As you may or may not be surprised to learn, searching for videos on children, gender and toys using the search terms “girls toys” returned a decent amount of pornographic results. But it also yielded a great trove of information on the current state of the children’s toy-making and marketing industry.
Here’s the adorable video that went viral last month that prompted it all:
Riley made an astounding realization in the toy store: some toys are sold as being for boys and some are for girls. But what if you want the “other” toys? Why can’t everyone play with whatever they want? And while she’s too young to get this now, she’s clearly astute enough that she’ll soon recognize that the toys sold to boys encourage being badass builders and do-ers, fighting and winning and, in the process, learning socially acceptable masculinity. Girls’ toys, on the other hand, will encourage being interested in beauty, fashion, homemaking (to a lesser extent than it used to) and (to a greater extent than it used to:) dating and being famous.
Check out toy commercials from the 60s:
Here’s what it was like in the 80s:
But that’s just dolls and action figures, right? There are plenty of toys that have nothing to do with gender, right? Like… Lego…..Right?
Feminist Frequency has a few things to tell you about the history of LEGO marketing and their increasingly boy-centric ads.
But all is not lost. I found a few bright spots that gave me hope for the future: