There were a number of articles prior to Christmas this year about how there’s a movement toward “gender neutral toys,” but that would be a surprise to most parents. It may be an issue for progressive parents, but they are a pretty rare breed; not only are they a minority of Americans (there are more Mexican nationals in the US than there are liberal progressives), but progressive fertility is the lowest in the the Western world, and that’s abysmal. The rest of us try to be a bit more practical — a necessity for normal parents.
If you give your kids a choice, chances are there won’t be anything particularly transsexual about their selections. Also, if you want them to actually be happy about the presents, you’d probably better steer clear of the gender neutral aisle.
Now, it may be true that some boys prefer playing with dolls, and some girls with trucks. If you’ve got a child like that, you’ll probably love the kid just as much as you would any other, but let’s be honest: it isn’t exactly the norm, and the little boy who likes playing with dolls and makeup kits likes those toys because they are gender specific — not because they are “gender neutral.” I don’t think I need to spell out the implications here…
However, feminists are putting a lot of effort into trying to convince us that this is how the world ought to be, because of course gender is merely a social construct. Hence the “gender neutral” term. But is it really gender neutrality they are pushing, or gender consciousness? It must the latter, because truly gender neutral toys are merely idiosyncratic toys. Calling them gender neutral is inserting the word gender into something that has little if anything to do with gender issues.
As an example, my kids both like animals, but different kinds. I suppose one could argue that there’s something gendered about the fact that my son likes creepier, scalier and slimier animals while my daughter prefers fluffy ones, but I don’t think gender has much to do with it — they’re just little individuals with their own interests. My daughter is a big fan of ducks for some reason. Should I see this in gendered terms? Is there anything gendered about ducks? It’s kind of an absurd notion, but this is exactly how feminists see the world. They are the most gender conscious people on earth. Their entire movement is about gender, yet they spend most of their time telling us it is irrelevant.
So, some little boy wanted an oven for Christmas, and there was this big to-do about how all the toy ovens are gendered, presumably because toy companies are all about pushing girls into the kitchen. A girl got on change.org and made the case that her little brother should have a non-pink toy oven, and received 45,000 signatures for her effort (good thing we Americans have our priorities straight). So, to remedy the situation, Hasbro came out with the Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven in colors other than pink and purple.
My little sister had one of those when we were kids, and I thought it was pretty fun, because it actually worked. The thing was probably a terrible fire/burn hazard and probably would be banned today; I could put in a GI Joe, crank it up, and next thing you know the GI Joe started melting. Pretty awesome. Although I hate to break it to feminists, the boy’s desire for an oven may have been for roughly the same reason I liked the toy rather than any desire to cook for his future feminist firefighter wife. Nothing wrong with cooking, of course (it’s one of my favorite hobbies), but boys tend to approach it from a different angle — they see the oven as a tool rather than a prop for playing house. I’m fairly sure, therefore, that if Hasbro markets an essentially useless toy oven to boys it’s going to be a failure. Instead of spending $50 on a toy oven for the kid, why not buy him a $20 Black and Decker toaster oven that really works?
Although the market may have much to do with the blatant gender focus of toys, a lot of it is a result of the grrrl power feminism that has become such a stifling feature of our culture. For example, while toys from earlier times were clearly often intended for either boys or girls, they weren’t nearly as in-your-face about it. Back when sex differences were not only accepted nearly universally, but celebrated as well, toys were a lot more subdued. Did toy soldiers before the 1970s, when feminism really took off, have bulging, steroid-enhanced muscles and oversize guns? Was everything for girls painted pink and purple? Not at all. As feminism has grown stronger, toys have become caricatures of sex stereotypes.
If feminism were not a prominent feature of our culture, I doubt parents would worry much at all about gender as it relates to toys. Sure, boys would usually want boy toys and girls girl toys, but it wouldn’t be an issue, and absent the rigid suppression of our true nature as men and women – or boys and girls – in public life, we’d probably express ourselves in much more natural, relaxed and healthy ways at home with our families.
Although feminists claim they want to eradicate gender differences, when they insert gender issues into everything – the workplace, school, the military, family, and now Christmas – they only succeed in making the differences oppositional rather than complementary. They create strife where it doesn’t belong, drawing battle lines everywhere, even between little children, all the while calling it “neutrality.” What demented people.