It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and boys and girls across the land are two weeks away from receiving their hearts’s content. Just make sure you get the boys the boy toys, and the girls the girl toys.
The marketing of boy and girl toys is something I’ve grown much more sensitive to ever since I had a daughter two years ago. This year I’ve made a special effort to put “boy” toys on her Christmas/Birthday list (a combined effort, due to a December 12th birthday). I’ve inundated her with cars, animals and books (yes, even this one) to make sure that she’s not simply surrounded by my Pretty Ponies and baby dolls.
One toy I swore I would stay away though from was Chuck the Talking Truck. It wasn’t my choice. After all, the manufacturer says he’s only for boys. Pulling up the Hasbro Tonka website, you have two gender options for searching toys: Boys, or Both. I can see possibly why they would see no need to make a “Girl” section, but why bother to have a boy section in the first place? Wouldn’t all toys be “both”? Not so shocking, however, when you consider the source.
Hasbro’s main website takes you to a girl section leading with “Baby Alive” while their boy section is filled with “GI JOE.” It’s not just my own perception. Their Chuck marketing campaign couldn’t be more clear that they do not want me buying this toy for my daughter. The word boy or son is repeated frequently in their promotional video. It couldn’t be more purposefully alienating if it tried. After all, how hard would it have been to shoot the exact same commercial and simply a gender neutral word like “child”?
For those who are also looking for less stereotype endorsing toys for the holidays, Feministing has a link to a website that shows girls playing hard with toys typical advertised as “for the boys.” As for me, I’ll probably just be buying more dress-up clothes for my daughter. She likes to pretend she’s her favorite cartoon character. And yes, he is a boy.