Being a Father of two little girls I have to nod my head at the quote from Jolie O’Dell I extract below from her excellent blogpost. However, as a parent I can work around the challenges of pink versus blue, dolls versus guns by reducing the amount of time I take them to segregated toy shops, encourage them to look at constructive toys when we do go and play thought provoking games with them.
My ms4 current favourite game is Ludo. I bought it for her and I play it with her. She may or may not learn some strategy from it. Her second favourite pastime is drawing, painting and craft things.
But she likes to play with dolls and other “girly” stuff too. I wouldn’t take that away from her at all.
She’ll make her own mind up, it’s more important she is learning from a number of sources than anything else right now.
And that’s a parents responsibility.
… I’d ask you to take a stroll around a toy store and imagine you can’t read. Imagine, if you will, that you’ve been taught a simple system of color-coding: Pink and purple is for girls, and blue, green and gray are for boys.
You will immediately notice the drastic segregation — the gendered version of the Jim Crow-era South. There are entire aisles of pink, and other aisles devoted to dark blues and greens. Imagine that you are only “allowed” in the pink and purple areas of the store, and examine the toys you find there.
The vast majority of playthings for little girls encourage them to think about nurturing others and caring for themselves — including, to a large extent, their appearances. These aren’t inherently negative lessons to learn, except for the fact that these lessons exclude others that deal with problem-solving, strategy, physics… you know, the kinds of things you learn from playing with Lego, K’nex, Stratego and other male gender-coded games and toys.