Aren’t toys supposed to be fun?

Toys for little girls are outrageous. In my search for the perfect present for my stepdaughter, I found that most toys could be sorted in one of two categories:

1) Homemaker

2) Superficial and borderline-inappropriate

I’m aware that toys are genderizing agents, but for goodness’ sake, I found a pink washer and dryer set. In case you’re unaware, laundry is not fun. Mind you, neither is changing diapers or burping babies, but here we are.

I’m reminded of the game “pick-up kangaroo,” a ploy that adults in my life would use to make cleaning a fun activity. (That’s how I was tricked into cleaning my room, until I wised up and started asking for money). Pick-up kangaroo was useful. The place was a mess, it needed cleaning. I made the mess, I was asked to clean it up. See? Useful.

But the washer and dryer sets, the child care dolls, the grocery carts and the mini pots and pans all represent responsibilities that don’t even exist for these children yet. In real life, doing all of that stuff sucks. It’s annoying. It’s hard work. I do it because I need to, not because I actually enjoy doing it.

Please note that no such toys exist for little boys-yet another pain in my side. There you go girls, not only are you going to learn to like doing the housework, but you’re going to learn to do it by yourself, because your male counterparts grew up liking other things, things outside the home, things that have contributed to their intelligence and ingenuity.

And that’s not all, girls are reminded to look beautiful while enjoying their duties. If it’s not child rearing, it’s make-up, jewelry, dress-up, etc. A small victory: the Bratz dolls are gone. One less image of sex kittens for five year olds.

So what did I end up buying her?

-Littlest Pet Shop play sets

-A race car mat with Hot Wheels

-Princess shoes

I don’t want her to play with just boy toys, because I want to her to fit in with her peers. That said, I can’t, in good conscience, give her the things that are marketed for her demographic.  There’s no winning.

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10 thoughts on “Aren’t toys supposed to be fun?

  1. for boys toys wouldn’t things like construction toys like trucks and diggers or little fake-carpentry toys count? I would think so since they also glamorize a gendered depiction of adult life, which is really just a drag. That being said, it’s much worse for girls.

  2. @mikes A good point, although I don’t know how many men are expected to get into a trade. Still, there are definitely expectations or guys to be handy around the house.

    @Alex Not yet, but it’s something I’m starting. She tells me that I am her stepmother, so I thought it’s time to reciprocate.

  3. I also bought Littlest Pet Shop stuff for my soon-to-be niece. I was a big fan of My Little Pony as a girl and still am (Sugarplum is guarding my bedroom when I leave for work). I wish it was more popular… did Bratz really get canned? Seriously?? You’re right about them being an image of a sex kitten for girls – appalling.

  4. I love the idea of ‘building/creative’ toys for girls and boys (hey, that rhymes!) Lego (not the ‘you must build it this way kits) or any other set that allows for creativity and adaptation.

    Also, girls tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to sports. Some girls would likely love to have a new hockey stick, indoor nerf basketball set, etc.

  5. @Kathryn Yeah, there was a huge legal battle over the creative ownership of Bratz (MGA vs Mattel). Mattel won and now it’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen to them. I heard they got canned, but who knows?

    Read this: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-bratz4-2008dec04,0,6761545.story?track=rss

    @PRJack I couldn’t agree more. Even the sports equipment I have seen for wee gals has been pink. PINK! “Here’s a soccer ball, Jane, but remember, YOU’RE A GIRL!”

  6. I bought my girls blue & white iceskates, zoobs an updated version of legos, nerf gun with target, and pixos. All multigender toys. My girls are not girlie and like littlest pet shop but enjoy these other items better.

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