Should toys be gender-neutral?

As reported on MSNBC http://video.today.msnbc.msn.com/today/50128136/#50128136, Mattel and other toy companies are now turning to more gender-neutral marketing tactics to sell toys to children, so boys are being shown playing with what was historically known as “girls” toys and vice versa.

This is definitely a step forward for a more open and accepting society, but it does seem to come at somewhat of a cost.  For this new gender-neutral marketing to work, these companies need to rid themselves of colors and models that speak to a certain gender like blue for boys or pink for girls. In “the Social Construction of Gender,” Judith Lorber explains the socialization of gender and the stereotypes that go along with gender like colors.  The colors pink and blue seem to be entrenched in people’s minds as the defining colors for genders. This is unfortunate because instead of trying to educate boys that it is normal to play with pink things and girls that it is normal to play with blue things, we have to eradicate the colors so that men and women can be equals at least when it comes to toys.

Even though, kids may lose out on their favorite pink or blue color in toys, I think it is a small loss when it comes to the great success of having gender-neutral toys that allow everyone to play with everything leading to well-adjusted children without limits on who they are or choice. In “William Wants a Doll. Can He Have One? Feminists, Child Care Advisors, and Gender-Neutral Child Rearing,” Karin Martin quotes, “The goal is to raise self assured children” (Page 468).  The ultimate goal is to raise a generation of people who are comfortable with who they are.

 

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