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Girls, Boys, Toys — And Gender

Just in time for the holidays, we’ll look at boys, girls, gender identity – and the way we make and market toys. Plus, we look at new GM CEO Mary Barra, the first female leader of a major American auto company.

Barbie toys are displayed at a Target Store in Colma, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013.  (AP)

Barbie toys are displayed at a Target Store in Colma, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013. (AP)

So, the new CEO of General Motors is a woman, Mary Barra.  An engineer and now mega-boss.  But stroll the aisles of your nearest mega-toy store, and you will see few signs of girls being encouraged to take that path.  Or for that matter, of boys being signaled they might take the path of super chefs like Mario Batali or Gordon Ramsay.  When it comes to toys and gender, America’s toyland is as segregated and color-coded as it’s ever been.  Maybe more so.  Pink and blue and hyper gender-segregated.  Up next On Point:  boys, girls, gender identity and the way we make and market toys.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Abha Bhattarai, Retail, hospitality and banking reporter for The Washington Post. (@abhabhattarai)

Melissa Atkins Wardy, CEO of the online clothing and toy company Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies. Author of the forthcoming “Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight The Stereotyping and Sexualization of Girlhood, from Birth To Tween.” Executive director of the Brave Girls Alliance. (@PigtailPals)

Elizabeth Sweet, PhD candidate in sociology at UC Davis, where she focused on gender and children’s toys. (@ElizabethVSweet)

From Tom’s Reading List

TIME: The War on Pink: GoldieBlox Toys Ignite Debate Over What’s Good For Girls — “True, as toy stores have gotten pinker, women have made more progress in the workplace. All those cute little vacuum cleaners and mini baby bottles haven’t discouraged girls from going to college or excelling in academic fields other than science. Women make up the majority of undergrads and are entering law school in equal numbers to men. So it’s clear that gendered toys aren’t entirely to blame for the dearth of female engineers—a myriad of reasons from lack or mentors to childhood development contribute as well.”

New York Times: Guys and Dolls No More? – “If toys were marketed solely according to racial and ethnic stereotypes, customers would be outraged, and rightfully so. Yet every day, people encounter toy departments that are rigidly segregated — not by race, but by gender. There are pink aisles, where toys revolve around beauty and domesticity, and blue aisles filled with toys related to building, action and aggression.”

Washington Post: Forget the next ‘it’ toy: Barbies, Legos are tops this season — “In a year when one toy has yet to emerge as the must-have of the season, analysts say retailers and consumers are reverting to the basics: cars, dolls, Legos and bicycles. But that may not be enough to save what many expect to be a slow holiday shopping season. ‘There are no hot toys this year; there really aren’t,’ said Gerrick Johnson, a toy industry analyst at BMO Capital Markets. ‘We don’t have a Tickle Me Elmo or a Zhu Zhu Pet or a Cabbage Patch Kid — nothing that is approaching phenomenon status.’”

G.M.’s New CEO Mary Barra

Jerome Vaughn, news director at WDET-FM in Detroit. (@jvdet)

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • http://www.handsomeinpink.com/ Handsome in Pink

    That sounds great! We will definitely be listening to you, Melissa. Good luck!

  • geraldfnord

    I was amused to hear someone’s saying that the case of a young boy who had been given no toy guns’ pointing his finger and exclaiming ‘Bang!’ proved that the desire to play with guns was ‘genetic’—I marvelled at how quickly the shape and use of guns had evidently been written into our genomes, and wondered if we could find similar such for arquebuses and petards in any legible DNA from 15 Century graveyards….

    I shouldn’t be the least bit surprised to learn that average aggression levels were higher in boys than in girls regardless of culture, but 0.) the culturally-specific expressions matter and 1.) I’ve seen so many girls more aggressive than so many boys that the averages might not really signify, the underlying distribution doesn’t seem so double-humped as all that.

    • HonestDebate1

      Making a finger gun has gotten kids suspended from school. That seems like a bigger problem to me.

  • Fiscally_Responsible

    “If you like your toy gun, you can keep your toy gun. PERIOD. If you like your Barbie Doll, you can keep your Barbie Doll. PERIOD.”

    • GnuMom10

      And if you are a boy who likes Barbie, you should be able to have one. PERIOD. And if you are a girl who likes to play with toy guns, you should be able to have one. PERIOD.

  • Fiscally_Responsible

    We should encourage boys to play with “boy toys” such as trucks, toy guns, G.I. Joe, etc so that they don’t turn into “girly men”…i.e. effeminate, or even worse!

    • Ray in VT

      Why? Is it going to turn little boys homersexual if they play tea party?

      • 1Brett1

        Worse than that: they’ll be effeminate homersexualzzz!!!

      • J__o__h__n

        I’d discourage anyone from playing tea party.

        • Ray in VT

          Hey, all of my kids have, at times, liked some good fake tea, at least when it is served on a Dora the Explorer table.

          • J__o__h__n

            You missed the joke about the Teabaggers.

          • Ray in VT

            Maybe not. Are you sure that they don’t like to sit around a Dora table? Perhaps she is too controversial or something, I mean, after all, she speaks Spanish. She’s always trying to get across some river or bridge. Sounds fishy to me.

            I did, though, take your comment as against tea parties, and not the Tea or TEA Party. I was keying off on capitalization.

        • HonestDebate1

          I agree, it’s no game.

    • Renee Engine-Bangger

      Thanks for the sarcasm. Most people here will miss it thought.

    • TFRX

      Sounds like someone’s cracked Fiscal’s account and stolen his password.

      I mean, that is satire. Right?

      • Ray in VT

        I think not. Remember, Beyonce’s outfit at the Super Bowl was going to supposedly lead men to commit adultery or something.

  • John Cedar

    I was in a clothing store last fall, where not just the clothing but the restrooms too, were segregated by gender, just like these evil toy companies are doing. Our society is no better than the Taliban. While the Taliban methodical and violently forces its women into house arrest, our country does the equivalent in toy stores.

    • 1Brett1

      I hear ya…a buddy of mine went to Toys-R-Us to buy his son a toy truck, and he was slammed to the floor, handcuffed, and dragged away to a detention center to await sentencing! …I just hope they don’t stone him to death like they did his brother for buying his daughter an Easy Bake Oven!

      • HonestDebate1

        You can’t buy an easy bake oven anymore, too dangerous.

        • J__o__h__n

          According to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, they now make a gender neutral version.

        • 1Brett1

          http://www.toysrus.com/buy/small-appliances/easy-bake-ultimate-oven-93404-11663759

          Of course, give Obama a little time, he’ll make the new versions illegal too (it’s all part of the Benghazi/Easy Bake Oven conspiracy designed to destroy America)…but I suppose they’ll have to pry your Easy Bake Oven from your cold dead hands…

          • hennorama

            1Brett1 — please stop confusing the Omniscient One with facts that are not in the “forrest.” It’s quite rude. ;-)

            BTW — WB.

          • 1Brett1

            You’ll probably at least score a few points for spelling ‘forrest’ the correct Southern way.

            …Being that Obama is a Muslim (by Islam–AND Western North Carolina–standards), he especially doesn’t want boys to have Easy Bake Ovens! Although, it must be a quandary in terms of gift-giving gender neutrality at the Obama household around Christma, er, The Holidays, as he wants his daughters to grow up lesbian anyway…

          • HonestDebate1

            He’s a black liberation theologist.

          • 1Brett1

            You said he was Muslim by Islam standards, though…but I won’t quibble; what is your knowledge of “black liberation theologists”? What are their beliefs?

          • HonestDebate1

            I don’t presume to know what is in people’s hearts which is what determines religious beliefs. I don’t accept the Muslim standard and am not sure to what extent it exists.

            I know black liberation theologists are not Muslim. I know President Obama spent 20 years in a church whose reverend was a practitioner of Black Liberation Theology. It only follows that Obama is not a Muslim…plus he said so.

            Just look it up. IMO they feed off of resentment and are far too focused on the color of skin. I endorse Mandela’s approach.

            “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies”

          • 1Brett1

            You seem so adamant most of the time about which you later don’t seem to have much opinion…weird

          • HonestDebate1

            Adamant about what? Obama not being a Muslim? Guilty as charged.

          • HonestDebate1

            That makes me so sad. It’s a travesty. I’m with Obama on this one.

  • creaker

    I haven’t been in a toy store in ages, I don’t remember blue aisles – but I do remember the pink aisle. It seemed to be much more of a “the general toy store is for everyone – but this one aisle is not for boys”.

  • HonestDebate1

    I don’t care who gets what toys but it seems to me there is a great effort to ignore the basic fact that boys and girls are completely and beautifully different from each other. This should be celebrated not ignored.

    • creaker

      It’s sad though when gender stereotypes trump individuality. Each child is completely and beautifully different from others and this should be celebrated.

      • HonestDebate1

        I get your point but if we can’t stereotype by gender then that means viewing boys and girls as the same.

        • creaker

          It really depends on how you do it – I would expect a girl to go to the pink aisle just because they are girls. Directing or limiting a child to the the pink aisle because she’s a girl and should conform to that stereotype is something else.

          I’m sure plenty of younger boys get directed away from pink aisle because being a boy they aren’t supposed to like that stuff and they haven’t been taught that yet.

          • HonestDebate1

            Fair enough.

        • GnuMom10

          “…if we can’t stereotype by gender then that means viewing boys and girls as the same.” YES, that’s the whole point. Any differences are pretty minor, and many of those will probably be based on individuality rather than some innate tendency toward pink or blue. Stereotyping is a bad thing, as it serves to generalize and box people in to strict categories based on one characteristic, rather than allowing us to view someone, like a child, as an individual with their own desires and likes and preferences.

          • HonestDebate1

            I agree with the individuality thing but in general boys will be boys and girls will be girls. It’s not a minor difference, civilization relies on that difference.

  • HonestDebate1

    I had a rehearsal last night for a gig tonight and was talking afterwards to my gay friend about a party we once played for a gaggle of lesbians. I recalled that me and the drummer were the only guys there to which she replied, “or so you think”. We laughed.

    No point really.

    • 1Brett1

      Your a credit to your enlightened sensibilities to have a gay friend…and you even played once for a ‘gaggle’ of lesbians! Is there no end to your evolved being?

      • HonestDebate1

        It was a hoot! I had an absolute ball and made many friends that particular night years ago. I saw a few tonight. We laughed and hugged. I have to admit, I usually get a kick out of gigs like that. Some of the pride events get over the top though… but the outfits are awesome. I’m sure you know.

        Is gaggle not the right term? Is it a flock of lesbians? I know it’s a parliament of turkeys. Herd? School? I don’t know. My friend called them hazbiens because they were older… and the woman (I think… I thought I knew) who hired us was her long ago ex. For nearly 10 years they had a joint custody agreement with their dog. Really, they did. It was kind of sweet. “Maxine” finally passed last March.

        But just between us girls, we did another party one time with a gaggle, I’m sticking with gaggle, of 30 something lesbians and I didn’t really realize it because many were very feminine and beautiful. Not that the butchier ones aren’t beautiful, they can be… just like anybody else. They’re just mostly sweetly comfortable in their own skin and that’s what draws me in usually. Same thing with the straights, especially the ugly ones.

        And she’s not just a friend but I can’t explain it. It’s a music thing much more intimate than sex. You’d probably understand… maybe. But who cares? Not me. She was great tonight, that’s all I know.

        I’m not sure I answered your question.

  • Jasoturner

    Today, “toys” are nothing more than a route to big profits by companies that probably couldn’t care less about the value their products might or might not bring to developing children. You can discuss gender issues, but the grotesque commercialization of “play” in general strikes me as a bigger issue.

  • kaybee63

    I think girls have no problem playing with boys toys – it’s that boys are discouraged from playing with “girly” toys. As long as traditional women’s work is considered second class, we won’t have parity. Let’s face it, housework, child care, education and caregiving still needs doing, but it’s never seen as important as men’s work.

    • J__o__h__n

      Some of the girly toys are really girly though. I looked at a recent Lego catalog and could see children of either gender enjoying most of the toys except for the pink infused Legos for girls (which I couldn’t imagine many girls would prefer).

      • kaybee63

        Yeah, the pink Legos are a but much – no color variety if nothing else.

      • GnuMom10

        And that’s the point – why are there pink Legos for girls, when girls and boys both like regular Legos? Why does everything for girls have to be pinkwashed?

        • kaybee63

          Yeah, I love pink, but I’m not gonna build a pink power plant – though that might look pretty cool, come to think of it.

          • GnuMom10

            Or what if a boy likes pink, but doesn’t feel comfortable having to go into the pinkified Barbie aisle just to get come more color diversity for his Legos? We punish boys pretty harshly in this culture for liking anything we associate as “girly”, resorting to homophobia and negative associations with femininity. How about just adding pink, and purple, and turquoise, to the regular Lego mix?

          • J__o__h__n

            There was a Brady Bunch episode where a client wants Mr Brady to design a pink factory.

      • kaybee63

        “Pink infused,” – nice choice of words ;)

  • Coastghost

    Is demand this season for toy guns tracking actual gun purchase trends of the past year?

  • J__o__h__n

    If you give a toy gun with a “Happy holidays” card, how do the conservatives react?

    • JamesG

      What are they? A Borg collective? How do YOU react?

    • Mike

      That’s a strange question… Must be blinded by a paradigm…

    • Give_Me_Liberty_92

      …I would politely send it back. In my home all guns are real and they must be treated with respect and properly stored at all times, not something to mindlessly give to a kid to play with, even if in the form of a toy.

      anecdotally, I see more toy guns at my liberal friends’ homes than in gun owner’s home….

  • twenty_niner

    I’ve got two little girls, and I’ve I tried to get them to play with boy toys (which are more fun for me), but it’s all dolls and princesses and castles and tea parties. Any one need a train set?

    • kaybee63

      There shouldn’t be anything wrong with girls OR boys doing that though. We just assume that traditional boys stuff is always better. I loved princesses and dressing up and still went on to graduate with an engineering degree.

      • JamesG

        The assumption is that all pink and girlie stuff is “domestic” and that all tough and war-like stuff is “macho”. IMO neither are useful in preparing children for careers (except as housewives and soldiers I suppose).

    • JamesG

      That is something that is being overlooked by the discussion. There is some gender identity that is instinctive and genetic.

      • 1Brett1

        Hmmm…aside from physiology, what gender identities are ‘instinctive and genetic’?

  • Coastghost

    Gift-giving as therapy for “escaping limitations”?
    A distinct pity coal is not appreciated for its palpable gender-neutral status.

    • JamesG

      LOL!

    • J__o__h__n

      It isn’t carbon neutral.

  • Coastghost

    Toys and games “impose cultural limitations”? Well, and so: how preferable is the strategy of pretending that gender distinctions do not in fact exist, are not in fact real, and merit only rejection?

  • Laurie Anne

    My five year old granddaughter needed a new snow suit this month, and she specifically said she would not wear pink or purple. it took an incredible effort to find her something that was reasonably priced. Virtually every department store had ONLY pink or purple in the girls department. We ended up looking at the boys clothing.

  • ToyYoda

    I think we should buy them arduino toys. Give kids a head start in the electronic world.

    • JamesG

      But the would sell pink and blue ones… lol

  • Coastghost

    The market for didactic toys doesn’t sound nearly as large as some of this morning’s stated ambitions for the market.

  • AliceOtter33

    My kindergarten age son is obsessed with a couple of YouTube channels that offer tutorials on specialty cake baking and decorating. “Nerdy Nummies” is hosted by a woman video-gamer who makes Minecraft and Lego Cakes and “Cakes by Choppa” is hosted by a dad who specializes in themed birthday cakes from Spiderman to My Little Pony.

    Guess what my son wants for Christmas? Fondant and sponge cake mix. Done!

  • tncanoeguy

    I’m a guy and have three older sisters. I “inherited” some of their old toys of course. I don’t recall the toys being overly girly and I don’t know if the Easy Bake Oven was marketed to girls exclusively back then – 1970s – but I thought it was pretty cool.

    • kaybee63

      No, they weren’t always pink – they tended to follow kitchen trend colors – mine was turquoise. They should probably be stainless in today’s kitchen fashions.

      • JamesG

        You can’t say that. It undermines the thesis that there is a conspiracy by mean ol’ straight people to control your kids.

    • PJ2012

      My brother loved my oven. I couldn’t keep him away from it.

      • Mike

        Sounds kind of kinky to me… Woody Allen?

        • PJ2012

          More like Wolfgang Puck, Marcus Samuelsson, Rocco Dispirito, etc.

  • JamesG

    Much to do about nothing. Girls can have dolls and pink things and still be interested in learning and achieving.

    Its is up to the PARENTS to take the time and effort to do that instead of leaving it to the commercial toy and television companies (or public education for that matter).

  • tncanoeguy

    I guess the Easy Bake was marketed to girls mostly back then.

    • kaybee63

      Yeah I’m sure they were, but that doesn’t mean that my best friend Paul didn’t like to make cakes with my EZ Bake Oven when he could.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        “make cakes”
        Some sort of euphemism?

        Sorry, couldn’t resist. :)

  • J__o__h__n

    Quibbling over neutral v. inclusive is a bit silly. Neutral is not a negative term or concept.

    • JamesG

      Apparently it is… Or someone is using it to sell books and get research grants…

    • Mike

      It’s not negative but it is not feminine or masculine. We need all three. F, M and N.

      • JamesG

        Or simply have things that cross over gender ids, like pink bulldozers etc.

    • ShlomoShunn

      Being neutral is necessarily a good thing.

      Pontius Pilate, after all, was “neutral.”

      Also, note this lede:

      >”The dispiriting story of Swiss dealing in looted gold from Nazi Germany demonstrates the limits of neutrality as an honorable policy in the face of overwhelming evil.”

  • Coastghost

    What of “the fear” being expressed by the guests over “traditional gender roles”? Is the avant-garde so much in charge these days?

  • JamesG

    “Get out of their kids way…”

    Wrong. Parents are responsible for preparing their children for adult life, and that includes the social expectations for their gender identites. For the most part, that means that boys should be “boys” and girls should be “girls”. That is the path of least resistance and gives them the most opportunity. For the most part, and even in an more liberal and inclusive society.

    • GnuMom10

      How about preparing their kids to fight back against social expectations and be themselves? Would you tell your kids to just go along with racism, or would you tell them to fight back? Just because something is the path of least resistance doesn’t make it right; in fact, that often means it’s wrong.

    • andic_epipedon

      WTF. The path of least resistance doesn’t always lead to more opportunity. You have to choose when to go with the flow and when not to to be successful. People who always choose the path of least resistance are often responsible for letting the problems in society become exacerbated.

      • JamesG

        An individual, even an individual family can’t fix social problems. You are confusing idealism with the practical reality of parenting. All they can do is prepare their children for that environment that best they can to give them the best odds possible.

        • andic_epipedon

          That was my mother’s thinking until I came out of the closet and she had to deal with reality. It was only until my aunt, a social worker, told her that people who choose not to live out their gender identities and gender preferences have an extremely high rate of suicide did she start to change her mind. If you have children do you want them to commit suicide?

    • Diana Tortolini

      Social expectations for girls are marriage, children and a non-threatening, limited education in a non-STEM field. Is THAT what we should be preparing girls for? I’d rather empower both boys AND girls to develop the intelligence, self-confidence and skill sets they’ll need to live as independent, civically engaged adults.

      • ShlomoShunn

        And expectations for boys? To stuff feelings, play when hurt, and make all first-moves to meet supposedly equal women (who insist they can be CEOS but, aw-shucks, can’t bring themselves to ask men out.) ‘Cuz guys are money-making machines that LIKE paying to be with females…right?

        Feminists endlessly jabber about what women want, totally ignoring the other half of the world. It never dawns on them that many men have things they want changed, too. And that some of those involve women changing and/or45 giving up their pedestal perks.

        Many men hate their jobs and only work to be able to attract females or start/maintain families.

        It’s amazing to watch women become lawyers and so on based on TV/movie depictions…only to realize they gave up having kids to join men in hellacious rat-races.

        • Diana Tortolini

          Huh? We’re talking about raising children — I said BOYS and GIRLS — to be functional, independent adults, regardless of whether they choose or are even able to find someone they want to be with to start a family. What we’re NOT talking about is your dating life and financial situation. This isn’t about you. Take it to another thread.

      • JamesG

        Only if you’re Amish or live under a rock. Stereotype much?

        • Diana Tortolini

          Uh, you’re the one who’s trying to turn boys into “boys” and girls into “girls.”

          –Stereotype much?

          No, but you apparently do.

          • JamesG

            LOL… that is so sadly funny.

  • JamesG

    Wow… patronizing…

  • PJ2012

    I am a SAHM with a 4 year old son. He plays with whatever toy he is interested in playing with, we don’t limit him. A friend at church gave her son a doll she played with as a child. Her mother questioned her allowing him to play with it. She said, He will be a father one day. Why shouldn’t he learn to love and care for a doll as a baby?” I thought that was a great answer.

    • JamesG

      what is a SAHM (too early here to decipher acronyms)?

      • PJ2012

        Stay at home mom. I added that because I saw a few earlier comments about the conservation being tinted with feminist drool. I don’t consider myself to be a feminist. My husband and I have the goal of trying to raise a well rounded young man.

        • JamesG

          OIC. LOL.

        • ShlomoShunn

          Boys will try on their mothers’ shoes, fathers’ jackets, and so on. Support them to be who they are.

  • J__o__h__n

    The default being male is in some ways a success of feminism. Surely girls playing with toys now considered neutral is better than having sports equipment, trucks, trains, blocks, etc being considered as boys toys.

  • JTB

    So glad that this conversation is happening in a national venue! Toys and marketing is an incredibly influential, pervasive cultural site where intervention on the problem of increasingly rigid gender roles is needed–and I applaud Melissa & others who are doing this work! As a Christian theologian I work toward the goal of making churches a site of intervention rather than reinforcement of these problematic gender constructions, and Melissa’s work is key in bringing this topic to the attention of parents I talk to!

    • JamesG

      Not that influential. The kids don’t really care about colors. They just become acculturated to those being gender cues. Which then leads them to pick and propogate those same gender cues later. But they are arbitrary and could be anything else too.

      Also the toy industry simply responds to the above demand. When people shop for a gift for someone’s child, the safest bet is to get something that has those gender cues built into them. The customer is always right.

      • justjack

        Actually there is no evidence according to Ms. Sweet, for the demand argument. In fact the evidence trends to the contrary. Marketing depts actually drive toy companies, not consumer demand.

        • JamesG

          And why/how do you think marketing and advertizing people do what they do?

        • ShlomoShunn

          Dream on. Women are the biggest purchases. Their whims are catered to.

    • Coastghost

      “Increasingly rigid gender roles” (sic): over the past forty years? in the US?
      I hear the assertion, I don’t see the evidence.

    • ShlomoShunn

      Yeah. And great to hear the EQUAL male voices on athe show after 5 decades of feminist monologues.

  • Mike

    Society has been actively demasculated by the the “enlightened” progressive” ones out there. A boy being a boy (masculine, physical, rough edges…) has been so put down and “girl power” has been so pumped up that children and weaker parents are confused. Male and female are different, that’s not arguable. Masculine traits are considered negative while feminine traits are applauded. I believe there is an agenda being pushed by many in position of power in our society and we are just beginning to see the consequences of it.

    I haven’t even touched on the role of absent fathers. Children and male father and female mother, that is a fact, not arguable, demonstrated by nature, physiology, thousands of years of history…(can’t believe I have to even say that…) Fathers not manning-up, and walking out on their children is a tragedy and just plain selfish. However, we create that as well, with society’s giving “equal value” to any type of family, saying that “one family structure is as valid as any other…”

    We are seriously messed up right now…. We are just beginning to see the consequences of that in our culture…

    • justjack

      I hear a lot of my brothers talking about this emasculation thing. I only experienced with my son and with my daughter in elementary grades. Once they hit middle school age, a lot of the so-called feminization of boys ended. Where this intersects with toys, extreme genderization drives my kids almost more nuts than it bugs me (and it does bug me). I have no problem with female empowerment. It’s absolutely not a threat and it’s indicative that women are at least having the conversation men aren’t having… the level of b.s. shaming that goes on among male-male conversations about this issue feels like I’m back in fifth grade PE classes. Obnoxious and backward at best.

      • ShlomoShunn

        > “…female empowerment. It’s absolutely not a threat”

        How brave of you to say on a feminist site that you have, er, feminist sympathies.

        What does this “empowerment” entail?

        How is it attained?

        > “women are at least having the conversation men aren’t having…”

        Because, just like women are allowed to cry, men are shamed whenever they honestly respond to feminism. Females can get angry because they’ve been told the lie that “men have all the power.” Men aren’t allowed to note their burdens because fembots want men to stay harnessed in traditional roles.

        That dog no longer hunts.

        >”the level of b.s. shaming that goes on among male-male conversations”

        Right. You’ve obviously never read Dworkin, Daly, or other femininuts. Hysteria, lying, and shaming are their strong suits.

        Then again, you probably bought the idea that females are sugar and spice and everything nice…ignoring history wherein the biggest killers of kids are the mothers…and those most like to abuse/neglect children, the sick, and the elderly are (wait for it!)…FEMALE!

        Yeah, I know. The truth hurts sometimes.

    • jimino

      Maybe “walking out on their children” is just one of those masculine traits that you so admire. Do as many women do it?

      • GnuMom10

        Maybe allowing/encouraging boys to play with dolls will help them develop their nurturing skills and help them be better dads. After all, that’s the argument for girls playing with dolls, that they’re practicing to be mothers.

      • ShlomoShunn

        Most divorces are started by supposedly “committed” females.

        They do so because “no fault” divorce faults men, netting Mommy Dearest the kids, cash, car, and castle.

        Give men equal custody, and women equal CS orders, and you’ll see divorce rates plummet.

        It’s coming.

        • 1Brett1

          Second time you’ve almost started ranting about women beating up men in divorce…since you like the reactive slam against a commentator you don’t know anything about, how about this as a reply: “aww, poor little Shlomo got pelted in a divorce; his wife took him to the cleaners and now he’s a bitter little man…aww”

    • TELew

      So I guess this means the end of football, right?

      • GnuMom10

        Nope, just the end of not allowing girls to play football.

        • TELew

          There’s nothing wrong with that, providing they can take the hitting and all. I’ve known quite a few boys who weren’t up for it.

          • GnuMom10

            Which just goes to show that it’s not about gender; it’s about the individual. The female football player at my high school certainly demonstrated that to our team.

          • TELew

            Holley Mangold, whose stats are 5’8″ 350 lbs., played offensive lineman at her high school. She is currently an Olympic weight lifter.

          • ShlomoShunn

            There are some celebrity male hairsylists, too.

            Your point?

            Oh, and since “one” girl matters, why aren’t feminist happy with females in science? After all there was Madame Curie…right?

          • ShlomoShunn

            How so? What position did she play?

        • ShlomoShunn

          Of course, when girls are treated the same as boys per football parents sue schools because they should have protected Snowflake from beastly “danglers.”

  • Will Pedigo

    I have a 3 year old daughter and 7 month old boy and we want our children to grow up regardless of gender to be creative active and empathetic. Couple of strategies we use:
    online shopping to avoid gender marketing
    build toys and books

    and the most gender inclusive toy I know, the playground… which we fgrequent as much as we can.
    Thanks for this conversation!

    • PJ2012

      Love the playground. We play outdoors as much as possible.

      • ShlomoShunn

        How many fathers play there with their kids?

        An equal number?

        If not, what are you doing about it…wanting equality and all?

  • skelly74

    This Lady Melissa is obnoxious. She obviously is a guerrilla ultra feminist using her “message” and her “business” to bash masculinity. If she wants to do feminism a favor, she should stop ending each sentence in an upward inflexion. Is she asking us a question every time she speaks? Be assertive with your statements and don’t hide your feminist bent behind toys.

    • JamesG

      It is the effected aire of a patronizing academic.

      • justjack

        Wrong guest… the academic isn’t Melissa.

        • JamesG

          Both of them did it. I can understand your confusion.

    • GnuMom10

      Thanks for mansplaining to us poor women who thought we were just standing up for ourselves and our kids.

      • JamesG

        Standing up for yourselves, or pushing an agenda?

        • GnuMom10

          If you want to call it that, then, yes, we’re pushing an agenda – of equality.

          • ShlomoShunn

            Well, then, you should welcome EQUAL pushback from those who find your views misandric.

            Or do you think having genitalia that go inward make you right?

          • JamesG

            Is an apple equal to an orange?

      • ShlomoShunn

        No problem. Just trying to clarify your vagspeak.

    • justjack

      Why does this bother skelly74 so much? What’s coming up for you that you go to such an extreme judgmental reaction to merely a woman, a parent and a business person speaking her mind and simply sharing what she knows?

      • JamesG

        Or what she thinks she knows…

      • ShlomoShunn

        Justjack: White-knighting is not an honorable profession.

        Do you really think teh wimminz can’t hold their ground, can’t take criticism without help from Mangina Central?

  • 1Brett1

    Being that we are close to Christm, er, The Holidays, it is every liberal parent’s hope of getting every little boy a pink boa and every little girl her first chainsaw!

    • JamesG

      LOL! Nothing goes with “The Holidays” like sowing the seeds of gender/sexual confusion.

      • ShlomoShunn

        C’mon. You KNOW Santa is really a female with an eating disorder.

    • Mike

      What about a pink chain saws? Perfect for our new, progressive age. Obviously – fake chains, so as not to hurt the trees. I am so confused…

      • kaybee63

        One good thing about pink tools – less likely to be stolen since thieves are more likely to be men.

        • GnuMom10

          Unless they’re men who like pink…

        • ShlomoShunn

          “thieves are more likely to be men.”

          You obviously are not aware how women act in divorce courts.

      • HonestDebate1

        Using chainsaws is manly work.

    • Ray in VT

      I bought my son a vintage Jesse “the body” Ventura dress up kit. It comes with a pink boa, and we all know how girly Jesse is!

    • ShlomoShunn

      Gold!

      • 1Brett1

        Given the crude, shoot-from-the-hip, chauvinistic quality of your comments, juxtaposed with your enthusiasm for this particular comment, you’ve either completely missed my sarcasm, or you must believe such nonsense about liberals, or both. I’d say should one look at the gestalt of your commentary, you’d be squarely put in the ‘dolt’ category.

  • 1Brett1

    It’s kids’ unalienable rights to own a toy gun, both boys and girls!

    • Ray in VT

      Uh, it’s inalienable. There’s some sort of big difference, don’tcha know.

      • 1Brett1

        Uh, oh, now you’ve done it!

      • TELew

        Ray,

        I would think it is their alienable right to own a ray gun (or phaser, or blaster, as the child prefers).

        • Ray in VT

          My kids would likely take the phaser, and there’s nothing like having a good blaster at your side.

          • TELew

            It’s funny, even though I was of the Star Trek generation (and was a freak for ST when I was a teenager), I have always preferred the term ray gun (but not as in Ronnie).

          • Ray in VT

            Ray gun seems more of a 1950s sci-fi term, doesn’t it? I just want my flying car, although I might just settle for a hoverboard.

          • TELew

            Yes it is. It was the term we used when I was a kid.

            As for travel–I think I would prefer a transporter (Star Trek) rather than a flying car for the same reason I try to avoid driving during a snow storm–other drivers. Traffic is bad enough being two dimensional. Think how bad it would be in three dimensions! (Of course, with their new drones Amazon.Com might give us a glimpse of this!)

          • ShlomoShunn

            You know, of course that TASER refers to kids’ sci-fi hero, Tom Swift…right?

            It’s an acronym for “Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle.”

          • ShlomoShunn

            They might be fazed by a taser, too.

      • HonestDebate1

        Anyone who tells you there’s a big difference (it’s teeny) is lying… whatever that means.

        • Ray in VT

          Funny. I thought that you claimed that one meant that rights could be taken away and the other couldn’t. That seems pretty huge. Please provide some evidence that there was even a teeny difference from the time of the Declaration. You have yet to provide any.

          • HonestDebate1

            Nope, neither can be taken away. You just hear what you want to here, I’ve been consistent.

            http://www.gemworld.com/USA-Unalienable.htm

          • Ray in VT

            Yup, same old cr*p. Timely definitions. From the time of the Declaration. Contrasting the two. Not from 75 years later. Not from the 20th century. Not just usages. Something that actually shows a difference.

          • HonestDebate1

            I replied to you up top on the Jefferson Board.

    • Labropotes

      Mr Dylan has some interesting thoughts on toy guys.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtmEDbwYSh4

      • 1Brett1

        Either that or he just likes to make a mockery of interviews when interviewers ask inane questions…but, hey, I’ll play along; what do you consider “interesting” about Dylan’s “thoughts”?

        • Labropotes

          That he is offered a soapbox and passes.

          • 1Brett1

            Well, perhaps…but if you think Dylan’s desire in such a situation is to take advantage of a soapbox, then you don’t know Dylan.

            Speaking of a soapbox, you have one here–no advantage taken on your part…interesting.

      • HonestDebate1

        I’ll bet Carlos had a different answer.

  • Lori Day

    Question to everyone freaking out in this thread at the idea that we give both boys and girls more options and fewer limitations: WHY is this idea controversial? How will it hurt you or your child if all kids have more options? Finally, why so vicious on the internet?!

    • ShlomoShunn

      Typical wimmin’s studdees nattering: say anyone who disagrees with Femthink is “freaking out” and “vicious.”

      Shaming much?

      People disagree with you. Get used to it.

      Oh, I forgot. You prolly went to a feminized school where “diversity” meant “feminist-only.” So you aren’t used to hearing other viewpoints or defending your own.

      Amazing how fembots claim women are rough, tough, and combat-ready while whining about folks having “different ideas.”

      Weenies.

  • justjack

    Seems to me this is mostly a Ferengi thing; mostly marketing strategy to increase sales/profit. I like Ms. Sweet’s observant questions, Why is gender the marketing target line? There are a lot of other criteria possible, so why is gender the anchor point?

    • GnuMom10

      10 points for a Star Trek reference!

    • ShlomoShunn

      Since women are advertisers’ target– being the biggest consumers– feminists might want to consult Team Vag about its choices.

  • Sy2502

    Let the kids choose their toys. Although I hear from people who try to raise gender neutral kids that the boys still go for the trucks and the girls for the pink stuff. It seems it’s not just cultural after all.

    • justjack

      Almost true, except that, according to a lot of SAHDs like me, a whole lotta boys especially when they are younger like the “pink stuff” as much as the “trucks.” My Boy disassembled all the trucks and repurposed them (along with a lot of my tools, gah!) while he played his sisters stuff a lot (much to her chagrin).

      • GnuMom10

        Kids start making different choices as they get into kindergarten and start learning more about gender definitions. If you leave them alone to make their own choices, they may change again once they feel comfortable enough with their gender identity not to feel bound to stereotypes. My daughter really only was into pink and dresses for that one year, and now is back to enjoying a wide range of toys, from Hot Wheels to dolls to video games to crafts to books to Legos.

  • Coastghost

    I nominate “gender-neutral” as one item for inclusion in the overdue rewrite of Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language”. “Gender-neutral” in feminist groupthink apparently signifies “feminist-enhancing” (“feminist enchanting”?) and/or “homophilia-inducing”: anything to undermine “traditional gender roles”, the enemy for which only unspoken, uncritical, or self-evident ethical rationales will suffice.

  • Lori Day

    Lordy, lordy, the MRA’s on this thread! I guess this was a mighty threatening radio segment for some of you. Funny, I thought it was interesting and enlightening and so very child-positive. But by all means–let’s keep those kids in their gender boxes!

    • ShlomoShunn

      Oh, my goddess: another clueless fembot askeered of other voices in the echo chamber. So much for toleration, welcoming “diverse views,” and so on!

      Fembotulism is a sinking Titanic. The harridans can’t hack reality.

      • Lori Day

        LOL!

  • andic_epipedon

    I thought I was the only one who noticed the extremism in the pink and blue section in Target. It’s one more reason that keeps me from wanting to have kids.

  • andic_epipedon

    I know a bisexual who has two kids that won’t let her five year old boy have pink things because her parents (the grandparents) will go crazy. It drives me crazy as a lesbian who expresses more on the butch side.

    • Ray in VT

      My wife’s grandparents complain whenever our boys’ hair get down to their collars. I think that there are definitely some generational issues that play into some of these things.

  • MattCA12

    I think of all the real problems we have in this country, and I scratch my head over topics like this. This is a solution looking for a problem.

    • andic_epipedon

      Actually, it is really important. My parents always bought me girl toys and my brother boy toys. The only thing they allowed us to both play was Star Wars. My parents went nuts when I played with my brothers toys and he played with my toys. It took my until I was in my thirties to understand that I was forcing myself into a role that wasn’t right for me. It almost lead to my suicide. And my brother is still a metro-sexual.

    • GnuMom10

      I would say that sexism and limitations on girls is a very real problem. Would you say the same if we were talking about racism and black children?

      • ShlomoShunn

        How real are the limits on women?

        As for racism (which is practiced equally by white women): how many Tyrones and Shaniquas apply themselves in school?

        Slavery was abolished a long time ago. Meanwhile, millions of whites are now out of jobs. If blacks prefer to continue depending on the Gubmint, good luck. Tax monies are tanking due to the unemployed not paying in.

        Plus, why not talk about the limitations on boys….you know, the ones imposed by women who want strong, silent, emotionally-repressed guys?

        • The poster formerly known as t

          People who don’t adhere to societal norms or ideals in regards to gender, have it rough, male or female.

          As for the Tyrones and Shaniquas, it seems from my very limited experience that they get bad start in life, they are disconnected from wider society, their parents don’t know HOW to help them or their parents are over their heads. They tend to have add , tend to be highly aggressive and extroverted, which makes anything that requires abstract thinking seem like torture to them. The Tyrones and Shaniquas lionize alpha males to the detriment of stable families for their children.

  • anon

    I’d be curious to see the studies about how these toys don’t encourage girls to go into STEM fields. In many parts of the world – especially the Middle East – it’s perfectly normal for girls to go into STEM fields; they’ve never heard that they’re NOT supposed to do well in or like those fields. Hard to believe that it’s due to the toys they play with… I think there are different reasons. Perhaps it doesn’t help that girls are bombarded with are about one million images of someone like Miley Cyrus ‘twerking’ someone or licking something – to every one image they see of a woman engineer?

    • GnuMom10

      I would say it’s probably a combination of those things and similar images of women that focus on appearance over brains.

      • andic_epipedon

        I’m not so sure. I worked as an interpretive park ranger with kids for a time. Sad to say as a tomboy, if I wanted to peak most of the girls interests I had to incorporate pink and purple and other girly colors into my program that were not natural. I never used dolls, just colors. Both gals and guys like to see things blow up. My volcanoes program was the most popular. I just had to deal with pink lava from most of the girls without rolling my eyes.

        My coworker was able to peak boys interest in butterflies although I’m still trying to figure out how she did it.

        • GnuMom10

          But that doesn’t mean pink is innate to girls. How many of those girls were buried in pink from birth, with parents and other family buying them pink clothing and blankets and toys? How many times have they been told, overtly and covertly, by family and friends, or by peers or advertising, that girls are “supposed” to like pink?

          • andic_epipedon

            As a park ranger, I had to work with what I was given. I don’t disagree that girls are programmed to like pink by society, I just don’t think it has that much influence over whether or not girls go into STEM. Fact: Most park rangers that work with kids are female. Most professional biologists that I ever worked with when I was a professional in the field of environmental technical resources or met in the field of natural resources, particularly on the biological end of things were women. My own field of soil science is mostly men, but the class that I graduated with was split about 50/50 male to female. How many CEO’s are women mentoring other women?

            I’m not as concerned about pink as long as I don’t have to wear it as I am about young women not being encouraged to do things that interest them or encouraged to take the easy way out and become baby factories that are totally dependent on others. I’m not saying I’m opposed to stay at home moms, I just don’t like weak stay at home moms.

    • J__o__h__n

      “especially the Middle East” – not most of it. Burqa Barbie can’t even drive her pink car in Saudi Arabia.

      • anon

        John needs some educational toys. In Saudi, she probably has a driver and maybe owns her own car, though – but she doesn’t have to wash it or put gas in it or walk to her car in the extreme heat of summer, because her driver picks her up at the door. In the US, that would be considered a luxury. Anyway, Saudi Arabia is not representative of the Middle East – but even there, as across the Middle East,there are more women than men in university.

        In neighboring countries, it’s very normal for women to go into STEM fields, and huge numbers of them are engineers. They’re often disappointed when they meet those ‘women aren’t good at math’ attitudes when studying in the US. This may be partly because they go to separate schools. Women are taught by women teachers, they see women engineers, and everything else. It wouldn’t occur to them that they weren’t as smart or couldn’t do math. In fact, they seem to do better than the men. In Kuwait, for example, not only are 2/3 of the university students women, but women also have many more graduate degrees than men. (And they get those degrees at government expense.)

        • The poster formerly known as t

          There are two reasons why more women are in university; Education is seen as natural contraceptive for women. This of courses enrages men who crave a traditional family and I suspect is at the heart of the violence against women in that region.

          Women are barred from entering blue collar professions. Culturally, they are forbidden from getting their hands dirty–your driver anecdote is a prime example of that. Since they are barred from many unskilled professions because they are not fit for their gender, “a good family” usually tries to send a women to school where they hope she learns a profession or marries a man with a profession.

          • anon

            Absolute nonsense from someone who doesn’t have a clue! Women in university also get married and have children; they have a lot of support.

            That’s at the heart of the violence against women? Well, your first statement is false anyway, so there’s no point in addressing this one. So what’s at the heart of the violence against women in so many other places?

            As for blue collar professions, you’d have to list specifically what you mean. If you mean fixing cars or something, well, Saudi men don’t do that either. It’s pretty clear you’re not at all familiar with the country.

            A good family usually sends a woman to school where they can marry a man with a profession? LOL! The universities are either for men or women; they’re not mixed…

          • The poster formerly known as t

            “That’s at the heart of the violence against women? Well, your first statement is false anyway, so there’s no point in addressing this one. ” I can’t speak for Saudia Arabia,or everywhere, but in India, there’s certainly a tension between college educated women and uneducated men that sometimes erupts into violence. Tom covered a story on this back in January. I understand that India and Saudia Arabia are two different countries where two different religions dominate but attitudes about women working out side the home are similar.
            “Women in university also get married and have children; they have a lot of support.”

            Yes, from their resourceful middle-class families, who have more relaxed views on women working outside the home. But the purpose of encouraging education among women in conservative societies in the Middle East, is to get women to have children later, and if they have children later, they will have fewer of them and will be better equipped to take care of them. The expectation is that an educated woman will marry an educated man and they will have fewer children.

            “As for blue collar professions, you’d have to list specifically what you mean. If you mean fixing cars or something, well, Saudi men don’t do that either.”
            Saudia Arabian men may not fix cars but someone hast to fix cars in that country. Foreign-born men, probably, if there’s a ring of truth to your comment. Blue collar professions are skilled jobs that don’t require a degree from university. Construction, plumbing, carpentry, and metalworking, I’m sure, women are barred from entering. I mean, they’re not even allowed to drive a car.

          • anon

            You’re right… you can’t take something from India and try to claim that Saudi is the same way… hardly…

          • The poster formerly known as t

            If you actually read what I wrote, you would have seen that I wrote that attitudes towards women working in both countries were similar…not identical, but similar.

      • ShlomoShunn

        She also doesn’t have to defend her country with her life. Talk about the perks of having particular pudenda, too

    • andic_epipedon

      I think you are right. I don’t think the toys have that much to do with STEM. I think Miley Cyrus is the culprit.

      • anon

        Maybe not her specifically, but the whole environment where women are seen as sexual objects. Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus are well known; in fact, you can’t get away from hearing about them. How many women scientists or engineers are known at all?

  • salsamurai

    It may be that some girls would choose pink even if toys were presented in a gender neutral manner. What disturbs me is that by saying some toys are for girls while others are for boys, it implies that it is abnormal or not even a choice to accept other toys. Can you imagine if we labeled toys based on racial stereotypes? There would be great outrage. There should be just as much outrage for saying dolls are girls toys and rockets are boys toys as there would be if basketballs were marketed as African-American toys while science sets were marketed to white children.

    • ShlomoShunn

      The difference is that a lot of white males would not whine about the basketballs. They’d admit others were better at the game.

    • HonestDebate1

      Did you ever see the movie, “White Men Can’t Jump”?

      • andic_epipedon

        Is that why there are so many white high jumpers at the Olympics?

  • ShlomoShunn

    Ah, so 3 FEMALES again discuss “gender.” Typical feminist idea of “fairness.” That is, ignore half the world and hope men don’t notice the sexism, male-bashing, and misandry.

  • ShlomoShunn

    > ” In fact, they seem to do better than the men.”

    No need to do the “tougher than Rambo” gambit. It’s enough to say many females CHOOSE to do what they do. After all, it’s hard working in coal mines and “manning” Alaskan crab boats. It’s far easier to complain that females with degrees in Wimminz Studees don’t make as much moolah as male brain surgeons.

  • ShlomoShunn

    Women have equal opportunities in workplaces already. It’s just that they CHOOSE to work less hours for less years in less dangerous jobs.

    Want to make more money? Then work on a deep-sea oil rig. Or help build high-rises. Or dig tunnels. Or construct bridges. Get out there in the elements, risk your life, and you’ll be rolling in dough.

    On a lesser level, start asking men out on dates (and pay for same!). Learn how to both assert yourself and accept rejection. It’ll come in handy when you’re negotiating a salary.

    Yeah, i know: it’s easier to whine about the hard lot of teh wimminz.

  • ShlomoShunn

    Ageist!

    Gabby Hayes was god! : >)

  • ShlomoShunn

    Too true. It’s the dark heart of feminism.

    They SAY they want equality, but MEAN full access to traditional lad turfs for lasses while keeping a monopoly on female bastions. That’s why they demand that Feds pry open CEO positions for females while denying males equality on the homefront: e.g., equal custody awards.

    They actually think males will put up with this forever. They don’t see men already choosing to drop out by not marrying or MGTOW or becoming Japanese “grass-eaters.”

    Watch when more men go on strike and say, “Here you go, ladies: YOU hold the rifles, pave the roads, build the skyscrapers. We’re goin’ fishing!”

    Men are in a much better position to survive “off grid.” They have the skills and technical know-how to live well on little. After all, guys build infrastructures. It ain’t Susie Creamcheese down their maintaining the sewers.

    Plus with the advent of the “hookup hoochie culture” there’s no need for guys to get married to “bump boots” with gals.

  • ShlomoShunn

    Google “Oliver’s Pink Bike” on youtube.

    Listen to raconteur James Braly.

    Says…and solves… it all.

  • David_from_Lowell

    I view it as an extension of the prevalent predatory economy, which most easily targets the weakest members of society. These days, it’s necessary to teach your kids from a young age that the mass consumer market’s primary goal is to leach off as much from societal health as possible for their own distant profit machines.

  • HonestDebate1

    I don’t think the idea that giving a boy girly toys will make him gay has any merit. Ditto the inverse. A few commenters have suggested as much. But I do think if small boy is obsessed with girly toys then chances are he’s gay.

    • andic_epipedon

      From my friend who specialized in child development, kids don’t really start to figure out whether or not they are gay until they are until they are at least six. My brother wanted my dolls consistently and he is metro-sexual. Incidentally, I hated dolls and ended up as a lesbian. It’s more about people trying to force you to be someone you are not, that’s why they came up with the whole idea of Tomboy. Tomboy is neutral on sexual preference, but it is very descriptive of ones core identity. I wish there was an equally acceptable word for guys who are kind of effeminate.

      • HonestDebate1

        I agree. I don’t really think kids need to think about sex or sexuality at all before that age or maybe older. To the extent we impose that with toys, I’m sure many do so I guess that’s something to consider. I do think that if a 12 year old boy is playing with barbies and boas it could be a clue though. I wonder if your hating dolls was a clue but I imagine there are lesbians who liked dolls as well.

        I never thought about the the word tomboy but that’s a good point. Sissy doesn’t mean gay and effeminate doesn’t either but both have a negative vibe that tomboy doesn’t have. I like “festive”. Men can certainly consider tomboys sexy but I don’t think the inverse is as true.

  • Mike

    “…strict gender norms.” What in the world does that mean? I hope you are not referring to women thinking they are men and men thinking they are girls. That is seriously messed up. We were born with a gender – you can check – easily. Gender is not something we chose. There is undisputable biology and physiology in play here.

    • Syl

      I think you mean sex… The sex of a person refers to their genitalia. However, gender is a chosen way of expressing one’s identity. Gender and sex are absolutely two different things. To argue against that is just ignorant.

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