Blue is for Boys and Pink is for Girls and Other Ways We Teach Our Kids to be Sexist

sexist toysAs the mum of both a boy and a girl, I'm keenly aware that boys and girls are born "hard-wired." At age 3, my son became obsessed with diggers, trucks and giant things that move and destroy. My little girl is obsessed with pink. Since I've never told either of them what to be interested in, the influence did not come from me. Plus every mum knows if you tell your kid what to like, they'll like the opposite. So it's safe to assume, they just came out of the chute liking very gender-typical toys.

But is this really necessary?:

Nerf Toy

By "this", I mean the Nerf Rebelle Blaster in Pink complete with purple darts. The term "this" should also be taken to include any other gender non-specific toy re-vamped to target little pink-loving girls. The implication is clear. The toy company is saying, "Blasters are boy toys. Girls won't buy it unless it's pink." This is complete and total b.s.

So, first things first. First, I don't buy blasters or any other gun-like toy for my kids. Why? Because it makes me uncomfortable. There are few things as unsettling as having a toddler point his or her blaster/gun/shooter at your face and say, "I'm gonna kill you!" And then they having to endure the next 7 hours of the kid celebrating having "killed" you. So there's that. But were I to buy my kid shoot'y toys, I wouldn't think to only buy my daughter one in pink. That's because in addition to being a girl, she's also a human. Girls can like all sorts of colours, non-pink blasters included.

I understand why toy-makers want to "pink-up" their toys. In their minds, they are missing a whole market of shoppers by not having a "his" and "hers" version. But does all of a kid's life need to be his or hers? As parents, we tell our daughters they can grow up to be anything they want. By buying them only gender specific toys, we make their gender the sum total of who they are. I don't know a grown woman who is defined solely by her gender. Yes, it plays an influence. Even a big one. But it's not all of who we are.

If my daughter has her eyes on something pink, I have no problem buying it. But by only guiding her toward "girly" toys, I'm telling her that's what she has to like. And I'm telling her that she's separate. She can't just pick a toy. It has to be a girl's toy.

There are a lot of differences between boys and girls. To deny that would naive and even incorrect. But to make differences where there are none, sells our daughters short. If my girl wants a black truck or a pink tutu, she can have it all. She just can't have anything that shoots stuff. Even if it is covered in pink.