I’ve been on a mission this morning, gathering essentials for Being Crafty. I’m not actually very crafty (everything ends up being held together by glue and staples), but I do get a little excited by costume parties. She of the Awesome Bosom and The Grinning Man are having a Mad Hatter’s Party, so I’m making headpieces for myself and K.

I’ve spent several days searching for a plastic tea set. It’s a pity I wasn’t looking for toy vacuum cleaners, ovens, blenders and fucking washing up sets, because they were everywhere. In pink. In the girls’ toy section, away from the toy trucks, hammers, and plastic iPhones that little boys are supposed to play with.

If I had a daughter and someone gave her a toy washing up set, I’d beat them around the head with it. And then make them set fire to it so they understand how much I think of them gender stereotyping my child.

I don’t normally use the word ‘patriarchy’ because I think it causes half of your audience to switch off to what may be a really valid point, but my goodness, it certainly benefits men when young girls are taught that cleaning is their responsibility.

23 responses to “Grrrrrr

  1. So true, so very true.
    I saw some “toys for girls” and “toys for boys”boxes at motat.
    needless to say, the boys toys were great, science and bugs and coolness.
    The girls box had knitting supplies, and crayons.
    And a bit of a let down from Motat.

  2. I have a girlfriend who bought her son a Barbie Doll for Xmas one year because that was what he asked for. Oh My. You should have heard the criticism. Never mind that the kid asked for one. He’s now a rather well adjusted hormonal teenaged boy (as well adjusted as teenaged boys can be anyway) he’s smart, creative, articulate and guess what, having a barbie doll all those years ago did not make him gay. Not that it would’ve had mattered since he has an awesome mother who would have been just as proud to have a gay barbie doll toting son as she is having a straight barbie doll toting son.

    Then there was my MIL who persistently bought my daughter dolls at every chance even though she didn’t like playing dolls. She changed her mind at about 8, but that was her choice. Pushing the dolls on her when she was little really pissed me off and we locked horns more than once on the matter. I always felt smug satisfaction that the dolls were usually found at the bottom of the toy box clearly neglected.

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  4. This is a tough one, Nips. I felt exactly the same way until I had a boy rapidly* followed by a girl, rapidly** followed by a girl. I swore I wouldn’t gender stereotype my children and in my heart and head I haven’t, but in reality I have. The ‘stuff’ is communal, but the boy wants the boy stuff and the girls want the girl stuff. Nothing gives those girls more pleasure than pretending to wash up and iron clothes (both jobs that are actually my husband’s in this household so no role modelling here). I swear they just come out that way. I think we sometimes forget that there is a side to (many) woman that is very nurturing and there is really no greater way to nurture than to keep a warm, loving home for a family. The mundane, day in day out shit sucks the life out of that need to nurture, but it really is in there somewhere, I swear. I have not seen this ‘nurturing’ instinct in any of the little boys that I have encountered yet I’ve witnessed it in every little girl.

    * Gentle reminder: breastfeeding is not a contraception.
    ** Neither is sex without protection.

    • Maybe. But it’s difficult to draw conclusions from small samples – I’ve seen little boys trying to breastfeed dolls, and also be incredibly caring towards younger siblings.

      Then I think about my own childhood, and it was always the daughters who were told to set the table, never the sons. The daughters also had to help more with the washing up than the sons, and it’s easy to see how these gender stereotypes are still around.

      Two of my closest friends are having a little girl, and he’s a little bit proud that she’ll be surrounded by a group of strong, opinionated women who laugh a lot, and also a little bit terrified.

    • Yes I completely understand that. I was adamant when my daughter was born we would not ever allow a doll in our home. (Unless she asked for one & really hoped she wouldn’t) I never played with dolls, I was a bookish child, I didn’t really own many “toys”. My Toys were books, board games and puzzles. And soccer balls, footballs, cricket balls and netballs.

      My MIL had seven brothers. She never really got to be a little girl. As such the grand daughters were inundated with pink and “girl” stuff. My daughter kind of poo-poohed it all for awhile, but somewhere around 8 the pink gene kicked in. And although those neglected dolls in the bottom of the toy box stayed there, our house was suddenly invaded by little plastic Ho dollies (Bratz).

      All my good intentions undone! Of course, every parent knows, stereotypes aside, eventually our kids will be who THEY are, not what we or society expect them to be.

      Thankfully by 12 she was back to being a child I could relate to. (Bookish) But even then I am often miffed by how books are gender-ised. Pick up a book and you can tell by the cover the ‘gender’ it is geared toward. And I find that sad.

      • That is sad.

        I think it’s the pink that bother me more than the idea of children wanting toys that let them imitate their primary caregiver. Little toy ovens are fine (because I love cooking) but little pink toy ovens are not.

  5. Falconette will be fine. She’ll probably be a willful child, which might not be much fun (for the parents anyway) but that only means she’ll grow up to be a true falcon who won’t take shit from anyone 🙂

  6. My almost-two-year-old nephew loves his cooking set. He loves to play “washing dishes” and he carries his tea-set everywhere with him in his pink handbag. It’s all stuff he picked, that he wanted to play with.

    My friend’s baby boy – also almost two – loves playing with make-up and pretending to put on make-up. And he carries his doll everywhere with him and pretends to breast-feed it.

    I loathe the idea of “girls toys” and “boys toys” it’s a load of steaming shit.

  7. Oh, this is one thing I adore about IKEA – these gorgeous little Duktig tea sets.

    They also have little mini-kitchens and drinking glasses and baking and utensil sets, mini replicas of their big ones, with no musk-stick pink in sight.

  8. My 3 year old daughter glommed on to a plastic primary coloured (mixure of red, blue and yellow items)tea/breakfast set in our local toy shop (Danish brand I think) and we had to buy it (would work on a costume I think). The housekeeping toys are very popular as it involves imitating us, and she loves to stand next to us at the sink “washing up”, but I think a big part of that is water play is fun! Shops in NZ still seem to have a decent range of colours but yes, very unimpressed with Motat.

  9. I’m having a little girl soon and people are starting to donate gifts to me and hand me downs which is very lovely of them, except for the enormous bag of pink I received this weekend from a friend of a friend (someone I don’t actually know). Aside from being P I N K, all the clothes were full of fluffy bunny and duckling motifs whereas all the boys stuff have cool images on them of robots etc.

    Friends that know me know I am not a fan of gender stereotyping from birth and that I intend (important verb this one) to allow my little girl to have some pink as she will have some red, some blue, some green etc. I would prefer she doesn’t have lots of dollies but she just might want them in which case she can have them but she will have other toys as well to balance it out. She may well want a fairy dress and not a Darth Vadar costume but I suspect knowing my partner that she’ll get a spiderman costuime at bare minimum! I’m relaistic. Mind you those, Bratz sexualised dolls are banned, whether she wants them or not.

    Either way I suspect my daughter will grow up to wear pink, read the Australian and vote Liberal just to rebel against her mother!

  10. Conversely I hate seeing little boys with guns. I saw a little boy of about 3 at the train station the other day with a full size AK replica (I assume!) slung round him that was bigger than he was and I was quite shocked ….image not helped by a mother in full burqa – now there’s an Alan Jones article or a Fed Niles bill waiting to happen!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  12. a good link from a baby site that I often visit – this article was sent to me by my sis as my (nearly) 3 year old nephew declared Boots the chemist in the UK to be a ‘girls shop’.

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