portrayed by the media or toy manufactors. How can we continue to empower the future generation of young women? Perhaps I am a closet feminist? How can we encourage nurturing in little boys? After all, more and more men are hands on with their babies. Maybe we need to look carefully at what these toys say to our children or maybe we can just continue to ignore what they mean and let the kids play in blissful ignorance?
Please do discuss your thoughts in the comments belows…