Saturday, 17 May 2014

'boys' toys vs 'girls' toys

Twice this week I've had a conversation with someone over gender stereotyping in kids and where we draw for the line.

Personally I don't see the problem with my boys playing with the traditional "girls toys".  When they went to the childminders the first thing Noah would head for were the baby dolls and the pushchair.He spent hours playing with it, taking it for walks etc.   They both enjoy getting the tea-set out at home to play shops or picnics.

They enjoy watching Frozen and play endless games where they are Elsa or Anna (fighting over who will be who)...... they wear my old uni fairy wings and wands, my 5 year old has even been known to prance around the house wearing my bra when he was younger.

And who could forget how much fun they had when Bodyshop brought make up and other goodies to the #MidsBlogMeet, they were in their element. 

or how they love to have a bath using Lush's bathbombs

They still ask for hair chalk on and after a trip to the Relaxation Den the other day for a nail session they just had to sit and have their own nails done.  This has started a passion for painted nails among them, which I thought was very strange and rather 'girly' but then I discovered I wasn't the only one as my friend (who runs Luminosity Nails) also paints her little boys nails when they ask for it done.

When it comes down to books they do read the "Little Miss" stories, we're reading I can't find anything wrong with that, however I gave my childhood collection of Sweet Valley High/ Twins, Babysitters Club, Scrambled Legs and Naughtiest Girl in the School books to my friend for her girls.   I can't see the boys reading them, instead I acquired (from Freegle) the Famous Five stories.   Now I did read these as a child, so why should I class them as 'boys books' yet stories about boarding schools as "girly"?
I would never deliberately by stories about princesses and fairies, yet when they have read them they love them.

WHY am I like this.... because my husband does gender stereotype when it comes to the kids.  They got laughed at and called girls for playing with the baby doll and pushchair (not that it stopped them).  They get teased for having painted nails or playing with makeup. So I have to steer clear of them.

Just how far do you let your children take the gender stereotypes??

The conversation at work started like any one does between 2 mums talking about their kids, the difference being my friend has a little girl and a boy (he's the youngest) whilst I have 2 boys.
  She was telling me how her little boy likes to wear his sisters Rapunzel dress and she has no issues with it.  I agreed that, yes, if there was a princess dress in the house I wouldn't stop my boys wearing it.   She then went on to tell me about her sister who not only lets her little boy wear the princess dresses she actually goes to the shop and buys them for him, he has the dressing up jewellery, dresses and even sparkly heeled shoes.  Now I'd never go that far (I know some would, and I'm not saying it's wrong) .... but that's not my husband's influence, I just couldn't buy them 'girls' toys.  Same as I wouldn't buy them a Barbie doll, My Little Ponies and (this is where the second conversation came in) Sylvanian Families.

I loved Sylvanian Families.  I spent hours and hours with the little creatures, watching the videos, nursing baby cat in her cot, playing schools with the brown bears and the grey rabbits.  I don't remember having any houses for them but I played with them (and my Polly Pockets) endlessly.    I wanted to buy them for the boys last Christmas (always one for bringing my childhood nostalgia back into their lives) but my husband refused telling me they are 'girls toys' and I wasn't to buy them.  WHY oh WHY are they 'girls toys?' perhaps it is because stores still market them under 'dolls', where do you find them?  In the girls section of course.  A quick google search brings up plenty of old links from sites (following the campaign a couple of years ago - link) as 'girls toys'.

I sadly admitted this to Sylvanian Families who did tell me they were for 'girls and boys' now ... but still.... I'd be really interested to see my husbands reaction to them if they were bought as a Birthday/ Christmas present.  I don't think he's STOP them playing with them, I've never seen him take a 'girls' toy off them yet.  I think he knows his views are wrong and outdated but it doesn't stop them, it has to be what you are brought up with.  He had a sister and I'm guessing his dad teased him and wouldn't let him play when he picked up hers .... the other way round tho?  I bet she was never told to put down action man or stop kicking a football.

We go to Western Park museum loads and the boys always head for the play house and dolls, same at their cousins house.  They don't think it's girly and I wouldn't stop them playing with it.... but would I buy one for their playroom? No.


You may remember the tale of the 7 year old who wrote to Lego about their sexist toys.... how the 'girls stay at home' and the 'boys go on adventures'.

Now Lego has never been a 'boys toy' in my eyes. We had tons of it when I was younger and the fact they have almost felt forced by gender stereotypes of bring out a 'girls range' (Friends) shocks me.  

Yes the boys love their action sets (Catwoman, and Poison Ivy included).  and yes they could bring in some more female firefighters or police constables.   But introducing a specific girls range... in girly purple or worse the PINK princess kits that is just asking to turn it stereotypical??!!  

My boys would love to have an affordable bakery, juice bar, swimming pool or football pitch spring up in Lego City.  But I'm not allowed to buy them as they are marketed 'for girls' they come in bright pink packets (and don't get me started on why the figures are different sizes).  

I'd love to know your views.... are your girls girly?  are your boys boys?
Are there any toys you wouldn't let them play with in your house but would happily let them play with in others?

This is my #badmums post for this week.


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