August 18, 2011 / Opportunity, Youth

Gender Messages and Toys


The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and not necessarily those of The New Agenda.

Source of Cartoon: Saturday Morning Breakfast CerealThis is just an advertisement, you say. It doesn’t mean anything.

I have complete control over my children’s self-esteem, and my daughters are just as independent as my sons, you vehemently argue. But they’re not.

Self-fulfilling prophecy: when the entire world tells you who you are on a daily basis, you begin to believe it — and the voices of the one or two people who love you and say otherwise are drowned out. All you hear is what the millions tell you — what the norm is.

This comic strip is excellent and quite telling. Toys manufactured for boys require the use of technology, brains, problem-solving adventures, and excitement.

Message to Boys: there is nothing you can’t do. The world is your oyster. This toy will train you for success and manhood.

Toys manufactured for girls, on the other hand, require nothing but a girl’s maternal instinct to kick in and care for them. They require no adventures, no imagination, and no critical thinking skills. Whether they’re cute little puppy dogs or dolls, they do nothing more than sit there –- oh, excuse me, now they can burp, talk, and poop.

Girls are not expected to plug into computers, use advanced critical thinking or motor skills, or progress in society. Her puppies and dolls train her to take care of the needs of others.

Message to Girls: Here’s a doll. Learn to care for her as you will your husband and children.

And the conclusion of the toys sold to boys and girls — the different messages being sent to our girls and boys: boys can have jobs in engineering, science, politics, computers; girls can too, they’ve just never been trained to believe that they could join the ranks of such male-dominated fields. They’ve only been told to “Be a doll” and take care of a doll.

Girls can be as tall as high-reaching trees left alone to grow to their full potential, but daily recitations of their limits derail them from developing fully, and they grow no higher than a pretty and domestic bonsai tree in a decorative pot by the window sill.

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