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  1. #41
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    I can't figure out if people who say it's no big deal are trying to argue that we live in a utopia with no gender stereotypes or that we do live in a world full of gender stereotyping but somehow the choices that toy companies and retail stores make that reinforce those stereotypes don't in any way contribute to the problem.

    Either way, I remain unconvinced.

    I also think that lately, with our trend toward putting everything into a niche market, that this gender stereotyping *has* become worse. Since it's only been in the last 5-10 years (at least that I've seen personally), it's too soon to see what kind of an impact it has on today's youth, but I'd be surprised if it didn't have any impact at all.
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  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by reckless View Post
    I don't think the issue is that a concerned parent is unable to find a particular toy. I think the concern raised by the petition is that a lot of people, including children, are influenced by the subtle -- and not-so-subtle -- messages that are sent by the way things are categorized by gender.
    I for one totally understand that and thought I made my understanding clear.

    My point was not about concerned parents--or parents--at all. It was that all of the complaints I listed are based on the idea that toys have gender to begin with. That's not coming from the stores; that's coming from us.

    Do people really think that children a) spend so much time in Toys R Us that this is a significant factor in their sociological development and b) that even if you are absolutely right and children ARE significantly influenced by Toys R Us, that is somehow carved in stone and those children will always be locked into a rigid concept of sex roles because of the way stores are laid out?

    Really?

    So I guess all of you still hold the same beliefs about boys and girls that you had before you were 10?

    Quote Originally Posted by rjblue View Post
    Anyone who seriously doesn't think this is a problem should read this blog- http://blog.pigtailpals.com/2010/11/...sexist-holiday
    Well, I read it. And I wasn't very impressed.

    The gist of such things always seems to be that girls are being told to sit down, shut up and have babies, while boys are told to make stuff and do stuff and be active and play sports. I read the same kind of things back in the 1970s. Yet girls are taking over the world. They make up the dominant majority of AP students in high schools. They are the majority of students in college. Women outnumber men in all professional schools except engineering--and watch out, because their numbers there are growing. Female athletes are improving faster than male athletes are--and girls are doing a lot more sports.

    If girls are getting the message that they are suppose to sit down, shut up and have babies, they seem to be ignoring it. And if boys are getting the message that they are active! They do stuff! They make things! They seem to be ignoring it, too. Have you seem the stats on what is going on with young men in our society?
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  3. #43

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    I find the Lego direction interesting. Being Danish, EVERYONE had Legos growing up. They were not considered a girls or boys toys, they were essential toys.

    Clearly Lego had a reason for market the toys to mostly boys - they are in the business to make money, as any toy company.

    I wonder if while we as a society has more options and opportunity for either gender, there is in our increasing complex lives a need to label people earlier and more?
    Thinking of the Aspergers thread, there were some discussion of the need for labels (unruly kid vs a medical condition).

    Are the toy companies just catering to our need for labeling? Either the toys or the kids...

    Fwiw, the last time I was in a toy store, I noticed large sections such as books, games, building toys (not just Legos, but stix and more), balls which were gender neutral - though they also had the 'pink explosion section' (they had that when I was a kid too)

  4. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by maatTheViking View Post
    I find the Lego direction interesting. Being Danish, EVERYONE had Legos growing up. They were not considered a girls or boys toys, they were essential toys.
    Being American, I experienced the same thing. I was about the girliest girl you could find, and my sister was a tomboy, but we both played with Legos and Tinker Toys. (And she bit all the toes off my Barbie dolls when her fingernails were too short to bite anymore!) Legos especially were everywhere, and I don't think anyone considered them boy toys at all.
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  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by maatTheViking View Post
    Are the toy companies just catering to our need for labeling? Either the toys or the kids...
    When I was a kid, Legos were expensive. Getting them was a treat. Our neighbor had 7 kids so they had enough to actually do something with them. Meaning we all went over and played with theirs!

    But these days the process to make plastic toys has gotten dead cheap. Because of that, they are more of a throw away toy. This means a couple of things. First, Lego is trying to make you buy more and more and more. They can't do that if they mostly sell legos that are neutral because after a while you have all the basic blocks you need. So they make these themed sets. And, because it's cheap to make them, and because they are getting their volumes up overall, they can target them to smaller and smaller niches. Then, they convince you to buy *all* the sets in a certain line and since each one is pretty cheap to make them, you probably will buy at least a couple of sets.

    Previously, it was not cost effective to have so many lines and so many sets in each line. Each SKU had to sell a certain amount to be worth carrying so each SKU had to appeal to a broader base.

    So I don't think they set out with the goal of reinforcing stereotypes. I think that's an unfortunately side-effect of a marketing reality and the economics of toy manufacturing. That doesn't mean they shouldn't be encouraged to change. There's no reason that the Star Wars Legos have to be marketed to boys in tv ads with no girls in sight, for example. After all, if they get some girls to buy them too, it just means more sales for them.

    I think they don't do that out of lazy thinking. Having been in meetings where people talk about marketing products, I see it all the time. Cliches and gender stereotyping are just easier and safer and often they are the first place the group will go and not even realize it.

    That's why I think it's good to point it out when you see it. If we make a fuss, then doing the cliche thing stops being the easy way out and maybe we, as parents, won't have to fight the limiting messages that society sends our kids quite so hard. That would be nice.
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  6. #46

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    I also think that it's generally much more acceptable for girls to play with "boy" toys than the reverse. For men to do anything considered feminine is something to be ashamed of, and I still feel embarrassed even admitting on a mostly anonymous, female-dominated board that I had "girly" toys as a kid. Once I wore one of my sister's dresses as a joke and she took a picture and joked that she would show it to people at school, the thought of which totally petrified me. Is there something "boyish" that a girl could do that would be as embarrassing/damaging as that kind of thing would be for a boy?

    I was also really embarrassed when I missed the bus in 8th grade and my sister told people on the bus it was because I was on a figure skating website (which was of course true , but I denied it at the time because I was embarrassed that I liked something so "girly"). I've certainly gotten over that for the most part with regards to skating, but I still feel apprehensive about sharing some things about myself because I do feel "different" from most males in some ways and find a lot of stereotypical male/"macho" behaviors and interests really boring or even offensive. There are more reasons for my anxiety around that then just gender stereotypes, but that definitely doesn't help. One of my friends (a heterosexual 30-year-old male who is into a lot of typically male interests, including being quite obsessed with mainstream American male team sports) admitted to liking the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC to a friend of a friend who joined our table at a pub one time and the other guy said something along the lines of, "Wow, that's the kind of thing you just shouldn't admit" (and not in a lighthearted tone). It was said in such a way that I would've felt hurt if someone shot down my tastes like that.

  7. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by vesperholly View Post
    It was a nightmare trying to find appropriate baby things for my BFF, who was not finding out the sex of her baby ahead of the birth. 98% of everything is blue/brown for boys and pink/purple for girls - and I went to many stores including Target, Kohls, department stores, etc. I was shocked at how gender-segregated baby items are. Even animals don't escape the treatment: monkeys for boys and bunnies for girls.

    I was finally able to find some pastel yellow and green items with ducks and frogs, but the experience left me a little shell-shocked.
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  8. #48
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    The problem with the way toys are marketed has nothing to do with the kids. Kids don't care. Toys aren't really marketed towards children, they're marketed towards the adults buying them. It bothers me that the way many toys are packaged (dolls being probably the best example) are limiting the toys to one gender. Very few dads will buy their son a doll in a pastel pink box even if it's a male doll that isn't in any way "girly". There are toy brands that have packaging that is much more gender neutral that do really well (Plan Toys, Playmobil, Wow toys). I see much more of an issue from customers with "girly" toys being played with by boys than the other way around. People don't care so much if their girls are playing with "boy" toys. Not that that's limited to toys. It happens in sports all the time too.

    As for Lego, there's lots in their "non-girly" lines that appeal to girls. We actually don't carry the girly lines at all (with the exception of the pink brick boxes).
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  9. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by reckless View Post
    Did you read the petition an what prompted it? The author explains that it was triggered by her niece refusing to play with Legos because they were a "boy's toy." Now, obviously, that child got the impression that Lego's are a "boy's toy" from somewhere.
    My sisters and I, and all of our friends, girls and boys, played with Lego all the time as kids. Maybe this one child thought it was a "boy's toy" because another kid told them. Just like girls have girl's germs, and boys have boy's germs.

    IMO, there's really no such thing as gender neutral toys. Toy have no gender until someone gives them one. Some people will always think some toys are suited for a specific group, whether it be gender, age, "outdoors-y" types etc. I think people should be responsible for themselves and the toys they buy, rather than blaming corporations all the time.

    reckless, someone doing a search for "girl's toys" has the own view of what girl's toys are (because why else would they be searching for girls' toys, if they didn't agree there were such a thing?), and what they want to buy - there are plenty of other ways and options to search. If you don't think there are girls and boys toys, then great! Search one of the categories, or age groups. Toys 'R' Us didn't give toys a gender, the consumers did.
    Last edited by Angelskates; 12-07-2012 at 06:07 AM.

  10. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prancer View Post
    If girls are getting the message that they are suppose to sit down, shut up and have babies, they seem to be ignoring it. And if boys are getting the message that they are active! They do stuff! They make things! They seem to be ignoring it, too. Have you seem the stats on what is going on with young men in our society?
    I wonder if the gender stereotyping is having the opposite reaction — the stereotypes are so pervasive or overpowering that they encourage rejection of them.

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    I thought little boys shoot stuff. That's what I did. That doesn't happen anymore?

  12. #52
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    to my grandchildren - mega blocks in blue, pink, yellow, purple etc. just make it so they can identify colors. I have a selection of toys in my playroom for them that include an Elmo's restaurant where they "cook", take orders, etc., a work bench, large container of mega blocks that include a firetruck, animal barn and a pizza oven and a baby bassinet set up with a cradle, high chair and sink - it is in pink, so what? The play backpacks are Dora and another one is a butterfly with wings, Both genders play equally with the toys

    For Christmas, the toys are somewhat gender specific I suppose, but my granddaughter has twin siblings and likes to push their stroller around. I found a twin stroller and twin dolls for her. My grandson is fascinated by trains and construction trucks. I got him those items. I suspect that when they open them at my house, there will be some playing of the toys by each of them. I have no problem with the color of the items because they match what either they see in their lives - construction trucks are yellow. Trains are multi-color depending on the purpose of the train car. Dora backpack is purple - to match what her backpack is on the show.

    Tide laundry detergent is now marketing to guys with an endorsement label from Drew Brees. All kinds of marketing ploys http://www.inquisitr.com/149460/dr-p...en-only-video/. Why gender specific targeting of products, either in a retail store or other products? because it WORKS.

  13. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prancer View Post
    I for one totally understand that and thought I made my understanding clear.

    My point was not about concerned parents--or parents--at all. It was that all of the complaints I listed are based on the idea that toys have gender to begin with. That's not coming from the stores; that's coming from us.

    Do people really think that children a) spend so much time in Toys R Us that this is a significant factor in their sociological development and b) that even if you are absolutely right and children ARE significantly influenced by Toys R Us, that is somehow carved in stone and those children will always be locked into a rigid concept of sex roles because of the way stores are laid out?

    Really?

    So I guess all of you still hold the same beliefs about boys and girls that you had before you were 10?

    That's sort of how I feel about this whole thing. Toys R Us isn't deciding gender roles. It's the parents. I know just as many girls as guys who aren't into the pink thing. And guess what, they don't own the pink stuff, so maybe the market will play out.

    I was a little kid in the 70s. I didn't have that many toys. Well, except for Star Wars, Steve Austin, and Stretch Armstrong. Neither did my sister, though I think she went through a Muppets phase at one point. But we shared everything we had. Believe me, Barbie got banged by Steve Austin as much as I wanted to get banged by him. (I had, or well, STILL have an enormous crush on Lee Majors. Even at 80, I'd still do anything he ordered me to do, he's just YUM. haha) I really am trying to think back to remember if I felt there were gender roles in other toys. I don't remember offhand any of that when we'd go to Kiddie City in Philadelphia (anyone from Philly remember that store? Heaven for kids.) I've been in Toys R Us in the last two years (nieces) and FAO Schwartz. I am politically/socially astute, but nothing bothered me even though in hindsight I suppose there was a 'boys' section and a 'girls'. When I took my nieces through FAO Schwartz, they didn't notice or care, they were in heaven. So I really think it's much ado about nothing.

  14. #54
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    These discussions always confuse me because I'm not sure what it is that people want to have happen. Should parents always go for seemingly gender-neutral toys until a child shows an interest in ones that have been associated with a particular gender? Might this not make a child feel they shouldn't like "gendered" toys even if they do? I know if I were buying toys for a little girl I'd be appalled at pink things and barbie type dolls (and my little ponies, sorry ); I wouldn't be able to believe anyone really wanted that stuff. But apparently many little girls do?

    I never had any interest in legos either. I thought they were boring. I hated dolls, and as far as I was concerned GI Joe was a doll and it perplexed the hell out of me that boys I knew wanted to play with them.

    I loved stuffed animals. But not ones dressed in clothing that made them gendered.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RFOS View Post
    One of my friends (a heterosexual 30-year-old male who is into a lot of typically male interests, including being quite obsessed with mainstream American male team sports) admitted to liking the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC to a friend of a friend who joined our table at a pub one time and the other guy said something along the lines of, "Wow, that's the kind of thing you just shouldn't admit" (and not in a lighthearted tone). It was said in such a way that I would've felt hurt if someone shot down my tastes like that.
    I'm a 34-year-old female and I'm embarrassed to admit there are SOME Backstreet Boys and NSYNC songs I will listen to. That's not gendered, that's being over the age to which boy bands are targeted, making people wonder about your musical tastes. I always feel a tad defensive having to admit I recognize some songs that wind up on the studio playlist because they're Disney-pop. I don't think most educated adults would brag about listening to boy-band pop, even "older" groups. Might be worse for males, as there's even less they're likely to find appealing in most of it, but I don't know many adults of either gender who'll admit to liking teen-targeted music or entertainment.

    (Except the Twimoms. Heaven help them.)

  16. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angelskates View Post
    IMO, there's really no such thing as gender neutral toys. Toy have no gender until someone gives them one.
    But these two statements contradict each other. If toys have no gender, then all toys are gender neutral.

    Quote Originally Posted by Angelskates View Post
    Toys 'R' Us didn't give toys a gender, the consumers did.
    So the consumers created the categories on the website? Doubtful. This is Toys 'R Us' idea of what toys work for each gender. If we're telling people to take personal responsibility, then I think Toys 'R Us needs to take responsibility for their own web site that they designed and not tell parents it's their job to ignore Toys 'R Us' suggestions and categories.
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    I think the catalyst is this enormous amount of consumerism. As several pointed out, as kids we didn't have every toy on the market. I had a toy box and toys went in it. I had a book shelf and it had books on it. There wasn't really anything else in my room (aside from my bed, a small dresser and closet that had clothing in it). I had a pair of shoes. I'm not that old - 40, and this was typical for a kid in a mild climate (I think if it's cold and you get snow you might have boots and warmer coats).

    It is no longer en-vogue to have a child and a stroller. You have a jogging stroller, a lightweight umbrella stroller and a bigger stroller. When you have a second child you might switch up to double strollers or get your second child a pink stroller. You don't put little girls in jeans and tee shirts, in fact you don't have clothing, you have "outfits." If you have a girl she ends up with a myriad of bows and headbands even if she is bald -because how insulting if someone assumes she is a he! Trust me, hag out in enough parenting circles and you hear massive irritation when this happens - Can you believe she said Emma was a BOY? her stroller is PINK! She was wearing PINK!). I think when a family knows they are only having one child they go overboard.

    I think all this happens because A. people are concerned about the wrong things or B they don't have enough real concerns.

    So the pink/blue happens as soon as the sex of the child is announced. There is money to spend!

    There is a LOT of pressure to spend money and it doesn't just come from advertising. American Girl had two dolls half off this week. It's an unheard of sale. I had two in my shopping cart until sanity hit me. My daughter has two dolls already. One was a birthday gift and the other was from a coworker's daughter who out grew her doll. Why would my daughter need four dolls? Left and right my friends were buying them (max of three per item so 9 items). They went from not having any intention of getting a doll this Christmas to getting 6 dolls and 3 beds spending over $500.

    Instead of buying a simple toy kitchen they buy the pink one and then if they next have a boy, they buy the neutral colored kitchen (because baby Harvey can't play with the pink one!). Baby Stella can't ride her brother bike - it has a bar on it! It has Incredible Hulk! She needs her own trainer bike that is pink!

    The backlash? LOL, my son went through an eye liner phase (I think he would wear it still for going out, but it irritates his eyes). He went through a phase of buying girls tight colored jeans. How dare society tell him what makes him a man? He will prove you can be a man and play a musical instrument and play pool. He will do martial arts and swing dance. My daughter refused pink, her doll's clothing isn't $30 outfits at American Girl, it's clothing she made. She skates and loves soccer. She wore polo shirts and men's ties to school (and started a fad where lots of little girls were asking their dads if they could wear his tie -finally they were banned by the teacher for causing classroom disruptions). We shop both girls and boys departments. Did you know the boys thermals are much softer than the girls thermals? And they the boys dept was the only dept where you could get black and navy?

    I don't think removing the signs in the store will change anything. People have to THINK before they purchase. Does it have play power? Can I hand it down to my next child (male or female), Is it made well? Is it fun without the batteries? Will it encourage them to discover?

    Most of my thoughts are about girls (my son is an adult now) but this is a talk I remind myself to watch: http://www.ted.com/talks/sarah_kay_i..._daughter.html

    And an article I try to keep in mind: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-b..._b_882510.html

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    many people can't afford to buy most of those things
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueRidge View Post
    many people can't afford to buy most of those things
    Nope, but it doesn't stop them from putting it all on credit!

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFOS View Post
    I also think that it's generally much more acceptable for girls to play with "boy" toys than the reverse. For men to do anything considered feminine is something to be ashamed of, and I still feel embarrassed even admitting on a mostly anonymous, female-dominated board that I had "girly" toys as a kid. Once I wore one of my sister's dresses as a joke and she took a picture and joked that she would show it to people at school, the thought of which totally petrified me. Is there something "boyish" that a girl could do that would be as embarrassing/damaging as that kind of thing would be for a boy?

    I was also really embarrassed when I missed the bus in 8th grade and my sister told people on the bus it was because I was on a figure skating website (which was of course true , but I denied it at the time because I was embarrassed that I liked something so "girly"). I've certainly gotten over that for the most part with regards to skating, but I still feel apprehensive about sharing some things about myself because I do feel "different" from most males in some ways and find a lot of stereotypical male/"macho" behaviors and interests really boring or even offensive. There are more reasons for my anxiety around that then just gender stereotypes, but that definitely doesn't help. One of my friends (a heterosexual 30-year-old male who is into a lot of typically male interests, including being quite obsessed with mainstream American male team sports) admitted to liking the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC to a friend of a friend who joined our table at a pub one time and the other guy said something along the lines of, "Wow, that's the kind of thing you just shouldn't admit" (and not in a lighthearted tone). It was said in such a way that I would've felt hurt if someone shot down my tastes like that.
    This: No one batted an eye when I asked for Hot Wheels when they arrived on the store shelves but there sure was concern for my playmate--a little boy who liked to play dress up in his mothers dresses and heels (this was in the 60's.) I agree that it is easier for a girl to be a "tomboy" than a boy to play with toys geared towards girls---at least then. I'm not sure what the reaction would be today.

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