Spectacularly Missing the Point - Gendering in Toys

This is how Let Toys Be Toys described an article online by James Delingpole in The Express. I'm not going to link, I'm sure you will be able to find it, though if, like me, you have Kitten Block installed you may find you can't. Lucky you. They were spot on. He missed the point.

The gist he was ranting about was 'if you stop marketing toys at either boys or girls then you are depriving children of their gender identity and their choice of toys' or some such crap

He seems to miss the main issue which is that it's OK for girls to like dolls, it's OK for boys to like tool kits...but it is also OK for boys to like dolls and for girls to like tool kits. 

If we tell girls that 'tool kits are for boys' and we tell boys that 'dolls are for girls' we are not only restricting their choice of play things but we are telling them a life lesson. 'Girls can do some things, boys can do some things, boys and girls are different and can't do the same things'. Which is blatantly silly and wrong.

Leaving alone the issue that a boy may one day be a dad and thus learning to change a dolls nappy or how a buggy works might be a vital man skill in his future, leaving aside that girls might on day drive and knowing cars can need fixing may be teaching you a vital woman skill, leaving all that aside, the cynical idea that a tool kit becomes a girls one if it's pink and sparkly, that a camera has a boy and a girl version, are horrible marketing tools, designed to grab more money form us as parents...two children? well you'll need one pink and one blue ball then! and one blue and one pink scooter..etc Toys should just be toys. Girls might want dolls more often than boys and boys might want science kits more often that girls do. But a pink 'make a bath bomb' kit for science girls, and a 'slime kit' for boys is restrictive and ridiculous. (DD has a slime kit btw)

DD making a construction brick space craft
Can we just go back to the days when toys were just that, we bought what our children wanted, blue, red, green, purple, colour was just a colour, gender was irrelevant.

Un-gendering toys does not restrict choice or deprive children of their gender, boys can know they are 'a boy that likes hairdressing' and a girl can know she is a 'girl that likes super heroes'. Your gender and your taste is toys are two very different things, after all as someone cleverly pointed out


If you think it doesn't matter why not read a study where the way we bombard children with this message is shown to change the way they think about gender roles in adult life. (here is a good start on the Let Toys Be Toys website)

No one is suggesting banning girls from playing with dolls, or forcing them to play with cars. We are hoping one day that children will be free to play with what they like, without being told 'but that's for the other gender, not you'.


  1. Oh finally, some common sense! Gender stereotyping is usually at it's worst in gift shops with the 'pink for girls, blue for boys' general crap that you can buy, why not just have a variety of colours so kids can get something they want in the colour they like?

  2. Totally agree with what you have written, a toy is meant to be played with by any child regardless of what it is, where is it law that pink is for girls and blue is for boys etc. my godson quite happily sits and plays with my girls dolls just as they quite happily sit and play with his cars. As long as they are happy with what they choose to play with, it shouldn't matter what it is x

  3. Love it. My 7yr old girl loves pink. And sparkles, but in no way shape or form should that mean it is all she is exposed to. She chooses pink versions, but she doesn't see gender, it's just a colour to her. Equally, my 12 yr old son would borrow her camera without batting an eyelid.

    Great post, ps, 7yr old would totally want a slime kit too

  4. Great post - couldn't have put it better myself. And yes, I will be letting my little ones pick their own toys - pink, blue or purple with green spots. Who cares?


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