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  1. #21

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    Yes. Toys 'R' Us stands you in front of a firing squad. But you get to choose pink guns if you want them.
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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.

    ...
    Are you saying they separate the stuffed animals into those for girls and those for boys? They don't just have a section of stuffed animals?

    Haven't been in a toy store in many many years.
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  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyliefan View Post
    Yes. Toys 'R' Us stands you in front of a firing squad. But you get to choose pink guns if you want them.
    Good to know! Thanks!

  4. #24

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    How about rainbow guns?

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by vesperholly View Post
    Even animals don't escape the treatment: monkeys for boys and bunnies for girls.
    How did you know?

    I find it odd that in a thread where people are complaining about gender-specific toys, there is so much acceptance that there ARE gender-specific toys. If my son wants a doll and it comes in a pink package, does that make it a "girl's toy"? Why?

    Maybe it's just me, but when my kids were little, I got them toys that they were interested in and didn't much worry about what section of the store the toys came from or how they were sorted or whether some distant entity or the people next door considered it a boy or girl toy. It was a toy. Toys have no gender; 'tis only thinking that makes it so.

    Oh, but you are all worried about the messages being sent by the organization and labeling put on things by the store. Ah. Well, maybe there is something to that. But it seems to me that when you have people complaining about not being able to find genderless toys, or that the "girls' toys" are all pink or that you can't find "genderless" items in the stores or that parents can buy "genderless" toys because of the color or lack thereof of a toy, then it would appear that a lot of us have fairly set ideas of what constitutes gender in toys and children's items. Small wonder, then, that the stores are successfully catering to this.
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  6. #26
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    Just a thought, but toys aren't always purchased by parents. They are often bought by well meaning relatives, friends and others who are doing their best to pick something the child will like, and thus go with the safer bets. Sure, there are plenty of boys who play with dolls and girls who play with trucks, but let's be real - for most kids, it's the other way around.

    I'm not agreeing with the extent to which Toys R Us is categorizing their merchandise; just pointing out that not all toys are bought by parents since that seems to be a large part of this discussion. When my niece and nephew were little, their parents bought them almost nothing, because they were constantly showered with gifts from grandparents, aunts and uncles, older cousins, even great grandparents. They got a lot of board games and Lego, but there was also a lot of very well received Barbie and Hot Wheels.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by vesperholly View Post

    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.
    I knew I was having a boy, but I still wanted neutral stuff as the main part - I knew if everything went well I wanted a second kid, and I wanted to be able to use the clothes again. I was dissapointed too.
    I also don't like the fact that most stuff in the US, except boy stuff, is pastels - I prefer saturated, bold colors. Funny, much more baby clothes from Denmark is like that.

    My sister in law made some purple pants (a cute owl print) for my son, since in her opinion purple is a bold, unisex color - and I agree. Some of the daycare teachers were very confused

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    Small wonder, then, that the stores are successfully catering to this.

    Exactly.

    That is why I shop online at places like Rosie Hippo or Bella Luna Toys. Toys are in category but none are by sex. Sure it costs a little more, but I can hand down something nice to a friend that lasts.

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny View Post
    Just a thought, but toys aren't always purchased by parents. They are often bought by well meaning relatives, friends and others who are doing their best to pick something the child will like, and thus go with the safer bets. Sure, there are plenty of boys who play with dolls and girls who play with trucks, but let's be real - for most kids, it's the other way around.

    I'm not agreeing with the extent to which Toys R Us is categorizing their merchandise; just pointing out that not all toys are bought by parents since that seems to be a large part of this discussion. When my niece and nephew were little, their parents bought them almost nothing, because they were constantly showered with gifts from grandparents, aunts and uncles, older cousins, even great grandparents. They got a lot of board games and Lego, but there was also a lot of very well received Barbie and Hot Wheels.
    I'm guessing this is why they have the tabs for Boys and Girls. You can look by type of toy and that's not divided by gender. But it looks like they think some people are coming to the website to find a toy for either a girl or a boy and will be glad to have such tabs.

    I looked at the stuffed animals for boys and for girls. They show the same products.

    When I was four years old my far-away grandmother sent a birthday present for me. I don't remember exactly what it was but it was like some pink-pink-pink dressing table thing with hair brushes and stuff. I was so horrified I screamed and screamed that my parents had to send it back.

    I don't suppose my grandmother had found it under a listing for girls toys back in those old days though.
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  10. #30
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    I'm not really sure why this is an issue. It helps the customer by identifying pretty easily the traditional boys toys versus the traditional girl's toys. I don't think it is a deliberate attempt to somehow be 'genderist' or heterosexist or whatever. I'm surprised this is considered a big deal.

  11. #31

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    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.

    We can say that girls like pink things and enjoy playing with toy kitchens, so it makes sense that toy kitchens are painted pink, are marketed to girls, and are listed in catalogs as "girls" toys. But there is a chicken-egg aspect of that statement. Do girls like pink things because they innately like pink? Or do they like pink things because, from infancy, they receive pink things, see other girls wearing pink, and are get messages from others that reinforce the idea that girls are supposed to like pink? Similarly, do girls play with toy kitchens because they innately like to cook or because they pick up clues from society that cooking is something acceptable for girls to do?

    And, no, there isn't going to be anyone with a firing squad shooting the person who buys a "boys" toy for a girl or vice versa, but the ways toys are classified do create a sense of what is "normal" and what isn't. So the boy who wants to play with a doll or with the kitchen is labeled at a young age as strange or, even worse, as gay. The girl who doesn't like pink and hates Barbies is considered unusual. Obviously, that may depend on where you live and the different viewpoints in your local community, but there are a lot of parts of the United States that still subscribe to very traditional gender stereotypes. Certainly, there are people who buck the system and refuse to conform to those strictures, but a lot of people -- especially children -- don't know how. Instead, they conform to the norms and find themselves feeling lost and confused.

    We hear a lot about bullying of gays and lesbian children and teens, but that is just one part of a much larger issue during childhood with children struggling with dealing with the sense of what is "normal" and what isn't. I think we tend to hear more about gays and lesbians because sexual orientation is something that is impossible to for many teens to suppress and it becomes a source of very overt bullying. However, I think children conform in a lot of other ways. When a girl wants to play with blocks with the boys is told that she should be having a tea party with the other girls, that sends a message about what is acceptable for girls versus boys. When a girl sees images of only boys playing with erector sets or toy science labs and only girls playing with dolls, it sends her the message that her role is to be a carer and nurturer, while boys are supposed to build and discover things. When the little girl is in a group with boys and girls, who is she going to generally play with? Other girls. And what is she going to generally play with? Toys that girls collectively consider acceptable for girls. So if girls collectively are being sent the message that Legos -- a toy that the author of the petition correctly points out is a very useful tool for helping children develop spatial awareness -- are a "Boys" toy, girls are not going to be willing to play with Legos because they may fear being teased. Certainly parents can do a lot to counteract those messages, but I think it is worth pointing out when our children are being sent these messages and raising concerns about how they reinforces gender stereotypes and myths.

    Everyone here seems to agree that there is no reason why nearly all of the Legos should be classified as "Boys" toys by Toys 'R' Us. So why do we accept that? Shouldn't we object to the fact that a person looking at the website for "Girls" outdoor toys won't even know that Toys 'R' Us sells a half-dozen different basketball hoops? Sure someone who knows they want to find a basketball hoop for a girl can go find one by searching for it, but that isn't the point. The point is that Toys 'R' Us is sending messages about what is and is not apprioprirate for girls and boys when there is no reason for it to do so. It could have a category for "toy appliances" that includes tools, lawn mowers and kitchens. Just have "bikes and tricycles." "Action figures" can include the ones they list for boys and the girls figures that, inexplicably, they have under beauty accessories. "Building sets" should include everything in one category. It shouldn't matter that the set has a samurai, an airplane, or Olivia's kitchen.

  12. #32

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    I guess the concern is that young children, who can be highly influenced without realizing it by cues telling them what's associated with each sex, should feel welcome to browse among categories of toys that have been traditionally associated with the opposite sex.

    For the youngest kids, websites aren't the issue, but the actual store layout is.

    Definitely the manufacturers play as much of a part as the retailers.

    E.g., it's getting hard to find just the general bright-colored open-ended Lego sets that aren't geared toward building a specific themed product. Since my niece loved Lego more than her brother, it's lucky they had an older basic set that they could add to.

  13. #33
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    Where do you hang out that girls are told they can't play with blocks and must have tea parties?

    I live in a suburban town in a county so red that five people showed up for our Democratic caucus and only three were voters. This town of less than 8000 has 20 churches listed in its phone book. In other words, this is a conservative place.

    Yet when I have subbed at the local public preschool, I have observed "center time" where both boys and girls have play time turns at "kitchen" center, "doll" center, "trucks and cars" center and two centers with different kinds of blocks. No one grabbed the girls and forced them to the kitchen play area and no one kept the boys away from that area.

    I have a hard time believing that outside some extreme fundamentalist families, very many people are actively forcing kids to do or avoid certain things in regard to play due to perceptions about gender.

    As to Toys R Us...I just visited their website. You do have the option to click "Categories" and be taken to a page that divides toys by type. You can also click on an age range, or search by brand, character or theme, or just look for sale items. "Girls" and "Boys" are not the only categories available to search in.

    And if someone was going there to find a basketball hoop, I would think the person would be smart enough to search for "basketball hoop" on the search bar. I did that. Here's what I got: http://www.toysrus.com/family/index....goryId=3130081

    Notice that both boys and girls are pictured playing with the Little Tykes hoops. Toys R Us has not gender-segregated basketball.

  14. #34

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    My point is that you put a 5-year-old in the store and say "Let's look around and see what you're interested in," the kid is probably not going to head for an area of the store that seems color coded to exclude him or her. So they may not even become aware of toys they might be interested in if they're all located in a section geared toward the opposite sex.

    If everything were geared toward both sexes -- including production in a variety of colors -- and marketed to both sexes, there would likely still be a larger percentage of girls leaning toward traditionally feminine toys and boys leaning toward traditionally masculine ones, but everyone would have more options.

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    gkelly--reckless above your post specifically suggested that in some theoretical world, little girls are being drug away from the blocks and forced to have tea parties. I doubt that is happening anywhere outside the most extreme fundamentalist Christian families (some of whom do have very narrow views about gender and toys--google "Vision Forum").

    And what kids are interested in at the toy store can be influenced by more than the layout of the toy store. They don't choose their own toys all that much until the preschool years. What parents provide for them prior can make a big difference in what they are interested in when they are old enough to choose. It never ceases to amaze me that parents think they have no influence on their children and are going to be blown over by outside forces. A 1997 study indicates that parental influence is the most central factor in gender roles and socialization. Not the layout of the nearest toy store.

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    Everyone should have more options. That sounds good to me. But I don't see much to get particularly exercised about. I think the toy market reflects society more than shapes it. If a girl is going to feel comfortable rejecting girly-girl things, its mainly going to have to do with her how her parents, family and friends handle it.

    And given that, I really have to wonder is there not more openness toward less strict gender patterns today than in the 1960s? I find it hard to believe there isn't and that its somehow worse for kids today, but I don't really have much experience to go on.
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    Sewen's TRU did a gender neutral catalog this year. maybe because it was requested?

    http://blog.sfgate.com/sfmoms/2012/1...atalog/#8642-3

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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    Where do you hang out that girls are told they can't play with blocks and must have tea parties?
    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. And ask yourself this: why would Lego have to create a special product line for girls if they did not believe Legos were for boys? The fact exists that, at some point, boys learn to play with Legos and girls don't. As discussed in this Bloomberg article about the creation of the girls line:

    Linger for a few more minutes and you’ll notice not just the staggering array of Lego offerings—545 in the last year—but an absence. “They might as well have a No Girls Allowed sign,” says Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter, a fierce, funny investigation of the toy industry’s multibillion-dollar exploitation of the “princess phase,” which consumes girls at age 3 or 4. Orenstein is right. After overreaching and cratering in the early Aughts, the Lego Group deliberately focused on boys, and the short-term effectiveness of this strategy is undeniable. Revenue has increased 105 percent since 2006, according to the privately held company’s 2010 annual report, and Lego topped $1 billion in U.S. sales for the first time last year. It’s on track to do that again in 2011. “They’re killing it now,” says Gerrick Johnson, equities analyst at BMO Capital Markets, who has followed the company’s impact on listed toymakers such as Mattel (MAT) and Hasbro (HAS) for a decade. Lego, he says, “is the hottest toy company in the boy segment, and maybe the hottest in toys overall.”

    There’s now arguably a “Lego phase” for school-age boys that’s as consuming as the princess phase. But unlike tiaras and pink chiffon, Lego play develops spatial, mathematical, and fine motor skills, and lets kids build almost anything they can imagine, often leading to hours of quiet, independent play. Which is why Lego’s focus on boys has left many parents—especially moms like Orenstein—frustrated that their daughters are missing out. “The last time I was in a Lego store, there was this little pink ghetto over in one corner,” Orenstein says. “And I thought, really? This is the best you can do?”
    In creating the girls line, Lego tried to design a line that caters to the way girls play, while still encouraging them to build (and develop the spatial skills). But that also makes the new line more gender-specific and has the adverse effect of reinforcing gender stereotypes. As the article explains:

    The Lego Friends team is aware of the paradox at the heart of its work: To break down old stereotypes about how girls play, it risks reinforcing others. “If it takes color-coding or ponies and hairdressers to get girls playing with Lego, I’ll put up with it, at least for now, because it’s just so good for little girls’ brains,” says Lise Eliot. A neuroscientist at the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in Chicago, Eliot is the author of Pink Brain Blue Brain, a 2009 survey of hundreds of scientific papers on gender differences in children. “Especially on television, the advertising explicitly shows who should be playing with a toy, and kids pick up on those cues,” Eliot says. “There is no reason to think Lego is more intrinsically appealing to boys.”

    Maybe not, but even Knudstorp acknowledges that Lego’s girl problem will be hard to conquer. Lego sponsors a series of clubs called First Lego League to get kids interested in science. Recently, Knudstorp attended a Lego robotics contest and spoke to a Berkeley (Calif.) professor whose daughter excelled. “We’re seeing lots of girls perform extremely well, but her mother said to me, she won’t say that she’s a ‘Lego kid’ because that’s a boy thing,” Knudstorp says. “I don’t have any illusions that the girls business will be bigger than the boys business, but at least for those who are looking for it, we have something to offer.”

    In the U.S., Wal-Mart, Toys “R” Us, and Target all plan to carry Lego Friends. Target’s Stephanie Lucy, vice-president and merchandise manager for toys and sports goods, says the Minneapolis-based department store will introduce Lego Friends on an end-cap (at the end of an aisle), then shelve it with other girl-oriented toys, not with the rest of the Lego—all currently in the boy section. As long as girls find it, Lucy says, “I believe it will do very well.”
    These issues are not made up. Children (and their parents) do form these beliefs. And it is not that hard to then ask if this has some relation to why girls do not perform as well as boys in math and do not go into careers in science and engineering at the same rates as boys.

    I live in a suburban town in a county so red that five people showed up for our Democratic caucus and only three were voters. This town of less than 8000 has 20 churches listed in its phone book. In other words, this is a conservative place.

    Yet when I have subbed at the local public preschool, I have observed "center time" where both boys and girls have play time turns at "kitchen" center, "doll" center, "trucks and cars" center and two centers with different kinds of blocks. No one grabbed the girls and forced them to the kitchen play area and no one kept the boys away from that area.

    I have a hard time believing that outside some extreme fundamentalist families, very many people are actively forcing kids to do or avoid certain things in regard to play due to perceptions about gender.
    I can't speak for the school at which you subbed. Maybe it has a very good early education staff that is sensitive to gender issues, but I know a number of fathers who would be extremely upset if they saw their preschool-age sons being encouraged to playing in a kitchen or with a doll. They aren't extremely fundamentalist, but they would object to their sons engaging in such "feminine" behavior.

    I also don't think that you need "force" children to do things for them to feel pressure to conform to messages they are exposed to. The pressure to conform can be far more subtle, and it comes from other children as well as teachers, relatives, and other adults. I also never said the littler girl would be "dragged" to a tea party instead of playing with blocks. However, I think a teacher might suggest that Sally play with Lisa and Sarah, who are playing "tea" instead of Johnny who is building something with blocks. Or it might be Johnny who tells Sally that the blocks are a "boy's toy" -- something consisent with commercials and ads -- and nobody corrects him. Maybe Sally tells Johnny he's full of it and she plays with the blocks anyway, but maybe she assumes Johnny is right and she goes and plays with the other girls.

    And if someone was going there to find a basketball hoop, I would think the person would be smart enough to search for "basketball hoop" on the search bar. I did that. Here's what I got: http://www.toysrus.com/family/index....goryId=3130081

    Notice that both boys and girls are pictured playing with the Little Tykes hoops. Toys R Us has not gender-segregated basketball.
    Your search works if someone is looking for a basketball hoop. If someone is more casually looking for a toy for a girl and goes about it by thinking, "hey, let me find a toy for a little girl" and then clicks on "outdoor play," no basketball hoops appear. Doing the same search for a boy shows nine basketball hoops. (Ironically, the Little Tykes hoops is not one of them.) There is no rhyme or reason why so many more outdoor toys are listed for boys than for girls, and why so many obviously gender neutral sprots toys are. But that is how the site arranges them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueRidge View Post
    Are you saying they separate the stuffed animals into those for girls and those for boys? They don't just have a section of stuffed animals?

    Haven't been in a toy store in many many years.
    ...Never in any one I've been in. Or Meijer/Wal-Mart's toy aisles. Cuddly toys seem to either have their own aisle or they end up with the preschool/baby stuff.

    And right. I only went through a phase of wanting pink stuff because the world told me to. (I moved on to yellow when I was ten or so.) A lot of girls like pink. It's a pretty color. I don't think my brother picked blue for his room because the universe told him to--we both started out with the same color walls until we were old enough to express a preference. (Didn't play much with other girls and almost never with dolls, so no, not peer pressure. Even then I didn't really think of other kids as 'peers.') I never recall being directed what to play with in nursery school or kindergarten. I liked to wear one particular yellow ballet costume, I liked to play with a pegboard that I thought resembled a control panel from Star Wars. My brother liked to play with cars and trains. (Though when another parent at the Co-op nursery asked him if he was going to drive the train when he grew up, he apparently said no, he was going to OWN the train when he grew up...his definition of cars and trains were a little more specific than some kids...) Blocks were blocks--I liked the wooden ones, got fed up with Legos. (I'm result-oriented, not process-oriented. I never got interested in Legos until they put out specific, directions-included kits for fandoms I like.) I don't even remember any sort of differentiation in types of cuddly toys we got except I got more, probably because I liked them more. Still do, I'd rather have a stuffed toy than flowers.

    I suppose what I really dislike is the underlying message to the whole idea of MAKE EVERYTHING GENDER NEUTRAL is the idea that a boy might have no interest in dolls or toy kitchens or EZ-Bake, or a girl WANTS to play with sparkly pink dolls and not her brother's trucks is terrible and they should be made to play with toys generally preferred by the opposite gender whether they want to or not.

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    Anyone who seriously doesn't think this is a problem should read this blog- http://blog.pigtailpals.com/2010/11/...sexist-holiday

    It is very easy to educate ones own children about the stereotypes, and to encourage their individual interests. That is not the point. Our children don't exist in a vacuum- they have to live in a culture that has grown up with this.

    Here's another interesting blog about the history of toy marketing in the 20th century.
    Last edited by rjblue; 12-07-2012 at 02:59 AM.
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