After going to the “Toys R Us” website I can conclude that stereotypes of gender roles are passed on from generation to generation with the help of most children toys.
Girl toys stress physical beauty and appearance, and home caregiver roles, while boy toys focus on their physical abilities and handyman roles. However, I was also able to find toys that were gender neutral that emphasized creativity and energetic fun. I feel that gender socialization, through toys, teaches and strengthens stereotypical gender roles.Two of the toys I found were categorized under “Girls”, and then further categorized under “pretend play” and “bath, beauty and accessories”.
The toy in the category “pretend play” was a “Prepare and Share Kitchen Set”. Its colors were pink and white, and the picture that displayed the toy had two little girls playing and pretending to cook and clean in the kitchen. The other toy in the category “bath, beauty and accessories” was a “Sassy Salon” that was hot pink and black.The display picture was only of the vanity itself, it did not include any children, although, customers who have bought the product can post pictures to the product description for display to others who are interested in the product.
One of which, did have a little girl sitting at the vanity in front of the mirror. I feel that not only the colors, but also the names and type of product help teach stereotypical gender roles.Girls are supposed to work in a home setting, cooking, cleaning and preparing to care for others, but also be beautiful and “be the most fabulous “sassy” gal on the block” as the message on the vanity set states. Under the category “Boy’s” I found sub-categories such as “pretend play” and “outdoor play”.
The two toys I found were a pretend lawn mower and a junior basketball set. The colors were “typical” boy colors, green, blue and black. Both products had pictures that displayed little boys playing with these toys.Again, I feel that these toys help reinforce the stereotype of how boys are supposed to be as adults, doing the manual labor and playing sports.
The two toys I found to be gender neutral were an art easel and an interactive game that consisted of a battery operated elephant that blew pretend butterflies out of its truck for children to catch in a net. Both of these products displayed both a girl and a boy child creating art and catching butterflies. Rather than these products having one or two gender bias colors, they had several primary olors, for instance, the easel was yellow, blue, and red, and the game was red, orange, yellow, green and blue. These products promoted creativity and physical activity, but did not present anything that had to do with what type of role either gender should portray.
All of these products do promote skills that are important and fun for children, but some of them teach children that girls must be one way and boys another. The reality is, there are some men who are the stay at home caregivers, and there are women who are great at sports and are skillful handy-women.I feel that these products may discourage a child from doing something they are interested or it may even encourage teasing or bullying, because the product is “made” for the opposite gender of them. In my opinion, some toy products are not quite in line with reality, because the toy manufactures choose colors themes for these products that appeal to only one or the other gender.
Hopefully, parents will encourage their children interests and curiosities no matter what category or stereotype a toy may be in.