Girlie girls and butch boys

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Toy shops are scary. One half is all camouflage and weapons, the other half all sparkly pink stuff. I find myself in a no-woman’s land, where once gender-neutral pursuits take on scary bi-partisan identities. Not just Lego, but Troll Warship Lego.

Given that this is the way the retail part of the industry works, it makes sense that there were Best Girl and Best Boy categories at the South African Toy Association’s annual Toy Awards Ceremony.  

The winning girl toys: High School Musical Dance Mat, Baby Born Mommy look I Can Swim and Baby Born Magic Potty.

The winning boy toys: Mobile Command Centre 8635, U-Command WallE, Interaction WallE.
I am in no way disparaging these particular toys, nor the awards themselves, which are aimed at awarding excellence and promoting safety.

It’s 100% acceptable for a girl to play with a doll if she wants, and boys often do seem to like semi-militaristic toys. But I do worry about a society that so clearly delineates our gender roles from the moment we can pick up a fake Uzzi or don a twirly tiara.

Yes, we’ve all had the experience of the little boy picking up a Barbie doll and shooting people with it. But there do need to be options for children who like dancing but also things that go bang.

I would like to be invited to the next brainstorming session when we decide which toys belong to which gender. Can we please get away from the pink-for-girls and camo-for-boys stereotype and offer some variations that helps little people become fully integrated big people, whoever they might be?

How about the Sarah Palin hunting kit for little girls? And the 3Sum glamour boys toolbox?

What are your suggestions for toys that will mix up this gender stereotyping thing a little?

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