Get Your Own Fridge – Gender Roles

The other day, while on one of my trips to the local big box store, I was in line behind a family. The son was beside himself because he was getting another of his favorite action figure; the kind of excited kids get where they are worried that the cashier won’t give the toy back. He was buying the Pink Ranger, I assume to go in his right hand since there was already a Pink Ranger in the left one.

I never quite understood why toys would be gender specific. I played with dolls as a little girl, but I loved my action figures, too. Playing with Barbies and G.I. Joes, Barbie was as likely to be in an army uniform as a Joe was to be in a dress (my army was quite progressive). I used to get mad when my Matchbox cars didn’t transform (I didn’t understand that all diecast cars weren’t Transformers). And it was the 80s, so She-Ra and He-Man were well loved.

I think we have learned in recent years that My Little Pony is for everyone.

So, why is it that so many hold onto their ideas of what toys belong to what gender? Why can’t we adults be completely comfortable with what children are comfortable with? Is there a real reason a boy shopping in the pink aisle or a girl shopping in the blue aisle is “wrong”? Is it because it makes adults reevaluate the gender traps they have fallen into? Is it because “this is the way we’ve always done it”? Is it because it makes marketers jobs easier to deal with broad demographics? Some combination?

The older I get, the less I understand why it is so important that children’s play fall into rigid gender roles. I never quite got it in the first place, because both aisles have some really awesome toys.


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