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Gender Roles at the Toy Store

  When walking through the aisles of a toy store we can clearly depict which aisle is for which sex. Usually the girls’ aisles have toys that are pink, purple (and other related “girl” colors). The toys for the girls are usually babies, Barbie’s, princesses and other magical things. The biggest components can be the babies that incorporate their future role in society as mothers and Barbie’s or Princesses that are shown as a model of how they should look and act in society. On the other hand, the boys sections have dark colors like blue, green, red and so on. Their toys range from cars to superheroes and everywhere in between. This can show how from an early age they are shown to like and show interest in cars and superheroes that show a certain level of aggressiveness to be able to defeat the villain. This social norms of genders that girls have to be caretakers, gentle and loving, while boys have to be  aggressive. But how do children feel about this? Most can say they are okay with that and are not indifferent, but I watched a video in YouTube of a girl named Riley. She showed her indignation of how gender roles “trick” children into buying toys. This should show us as a society that gender roles are portrayed as early as childhood. She explains that it is not fair that girls have to like princesses and pink. She challenges the idea that girls can like superheroes and that boys can like princesses. Riley also stresses how dumb the manufacturers are and how this is a tactic to trick boys and girls into buying toys they might not like but in a way feel “forced” to buy them. This goes to show us that even younger audience are aware of how society has shaped culture norms into us. Riley shows me what a great problem this has become and how people can be like robots buying and doing what they think is right in society’s eyes. This girl taught me a life lesson, which is don’t settle for what society think is right but for what you think is right. Especially for something you feel really passionate about.


  1. ckazda2013 says:

    Riley is a smart girl. I don’t even think I thought about those types of things when I was her age. If I do I don’t remember. This is a problem in our toy stores. Everything is gender specific. Whereas, if manufacturers were to forget about gender roles they may be able to target different kinds of consumers.

    • gomezale says:

      I also don’t remember if I ever thought about it when I was little. But I do remember loving to play barbies and watch princess movies, always having the illusion built in me that I wanted to marry that prince charming. But I am not sure if I liked them because I had no other realistic option and it was embedded in me or because I really enjoyed playing with those toys. I am glad that kids like Riley and even my little sister are aware of the differences and that they know it’s not correct to only like girl stuff but to know they have the liberty to choose whatever things they want to play with.

  2. halkhaya says:

    Yeah, you’re right. Society shouldn’t decide on what we like. We should know what is right and suitable for us. It’s true that girls always have to buy princesses and dolls, while boys have to buy cars and superheroes, but I believe that every individual has his/her own favorites.

  3. jasonjameson says:

    Gender roles are interesting.

    While agree in general I think that some people do or up until recently judged women for wearing pants. While I like to think I am resistant to gender roles I am not. I do not like colorful clothing for myself and I would never dream or desire to wear a skirt. I assume I think this way because it is my choice, but I am sure a lot of it is programmed into me.

    I tend to like “plain” colors but I do wear lots of watches, rings, and bracelets that often match. I also can relate to the real men wear pink idea. While I have not ventured to pink, I did start wearing my red WILL [women in learning and leadership] fleece. I do not generally wear red and I do not like it. I tried get the WILL group to select a different color. However, once I put on the red jacket I fell in love. I really like it now! I will have to start buying more red. Once I get more comfortable with red I may, and I mean may, try pink.

    However, you are right . . .I will not start wearing pink tank tops.

    • gomezale says:

      Yes I would definitely agree with you. Many people unconsciously do fall into the social norms because that is what they identify themselves with. But what about the other people that don’t accept the normal doing? That’s when we need to have a sort of liberty to let people decide what to wear in whatever way they feel comfortable. Like you explained you feel comfortable wearing Not so bright colors that is because you feel that’s what suits you best. That is perfectly fine the issue starts when people that do not feel comfortable with the social norms need some ways to express themselves in a way they can actually identify themselves. In the end everyone and I mean everyone is unique.

  4. chelsfings says:

    When I was little, I used to pretend that I was super-man. I was also Bell, Ariel, Jasmine, and Sally from the Nightmare Before Christmas, but most of my life, ages 2-6, I pretended that I was either an animal, or a super hero. I played with barbies, and loved them, but I’m not sure that I could get them for my kids… On one hand, I wouldn’t want to deprive them of that fun, but on the other, I don’t want them to have that ideal of what is normal to be miss perfect barbie. I wish that we weren’t conditioned from such a young age about what is for girls, and what is for boys. It is crazy to thinnk that even something as simple as colors have a gender connotation. I hope that my sons won’t be shy to play dress-up, and my daughters won’t be afraid of digging in the dirt. I wish that parents wouldn’t stifle their child’s ability to express themselves, although I think that most parents are unaware that they may be doing that; it’s just patterns that we were taught are normal.

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