Toys act as major contributor towards gender differentiation

Gender roles are perhaps one of the most controversial aspects of the modern world, with the need to foster gender equality and bring an end to discrimination based on gender. There are several reasons why people ascribe to different gender roles, and toys act as a major contributor since children are more prone to adapt quickly to certain attitudes. Orenstein wonders, “what will be the effect of the aggressive princess campaign on the American culture.” This is an acknowledgement on her part that toys and the way they are marketed have a significant effect on the reinforcement of certain gender roles, which greatly contributes to the formatting of culture. The fact that she was outraged by the way every one in different places referred to her daughter as a princess and treated her in a manner that suggested delicacy and conformity to stereotypes set aside for girls. The extent to which this attitude is prevalent in our society is demonstrated by the rise in sale for princess products from 300 million to 3 billion dollars (90). The princess products includes Barbie dolls, home decors and other toys designed specifically for girls, reinforcing the belief that there are specific products for girls which are in tune with their expected future roles.

Boys prefer activities that are wild, dirty and masculine in nature. Girls on the other hand are prone to be involved in passive activities that reflect highly upon the roles taken by their mothers and other women in society. According to Orenstein the executives at Disney responsible for the princess line of products claims that “we cannot take credit for the success of the product, since all we did is consider what little girls want.” This sentiment reflects the attitude that girls want to be princesses and hence no amount of effort can alter their attitude. It is no wonder that trying to bring down the defined gender roles is a herculean task for society seems to have embraced it wholly. In fact, marketers and advertisers can be accused of strategizing to use gender roles stereotypes to market their products. Orenstein has noted that “The battle in which our children are engaged seems to pass beneath our radar screens.” This is because the ads are disguised in language the adult might not understand, targeting the children directly to bypass the parent’s need to protect her children (104). Nowadays advertisers are creating ads geared simply to the children, and their effect, will be felt for a long time to come.

There are certain activities in society that seem to be dominated exclusively by men, while women prefer to seek forms of employment which are viewed to be light in difficulty. Some of these male jobs include racing, construction, military, science oriented jobs among others. Women tend to prefer such jobs as catering, nursing, clerking and paralegal jobs. During child hood, boys tend to be exposed to toys which prepare them for these kinds of jobs while girls are denied the chance to play with those toys and hence grow up knowing that they shouldn’t venture into those areas. Young boys get to play with Lego sets, blocks, toy cars, tool sets, chemistry sets, among others. Boys will therefore have few limits in their game sessions and will drive they toy cars all over and get dirty. They will play with their blocks, Lego and chemistry sets and believes that they can become architectures and scientists when they grow up. Some people have become major experts in their chosen areas and giving as the reason for their success the fact that they found their calling while playing with certain toys in their childhood.

Girls on the other hand tend to keep to themselves and prefer to play with dolls and kitchen sets. Kitchen sets allows the girl to re-enact cooking, serving and mannerisms while eating. It reinforces her believe that it is her duty to cook for the family and perform other household duties. Playing with dolls, Barbie dolls and regular ones, causes her to prefer shopping and looking pretty and hence avoid jobs that are considered dirty. Some of these dolls can also be applied make up and this fosters her sense of beauty and hence the female preoccupation with beauty and this influences the choice of roles they take in the future. The fact that girls aren’t exposed to several toys like Lego sets and chemistry sets discourages them from science courses and narrowing the fields’ women venture into. A spot check of most retail centers like Wal-mart  shows that some toys especially dolls and kitchen sets are placed near areas with female things , a reflection of the believe that girls prefer to play with such toys only.





6 responses to “Toys act as major contributor towards gender differentiation

  1. on the flip side what’s there to be said about the fact that guys as young children aren’t given any of the princess line of toys to play with, in fact with them the stigmatization is much worse if they are found playing with them. does that also reinforce the stereotype of the male as seen by the producers of the toys and if so does it really prevent them from pursuits that though traditionally feminine may be open to all, but for some reason flipping this argurment over feels weird am not sure why what do you think?

  2. hehe wayward, when i was a kid, there was no gender differentiation, we used to play catch with the ladies and other feminine games, however, we also played football and volleyball too with the same ladies.

  3. Hmmmm…my mum always tells me that I refused to play with dolls, that I would actually throw a fit if I saw one. So she bought me toy cars instead.To this day, I find dolls & teddy bears creepy…
    Then there was the neighbour I grew up in. Majority of the kids I could play with (read: agemates) were boys…so they usually dictated what games we’d play (plus their ideas always seemed to be much more fun anyway)…

    So I think it also depends on the environment one was raised in…

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