Should we Avoid Gender Stereotype Toys?

Traditionally there has been a strong distinction between girls’ toys and boys’ toys. But in today’s modern world, should gender-specific toys be avoided?

Yes – Bethan
The notion that girls should play with dolls while boys play with cars is so out-dated. I don’t think toys these days should be marketed as being either for girls or boys – surely it’s better just to make all toys suitable for anyone. After all, why wouldn’t a girl enjoy playing with cars or forts – just as boys can play with dressing-up sets?

Toys traditionally have reflected the sort of adults we expect children to grow up to be. So a century ago, boys would have been given a toy gun while girls would have had a doll. But we’re not living in the past – today girls can aspire to becoming mechanics or engineers, or join the army just like boys. And most modern men take on their fair share of household chores so toys should reflect the progress society has made in sexual equality rather than just reinforcing outdated stereotypes.

The main problem that I have is that toys that are marketed as ‘girls’ toys tend to suggest that the only things girls should be interested in are make-up, baking, cleaning, and having babies. Meanwhile, boys get to be super-heroes or play with exciting, noisy toys that actually do something. I hate the fact that my daughter’s bedroom is a sea of pink and sparkles – she’s not a Disney princess but all the toys she gets given seem to assume that’s what she should aspire to be.

No – Sheila
We’ve always had different types of toys for girls and boys and that’s simply because they enjoy playing with different things. My granddaughters all love playing with dolls while my grandsons prefer cars. There’s nothing wrong in buying children toys that they will enjoy playing with but it seems to be fashionable now to ignore tradition. Why can’t we simply embrace the differences between the sexes rather than always trying to force boys and girls to like the same things?

Toys are more than just play things – they help to prepare children for adult life. In the past when boys played with guns, it was to prepare them for war. Meanwhile, girls would play with dolls because they would one day become a mother. I appreciate that times have changed but the fundamental differences between men and women still exist.

People seem to object girls’ toys in particular because they focus on being a housewife and mother – but what’s wrong with that? Criticising toys such as kitchen sets, ironing boards and dolls seems to be suggesting that there is something inferior about being a housewife and mother. No-one criticises boys’ toys in the same way. I think it would be better for modern parents to celebrate traditional girls’ toys as reinforcing the importance of women’s roles rather than criticising them.

Finally, from a practical point of view, I know when I buy toys for children, it’s always easier to choose an appropriate gift when they are clearly marketed for boys or girls.

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