Gender Roles and Children’s Toys

Recently I have had a lot of dispute with my friends (female and male) about the types of toys we should choose for our children. On a world wide spectrum, society says I should give my son toys such as trains, guns, wrestlers, and tools and those of us with girls should give them makeup, barbies, and cooking utensils. My son does have these toys but once I mentioned getting him an Easy Bake Oven is when the dispute began. Of course the males said absolutely no, some of the females were for and some were against. I believe that some toys/activities for children that are categorized as masculine or feminine are completely gender neutral. The Easy Bake Oven is a kitchen appliance. Males cook as well as females but since society says a woman’s place is the kitchen is it automatically associated with women and feminosity. I can say that there has been some change in world views recently. When I was a child the original oven was pink. A few years ago, I started  to see blue and pink ones with both boys and girls featured on the box. This made me happy that someone opened their eyes to the fact that there is nothing wrong with boys and this toy. They love it just as well as the girls do. A recent  interview NAEYC conducted with a professor from Connecticut University supports gender neutral toys for the development of children’s physical, cognitive, academic, musical, and artistic skills but what do we use to distinguish what is “for boys” “for girls” or “for both”? Do we follow the norms? Go with what the church says? Or create our own morals and values and live by those?

24 thoughts on “Gender Roles and Children’s Toys

  1. This is a topic I have found very interesting. But ultimately, this decision is up to the parent, whether they receive backlash or not. From the moment a woman is pregnant and finds out the sex of her child, they get labeled pink or blue and that right away feeds into gender roles. We as society make assumptions as to what the child will enjoy based on its sexual organs. The fact that blue easy baked ovens are being made is wonderful, but there should be nothing wrong with a male child playing with a pink easy baked oven. Companies can chose to make gendered toys more gender neutral, but the real problem lies with us believing a toy is gendered in the first place.

  2. “For both” that’s my say. I have heard a lot about this topic recently due to Target making a neutral toy section instead of having the boys and girl separate. I have heard many parents give their opinions on this subject and the overwhelming reply is no matter if toys in a store are separated by boy/girl sections they will ultimately buy the toys they think their son/ daughter should be playing with. I love your ideas on the whole matter of the Easy Bake oven. Both boys and girls cook as adults and so why not let them both play with the toy? In the end, if a boy wants to play with a toy that is usually bought for girls or vise versa… let them. The decision to let them play with what they want isn’t going to be a huge factor into the life of the child. Gender roles are in such a bright spotlight in society today but if parents are doing their part in helping with overall identity as a child is growing, by explaining to a child societal placed roles, what is the harm?

  3. I’ve always thought this was an interesting topic. It just doesn’t make sense to me how someone could think that letting children play with certain toys will dramatically affect the kids future. I don’t think there is a such thing as a toy solely “for a girl” or “for a boy”. I don’t see anything wrong with letting boys play with a typical “girl” toy like a Barbie. Nor do I see anything wrong with letting girls play with racecars and other objects that are generally thought of as “boy” toys.

  4. I do believe that we should know when to divide the two. I see nothing wrong with your son playing with an Easy Bake oven. Like you said, men cook just as women. So, what is the problem…he could grow up to be a famous chef. We should not stunt our children’s growth based off societies opinions. Teach your child the difference between the two and what is expected of a boy vs girl. Ultimately, we have to teach our children to think independently and help them grow.

  5. This is a very controversial and hot topic within today’s society. Just recently I watched a video that has gone viral all over the country concerning children’s toys and gender roles. The video was posted by Mikki Willis and in this video, Willis’ son took back a toy to a local toy store where his father allowed him to choose a new one. Upon his choosing, his son decided that he wanted a mermaid doll, what most people would consider a little girl’s toy. Willis approved of his son’s selection and that was that. Now Mikki Willis is not your ordinary average joe. He is an award winning filmmaker/humanitarian. Willis is also respected internationally as an innovator of socially and environmentally conscious media. After Willis had posted this video, a man named Joshua, who is also a social media spectacle, created a video of his own in response to his viewing Willis’ video. Joshua, being a family man with multiple children both boys and girls, decided to put give his opinion on Willis’ choice to allow his son to pick out a “girls toy”. Joshua’s video featured his disapproval towards Willis’ decision by saying such things as “really? Since when do kids make good choices. We live in a society that kids are supposed to make choices like that and that we are not suppose to choose for them, but let them express themselves.” He then went on to say that he has been training his young son on how to use a firearm and proper safety to go along with using a gun. The video featured his son shooting the gun. Also Joshua went on to say that he does not believe in gender neutrality. He said he was also training his two daughters how to use guns as well. Willis then sent Joshua a message requesting to set up a conference to talk where he was intercepted by CBS. CBS invited both parties to talk on their show called “The Doctors”. I decided to share all this to show how controversial this issue is within our nation and even internationally. I believe there is an underlying issue associated with this controversy, that being the fear of homosexuality being associated with gender roles. This has been a very controversial issue for as long as we can remember and still is to this day. I believe that whether or not you believe that it is up to the child to express their individualism or ultimately up to the parents to make these kind of decisions, the issue will remain within our society as long as there are gender based toys.

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