I’m sure anyone reading this has heard my rant about Toys R Gender Apartheid. The place drives me nuts and I end up cursing myself every time I spend money there. But here’s a nice piece out of the UK’s “the f-word” that manages to say the same things but without all the swear words I inevitably insert in my rant:
It is probable that some people see past stereotypes. However, what has been established in research is that people tend to live up or down to the expectations that are communicated to them. A number of studies have revealed that there is pressure on individuals to behave in stereotyped ways and these behaviour patterns are generally equated with social acceptance. We can all remember what it is like at school, never in our lives do we feel more pressure for social acceptance. Female children are fed expectations from the toy industry daily and we cannot pretend they have no effect.
However I donâ€™t necessarily think a particular conspiracy in the toy industry exists to repress girls, but rather that companies think only of profits. Therefore products are created that the human brain will recognise most easily and buy most readily. The toy makers and advertisers â€˜amplifyâ€™ the perceived differences between the genders in order to quickly communicate with its desired audience. In an experiment where children viewed ten toy adverts once the children could identify the target audience every single time. The target audience of boys or girls are very obvious to children and make the products easy to understand and therefore easy to sell, but the unpleasant side-effect of this is there is an implication of whether the product is suitable for them or not depending on their gender.
A good seasonal reminder to give your business to small, thoughtful toy retailers, assuming you have access to some.