When people purchase a pram and read the instruction manual to ensure they understand how to use it properly and safely, I am sure it isn’t written anywhere in that manual “Must have a vagina to operate.”

NO. It Isn’t.

When the kitchen plumbing floods and no one in the house can fix it, I don’t think they had “must have a penis to be booked for the job” as a prerequisite when they made the call the local plumbing company.

NO. They didn’t.

So why does a person’s genitalia determine what they can and cannot do with their life?

It all starts in the home because – parents. No, wait. Because marketing. Really, really damn good marketing over many, many years.

In the 80’s (and in the decades before) Christmas looked like this:

gender stereotyping

WHERE IS THE PINK?!

Oh that’s right, there was no pink in the 80’s because kids were recognised as kids, not penises or vaginas to be marketed at for their parent’s money…. Ok, that’s not entirely true. They WERE marketed at for their parent’s money, but they weren’t given a specific colour for it yet damn it!

In the 80’s we drank water from garden hoses, street lights meant it was time to go home, smart phones were called telephones, they still had cords attaching you to the wall and you had to use a turn-dial to call a phone number, whaaaa?! Cap guns, no shoes and ‘Team Cyndi’ or ‘Team Madonna’.

Then along came the marketing jerk genius that decided to make money on gender stereotypes;

*          Men = Blue. We will make them manly and strong.

*          Women = Pink. We will make them helpless and pretty.

For years women have been putting up a bloody good fight for equality, to be given the same respect as our male counterparts for the contributions we make in our community and society as a whole, as equal human beings. There once was a time when women were not able to vote, work or drive cars so you can appreciate how far this hard work for equality has gotten us considering I am writing this to you after driving my car to work and CHOOSING to not vote for Tony Abbott. Despite these and many more successes woman have had in previous years, this blatant gender discrimination continues to carry on in 2015 with the help of you and me. It happens every single time we purchase a toy for our children.

You will often notice science and construction kits, puzzles, machines and sport orientated toys are aimed at boys in blue, black or red packaging and prams, dolls, craft kits and play kitchens are aimed at girls in pink, white and purple packaging. We continue to feed gender discrimination in our society by following the Blue and Pink tradition and ultimately this tells our kids they are only worthy of the colours we paint them with “Little girls are supposed to sit back, expect to be waited on and look pretty while little boys are supposed to be men, have no feelings and not help around the house”. There are many people who strongly oppose when they see little boys playing with dolls and prams, many commenting it will turn the boy gay and so they encourage play with only boy toy stereotypes. There are also many people who strongly oppose when they see girls playing in the mud with trucks and batman figurines, many commenting it is not lady like and so they encourage play with only girl toy stereotypes.

Kids love to play and mimic what they see in everyday life.

Daddies DO cook and clean. Mummies DO work and get their hands dirty.

Our roles as parents are no longer stereotypical to that of the 1950’s ideal that marketers and toy manufacturers still seem to believe, or still want us to believe, is the everyday normality. What they don’t know is that we parents and our children are wising up to their shitty ways and we don’t like the baloney they are selling to us.

The full development of our children strongly depends on the variety of play options available to them such as physical and language development, literacy and maths, social development and expressive arts and design.

By forcing our children into the pigeon holes of blue and pink excluding them from the various toys and play that encourages fine motor skills, problem solving skills, spatial skills, social skills and perseverance, toy manufacturers and marketers are limiting our children’s complete development.

There was a story recently of a young girl who received a LEGO Friends Juice Bar kit. The packaging is clearly marketed at young girls with over emphasising the colour purple, female only LEGO characters and complete with a butterfly and lover heart dotting the ‘I’ in the toy’s title.

gender stereotyping lego

The young girl clearly didn’t think much of the original product’s intention and went against conforming to the instructions of building a ‘pretty’ girly juice bar, instead creating a terrific weapon yielding, fire blasting robot.

The post of her creation went viral receiving over 320,000 views on Imgur and shared across other social media sites.

gender stereotyping lego juicebar robot

There are some excellent gender stereotype breaking role models such as this and more around the world that we should be proud of, in occupations dominated by a specific sex.

More commonly known are;

  • Marissa Mayer, a female CEO of Yahoo Inc.
  • Cheryl Sandberg, a female Chief Operating Office of Facebook
  • Peter Morrissey, Karl Lagerfield, Alex Perry and Gok Wan to name a few male designers in a stereotypically female industry, and although they are not famous for it there are plenty of men in a typical female role such as nursing, child care, office support or flight attending.

Why deny our sons and daughters the opportunity to break gender stereotypes of roles typically meant for the opposite sex if it means they are reaching their own personal happiness and fulfilment?

I want my son to grow up knowing it is ok for a man to be in touch with his feelings, it is ok for a man to stay home to care for his children and it is ok for a man to follow his heart if working in a female dominated role is what he deeply desires, all whilst he is jumping in mud puddles, catching bugs and pretending to be a monster truck driver because that is the type of kid he is.

I want my future daughter to grow up not knowing of gender inequality. I want her to know she will earn the same as a man doing the same job, I want her to know it is ok to not want to be only beautiful, I want her to know it is ok to work hard and get her hands dirty and I want her to know it is ok to follow her heart if working in a male dominated role is what she deeply desires, all whilst she is having tea parties, playing dress ups and playing monster trucks with her brother because that is probably the type of kid she is going to be.

A toy department should be sectioned by age appropriateness and theme, not colour, for our children to flourish and reach their absolute full potential.

Can we please return to the days of non-gender specific coloured toys? The plethora of yellows, greens, reds, white and oranges complemented with a mix of blues, pinks and purples would be just dandy, and it isn’t asking for much.

If you, like me, wish for our children to have the opportunity to be themselves and play with any toy they prefer regardless of a toy’s function or colour, without fear of being ridiculed for their choices, you can sign my petition here demanding toy manufacturers change their marketing and colour branding of their toys.

Blue is for boys AND girls. Pink is for girls AND boys.

Am I right??

www.change.org/p/toy-manufacturers-toy-retailers-end-gender-stereotyping-for-toy-marketing

 

Author

Kim is 29 years old. She has been with her husband for 15 years and married for 8. They have a son who is a cheeky toddler constantly testing their parenting abilities. She loves gardening, eating, bootcamp and sleeping. She hates rude people, alarm clocks and buying cards for presents.

4 Comments

  1. Elaine Smith Reply

    I really loved reading this piece. It is thought provoking and extremely well written! If people really read this and understand what you are trying to say I think everyone will appreciate your thoughts as they are so true!!!! Excellent read!!!!!

  2. Julia Moules Reply

    My boys wanted a toy kitchen to play in and i had to search high and low fir one that wasnt pink!! I must admit my partner got my daughter a special pink tonka truck so her brothers wouldnt steal it.

  3. Totally agree that toys are not just for boys OR girls, but for both.
    My eldest daughter, while absolutely loving pink and pretty dresses/clothes and having a definite shoe fetish, has LOVED cars and trucks since she was very small.

    I grew up having a lot of toy cars and trucks and while my sister and I had a large barbie collection, we had an equally large Lego collection and both got used equally as much.

    I hate that it’s so hard to find a non-pink outfit for barbie for my daughter! I’ve been trying to find a fireman outfit for her Barbies too, as she loves firemen and rescue people. Also try finding a race car outfit/race car barbie that doesn’t have a pink helmet.

    As for the new Lego Friends things, what was wrong with having Lego females who were the same size and everything as the male ones? Why do the girls now get these larger, totally different and in my opinion, uglier Lego figures?
    Absolutely love that little girl who didn’t approve of the Lego friends thing she received! Her robot is awesome!!

  4. Tracey Hall Reply

    My boys were brought up with non sexist toys. When number two was trying to use my adult size broom and mop I brought him a child size. I was told this was wrong, I did not care he was happy with them and it was a lot safer for all. My boys have had dolls but as one put it they are figurines. So a baby doll is a baby figurine, I do not care, they are happy. The child who played with what are considered girls toys is a father and husband who helps with the cleaning if maybe a bit too much for his partner’s liking. My grand daughter has trucks, construction toys and other boy type toys. She is happy and does not stop her from playing with other girl like toys. Each child should be allowed to to play with age appropriate toys whether we think them boy or girl. My oldest at 4yo breast feed his teddy because he could, he was copying me as I was doing it with his younger brother. Should i had stopped this no as he was learning about life and all children need to know what ever they do it is ok to do something that is considered a male/female job.

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