Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Boys ironing and girls shooting nerf guns

Many of us have been spending time online or in stores shopping for gifts for loved ones lately. Much has been made of the "gendering" of toys, the color-coded packaging, the narrow boxes of behaviors that boys and girls are welcome to enjoy. The degree to which EVERYTHING is proscribed in this way can make even the most open-minded parent feel funny about shopping for their child in the "wrong" section.

Well, a Swedish toy manufacturer has done something really unusual. They published a catalog (filled with toys made by Toys 'R Us) that has pictures of boys and girls playing together with every toy. Click here to see some images. This was done voluntarily, but, according to the Wall Street Journal's blog, the toy store had been criticized by the national ad regulator for contributing to gender stereotypes with it's catalogs in the past.

Have you bought your child a toy that has been assigned by our culture to the opposite gender? How did that feel to you? How did your friends and family react? I think that changes like this one could take some of the pressure to follow "gender rules" off of us when it comes to getting toys for our children.

I wonder what would happen if we shared these photos with some of our older children. (Preschool teachers? Are you game?)



  1. Dear Kendra,

    I would be totally game for sharing the photos with our children. I would certainly provide some gratification on my part if the children were to notice the gender stereotypes and attempt to challenge them as we have had countless conversations regarding this topic. Do you still have the photos on hand?


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  3. My daughter (almost 4mos) is still too young for really gendered toys, by and large, and yet... I had one of my aunts promising/threatening to buy her Barbies weeks ago! I did my best to tell her no politely, but I'm not sure how well I succeeded.

    Tracy, Kendra, I want an update on how that circle time goes!

    In cahoots,
    ~Sasha (former PTCC infant/toddler teacher, and now stay-at-home mama)

  4. Sasha,

    It's interesting that you say that. We definitely got gendered toys for our newborn. (A set of chew toys and rattles that were modeled after tools for a little boy, for instance.)

    We had a great conversation about this in provocation once, about how to balance gratitude and acceptance "Thank you for this gift to the classroom! Thank you for thinking of us." with our principles as teachers, and our desires to control the materials available in our classrooms.

    Great to hear from you!

  5. This is actually my favorite post. I'd love and update on how the P2 children reacted to these images. Looking at the images myself they looked totally normal and the way I feel it should be.