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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Gender Bias in Childrens Toys

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Gender Bias in Children’s Media


As I walked into KB toys my memory as a child all came back to me. When I was little I would have done anything to spend a day in Toys’R’Us. Even if it was just looking! A toy store is like heaven to a little child. So many things to look at and touch. Gender Bias is a big thing now when you walk into a toy store. That’s one of the first things that I noticed. Today there are two main dividers between males and females besides sex that I have noticed. Toys are the biggest things you see gender bias in. Companies are aiming towards young people because young people are easy to mesmerize. There are two main points I would like to talk about. What’s on the outside of the box and whats said in commercials.


First thing I want to go over is how toys are labeled. This was a big thing that stood out to me while I was in the store. Girls’ toys said things like “girls only” or “just for girls”. The words were always written in big letters with bright coloring. When you walk over to the boys toys none of them say things like that, but a lot of them have pictures of people on them and it’s always a male. Being bias against genders isn’t that big of a deal with boys, but more with girls. What I mean by that is it’s always a girl complaining that a toy is marketed towards a male not a male complaining that they don’t have a mall madness game. Why is that?


One toy that I would like to tell you about is a game called Teen. This was a game that stuck out when I walked in the ale. They did a good job with this game by making the box bright blue with flowers all over it. It’s a game made for two or more players ages ten and it’s made by Cardinal. In big letters on the front it says HEY GIRLS. The letters were also outlined in a bright color to get the buyers attention. Then next to it in the next size down font it said, “All about Guys, Real life, Celebs, Beauty and Style.” On the top of the box it said, “Take the “GO GIRL” Challenge if you dare!” That right there is really sexist. On the back of the box it has a bunch of pictures of girls. When it describes how to play the game it says, “Along the way, you’ll get crazy challenges, take risks with the GO GIRL questions.” They also give a couple of questions that the game asks. One of them is name the guy that you think deserves a better girl then the one they have? And this is a game for ten year olds? All the games I could find that were made with this company where for girls. Games shouldn’t be made just for girls. I looked all over the shelves and I couldn’t find one game that was aimed towards buys.


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I read an article a long time ago that said if you put a bunch of kids that don’t know the difference between male and female together and gave them a bunch of toys, each sex would play with all the toys. If you put a bunch of kids together that knew the difference between male and female, the girls would play with the girl toys and some of the boy toys and the boys would play with the boy toys. If they did play with the girls’ toys it was because they were destroying them. So it goes to show that it’s the sex that determines what they play with. The younger kids don’t care about what toys they play with because they don’t understand yet. Advertisement plays a big role in dividing toys. There have been a lot of efforts to narrow the gap between toys for boys and toys for girls, but they still fall into gender categories. An article in Popular Culture Review summed it up pretty well by saying, “boys do, girls are” (Michael, and Susan ). Advertisements provide children with models whose behaviors are reinforced. Friends may reinforce girl models in ads when they play with dolls. The characters have both social contact and fun. They may even have the opportunity to be loved when they hold their dolls. Boys reinforce one another in ads for action figures. They have fun, social contact, and the chance to be aggressive and win. I’ve noticed that there is a predominance of male models in advertising. The ads that had girls in it were ads with dolls and girl things. Not only did I notice that males appeared more frequently than females, but male voices occurred more frequently as announcers or narrators than girls. Even in advertisements that were directed towards females. Boys’ commercials always show them in action and girls’ commercials always show them in the kitchen and at home. Girls playing with dolls and wanting to be popular and beautiful. Boys playing with airplanes and mechanical toys.


That’s just some of the evidence that I wanted to share with you. Is it far for boys to see “girls only” on a pagage or for girls not to be pictured holding a truck? These are the questions we need to address. Maybe one of these days we won’t have to target towards certain sexes like the Teen game does and maybe one day we won’t have to have difference between commercials. My opinion is the ones that complain about all this are girls. Guys think it’s cool and can care less if there is a game geared towards girls. Girls are the ones complaining that they can’t play with toys geared towards guys. Girls have girl things and guys have guy things.


Delahoyde, Michael, and Susan Despenich. “Toys for Girls The New Sexism, We Girls Can Do Anything, Right Barbie?.” Popular Culture review June 1.





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