February 17, 2013
Serpent made with CITIBLOCS (Photo credit: Wikipedia).
I was recently reminded of how certain toys are specifically marketed to girls. Barbara Williams drew up a list of “Ten Toys Only Marketed to Girls” that includes pink (usually plastic, I think) vanities, cosmetics, jewelry, dress up costumes, etc. Not to say that boys can’t or won’t play with those but chances are, if they do, people will wonder. Barbara points out that it’s typically larger corporate stores that are awash in pink toys for girls.
Turner Toys is biased because we carry many classic toys that appeal to both girls and boys. Gender-neutral toys include wooden puzzles and blocks for all ages (from alphabet blocks to CitiBlocs for older kids), science toys like gyroscopes and flying toys.
I teach Suzuki violin out of my home studio and leave a few sets of CitiBlocs and puzzle brainteasers out on the coffee table. I love seeing both girls and boys and their parents playing with these.
In her USA Today article, “Using Toys for both boys, girls may be good for kids,” reporter Cathy Payne quotes Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter, who agrees “that marketing certain toys to only girls or just boys discourages children from experiencing the whole range of potential playthings.” Orenstein, a writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area adds “there is a much greater division between boys and girls right at the time when more than ever they’re going to be playing and working together.”
NAEYC, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, interviewed Judith Elaine Blakemore, professor of psychology and associate dean of Arts and Sciences for Faculty Development at Indiana University−Purdue University in Fort Wayne, Indiana about her research on children, toys and gender. The take-away?
“If you want to develop children’s physical, cognitive, academic, musical, and artistic skills, toys that are not strongly gender-typed are more likely to do this.”