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Happy Holidays (and Happy Gender Stereotyping) from Hasbro

Happy Holidays (and Happy Gender Stereotyping) from Hasbro

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.

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48 comments

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11:44AM PST on Jan 19, 2010

When our son (now 15) was a baby, we put him in white, yellow and green outfits. By the time our daughter came five years later, those colors were harder to find. Then last month, I was searching for a friend's new baby and tried to find the receiving blankets and sleepers we had loved for our babies, and could find them only in pink or blue. No white, yellow or green. (There were some really unappealing beige outfits, which I somewhat grudgingly settled for.) Some of the websites divided items for "boys" and "girls" without an "either" category. I was appalled that things have apparently taken several steps back in the "gender neutral" arena.
Toys seem to be the same, unfortunately.
I have to add that despite our best efforts at offering our son dolls and kitchen toys, he has always begged for cars and guns. He won't set foot in the kitchen. Our daughter, on the other hand, loves her dolls, lip gloss and helping around the house. She also used to play with her brother's cars a lot. She won't wear pink and she's a drummer.
If we want our kids to grow up without gender limitations, then we need to let Hasbro (and Carters and other children's manufacturers) know that we won't stand for this step backwards. They need to hear that separating merchandise for "boys" and "girls" reinforces sexist behavior and alienates kids and parents who would like to expand their growth potential.
Thanks for the story.

2:29PM PST on Dec 26, 2009

I used to play with cars as a child, but my dad complained to my mom to not let her play with that. I also heard a mother in a store say to her daughter you cannnot play with that. That is a boy's toy. I want to smack the mother in the face for saying that. I never had one baby doll ever growing up. My brother wanted to play with my pink barbie car, and my dad had a fit. I played with both boys and girls toys as a child.

10:01AM PST on Dec 17, 2009

There is no real issue with this, but why not look at the opposite side of the coin? My 3 year old son and my 2 year old son both watch Dora, because Diego is meant for older kids. Guess what color all Dora things are in? Pink. Guess how many Dora things are for boys? 10? 5? 1? Nope, zero! So my boys are into Dora but can't wear the hot pink, frilled sleeve and flower filled Dora shirt.

What about Ni Hao Ki Lan? They love this show. I have never had as many weird and angry people look at me as when we took advantage of a sale at Target and stocked up on Ki Lan things for my sons. They love Ki Lan and speak the Chinese they learn with the Chinese here at work. Why is all of Ki Lan's things and toys aimed at girls also?

Also, the reason why pictures show girls playing with dolls and boys with cars is even before any conditioning, boys like cars and turn down dolls. When my boys were not even one, when offered a doll or a car, they picked the cars. I didn't do anything and niether did my wife, so it was natural or instintual. If you gave me a doll like a baby alive or a RC car, I would play with the car. It has no gender conditioning at all. Boys like playing with cars and girls like dolls. I'm not being sexist or mean but take any two kids, one boy and one girl. Put a car and a doll in the room and see who goes for which.

9:08AM PST on Dec 16, 2009

Get the kids whatever kind of toys THEY want...whether it's boys wanting "boy toys" boys wanting "girl toys" girls wanting "girl toys" or girls wanting "boy toys", or some combination. The main problem I see is that the kids don't realize what effect the media has on them...if I were a parent, I'd employ TVo and skip the comercials (that way they're also less likley to be influence by fast food marketing).
Quick side note, when I was ten, I wanted makeup and a pocket knife.

8:13AM PST on Dec 16, 2009

I would have no problem buying my child something thats "for the other sex".

6:33AM PST on Dec 16, 2009

I forgot to say: it's the same with clothes. Go into a store and take a short look around. Right, the one side with all the pink, red and light blue colours is for girls, the dark blue, black and green clothes are for boys. When I was younger, I often ended up in the boy's department, where I found many of my later favourite T-shirts and jackets.

6:29AM PST on Dec 16, 2009

I noticed that too, and it is a real problem. In all the catalogues there are girls playing happily with pink dolls and boys playing with cars. Why can't a girl also play with cars, be interested in adventures or like football? I also got angry about this book you mentioned, I saw it before and I always ask myself why only boys should know how to build a house in a tree or how to survive in the wilderness. There is a similar book for girls (http://www.daringbookforgirls.com/), that doesn't look as interesting, starting from the pink cover. But at least there IS such a book...
Anyway, toys should be produced for children, not for boys or girls. And the searching option "for both" should be changed immediately. I think this is an insult for all girls or women who visit this site.

5:52AM PST on Dec 16, 2009

my daughter got lego, matador a brio train,music instruments,puzzles,books and a barbie and ken.she`s still mad at me because she didn`t get her baby doll 20 yrs. ago.oh well!

5:29AM PST on Dec 16, 2009

Interesting. I just purchased a gift for my 2-year old granddaughter. On her wishlist (made by her mommy), there were only PINK's (princess dressup and etc...). So I got her something I thought any 2-year old would love... a sturdy wooden farm tractor and trailer with little farm animals.

5:28AM PST on Dec 16, 2009

HasBRO shouldn't that just say it all. What a shame they just don't get it!!!

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Lindsay Spangler Lindsay Spangler is a Web Editor and Producer for Care2 Causes. A recent UCLA graduate, she lives in... more
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