‘Girls Toys’ vs ‘Boys Toys’
Purchased: A trolley load of Christmas presents.
‘OK, I’m going to stop you all right there, because I think I know that you’re thinking’..
- It’s only November!
- An (entire) shopping trolley load? That’s a bit excessive don’t you think, materialistic much?!
- Who cares? Why are you telling us this?
Well, valid points. So to explain,
the presents weren’t for me, nor for the tribe of kids I have hanging off me everyday.
They were instead bought to be given to a charity. Miss Charlie’s school has a sister school, a less fortunate school overseas, who they sponsor and support. Her school sends over old library books, previous edition text books, school uniforms, stationary, sporting equipment and a bunch of other stuff. They also suggest that the school community get involved with extra fundraisers and give what they can.
Miss Charlie, being the full-of-ideas and generous-of-heart
little big girl who I’ve come to admire, has decided that this Christmas she wants to give the kids of her sister school presents. She wants them to be happy and thankful and lucky just like she is and seeing as she’s in Year 1 at an all girls school, she has decided that the presents should be for girls around the same age as her. ‘Sorry boys, I guess you’re either still on the naughty list or you’ve still got cooties’.
Great idea we thought, so I went out and loaded up with a fairly major selection of toys, games, craft sets, pens & pencils, books and more. That afternoon when she came home from school, Miss C went straight to the dining table, now heavily laden with shopping bags. I had thought I may run into issues at this point, now that the toys were there for all to see and for the temptation to be ignited. Because it was all very good for her to suggest such a charitable idea, but would it still be so easy to support when faced with shiny, brand new toys and the promise of hours of fun. ‘It appears however that I had underestimated her, yet again.’ She proceeded to inspect each item, giving a running commentary of its uses and appropriateness. She was filled with genuine excitement knowing that other girls her age would soon be giggling and smiling as they played skip rope or charades or crafts.
We sent them off and happy days.
However, my little shopping experience had re-highlighted an issue that has been on my mind for some time now (and it seems on most other people’s minds after the seriously impressive advert from GoldieBlox went crazy on social media this past week). The idea behind it being to fuel the minds of our young girls, to provide them with toys and creative opportunity that goes beyond the cliché of dolls and Barbies, ‘to disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers‘. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, you can watch it here.
Because, as I perused the aisles selecting gifts, I saw first hand just how selective the market for ‘girls toys’ really is.
I thought, just because my criteria (girls, aged 3-6 years-old) was set, did that mean I couldn’t buy the shiny hot wheels car, or a football, or the magicians set that had a picture of a grinning boy on the front?
Why did I have to limit my options to pink and purple?
Why did I have to stick to the glitter and beads, colouring pencils and secret diaries?
Why could I not choose the DIY Garden Set or the Real-Life-Telescope?
And why must they have pictures of boys on the packaging?
It was made personal when I saw the SuperSoaker Water Gun marketed as “the ultimate boys warfare”… – Pretty sure I spent hours challenging my brother with these growing up (and still do!) and ‘hey, I love my pretty skirts and makeup just as much as the next girl!’
The same goes for Miss Charlie, she’s no-little-princess-with-pretty-pink-bows-in-her-hair. She’s got a firing curiosity for all things science, DIY, animal related, creative, inventive and imaginative. Anything that holds the possibility of a “Why Question” is hers for the taking. And take it she will. Yet, despite this, she’ll also quite ferociously beg me for anything pink, sparkly and/or sticker related if given half the chance.
So, where does Miss Charlie fit in this demographic of carefully marketed toys?
I’m still unsure of this answer, because within the realms of the children’s toy market, I don’t like the answer implied. Luckily for me, I already found her Christmas present months ago. I took the chance when I happened across the perfect gift, knowing full well that I’d be left with little choice amongst the pink aisles when Christmas approached. What’s rather telling, and rather worrying, is that I had to take this necessary action. And so I’m left with these questions,
Why have we happily allowed it to become so black and white?
What is a ‘boys toy’? And who says girls can’t play with it?
Why do we let the powers of marketing sway our purchase choices?
More so, why do we give them the power to decide what our kids should play with?
And, why is (anyone) dictating what our kids should play with? Shouldn’t they decide? They are after all, the ones who will be playing with them!