In celebration of Pride Month we have a blog post about how toys and gender roles work in a new era.
You must have heard it, blue is for boys and pink is for girls, or race car toys are for boys and Barbie is for girls. Nowadays, in a world that’s changing faster than ever, toys should not define gender roles. In this blog post we will be talking about how toys can influence children about gender roles, how parents can help with broadening children’s minds and how the toy industry should change to help defying the stigma.
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Let’s say, you are at the toy shop and your son is asking for a doll instead of a race car toy. As a parent, it is important to have an open mind and not be dismissive of this choice. According to research, before children know about gender roles, they do not see the distinction between toys that are meant for certain genders. It is mostly the society that teaches them that. Therefore, parents need to tell their children that no matter what kind of gender you are or even non-binary, you can play with any toy you want to.
All in all, it is important to teach children that it is okay to play with all kinds of toys. Seeing that all of them are good for every child. Masculine toys are good to develop creativity, competitiveness, teamwork, and strategic thinking. For example, a group of children is going to play laser tag, a fun game for everyone. While laser tag is probably mostly associated with boys and masculine features, do not just think of it as a game just for boys, but share the experience with everybody and just see what their reaction is. When children will like something or not, they will let you know. Let’s say the situation is turned around. So for example, dolls for boys. Normally dolls are seen as nurturing, domestic skills, it creates empathy and more, but this does not mean that these aspects are not suitable for boys. All of them are a crucial part of their social development and will, in the long run, help them in life. Both boys and girls will benefit from playing with all sorts of toys.
But how can the toy industry help these gender roles break down? There are some big companies who are actually already doing something about it. For example, one of the biggest toy companies has announced that they will be bringing out a line of gender-neutral humanoid dolls. Meaning that these can be both girl and boy. With these changes, the company is trying to show that they are aware of the changes in the society. Another example of the past that they have done was to include more races in their dolls. Another example the toy industry can do is not to make such a difference in ‘boy toys and girl toys’. When you enter a toy store you immediately know which aisle is for the girls and which is for the boys, usually this is because of colour. So if the toy industry would not focus so much on this aspect, the toy store would be a much more inviting place for everyone.
In the end, we all have our roles in educating children about gender roles. It is up to us to not be hung up about gender roles, because in the end we are all just human. Happy Pride Month from everybody here at Skirby!
How toys became gendered - and why it’ll take more than a gender-neutral doll to change how boys perceive femininity
By: Megan K. Maas
Sparkle Unicorns and Fart Ninjas: What Parents Can Do About Gendered Toys
By: Anya Kamenetz, Cory Turner
Should Toys be Gender Specific?
Gender, toys and learning
By: Becky Francis
What the Research Says: Gender-Typed Toys
By: Professor Blakemore