Thursday 14 June 2012

The old boy/girl toy debate..

Ethan loves to push buggies and prams.  He has done ever since he could stand up and push from about 9 months onwards.  We'd be out at the park, I'd loose track of his whereabouts only to find him pushing around someone else's abandoned buggy.. I was forever apologising to other parents "he just loves to push!".  He's the same now, despite being perfectly able to walk without assistance for 2 years.  Whenever we go to a playgroup or to crèche, he makes a beeline for the buggies.

Only £1 from a charity shop - bargain buggy!

Does his love for what could be conceived as a "girls toy" concern me?  Does it heck.  I couldn't care less what he plays with.  He is who he is.  I've only just started feeling comfortable in my own skin and feel like I "know who I am" at the age of 30.  Being a child is all about discovery and learning.  If he wants to push a doll around in a buggy, wear fairy wings and shoot pretend guns at the same time, that's just fine with me.

He's always loved to push...
But still.. just watching a few minutes of Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network, it's quite apparent how much sexism still exists in the world of advertisement and toys.  Girls banging on about Lellie-Kelly, flashing pink wands with lipgloss inside them. Nerf guns with only boys in adverts.. it's still there.  Pink pink pink for the girls with an added dose of nail polish and guns and mud for the boys.

What a load of crap.

I know many parents who are unaffected by this, who let their children play with what they like, like whatever colours they want and express themselves, and that's just great.  I know though, that this divide between the sexes is still there though.

One of Ethan's favourite dress up items - what he calls his "princess" (ribbon skirt)
I've always let Ethan play with whatever he likes, whether it's a Sindy doll or a tractor.  If he sees me with painted nails, he wants his done.  So I do them.  I don't care what anyone thinks.  How on earth could you think that a child having painted nails dictates their sexuality?  But people do!  Even those of us who think we are open minded are affected.  Only the other day, when Pete was setting off for work on his bike, Ethan asked if he could push his (pink) buggy outside when saying bye to Daddy.  Of course said I.. but Pete said "he can't push that pink buggy outside, what would people think?!"  I was amazed!  I said it doesn't matter, it's just a toy buggy, what exactly is someone going to deduce if they see our son pushing around a buggy?  I suppose hubby has a point though, I can see some people jumping to stupid conclusions..

Earrings and lego.. that's covering all bases!
It's hard, isn't it.  Our road is full of boys, there is only one female child living on our part of the road, all of the rest are boys.  It's dominated by football, bikes, waterbombs, guns and skateboards.  You never see anyone doing anything remotely "girly".  Our neighbour opposite us is a tattooed, roll up smoking, truck driving cider drinker who loves to set off display quality (probably illegal) fireworks at random times and owns three massive German Sheppards. Despite that he is a friendly helpful man, but he is without a doubt, very much a "man's man".  In fact, he has admitted to us that because Pete wears glasses he nicknamed him "Clark Kent".  He already sees us as slightly weedy middle class neighbours.  Add into that mix our child perusing the streets dressed in pink wearing fairy wings and pushing a buggy, it's pretty obvious what conclusion he'd jump to!! What does it matter though?  It's nothing but an opinion...

Who wouldn't want to dance around in rainbow fairy wings?

I maintain my point.  Ethan can choose what toys he likes.  If he likes men or women, it doesn't bother me.  He's a little boy and he enjoys playing with dolls and wrestling.  At his young age (and whenever) he should be allowed the freedom to play with whatever he chooses.  And colour should be embraced!

"I'm Princess Ethan!" I used to dress my brother in this 23 years ago...
What are your thoughts?  Do you let your child play with what they like and wear what colours they like?  Do you feel judged if you let your boy play with dolls or your girl play with cars?  Do you care? Let me know!


  1. God, this drives me nuts. Walk into any Mothercare or ELC & it's very much divided down gender lines - here's the pink shelf with the buggies and the pans, and here's the blue shelf with the cars & dinosaurs. And then they got all enlightened and started making garages in pink and buggies in blue - woo hoo! Because a girl would look stupid playing with a red garage wouldn't she? And it'd probably turn her into a lesbian or something!
    No, I won't let my 4 year old boy wear a necklace to nursery - but I wouldn't let my 6 year old girl wear one to school - because it could get caught on something and hurt him. But he can wear it on the way there if he wants. They're kids - they play with what makes them happy and if Felix insists on wearing a tiara & handbag to the shops, then he can, he's not doing anyone any harm is he? In a few years time he (probably) won't want to (and if he does - who cares?)
    What makes me really sad is the fact that companies who have traditionally designed non-gender specific toys (yes Lego I am looking at you) have recently decided to climb on the pink sparkly bandwagon & market sets especially to girls where the components are a combination of insipid pinks & purples. In fact it doesn't just make me sad it makes me want to puke (& then head off to Denmark to kick some butt with a pair of pink sparkly DMs)
    Now if I could just get my Mother-in-Law to understand my point of view...

    1. Oh God... I'd forgotten about the pink garages and pink lego business.. that drives me bloody mad as well... GRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!! You know what.. I'm a girl, and pink is actually one of my least favourite colours (though I do wear some) and my son is... well, he's a boy, obviously, and he loves pink over all other colours (though his second choice is "rainbow"). He would actually love pink lego, thinking about it... but of course, that's kinda missing the "point" of pink lego as far as designers/advertisers are concerned...

  2. For most children of this age the person they spend the most time with is their mummy. So it's not surprising they are quite happy to dress up in skirts and earrings, and push pushchairs - they're just following their main role model. I have boy/girl twins and they play with the same things, and the pink pushchair causes the most arguments!

  3. I hate those Nerf adverts! ;-P


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