The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Toy Wars: Boys Have Better Toys Than Girls

My seven-year daughter isn’t into Barbies. Or the lip-lined Bratz dolls with their wide, disinterested gazes.

She’s not into princesses either ­– “They don’t do anything,” she once explained – or the color pink.

None of the “girly stuff” for her.

Instead she loves animals (both herbivores and carnivores, but prefers those whose native habitat is on the African continent). She immerses herself in art (which our overflowing craft shelves can attest to) from crayoning to painting to building mosaics from colored blocks.

She also enjoys running, swimming, speeding about on her scooter and playing on the monkey bars. Anything with speed and motion, like a lot of her girlfriends.

Finding intriguing toys for her this holiday season should have been relatively easy. Instead, it was a grapple in the distinctions and assumptions made about boys and girls.

My three-year old son loves anything with buttons, blasting and creating. As obscure as that sounds, finding toys for him is effortless. Store shelves are stocked full of tough superhero guys that shoot rockets, building sets, explorer compass/flashlight sets, etc.

Those toys also do something. They aren’t inanimate objects that can only pose. They may require three-dimensional thinking and execution through building. Or they reward instruction following with a cool effect. Kids can actually learn something while honing their motor skills manipulating small linking pieces to create a rocket ship or operating motor.

These same toys are considered “boy stuff” to most girls. The majority of the toy themes are geared to boys from war games to male rescue squads or racer cars with boys shown cheering the cars on the box lid. Generally these toys are also grouped in the “boy” section of the major toy chains. (To find the “girl stuff” follow the pastel hue until you reach the shelves of dolls, stuffed animals and craft kits.)

I see Lauren eye the gifts that William gets with envy and interest. He is given a head lamp to use for exploring. She, in turn, is given a beading craft. William gets spy goggles and a flashlight that can fit on his belt loop. She is given a set of nail polishes and a Beanie Baby.

I don’t know who cringes more, her or me.

As a Mom of two daughters I’m conscious of the concerns young girls continue to face around body image, esteem and eating disorders. As the sister to three brothers, I am also pleased that organizations are working to encourage young women to consider careers in math and science. But I also have to question why encouragement is needed.

Yet, I wander through the stores trying to find what is so obviously missing from the shelves for my inquisitive, engaging daughter who just so happens to not be into “girly” stuff.

Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails, that’s what little boys are made of. Sugar and spice and everything nice. That’s what little girls are made of. . .

By Maija Threlkeld

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This was a very interesting perspective. I've thought a lot about the boy/girl stuff because my son does not fit the traditional boy mold. But I had not considered how passive so many of the girls toys are. Fascinating,

Marianne Lonsdale
Thank you for your post. I too, am appauled by the gender division in the toy departments, and later on in life in general. Thank you for your courage and skill in bringing it up. Also, as a preschool teacher observing many kids in play, I can attest that gender divides in play are not nearly as prevalent and "innate" as toy marketing people would like us to think. Again, thank you.
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