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Gender neutrality, and the hand-wringing it, um, engenders - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Zoethe

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Gender neutrality, and the hand-wringing it, um, engenders [Jun. 11th, 2015|10:53 am]
Zoethe
Thanks to a letter from a little girl (and undoubtedly a lot of other complaints, but this is the one that gets the credit) who thought that she couldn't have the Darth Vader costume because it was labeled "for boys," Disney had stopped labeling its toys and costumes as "for boys" or "for girls" and is now labeling them "for kids." Many people are applauding this as a boon for gender neutrality.*

Some on the right, however, see it as runaway political correctness and think it's stupid that parents can't just explain to their kids that just because something is labeled for one gender doesn't mean that they can't have it, too.

Some of these are the same people who, when told that just because Christmas is treated mostly as a secular holiday doesn't mean they can't explain to their kids that it's about Jesus, flip their shit and scream about the War on Christmas.

Look, I am of the opinion that political correctness can sometimes get out of hand, and that people are often way too sensitive about the weirdest crap. But considering what an uphill battle women still face in the marketplace, thinking that it's okay to tell girls that they just have to live with being marginalized from childhood is problematic.

In an era when we're supposed to be getting past these sorts of issues, the pinkening of girl's toys puts a lie to that claim. Toys are big business, and toy stores steer their pint-sized clientele to segregated aisles, marked by color. Not only do girls get dolls and appliances and makeup and fluffy stuffed animals, they don't even get a chance to compare trucks and lightsabers side by side with those toys and make a decision about which they want. Not unless they are willing to buck the stereotyping and march into those blue aisles.

This is not something immaterial. Study after study reveals ongoing teacher bias that discourages girls from pursuing math and science. Women still earn less than men and do the bulk of the unpaid labor. If life is a footrace, then girls start their race several yards further back on the field and have a lot more hurdles along their track than boys.

"For kids" may seem like a small thing, maybe even a silly thing. But it's one less hurdle, one less time that girls have to be told that they aren't actually included and must buck expectations in order to get what they want. Bucking the system is exhausting, and we all have only so much energy for it.

*And it's good for the boys who want that princess dress and can no longer be put off by parents pointing to the "for girls" label.)
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: fallconsmate
2015-06-11 03:28 pm (UTC)
i have a daughter who hauled around a pink purse filled with hotwheels cars when she was little. now i have a granddaughter who does the SAME thing, while dressed in a black tshirt and pink tutu.

my son was allowed dolls as well as "action figures". boys have to learn to be hands-on daddies somewhere! and he went with the wearing dresses thing for a couple of weeks, too. no big deal.

kids are kids and toys should be for everyone, no matter which type they are.
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[User Picture]From: wilhelmina_d
2015-06-11 04:14 pm (UTC)
Well said!
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[User Picture]From: coeli
2015-06-11 06:54 pm (UTC)
I strongly agree. Gendered toys are stupid. I grew up playing with dolls and action figures, toy kitchens and toy cars. I had access to a variety of toys handed down from my older sisters and brother, and was lucky enough to have parents who cared more about what interested us kids as individuals than a stereotype of what we "should" be interested in.
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[User Picture]From: khavrinen
2015-06-11 08:56 pm (UTC)
As someone who works for UPS, I share your unhappiness with the "pinkening" of girls toys. Lately it seems that the boxes for girls' toys are not just "pink" but "OMFG PINK!!11!!elebenty!!" It's like the people who design the box-art can barely force themselves to allow any hint of another shade to intrude on the pink-ness, in fear that the poor consumer won't be able to figure out that the toy is supposed to be for girls. "Well, there's almost an inch of blue on this three foot square, eye-searingly pink box; must be for boys."

Gahhh!
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[User Picture]From: ratfan
2015-06-12 01:17 am (UTC)
May I note I especially appreciate the virulent background pink of this page. My eyes will recover in time (g) Yeah, gendering of toys always bugged me as a kid, though i wasn't sure exactly why. I just thought the lego and trains and so on were so much cooler. I may have been less subtle than I thought - anyway, when my brother got a toy train, my parents knew I better have one too :-)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2015-06-12 01:36 am (UTC)
It's okay to love pink (in my case, purple, the version rendered closer to pink than I'd choose). It's another to have no choice BUT pink.
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[User Picture]From: ratfan
2015-06-12 12:14 pm (UTC)
I know, I was joking. I thought it was a nice use of irony, considering the subject. Purple, now, that's one of my favourite colours of all time.
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[User Picture]From: lawchicky
2015-06-12 02:27 pm (UTC)
The thing I don't understand is that I think it's the PARENTS that push their kids into whatever gender norms they believe in and not the kids. As a mom of both genders, I can say that my daughter has never had an issue going into the "boys" area to find things like Lego or Angry Birds or Adventuretime items. Similarly, my four year old son could care less where the Littlest Pet Shop toys are located- he just wants to play with the cute animals. That being said, my daughter does love "girly" things like Disney princesses and Lego Friends, and I'm glad that toy manufacturers offer pink, frilly, lacy things too, because she enjoys them. How about we just encourage people to let kids play with whatever they want. Who cares what they're CALLED or what aisle they're located in.

The little guy and I went to McDonalds yesterday for lunch as a treat. He got a Happy Meal and didn't ask for the "boy" toy. He asked for the "Skylander" because that's what he wanted.
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[User Picture]From: zzzzsleep
2015-06-12 11:10 pm (UTC)
Both my wife and I do love the following quote:

"Here is how you tell if a toy is for boys or girls:
Do you operate the toy with your genitals?
If yes, then it is not a toy for children.
If no, then it is appropriate for both boys and girls."
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2015-07-28 06:24 pm (UTC)
This is still making me chuckle.
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