sexism

Laura writes:

Spotted in Smyths [Toys] yesterday! Explained at length to my 1 and a half year old niece what is wrong with this picture!

116 thoughts on “Know Your Place

    1. Medium Sized C

      Normally I would criticise a post like this, but, 1 and a half?

      One and a half?
      Is she Baby feckin Brains or something?
      FFS.

      1. ReproBertie

        It might surprise you to learn how quickly very young children pick up on things like this and decide that some things are for girls and some for boys purely because toy companies feel the need to try and colour code and package things in this ridiculous manner.

        It took a while to convince my 3 year old that a girl can wear red or blue boxing gloves if she likes and is not restricted to pink.

        1. Medium Sized C

          This isn’t a three year old.
          Its an 18 month old.

          Christ, do you even remember what your 3 year old was like at 1 1/2?

          1. ReproBertie

            Yes, I do. My point was that this pink blue stuff was already partially ingrained by 3 because it starts to be from an even earlier age. Get me?

        2. deliverancecountry

          ReproBertie is correct I’m afraid… I found this with my own children, it’s amazing how they absorb information, good and bad, before they can even talk.

          1. Lilly

            In the 1920s, it was pink for the boys and blue for the girls. Some time in the 1940s, American retailers decided they could sell more by making their wares gender-specific – so it was just another marketing wheeze. No way would I buy toys that reinforce such negative stereotypes.

    1. scottser

      yeah, and you’ll end up standing on them in bare feet on the way to the jax first thing sunday morning.

  1. Drogg

    Laura just because it’s in a pink box with a girl on the front doesn’t mean a boy can’t play being a nurse and the same vice a versa. It sounds like you are the one with the gender stereotype issues.

      1. Drogg

        Of course it won’t no one wants to be a doctor or nurse having to deal with the HSE. Everyone wants to be firefighters or superheroes these days.

    1. Medium Sized C

      It doesn’t suggest that at all.
      I think her problem with this is perfectly reasonable.

      Pink with girl, girl is nurse. Girls are nurses.
      Blue with boy, boy is doctor. Boys are doctors.
      Its a pretty frickin clear message.

      1. Janet

        Yeh it’s true, try get any 3 year old boy in pink. It’s already going to be his worst nightmare and you’d never do it to him. I’m with boring Auntie on this one.

    2. Sidewinder

      There’s also the pictures on each box of course. You know, the girl in the nurse’s outfit and the boy in the doctor’s?

    3. FK

      A little boy could indeed play with it but the chances of people buying something pink for a boy are slim so it’s unlikely. It is not Laura with the gender stereotype issues.

    4. Ellesar

      You really believe that? Girl on pink nurses box, boy on blue doctors box – children are incredibly impressionable and are trying to make sense of what gender is, and this is very clear and simple for them.
      You are calling someone sexist for pointing out OBVIOUS AND BLATANT sexism?!

  2. Zenon

    Never came to me that i could waste my time in this way (trying to explain anything at all to 18 months old). Got to try this between teaching the cat to speak and attempting to break the sound barrier on foot.

      1. Murtles

        Well the instruction is clear on the front of the Jr Doctor box – DRESS UP
        This type of exhibitionist, sexist behaviour must be stampe……. oh sweet, a stethescope, gnarly.

    1. ReproBertie

      Should we be seeking to change that to make nursing a more inviting career opportunity for men by maybe not brainwashing children?

      Are the vast majority of doctors male? Should we be seeking to change that to make being a doctor a more inviting career opportunity for women by maybe not brainwashing children?

        1. Don Pidgeoni

          Which comes back to women being more likely to pick ‘family-friendly’ jobs and the fact that female-dominated professions in general are poorly paid and valued.

          1. Lilly

            Which is why we should cut this limiting BS off at the knees. Retailers are conditioning infants and our job is to reject it by voting with our cash.

    2. Sidewinder

      The majority of young doctors are female too. Why isn’t that reflected? It’s a young doctor on the box after all.

  3. Starina

    I agree that it’s pretty messed up but also a 1 1/2-year-old is not going to remember details of the lesson too well.

    1. Don Pidgeoni

      There are studies suggesting that by around 18 months, kids understand that blue is for boys and pink is for girls.

      1. Medium Sized C

        Children don’t actually have conception of gender until around 3 and at that they don’t understand its permanent until well after that.
        An 18 month old might understand pink is for girls but they probably don’t understand what pink is or a girl is.

        1. Don Pidgeoni

          “An 18 month old might understand pink is for girls but they probably don’t understand what pink is or a girl is.”

          That is a kid picking up on social cues about gender that they get from their families, society and toys. Kids pick these things up sooo much earlier than people think.

          1. Medium Sized C

            The kid doesn’t understand what gender is at 18 months.
            According to the field of cognitive development theory.
            It has been documented, reviewed and accepted by the relevant scientific community.

            And even if that wasn’t true, explaining why its wrong to an 18 month old is barking mad. Kids that age can’t process things like that.

          2. Don Pidgeoni

            I’m not saying they understand gender. I’m saying they understand that pink is for girls and blue is for boy, which tbf could be argued as a rudimentary understanding of gender roles in our society.

            Yes, the consensus is that gender is understood by about 3. Other studies (for example http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Human_Development_Center/Roundtable/Serbin2.pdf – first link I’ve found but I know there are others) suggest that the colour thing is understood much earlier.

            Of course I’m not going to suggest people sit down with an 18 month old and have an in depth discussion about the construction of gender as a arbitrary binary social variable in Western society and I haven’t said that. But understanding that these things are picked up much earlier, and that, as a parent, you may want to alter this behaviour at this early stage if it bothers you is a good thing to know.

            Sshesh

          3. Ultach

            Woah, woah! Can we get back to ignorant opinionated ranting please? All these erudite academic references are making me queasy.

  4. Eoghany

    I’m sure the vast majority of nurses are female. Granted however that the ratio of male to female doctors is probably close to 50/50..

    1. FK

      But that still falls into gender stereotypes! More women than men are nurses so the pink is acceptable?. Seriously? That shows how ingrained the colour-coding is!

  5. Ultach

    1 1/2 year olds retain more than you think. They certainly lap up and internalise the commercialised gender-role colour coding crap like this. Not so much reflecting reality as moulding it.

    1. Medium Sized C

      If explaining why you shouldn’t stick your hands down the toilet or touch the oven doesn’t work, then explaining gender theory and the moral problems of gender stereotyping is a monumental waste of time.

      1. Ultach

        Maybe you’re not explaining it properly. let the burn their hands and play with poo. They’ll work it out soon enough. My lot stopped by age 7.

  6. Sidewinder

    Kids understand a lot more than you think. An infant can recognise it’s native language before it is two months old. If you think kids don’t learn to associate colour and gender pretty early when they see male peers dressed in blue and female peers dressed in pink then you don’t know a lot about early childhood development.

  7. Laura

    Humour is seriously lost on some lol!
    Messin’ bout lecturing my niece lads, but she is pretty clever in fairness.

  8. Spaghetti Hoop

    The colour-coding should really have been stopped by now. China have been mass-producing this stuff for decades and will continue to work to spec until some brave CEO makes the decision. It’s all throw-away crap anyway. The more up market Early Learning Centres have toys for all.

    Companies love to differentiate between the genders; look at TV ads. I feel sorry for the girls who never get the diggers and the tractors and the lads that are portrayed as under-the-thumb eejits in insurance ads. Profiling, huh.

  9. Jock

    These things do not influence gender roles. If they do then please explain why most chefs and fashion designers are male despite seemingly being brought up to think these were female pursuits.

    If an 18 year old is turned off a profession because of their view of gender roles then they only have themselves to blame.

    1. Derek

      The imbalance in fashion is good old fahioned sexism against women combined with gay men being more comfortable flouting gender roles. Chefs would be similar. You’re not assessing the industry as a whole (fashion and food preparation). You are looking at the top positions (head chef and head designer) and noticing that men fill the top positions. The reason for that is the same reason that most CEOs are men. Good old historical sexism.

  10. Dhaughton99

    Just buy the child an iPad so you don’t have to worry about bullshit gender issues. But make sure it’s the space grey. Don’t want to confuse the poor child with the gold one.

  11. Frocky

    Good spot Laura- some people take themselves too seriously and miss the joke in the process, as my 6 month old nephew was explaining to me

  12. Derek

    I have a youn niece and it’s overwhelmingly women who imbue her with these ideas. My young male relatives are cooed about while babies just as much as my niece was, but now she’s recognisably female and they are recognisably male she is treated like a barbie doll by all her adult female relatives. The men in the family have been pretty progressive, buying her mechanical toys, the women……. not so much. It’s all pink dresses and every time she enters the room they all coo about “how cute/beautiful she is” Etc. The young males don’t get this at all.

    1. Clampers Outside!

      Yep, heard that before the whole “cooing” thing when a baby girl is present apparently does a lot more than a pink or blue box packing when it comes to sterotyping.

      So, Laura, let there be no ‘oh, you look lovely in that dress’ stuff ! that is, if you want to be consistent.

  13. Niallo

    Easy to tell them apart without colours, the boy one has the big lunchbox :)
    I’ll get me coat…

  14. Jmc

    While I’m pretty sure that Laura was being comedic when she said she sat down with her niece to explain this.. I find it interesting how people generalize when it comes to children’s understanding or lack there of. Some children are more advanced and may well start to be influenced by gender stereotypes.

    You are fooling yourself if you think that this type of marketing is accidental. It’s time we stopped placing limits on our children.

    I have a 21 month old who can point out a picture of a boy or girl in a book and when asked, she says she is a girl. They are a lot more receptive than you think.

  15. Eeejit

    In my experience, it’s often women pushing stereotypes on their children – the Mums rather than the Dads. Granted, Dads can be protective of their sons, with regard to toys deemed feminine, but I’ve never heard a Dad complain about a daughter wanting a digger or other such male designated toy – Dads are more likely to encourage it. IMO, it’s the often mother wanting the ‘princess’ daughter.

    But as demonstrated in the images kicking off this post, it’s young girls getting the rawer end of the deal, so IMO it’s many Mum’s who need to rethink their attitude.

    1. Don Pidgeoni

      Dads who think toys are too “feminine” need to have a good hard look at themselves too. Its bad to make boys feel crap about liking certain things but girls take in what their dads are saying about ‘girly things’ as well

    2. Parp

      “But as demonstrated in the images kicking off this post, it’s young girls getting the rawer end of the deal”

      How so? Do you believe doctors to be superior in some way to nurses?

  16. Laura

    I think this picture speaks for itself which is why I sent it in.

    And I’m totally the fun auntie! I’m making her right a 2000 word essay to that effect right now! Before ye start, she’s using crayons!! Jeeeezus!

      1. Laura

        Oh you got me good!
        You can still grow up to be something cool too Ya know? Don’t limit yourself to this guy :-)

  17. chicken

    Oh come no, what is the issue here? If the girl plays with girly toys whats the issue. If kids are encouraged as they grow up to be who they want to be then they will be.
    I grew up as a so called “tomboy”as my favourite past time was climbing trees with my brothers but I also played with dolls. I wanted to be about 1000 different things from a hairdresser to an astronaut, in the end I work for an international organisation.
    My sister hated dolls and never played with them, she wanted to be a nurse from she was 3 but realised as she got older that she could be a Doctor. In the end she realised that being a Dr would be too difficult for her with the hours junior doctors have to do & to specialise in Ireland is quite difficult.
    What I am saying is the things you do as a child do not mean anything, telling your child they can be anything they want to be is important

    1. ReproBertie

      The issue is not about girls playing with girly toys. The issue is that the vast majority of people see nothing wrong with the description “girly toys”. They’re just toys.

      Pick up the Argos catalogue and look at the fancy dress pages. Boys dressed as pirates, ninjas, soldiers, cowboys, doctors and the like. Girls dressed as nurses and princesses. That’s incredibly limiting. Girls can be ninjas, pirates, soldiers, cowgirls, doctors and anything else they damn well please so why are children being told that this is for boys and this is for girls? Even fecken Lego has sold out by creating a “Friends” line which is all pink and pastels and 90% girl figures doing shopping and hairdressing and other passive, unimaginative activities. Immediately the impression is that this line is the Lego for girls and all other Lego is for boys which is utter garbage.

      The idea that only certain toys can be bought for each gender is a nonsense and this is not about making all toys gender-neutral (e.g. the Action Barbie comment above) but in removing perceived restrictions in who the toys are aimed at. If a girl wants a doll then good for her. If she wants a transforming space dinosaur then equally, good for her. And if a boy wants either or both of those then good for him. There’s no reason to limit their imagination by saying that this is a girly toy and this is a boy’s toy.

      1. rotide

        Again, the market dictates.

        If lego have released a pink flowery set of legos, you can be damn sure the was a lot of market research into what people wanted (the people buying it admitedly as well as the end users).

        Maybe that pink lego might reach a few girls who otherwise would have no interest in it?

        Like it or not girls , for the most part, do prefer the ‘girly’ things. Boys prefer the more ‘boyish’ things. It’s not all conditioning, There’s a lot of human nature and evolutionary history there too.

    1. ReproBertie

      So sell them in white boxes with a big red cross on them and let children decide if they want the doctor or nurse one. There are more than two colours.

    2. Don Pidgeoni

      You could argue they are losing the money of those who don’t by into this, a number which is growing. My nieces don’t get anything pink or ‘girly’ from me on principle.

  18. Kieran NYC

    Ugh. The number of people being willfully ignorant and contrarian on here. Men trying to provoke a reaction ‘just cuz’.

    Can’t be dealing with it on a Friday.

  19. Ppads

    Laura is right. Colour coding toddlers will influence them later. How could it not?
    But, as the product probably comes from China, Eamonn McCann’s famous quote about DuPont in Derry comes to mind. “Those b*$tarsds are not sectarian… they will exploit anyone”

  20. Meme me

    My almost 3 year old refused to play with her plastic gold clubs as she said golf was for boys. Made her watch the short game( great documentary on Netflix about junior golf). After she saw girls playing she said shed play, but still regularly says “but I’m not a boy” when I try to get her outside playing games.

  21. joeseph

    Did it say 22.99 on the box? Wow! the problem here is not about gender as anybody willing to pay that for that pile of plastic junk needs their head checked.

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