December 30, 2011

NYT's Question "Should the World of Toys Be Gender-Free?"

Children of the World's Answer: "No."

(You can read the NYT's op-ed there, but it never answers every parent's question: How do you get children to want gender-free toys? You can read about my failures trying here.)

51 comments:

Jeff said...

The Fairfax papers here in Australia published a rather similar opinion piece just a few days ago, featuring the picture of the little Seventies girl with Lego. She reminds me of my own daughter, who happily followed her 19-month-older brother's lead in most play activities, until the early school years at least.

Henry Canaday said...

Do you remember the H.H. Munro (Saki) story, “The Toys of Peace?” It is about a little Edwardian English boy who loved to play with soldiers, so his two concerned aunts bought him a set of farm animals, farmer figures, barns and so forth to channel his impulses into productive directions. The boy promptly arranged the farmers and animals in military formations and set them to attacking each other.

Munro and his generation of English, French and German boys wound up on the Western Front. Munro was picked off by a German sniper when he raised his head from a foxhole to tell another soldier to put out a lit cigarette. A true Saki ending.

Anonymous said...

The NYT the liberal globalist elite continue to push policies in defiance of human nature.. meanwhile society unravels, the economy, literacy, ethics, happiness, etc plummet.

But their power increases, I guess.

Dahinda said...

Why should they be gender free? Boys and Girls will always be different and both boys and girls like it that way!

NOTA said...

Not being able to get your kids to want the right set of toys is one early step in the realization that your kids are their own people, and you can't really make them into something else. Trying is usually about as much fun as bashing your head into a wall.

Karen said...

Not so fast. My very male sons both like to cook and sew. (I kill anything needle-related.) Williams-Sonomoa sells Marvel superhero and Star Wars cookie cutters and aprons. Judging entirely from my neighborhood, these are huge hits with the school-aged testosterone-enhanced set. Their schools have a "life skills" unit that teaches clothing repair and requires one sewing project. My older son made stuff owl toys and now makes them for family members as gifts. (He makes the owl to look as much like the family member as he can.) Younger son learned to turn old T-shirts into shopping bags and how to make a beach towel backpack.

I realize that these aren't exactly toys, but it does show that boys can learn "women's work" and enjoy it, without too much pain. The LEGO sets may be pink, but they still require building and planning.

Finally, why is it so hard to find female superhero dolls? Both boys wanted the complete Justice League, but we could never get Wonder Woman in the 11-inch size.

dearieme said...

Should the world of the NYT be arsehole free?

Simon in London said...

My wife gave our baby son a doll, renamed Petey, which he was quite fond of. Nowadays (aged 4) he much prefers guns, dragons, and construction kits, though.

Simon in London said...

"At issue, then, is not nature or nurture but how nurture becomes nature: the environment in which children play and grow can encourage a range of aptitudes or foreclose them. So blithely indulging — let alone exploiting — stereotypically gendered play patterns may have a more negative long-term impact on kids’ potential than parents imagine. And promoting, without forcing, cross-sex friendships as well as a breadth of play styles may be more beneficial. "

So: Girls and boys are naturally different, but if we get them young enough, we can beat that out of them and warp their development.

I suspect not; try to de-gender their toys and what actually happens is that small girls hold tea parties with the killer dinosaur robots, while small boys conduct bombing raids on the dolls' house.

Anonymous said...

But guy dolls have no dicks.

Anonymous said...

If this must be done, just dress up GI Joe in Barbie dresses.

sideways said...

The world of preschool shows has far more females than 11 years ago. Even sesame street is, after elmo, mostly female now.

sideways said...

Oh, I should point out that sesame street stopped teaching Spanish years ago. Under swpl

Anonymous said...

Time was when Ms Orenstein would deal with her psychosis with a multi-year plan of Freudian analysis. But then that New Yorker article put the kibosh on all that fun--you know how all the smart set needs to be told what to think.

Justin said...

about the author of that piece, here is some grist for the mill:

"Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Peggy Orenstein is a graduate of Oberlin College and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, filmmaker Steven Okazaki, and their daughter, Daisy Tomoko."

Reading the article first, I suspected as much. Clearly written by someone with one "designer child".

In the end, did her "1.0 child" drag on birthrate even get credited to her Tribe? Ha!

Anonymous said...

What?
Are you suggesting the story of the girl demanding to know why girls toys were put in pink boxes is fake?

Kylie said...

From the iSteve article; " Where are the sons and daughters? For similar reasons, kids' shows are overrun by nephews and wards (e.g., Batman's Robin), with sons and daughters in short supply. Kids like to dream about derring-do, but not starring their parents, whose duty is to be boring and safe."

And children who enjoy the boring safety of their parents are also perceived as more boring themselves because they are safer than parentless nephews and wards. Children living with their parents aren't exposed to worldly perils the way children with deceased or distant parents are and they are subject to the schedules and rules of an intact home life. It would be just like some boring safe parent to call the children home for dinner or bath or bedtime right in the middle of some really neat adventure. How embarrassing, as bad as having to make do with a Girl Flashlight.

SFG said...

Watch the video of the 4-year-old girl they link to. I bet she's been coached.

Anonymous said...

Excellent piece, I distinctly remember the chauvinistic distain for all things girly way back when. Of course I grew up in the golden age of the 80s action film, so that might be skewing things.

Anonymous said...

My sons' immediate reaction to seeing the new girl-oriented Lego Friends section in the latest catalog was a chorus of "ewwww." I used to try to play legos with them when they were younger. I bought a duplo princess set so they could rescue me from the bad guys in the castle set but all they wanted to do was hack me to pieces with swords and have the dragon eat me. Boys and girls are different and thank God for that.

Baloo said...

I had a set of chessmen that had the K and Q looking like actual people, the pawns as little armored soldiers, etc. When my son played with them at the age of 4 or 5, they were indeed soldiers. When my daughter played with them at the same age, K and Q were mom and dad and all the rest were their children, and they had tea parties and things.

Anonymous said...

Just don't make the dolls
race-free. Because if there weren't black dolls and white dolls, how are social scientists gonna do an experiment where black kids favor white dolls over black ones and claim THAT is the reason for black failure in school.

Btw, most white kids seem to prefer rap to polka. I suppose that means white kids are all gonna fail in school.

Btw, video games are now more pro-racial-conscious than before. When sports videogames had crude graphics, you couldn't tell the race of the players. But now, athletes in video games look remarkably like their real selves. So, white kids playing John Madden Football come to identify with black athletes.
Since blacks are favored by such games, maybe we should race-neutralize the games. You see, Mexican kids are failing in school because there are no Mexican role models in John Madden football.

Anonymous said...

Since all advanced animal life come in male and female, toy companies should only make toys of simple organisms like amoebas. Problem solved.

We Be Toyz said...

I don't get it. Liberals say gender-free is good but then applaud when a boy wants to dress like a girl.

So, it's wrong for a boy to be happy and proud to be a boy but it's wonderful for a boy to want to a girl.
Normal boys should go for metro-sexual gender-free-ism BUT transsexual boys should GO ALL OUT to be as womanlike as possible.

It's like it's wrong for whites to care about white identity but it's great for white kids to get dreadlocks and wanna be black.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how representative the liberal elite is of most liberals. It could be most liberals find this stupid too.
Similarly, it would be wrong to conclude that most conservatives agree with Michelle Bachmann or Rick Perry or Pat Robertson on most things.
And many women don't feel properly represented by feminists.
And La Raza doesn't necessarily speak for Guillermo.

Lugash said...

I am Lugash.

As your older article indicates, girls will watch boy shows but not vice versa.

Kelly Pena, the Disney "kid whisperer" that you tweaked a couple of years ago, seems to have reached the same conclusion:

She was instrumental in the rebrand of Toon Disney to Disney XD, a boy-focused, girl-inclusive channel. Pena and her team conducted extensive research that helped shape the channel and its online components in order to reach the underserved boy demographic.

Easier and cheaper than launching a second brand.

The Simpsons had another episode a couple of years ago where Krusty and his male audience were kicked to the curb for Princess Penelope(?) and the girl mechandise.

I am Lugash.

sabril said...

My liberal parents never let me have toy soldiers or guns growing up. Shortly after turning 21, I bought numerous real firearms.

Anyway, cooking is an interesting case. Like dancing, cooking can be both manly and girly. I'm a complete male chauvinist pig, but I regularly cook. It's a great father/daughter activity.

morleysafer said...

Remember the Barbie Liberation Front? The NY Times found someone who actually took it seriously; her primary research is from an upscale London retailer and a YouTube vid with "more than 2.4 million views," not bad for the paper of record

Veracitor said...

I thought of Saki's "Toys of Peace" story too, and even searched up a link to it, but then decided that it was slightly off topic. However, since Henry Canaday brought it up, let me supplement his summary by noting that the "peaceful" set of toys didn't have farm animals and so-forth but Victorian industrial figures...

(excerpt from "The Toys of Peace" by Saki)

A quantity of crinkly paper shavings was the first thing that met the view when the lid was removed; the most exiting toys always began like that. Harvey pushed back the top layer and drew forth a square, rather featureless building.

"It's a fort!" exclaimed Bertie.

"It isn't, it's the palace of the Mpret of Albania," said Eric, immensely proud of his knowledge of the exotic title; "it's got no
windows, you see, so that passers-by can't fire in at the Royal Family."

"It's a municipal dust-bin," said Harvey hurriedly; "you see all the
refuse and litter of a town is collected there, instead of lying
about and injuring the health of the citizens."

In an awful silence he disinterred a little lead figure of a man in black clothes.

"That," he said, "is a distinguished civilian, John Stuart Mill. He was an authority on political economy."

"Why?" asked Bertie.

"Well, he wanted to be; he thought it was a useful thing to be."

Bertie gave an expressive grunt, which conveyed his opinion that
there was no accounting for tastes.

Another square building came out, this time with windows and
chimneys.

"A model of the Manchester branch of the Young Women's Christian
Association," said Harvey.

"Are there any lions?" asked Eric hopefully. He had been reading
Roman history and thought that where you found Christians you might reasonably expect to find a few lions.

"There are no lions," said Harvey. "Here is another civilian,
Robert Raikes, the founder of Sunday schools, and here is a model of a municipal wash-house. These little round things are loaves backed in a sanitary bakehouse. That lead figure is a sanitary inspector, this one is a district councillor, and this one is an official of the Local Government Board."

"What does he do?" asked Eric wearily.

"He sees to things connected with his Department," said Harvey.
"This box with a slit in it is a ballot-box. Votes are put into it
at election times."

"What is put into it at other times?" asked Bertie.

"Nothing. And here are some tools of industry, a wheelbarrow and a
hoe, and I think these are meant for hop-poles. This is a model
beehive, and that is a ventilator, for ventilating sewers. This seems to be another municipal dust-bin--no, it is a model of a school of art and public library. This little lead figure is Mrs. Hemans, a poetess, and this is Rowland Hill, who introduced the system of penny postage. This is Sir John Herschel, the eminent
astrologer."


"no, it is a model of a school of art and public library..." ROFL.

Paul Mendez said...

I will bet that Cro Magnon boys ran around pointing their fingers at each like pistols and saying, "Bang, Bang, Bang!"

When a tribal elder asked one of them what the hell he was doing, the Cro Magnon boy probably replied, "I don't know, but it sure feels good!"

Anonymous said...

How about ethnic toys? Instead of Tickle Me Elmo, Tickle Me Guillermo.

Anonymous said...

The freakiest toy fashion was the Cabbage Head Kids. That stuff was ugly.

And then there was teh beanie craze.

Anonymous said...

Bratz, the skank collection. If Barbie Dolls made everyone version--even black and asian barbaries--look white-ish, Bratz dolls give fat lips to even white dolls.

Jehu said...

Having more than one child of your own with the same wife and similar circumstances tends to bring the hammer of reality down on people's thinking.
For instance, hand my little boy a toy sword, and he'll start whacking merrily away on the balloons and other objects placed there for that purpose. Hand my little girl the same toy sword, and she'll flourish it with an enormous grin and use it to flirt with, kind of like a fan in the hands of a Southern Belle from the 1800s.

Get Off My Lawn! said...

Consider the latest cute-kid video to go viral on YouTube:“Riley on Marketing” shows a little girl in front of a wall of pink packaging, asking, “Why do all the girls have to buy pink stuff and all the boys have to buy different-color stuff?” It has been viewed more than 2.4 million times.

2.39 million of which were views by liberal parents - feminist mothers and their emasculated husbands - looking for support for their already-established values.

Of course the little girl was coached. For most of us, gender roles are a normal part of life, but for a small but noisy minority, they are oppressive shackles that must be broken.

Ever notice how all the discussion on these matters turns around bolstering little girls' self-esteem - as though young women weren't entitled enough already! - and crushing natural masculine tendencies in boys? I used to hope men would wake up to this and rebel, but it seems that men under the age of around 35 are so well-tamed and well-trained (and apparently so frightened of their women or so desperate to get laid) that they don't even see the discrimination, let alone think there's anything wrong with it.

And then you search the internet looking for like-minded people, and all you find are professional woman-haters and divorced fathers with axes to grind. Is there a website or blog that features serious conversation about the attack on masculinity and traditional gender roles rather than serving exclusively as a forum for the girls-have-cooties and gimme-my-kids-back crowds?

Anonymous said...

"The freakiest toy fashion was the Cabbage Head Kids. That stuff was ugly."

It was adult women that went crazy over those things. My mother and my sister, both adults then, bought one; so did the school librarian and many of my female teachers.

Weird.

Anonymous said...

"Liberals say gender-free is good but then applaud when a boy wants to dress like a girl."

Unless it's their own child, of course. Seems that even they want heterosexual children who will one day produce children themselves. OMG (both hands to face), the shame of it!!!!

anony-mouse said...

You're right. Only girls like dolls.

Boys are completely different. Boys like action figures like GI Joe, who they can dress up.

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

Sewing and cooking aren't programmed into the female genome as part of their nature. They are tasks that women have traditionally done as part of the division of household labor because it made sense them to do it. Boys can and should learn at least basic sewing and cooking.

But play centered on relationships or childcare come naturally to girls because nature has made them that way. I recall hearing a female psychiatrist speaking about an experiment at a daycare where only gender neutral toys were allowed, and she mentioned, without disapproval, that the girls would wrap blankets around toy fire engines and pretend they were babies.

Antioco Dascalon said...

I can't understand libs. They decry giving little girls pink because it's a stereotypical girl's color, but then enforce pink all over the NFL... because it's a stereotypical girl's color. If libs don't want pink associated with the feminine, then why is pink the brand color of breast cancer?

Anonymous said...

"Sewing and cooking aren't programmed into the female genome as part of their nature."

Wrong. Women like to make good dresses to look good to men. And women know that cooking skills is one way to attract men.

Maya said...

Meh. It doesn't matter either way. Children can use anything to fit their needs. Any random object with a face (cars have headlights that look like eyes) or on which you can draw a face can be a baby. Almost any object can be a weapon. My brother used to employ naked barbies and kens as swords, or he'd bend them and they'd become guns. My mom bought those barbies for me, obviously, to encourage interest in clothing, accessories, shoes and boys. She thought I wasn't girly enough at 8. But at the time, all I wanted was a baby, so I put them into my toy pram for naps and referred to them as my daughters.

Anonymous said...

"Ever notice how all the discussion on these matters turns around bolstering little girls' self-esteem - as though young women weren't entitled enough already! - and crushing natural masculine tendencies in boys?"

The glbt or the gltb or is the lgbt or btgl....anyway, some of these people want to claim that gender is a social construct. Others in the gltb or glbt or whatever want to redefine what is masculine and what is feminine so that they don't feel different.

Well, good luck with not feeling different. Different is as different does.

Anonymous said...

There was an old joke in the UK what do you call a student who could not cook?

A girl.

Anonymous said...

"Boys are completely different. Boys like action figures like GI Joe, who they can dress up."

But they aren't girls dolls you see.

Anonymous said...

Does this mean American Girl is changing its name to American Child?

Come to think of it, isn't it jingoistic to have the name American at all?

Why not Universal Child?

Perhaps it's ageist to use the word 'child.'

The company should rename itself Universal Biped.

Anonymous said...

how long can a societies 'elite' continue to 'rule' when their idealogy is in defiance of reality?

is that liberals mean when they coo about our 'great experiment"?

Anonymous said...

"Boys are completely different. Boys like action figures like GI Joe, who they can dress up."

Never have seen a boy "dress up" the GI Joe, even though the company sold the clothes.

Jonathan S said...

Enforcing genderless norms is how androgynous people (such as the editorial's writer, image search her) dispel unhappy thoughts about their androgyny.

Many of the most impassioned members of the white left demand the social transformations which they believe will erase their disadvantages in social status and what Roissy has termed "sexual market value." Steve's Law of Female Journalism explores this with regard to female writers who are too old or too ugly or both, and I've written at my blog (in the post entitled "Tortured Souls") about how this motivation explains a trend at least one commenter has noted here: the preponderance of unmanly males among white leftists.

Anonymous said...

My sons' immediate reaction to seeing the new girl-oriented Lego Friends section in the latest catalog was a chorus of "ewwww."

Yes!!

My 5 year old son looked at it and said, "That is for girls. It is not interesting."

funny!!

Anonymous said...

Breivik mentioned that he used his sewing skills from school for armor vests. He thoroughly enjoyed the irony of using in his plan, something that was meant to feminise boys in school.