Gender and Toys

1480 Words6 Pages
There are hundreds of thousands of toys sold in stores all over the world that are geared towards a particular sex. Many toys are an extension of popular television shows on Cartoon Network and other stations that air animated and other live-action programming targeted for children. When watching a primetime channel on television, you can rarely watch a commercial break (especially during the day), that does not feature a commercial for the latest greatest toy on the market. The goal of this essay is to examine just a few toys that are aimed at boys and girls, as well as neutral or unisex toys, determine what makes them “gendered” or “neutral,” analyze how they are marketed, and assess what is accomplished in society by having such gender-based toys. Gender, a social construct, is predominant from the moment a child is born, whether it is from parental influence, the media, clothing, or even children’s toys. These influences can affect the way a child learns how to “do gender”. The various toys, such as Barbie dolls and G.I. Joe action figures, My Little Pony, Strawberry Shortcake, Bratz Dolls, Power Rangers and most action figures that companies market to children of different genders reinforce stereotypical gender norms and perpetuate conventional gender roles. Parents should be conscientious when choosing their children’s toys because some toys can shape the overall learned gender norms of those children. According to author Judith Lorber, “gender as a social construction does not flow directly from genitalia and reproductive organs…Social status are carefully constructed through prescribed process of teaching, emulation, and enforcement” (Lorber). This same concept of learned social status is the same for the social construction of gender. In addition to many more, domesticity, motherhood, submissiveness, empathy, gentleness, over-the-top emotions,

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