Gender Roles Defined By Toys


Photo by: Popsugar

This 1970s LEGO ad did not appeal to gender roles.

Priscilla Vasquez , Staff Reporter

Entering the 20th century, toys frequently became categorized based on stereotypes that people have on children; stereotypes such as pink are for girls and building blocks are for boys. There are parents who believe that toy makers and big companies should not make and/or separate toys based on what they think a child should play with. Boys get branded with playing more creative, adventurous toys while girls are left playing with baby toys and cooking pots.

Toys should be gender neutral and not classified because toys are only meant to be used as tools for a child’s imagination, not to be used as a reason for society to be discriminated against what they chose to believe a child should play with based on what roles the gender should grow up with. Growing up, a child will only learn things that their parents decide to teach them. Meaning they can pick up on criticism and stereotypes, which a child should not have to learn at such a young age.

The New York Times shows that in earlier years, store ads rarely defined toys by stereotypes. For example, Sears 1975 toy catalog, featured a little girl playing with building blocks while a boy was shown cooking with a kitchen set.

The general population believes gender titles should be allowed because it is going freely based on what should be appropriate for the child and the titles do not affect the child’s well being in any way. Toy companies try to define a child’s gender role. The thing with that is, it means the parents are letting the stores decide for them what their own child should and should not play with. Each child is genuinely different, they do not see gender until an adult reads to them what the store believes the toys are intended for. Children themselves should be allowed to pick what toy they would like for the story that goes on in their head.

According to The Atlantic, the company grew at an average of 15 percent when launching Lego friends, a girl’s version of LEGO’s that deals with taking care of animals and such. This addition contained characteristics on the box such as hearts and butterflies hovering over the name for girls. Which is a stereotype created by toy makers to label the toy as a “girls only” toy? There should not be anything wrong with the way a child naturally decides to play with an object. Making a product like this brought out such a stereotype when all the little girls were asking to add more girl characters.

An article written by Emanuella Grinberg, of CNN, states that The moment a child walks into an aisle, they will notice the gender labels. This title has them sway away to another toy or section of the store that leans more towards what the toy society expects them to play with. If these gender-based toys were broken down, it would allow the child to play with an object that helps them gain a specific type of knowledge about it later on. A child will learn more by getting a toy they feel best suits an interest of theirs instead of worrying about judgment.

Not all parents accept the fact that the way a child plays, does not have any change to who they will become. The toys they chose to play with will only display skills that they are gaining. Besides, who the child decides to become in the next 10 or 15 years has no prevention plan.  

Toys should not be separated or labeled by gender. Kids are all equal and should feel that way so it can influence them to grow up with an open mind. The public should help build equality at a young age rather than telling their child that they are not equal as kids but have them fight for equality once they grow older.

Parents and those who work with children, should be more visual with kids and watch which objects draw their attention. If seeing a child play with a toy outside of the standard, ask what drew their attention to it rather than taking it away or thinking any other thoughts. Try to gain an understanding of the child about the choice made and afterward, decide whether or not toys should be gender neutral. If leaning towards creating more gender-neutral toys, join a local online petition and boycott those big brands. Hopefully, the message will get through if the word can spread at a rapid pace.