Gender, Toys, and Messages They Send

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Thursday’s Gender Thoughts: Another great post by Anita Sarkesian from Feminist Frequency, who creates video blogs on gender as it is presented in the media. She does an amazing job comparing toys for boys and girls and listing for each the messages these ads and toys send. It will change the way you shop for Christmas!

What do you think? Has this video changed your perspective? Are toys just toys, or is there a deep-seated message being sent to our children via the toys we give them?

Copyright© 2010 by Marina DelVecchio. All Rights Reserved.

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About Marina DelVecchio

Marina is a writer who focuses her work on the need for female empowerment. She writes articles, books, and blogs centered on female experiences related to motherhood, female agency, feminism, and building positive images for young girls and women. She currently teaches Literature, Writing, and Women's Studies on the College level.

6 Responses to Gender, Toys, and Messages They Send

  1. Hiroko says:

    I also read your article, Ten Empowering Christmas Gifts for Girls.
    Like you, I do not like media, commercials and gender specific toys.
    However, I really don’t think the problem is the toys. I think it’s the value the child’s parents have. Yes, toys influence them because they were bought by their parents and reflect their value.
    As a social worker, I am fully aware of societal influence. Yes, we cannot get away from it. However, I have to say that the family and parents should be the ones who teach children value.
    I also do not like how you say being successful means becoming a lawyer, doctor or getting a degree. Yes, having a degree and great career are very important. However, being successful in our life means having strength to be happy no matter what, and this is what our children to develop most.

    • Hi Hiroko, thank you for commenting. I agree with you on a number of points. The reason the the media, marketers, toy industries, and commercials get away with what they are doing — exploiting kids and young girls and perpetuating old-fashioned notions of femininity — is because parents don’t do anything about it. Once we all turn off out televisions and stop buying toys, then our message will be sent and they will have to revamp their selling strategies. Parents have the most impact upon their children, but most of them don’t see beyond the surface of these things and most of them buy into these gendered notions because like their kids, they have been conditioned to believe in this way. This is how racism, sexism, and stereotypes continue to persist in all societies.

      I don’t imply that success is derived from having degrees or being doctors and lawyers. In fact, stats show that women dominate in these fields, and actually get more degrees than men — but not in the sciences, mathematics, and technology. These fields are still dominated by men. I am an educator, and therefore, I believe that all economic success and independence comes from being educated. In the US, having a degree gives you an upper hand in most fields. You can be happy without these things — but education enlightens, educates, and provides individuals with the proper skills that make one ready to combat life’s precarious roads.

  2. Hiroko says:

    Hi,
    I also read your article, Ten Empowering Christmas Gifts for Girls.
    Like you, I do not like media, commercials and gender specific toys.
    However, I really don’t think the problem is the toys. I think it’s the value the child’s parents have. Yes, toys influence them because they were bought by their parents and reflect their value.
    As a social worker, I am fully aware of societal influence. Yes, we cannot get away from it. However, I have to say that the family and parents should be the ones who teach children value most.
    I also do not like how you imply being successful means becoming a lawyer, doctor or getting a degree. Yes, having a degree and great career are very important. However, being successful in our life means having strength to be happy no matter what, and this is what our children to develop most.

  3. Pingback: Marina Delvecchio

  4. AJ says:

    When you’re a military superpower, there are certain advantages to teaching boys to embrace violence.

  5. Helaine says:

    OMG. Didnt realize how blatant it is! I just wish they would show a commercial of how a “real” girl plays with these toys. I have no experience with how boys really play with their toys at home so i can not comment on that… But i do know my daughter uses her barbies as boomerangs, her play doh molds that make flowers are never really flowers but buildings or traps. I noticed even Hungry Hungry Hippo comes in two versions, a pastel pinky one and a more bold colored one. We have the bolder one but when we visited my daughters friends house yesterday, she had the pink one. My daughter didnt notice the difference, all she wanted to do was slam those hippos down and send the marbles flying through the air!
    I know she is only five and these commercials will affect her way of Play but I also am proud to say My daughter does not use her “girlie” toys conventionally, and i dont encourage her to. Its ok for barbie to be a boomerang, as long as it doesnt break anything in my living room, same would have gone for a boys nerf toy.
    All very interesting and sad for our girls. Theres almost no escaping it on TV but we can teach them better!

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