If you’re reading our blog, you know as well as us that products that are marketed to kids are frequently trying to put them into pink and blue straitjackets. Lots of you tweet us with awful examples of what is often the same thing packaged differently to reflect some supposed appeal to gender.
How did we get to this point? Indulge yourself with a browse through these pictures of the 1976 Argos catalogue. No really. There is almost nothing that is pink, even among the ‘girls’ toys. Likewise there are no pages of fierce, dark coloured aggressive toys like those marketed to boys now. We’d love to write you a thesis on what happened in between now and then, it’d be fascinating. But frankly right now we just know we want this to stop. The message toy marketing is now sending our kids is that your gender defines what you play with. Hands up who wants their kids’ play to be defined by their genitals? You neither?
So this month it’s simple, a crowd-sourced list of places to buy presents that won’t offend your sense of equality. Yes it may be a bit late for Christmas online ordering, but bookmark this page for future presents. You may be the only person who gives a child a non-gender conforming present, so your gift can be really important in showing them something different. Thanks to everyone who made a suggestion. They’re mostly UK based with a US round up at the end.
Myriad Natural Toys & Crafts “quality natural play products, toys, art and craft materials”
Orchard Toys “Designer and manufacturer of award-winning children’s games and jigsaw puzzles”
Ikea A follower says – “great sturdy toys, not gendered, pics of boys and girls on the (minimal) packaging”
This is Wiss “original and stylish yet practical items for you and your little one.”
Letterbox Library “celebrating equality and diversity in the very best children’s books. We believe that challenging stereotypes and discrimination should play a fundamental part in every child’s education”
And of course use our book list for great ideas for kids aged 0-14
Our film list of course
Really everyone should look at A Mighty Girl “The world’s largest collection of books, toys and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls”
MindWare “Brainy toys for kids of all ages”
aMuse Toys “well designed, creative toys that encourage children’s development”
If you’re feeling fired up about this then we can point you at a group campaigning specifically on this subject Let Toys be Toys who have been doing a great job of being seen out and about in the media and pointing out that toy marketing has become horribly restrictive. They have a petition you can sign here.
That’s an important campaign and we’re right behind it, but something to point out is that it’s very easy to get focussed on toys and though it’s important, we wouldn’t want anyone to assume that toys becoming more gender-neutral would solve any of our greater sexist problems, really they’re just a symptom of it. The example set by Sweden is that if you have a culture and indeed a basis in law that is dedicated to equality for children then the elimination of this kind of harmful stereotyped marketing to kids will happen as a consequence of that, not the other way around. Shall we all move to Sweden? Or shall we change things where we are?