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Dolls for boys and cars for girls

(114 Posts)
grannyactivist Tue 07-Jan-20 18:44:01

I like to shop locally and we have a super little toy shop in town which is where I usually buy my grandchildren's toys, so I usually have no cause to look online. However, I'm (slowly) recovering from a very debilitating illness and so I was looking online for a boy doll for my grandson and some cars for my granddaughter.

This is what I found:

It's thirty years since I bought a dolly and pushchair for my toddler son so I was genuinely shocked to see that it is still girls who were shown playing with dolls and boys who were playing with cars!! Because of course we all know that women don't drive and men never look after a baby!!

In fairness I should say that the reply from Smyths Toys to my complaint about their depiction of gender based roles was a mea culpa and a promise to do better in the future.

Farmor15 Tue 07-Jan-20 19:53:21

The other problem is proliferation of pink for "girls" toys. My daughter was annoyed that she could only get doll's buggy in pink. Even bikes/trikes seem to be geared towards boys or girls when primary colours would suit either.

watermeadow Tue 07-Jan-20 20:10:38

My first daughter loved anything on wheels, construction toys and computers. Next one loved dolls and furry toys.
You can give a baby gender neutral clothes and toys and she can still demand all things pink when she hits five.
My grandson liked the buggy I gave him but threw out the dolly and put his train in it instead.

Tedber Tue 07-Jan-20 20:20:51

I think you can be as gender neutral as you want but ultimately the kids will decide themselves anyway.

I have never been a fan of gender colors and always had an array of toys out, but find that my granddaughters just love pink and fluffy and the boys whilst, when young they love a pram to push, quickly turf the doll/teddies out and replace with cars and trains. This isn’t ONE particular child but all of them! One loved taking the wheels off it! The two sexes are so different in what they want in way of bikes and scooters bedroom decor etc. I honestly don’t think anyone influences them. If a grandson wanted my little pony on his bedroom wall he would get it! Non of them do, they want minions, mine craft, spider man etc. The girls could have this too but want Frozen, Dora etc,

Is it as a result of said advertising? I have doubts tbh.

I also think it is worrying when people become obsessed with gender neutralising to such an extent that they actually prevent children from having what they want?

Tedber Tue 07-Jan-20 20:21:24

Cross post water meadow ?

Iam64 Tue 07-Jan-20 20:24:03

grannyactivist - I do believe its much worse now than 40 years ago when I was buying for my first child.

Our 4 and 5 year old grandsons love science experiments and kits. Without exception, the colour and images on the boxes show science to be for boys. In the next row, are kits for girls, they include gardens, baking and kits to grow caterpillars that turn into butterflies. Both kinds of kits are brilliant for children, no matter their gender.
water meadow - I agree that sometime around 4 -5 children become aware of their gender. It becomes very important to most of them to identify strongly as a boy or a girl. Its a normal developmental stage. I don't feel the emphasis on girls/boys toys helps or is necessary.

PamGeo Tue 07-Jan-20 20:24:34

Couldn't agree more Tedber and Watermeadow, children always know what they prefer

MissAdventure Tue 07-Jan-20 20:30:43

I have a book here about non gender child rearing.

There's a cartoon of a little girl with a tool kit saying to her mum "At least let me build a dolls house!"

NanaandGrampy Tue 07-Jan-20 20:33:59

The thing is kids aren’t ( generally) gender neutral . I have no issue with boys with dollies and girls with cars but IF girls want to play with dollies ....why not? We’re almost getting to the place where people are afraid to buy a child what they want for fear of doing the wrong thing.

Why not let them have access to all the choices and let them choose.?

purplepatch Tue 07-Jan-20 20:46:41

The pinkification of girls' stuff is definitely much more prevalent than it was when my two daughters were little in the 60s and 70s. They had an amazing array of coloured clothes - babygros in orange and white, red and navy squares, green and yellow stripes (to recall just a few). Toys were much more gender neutral in that lego was just lego, no lego just for girls (a marketing ploy if ever I saw one).

Their toy cupboards did have dolls (which they didn't bother with much, although they loved cuddlies) and everything from trains and trucks to toy cookers.

I find it bizarre that in an age when girls and boys can pretty much do anything they choose, life is still trying to shut them in the "right" boxes. sad

trisher Tue 07-Jan-20 20:47:58

I don't know what sort of girls your GCs are but my GD went through a Frozen phase but now doesn't bother about it She's 7. She's gone off pink. She likes taking the wheels off things but she also enjoys dressing up as Snow White etc and dancing. My GS joins her in the dances prefers to dress as superman also makes/dismantles things but has a baby doll he dresses and undresses. He does tend to carry it about by one leg but he will play with it. I think it's about allowing them to choose and not indicating any preference yourself

agnurse Tue 07-Jan-20 20:49:24

We used to play with cars, but I know that my experience was more one of making up stories about the people who USED the cars, rather than just driving them around and making "vroom vroom" noises.

My brother wanted to play Barbies with us. Unfortunately his idea of playing Barbies was that you take all the clothes off, rip the heads off, drive over them with your Tonka trucks, and inform your by-now-irate sisters that Barbie got run over grin

Consequently we gave him his own Barbie. It was about the ugliest Barbie we owned. She was very old, parts of her legs were broken off, and she'd been scribbled on with a marker. He didn't seem to mind, thankfully.

V3ra Tue 07-Jan-20 21:37:55

My three year old granddaughter demanded the Spiderman hoody towel when she visited just before Christmas. (I have a choice of four: Ponies, Frozen, Minions and Spiderman).
The two year old boy I childmind spends ages putting the "babies" (dolls) in and out of bed.
Another three year old boy's day was ruined if he couldn't have the fairy wings at preschool. His dad was bothered, his mum said let him be.
The three year old girls love using real hammers and hammering golf tees into cardboard boxes.
I've had dads who objected to their sons playing with dolls and pushchairs... excuse me?
What's important is that all children have access to and opportunities to play with any toys or equipment. Children will find their own level. My mum bought me toy cars because no-one else would.
Commercial shops don't help and certainly do need challenging!

Barmeyoldbat Tue 07-Jan-20 21:56:38

My son had an Action Man that my daughter use to put in a pram, it use to make him as a mad as hell. I think children will decide themselves what they want to play with but they must first have access to them.

SueDonim Tue 07-Jan-20 22:04:09

I think as long as children have access to all kinds of toys it doesn’t really matter. My son who is a psychologist has observed the children playing with dolls and prams at his children’s nursery. The girls tend to play in the traditional manner with them, while boys evict the dolls, install vehicles and proceed to hare around at 90mph having car and train crashes with multiple pile-ups.

I also this weekend read an article about a teddy bear hospital. They can almost always tell which bear has been owned by a girl and which has been owned by a boy. The girls’ teddies tend to have worn faces and chests from being kissed and stroked, while boys’ teddies have worn/missing ears and limbs from being dragged around.

I do agree that the ‘pinkification’ of stuff has gone too far, though.

MissAdventure Tue 07-Jan-20 22:11:06

Even grown women seem to like pink unicorns, princess t shirts and so on..

Barmeyoldbat Tue 07-Jan-20 22:15:37

Yes SueD, my son use to fill his sister's dolls pram with stones and bricks and use it a dumper truck.

MissAdventure Tue 07-Jan-20 22:19:43

I've seen my grandson using a Barbie doll as a gun, when he was little.

Both boys had pushchairs and baby dolls, but they weren't at all interested.

grannyactivist Tue 07-Jan-20 23:19:22

Barmeyoldbat your comment, I think children will decide themselves what they want to play with but they must first have access to them, is spot on.

My sons and daughters all had equal access to the same range of toys.

One of my girls loved meccano, lego, cars and anything she could build or experiment with. She became a nurse, but has maintained a strong interest in the sciences and her four year old daughter is the same.

One of my sons loved to wear pink (I actually had to dye T-shirts for him because I couldn't buy them!), he was incredibly adventurous (still is) and loved to create things; origami, pottery, knitting. His older brother had a doll and a pushchair and played being 'daddy' all the time as a toddler and at infant school - an interest he never lost and he is now a brilliant hands-on daddy.

The point is not that everything is gender neutral for the sake of it, but that boys can see that it's 'normal' to play with dolls if they want to and it's also 'normal' for girls to enjoy playing with cars or doing science experiments, if they choose to.

Chestnut Tue 07-Jan-20 23:26:16

There was a programme on TV where they experimented by leaving toys out for monkeys to play with (can't remember which type of monkey). These items were left in an open space on the grass so the environment was natural. Guess what....the female monkeys played with the dolls and the male monkeys with the trucks and racing cars.

Hetty58 Tue 07-Jan-20 23:40:39

Small children will happily play with whatever toy they fancy. Despite our individual efforts to buy a range of age appropriate, non gender focused toys, there comes a time when they're influenced by friends at school and may suddenly prefer fluffy pink or macho items - much to our dismay.

40 years ago my small son chose a doll and carefully looked after it, asked me to make a bed and clothes for it etc. A few years later, at about age six, he began to keep it it secretly in a hall cupboard. I assume that a friend said something.

My girls, being younger than the boys, had instant access to all the usual boy's playthings - with no need to hide them!

Oopsminty Tue 07-Jan-20 23:47:52

I saw a documentary some time ago about monkeys being presented with 'girl' and 'boy' toys

The male monkeys tended to play with the trucks and cars

Don't think they've been conditioned

This clip also shows a similar experiment

Iam64 Wed 08-Jan-20 09:21:14

In the 70's when my first daughter was a little one, like many friends I tried not to only give toys traditionally associated with girls. By 12 months she was cuddling a toy in a tea towel, putting the toy in her brick trolley and pushing it around saying "baby". Meanwhile, her male cousins were digging up worms and making guns out of cardboard - their mum of course wouldn't buy them guns.
I wouldn't stop children following their dreams so far as toys go. I just wish it could be slightly less pink and blue prescriptive. There's considerable research concluding girls begin to lose confidence around age 8. Its hard not to look at the way boys and girls are subliminally directed. Girls still to be nurses, boys doctors and so on. Body image affects girls and boys but girls to a disproportionate degree.
It's life folks - no easy black and white solutions.

Bridgeit Wed 08-Jan-20 09:23:46

I must have been one of the lucky ones, I had a doll & betabuilder ( pre-Lego) even had green slates for the roof ?

Septimia Wed 08-Jan-20 09:34:22

I remember playing cowboys and indians as a child and was very disappointed that I wasn't allowed to have a toy gun! I played with my dolls, but only adventure games, with them abseiling off my bed etc.

DGD (now 8) is a whiz at Lego and started putting things together, using the instructions and without help, at a much younger age than I expected. Admittedly I buy her the Friends Lego which is more girly, but only the vet/pony/adventurous ones and not the ones that involve beauty salons!