This post is sponsored by John Lewis
Take the recent campaign by feminist blogger Laura Nelson to get London toy shop Hamley’s to remove ‘sexist’ signs that divide toys by gender, a story that hit the headlines just before Christmas.
The store was forced to change its blue and pink signage to more gender neutral red and white. Hamleys now categorises its toys by interest and type, rather than sex,according to the Mirror.
So what is so wrong with dividing toys in this way? After all, it’s something we’ve been doing for years, (and something I’m definitely guilty of myself, as the mother of two boys). Laura explains it as such: “My concern (is that) that gender segregation restricted children’s and parents’ choices and influenced the development of skills and aspirations of children, contributing to society’s inequality.”
Reading that statement really made me think about my attitude to my own boys, the toys I buy them and the activities I choose for us to do. Am I guilty of gender stereotyping?
My eldest loves role play games with his monsters and Fireman Sam toys – but is that innate, or something we’ve pushed him into by discarding all the other possibilities? In fact, thinking back to when he was two, he loved putting dolls into toy pushchairs whenever we went to playgroup. I never discouraged it, but never thought to buy him a doll or pram to play with at home. Similarly, we don’t have a toy oven or any ‘home-corner’ type toys, although he does enjoy helping me cook.
So from now on I’m resolving to become more attuned to all the different kinds of play we can do together, and not just to discount things I feel he won’t be interested in on gender lines. This year we’ll be adding a dance class to go along with his football lessons, and looking at other things to play with.
Maybe we could add a new element to role-play games with his monsters, where Spiderman has a home and child to look after? It may make the whole experience more enjoyable for me, too.
So what do you think?
Do we inadvertently contribute to the gender stereotyping that are children are brought up with?
As a mother of 3 girls I have actively tried to provide a broad range of toys and activities for them to play with. I hope this will help develop a healthy attitude to what boys and girls can do and ultimately help equip them to deal with a world that still feels a need to categorise so many things based on gender.
I feel a blog post coming on 🙂
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