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Dolls for boys and cars for girls

(115 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.

Bridgeit Wed 08-Jan-20 09:38:34

No beauty salons, that’s discrimination lol ?( many boys like beauty salons , many wear more hair products than the wee lasses ?)

Hetty58 Wed 08-Jan-20 09:54:48

Oopsminty, I saw that programme with the toys and monkeys too. I didn't conclude that there are many inborn male/female differences, though.

I thought that young monkeys would surely have keenly observed the culture and roles of their elders. They had already learned the male and female modes of behaviour.

Similarly, boys and girls watch the adults around them, people in general and on films, TV etc. From babyhood to pre-school age, what do they tend to see? A lot of male doctors, female nurses, women looking after children, male action heroes etc.

Having two sons and two daughters I soon noticed the different way other adults approached, treated and influenced them. ('Oh, she's so beautiful', 'He's a real bruiser'.)

We reinforce our culture in the young without even being aware of it. Even the two year old boys at playgroup soon made guns out of Duplo, the girls played mum in the playhouse.

Not genetic, inbuilt differences - but our unthinking conditioning of them.

Chestnut Wed 08-Jan-20 10:44:26

Hetty58: I thought that young monkeys would surely have keenly observed the culture and roles of their elders. They had already learned the male and female modes of behaviour.
I don't think the male monkeys would have any prior experience of toy trucks and cars! Yet they chose them. Both male and female monkeys had the choice of what to play with. Are you saying that they had no choice just because they had witnessed the behaviour of other monkeys?

Oopsminty Wed 08-Jan-20 11:00:29

('Oh, she's so beautiful', 'He's a real bruiser'.)

That made me smile, Hetty58

My son was an exquisite baby. Not boasting here. He was just a beautiful baby.

My youngest daughter emerged and she was my 'real bruiser'

People commented on my son, saying he should be in Mothercare brochures and my poor daughter was merely smiled at.

Oh and I'm not sure how you can say that the monkeys had learned behaviour from their elders

The male in the animal world tends to be dominant and more aggressive. The females are less aggressive. Except of course when their young are threatened.

notanan2 Wed 08-Jan-20 11:07:36

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?

Thats not the point though is it?
The point is that dollies and prams and toy cots used to come in a full range of colours. Now 90% of them are pink! Even for girls who love dollies its not very inspiring having a room full of mainly just one colour toys!

Jan51 Wed 08-Jan-20 11:36:23

I can remember my grandson looking through a toy catalogue at the age of about four and being most indignant that it had a boy section and a girl section and the buggys where in the girls section.

SirChenjin Wed 08-Jan-20 11:47:35

New laws came in earlier in the year which banned adverts which perpetuated gender stereotypes (and not before time). I’m not sure if the examples you gave fall under that legislation but worth contacting the Advertising Standards Authority perhaps?

It’s so depressing and frustrating that in 2020 such stereotypes still exist - I suppose it just goes to show how ingrained it is into our way of thinking that we just accept it until we catch ourselves and think not, hang on a minute...’.

Interesting article about adverts which have been banned recently and the moves that the ASA are now making - but obviously much progress still to be made

HettyMaud Wed 08-Jan-20 11:47:42

I have a son and a daughter. Neither were interested in the other one’s toys. I just can’t understand why so many people can’t accept the general differences between the sexes. Having one of each taught me it isn’t what you show them. It’s how they are.

SirChenjin Wed 08-Jan-20 11:48:18

‘No, hang on...’

Hetty58 Wed 08-Jan-20 11:55:36

Chestnut, I saw it as the male monkeys rejecting the 'mother' role by choosing the trucks and cars - didn't you?

Hetty58 Wed 08-Jan-20 12:00:20

HettyMaud, I agree (with two sons and two daughters) that there may be slight inborn gender differences. The big problem is that we exaggerate them with our expectations and behaviour towards children.

blondenana Wed 08-Jan-20 12:04:35

* grannyactivist* do you know that your grandchildren would like the toys you are going to buy them? or are you just going to buy what you think is right these days
In my experience girls still prefer girly stuff and boys like boy stuff,
If not they might be very disappointed in what they get
I would never buy cars etc, for a girl, unless she asked for them, and especially wouldn't buy a boy a doll, unless he asked for one
I think there is too much emphasis on the gender neutral ideas these day
It is getting out of control

suzied Wed 08-Jan-20 12:09:04

Gender roles are both a mix of nature and nurture which is obvious when you think about it. Cars aren’t”natural” - they are created by humans, theres no biological reason for cars being labelled “male”- it’s a cultural phenomenon. Ditto the colour pink- it has been culturally designated as female- other cultures don’t have that colour distinction. Children learn gender roles from a very young age from the world around them. The monkey study was a very small scale study and it would be unwise to extrapolate- how many male monkeys drive cars? Another experiment showed that when a baby boy was dressed in pink the language and toys offered by strangers was different from when he was dressed in blue, implying subtle and not so subtle differences in treatment start from the word go.

Newatthis Wed 08-Jan-20 12:20:24

There was a recent programme on television where they gathers 3 year old boys and girls together to see what toys they favoured without encouragement from anyone - boys played with cars and trucks, girls played with dolls and prams. I didn't buy dolls for my daughters when they were little but more gender neutral toys, however, they still went straight to the dolls when they played in friends houses.

Gingergirl Wed 08-Jan-20 12:27:43

Toywise, my sons had whatever they wanted gender wise although they didn’t ask for guns and we wouldn’t have given them. My granddaughter is fed all things pink and glittery by her mother but I have a feeling that she may reject that as she grows up ?. It’s ridiculous that certain toys and the colours pink and blue should have these associations in this day and age but I think it’s more than just shops that follow this.

Chardy Wed 08-Jan-20 12:27:44

Imo the toy and clothes sexism thing is much worse for my DGD than ever it was for my DD who is 25 years older.

Graygirl Wed 08-Jan-20 12:37:41

Picture this GD age 4 coming down the path pushing doll in pram carrying tool bag , saying Gramps any jobs I have my tools. wanted a work bench for Christmas so we got her one drill with sound, lots of hand tools yellow and black with the name wolf on them. GS was the same always remember he wanted kettle with sounds ,so he could make hot chocolate for his sister when she had finished her diy

SirChenjin Wed 08-Jan-20 12:41:03

Excellent post suzied

Witzend Wed 08-Jan-20 12:57:49

I do dislike all the pink stuff, especially that peculiarly garish pink you see everywhere. I did manage to find both a blue doll’s pushchair and a mainly blue doll’s pram for Dgd, though.

My dd was never remotely into dolls or girly things at all, but her own dd has been from a very young age - she’d be nursing baby dolls and putting them to bed from under 2. There’s been no pointing in this direction from dd - it’s what she first gravitated to at nursery in the first place, so I certainly don’t think it’s all down to ‘conditioning’.

JenniferEccles Wed 08-Jan-20 13:09:22

Sometimes I wonder if we are trying to move too far towards the gender neutral viewpoint.

A couple of weeks ago I was speaking to the mother of our neighbour.
She is the woman’s mother and was complaining bitterly about the other grandmother who, horror of horrors for Christmas had bought a pram for the granddaughter and cars for the grandson.

She was quite cross about the gender stereotyping but I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the other gran who would have gone out and carefully chosen what she thought would have been appropriate toys for her grandchildren who she doesn’t get to see much as she lives a few hours drive away.

Anyway I have seen the little girl out happily pushing her dolls pram much to the other gran’s dismay no doubt!

Lancslass1 Wed 08-Jan-20 13:15:22

I don’t want to appear rude Granny activist but why would you want to buy a boy doll anyway for a boy or cars for a girl?
I don’t know the age of your grandchildren but perhaps a book or a jigsaw might be an appropriate present or if the grandchildren are little a soft toy like a teddy bear.
I would not have been pleased had my mother or mother in law given either of my sons a boy doll but then I am a lot older than you I dare say and times have changed.

Paperbackwriter Wed 08-Jan-20 13:15:44

If any of you are on Twitter, Kate Long (@volewriter) has several threads on the gender-based clothes pushed towards consumers in stores like M&S and Next. The ones aimed at girls tend to be encouraging them to be sweet, nice, good, pretty and very, very pink. The ones aimed at boys have messages about being adventurous, scientific, bold. It does make you think. I don't want my granddaughters to expect to be biddable and 'nice'. I would never buy her that stuff.

When my daughters were little they had lovely clothes with no messages on, no pics, no stultifying lack of expectations. They rarely wore pink - so much more was on offer. I remember babygros in grey and black stripes - just gorgeous!

Paperbackwriter Wed 08-Jan-20 13:18:06

Lancslass1 Good lord, I thought such sexism had long died out! Why on earth would you be unhappy that a boy of yours had a doll? Don't you think nurturing (and imaginative family play) is a quality that should be encouraged in both genders?

SirChenjin Wed 08-Jan-20 13:23:50

I am a lot older than you I dare say and times have changed

Thankfully they have.

moggie57 Wed 08-Jan-20 13:31:18

my gc's play with anything,at the moment its kitchens and offices .both share .think dollies are on the out anyway .both like cars/busses/trams.we have a mixture of toys .have you asked the gc what he would like? better to ask than have to return the unwanted toy?