Toys Don’t Have Genders

Vista has been saving her money and so we went out today to let her pick out a toy.  We headed over to the local box store and started wandering up and down the toy aisles.

I made a conscious decision not to skip the first few aisles where the so called/labeled “boys” toys were.  I wanted to see what toy Vista would pick when allowed to choose for herself.

She ignored the barbies.  She walked right past the dolls.  She didn’t even look at the shelves upon shelves of princess and Suzy homemaker stuff.

matchboxcliffhangerfirestation Toys Dont Have GendersInstead she pulled a Matchbox Cliffhanger Fire Station off the shelf and put that in the cart.

I will admit I was a little surprised.  But instead of asking if she was sure that was what she wanted (and thus making her question her choice), I instead asked her if she wanted to look at anything else or if she was done.

She told me she didn’t want to look anymore and was ready to go.

So we headed home, put together her new toy, and she proceeded to play with it for the next two hours.

It’s always interesting what toys kids will choose when left to be kids rather than assigning the toys genders.  Many parents when faced with the same situation would have told their daughter’s “No, sweetie. That’s a ‘boy’ toy,” and dragged their girls to the aisles of pink.

Vista does love pink, and loves to dress up as a princess, but she also loves to play with toy cars and trains.  I’m OK with that.

This year for her birthday, we bought her a butterfly net and a kit for catching and examining bugs.  She was thrilled and immediately had to go outside and get some ants to look at under the magnifying glass.

I don’t want to limit her scope of play just because she’s female.

When I was in Junior High the girls had to take home-ec and the boys took shop. That was just the way it was and no one questioned it.

I was disgusted.  I wanted to take shop!  That sounded like a heck of a lot more fun than baking a cake.

I got together a few other girls and we campaigned to be allowed to opt into the shop class instead.  We pointed out that it was just as important for us to be able to use tools as it was for boys to be able to cook a meal and sew on a button.

We were lucky.  Our administration listened and changed the classes so that both girls and boys each took half a semester of shop and half a semester of home-ec.

That was over 20 years ago.

And still, here we are assigning gender roles to everything.

I would even go so far as to say that we’ve taken several steps backwards in this area (if the PINK Easy-Bake Oven that Vista has is any indication.  When I had an Easy Bake it just looked like something you would see in the kitchen.  It didn’t need to be pink.)

I will continue to encourage my daughter to play with toys that she enjoys and that encourage her to explore and question her world, because, the last time I checked, toys don’t have genders.


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6 Responses to Toys Don’t Have Genders

  • Beth says:

    In our house, toys don’t have genders until they have come home and been given names and personalities, by the kids. We have both a male and a female Lightning McQueen in residence here and Flo is a boy. My daughter has a collection of cars that many boys would envy. My son has a baby doll who we clothe with preemie clothing because it is IMPOSSIBLE to find FRANK appropriate clothing in the doll department.

    My mission today was to buy a “cradle” for my son’s baby. He was satisfied with the doll-sized pack-n-play that I found instead even if it was pink. He developed this interest because his sister brought out the cradle that my father made for my dolls when I was a little girl and that was given to her upon her birth (he’s 75, we’ll allow him to have his gendered notions if it makes him happy). The cradle has rocked baby dolls, served as Noah’s ark for a reenactment of the flood (mommy did save the 30+ year old cradle from water), and has been a pretend race car. Now Frank and whichever of Katie’s babies decides to go for the ride can race each other in their souped up cradles :).

    Do not get me started on the girl Lego. Do not do it :)

  • Deidra23 says:

    I took shop AND home ec.. i liked shop better. I even took Outdoor Ed, one of 2 girls in the class. and my youngest LOVED cards for the longest time (even though her favorite one WAS pink)

  • laura m says:

    I am so with you on this. Nolan loves to play with Tanis’ kitchen accessories and Tanis’ favorite toy are her Lego’s (and no they are regular ones not the girl ones that have come out, although she’s asked for a set of them), but I don’t stop them either. Glad to see V is coming in to her own, but we all know she;s strong and will :)

  • Amanda says:

    My greatest joy is when my daughters’ personalities show through not in what they play with and how they play. The pervasive suggested gender classifications are disappointing. So grateful for another voice in the “let kids be kids regardless of gender” camp!

  • Michelle says:

    There are times I can get wrapped up into the gender toys, but my kids always change the rules. Sam loves his kitchen, Thomas ran around with his sister’s Belle doll for a month and Nicole is dinogirl. I’ve learnt that this is just them exploring their world around them and to embrace that. I definitely a girly girl but have a sister whose not.

  • i took shop and home ec… pretty sure i got a better grade in shop.

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