Let me start this week’s musings by saying unequivocally that I’m an equal opportunities preschool player.
Toys of all colours, conditions and persuasions are welcome in my bedroom and can fully expect to get their fair share of my attention.
(I once had to hand out a one week suspension to one of the Toy Story gang for bad behaviour, but we both agreed to draw a line under the incident, so I’ll say no more about it, Lotso.)
Anyway, I mention this because I was interested to see our local supermarket, More Reasons getting involved in the Let Toys Be Toys campaign this week.
For the uninitiated, the campaign, which started out as a thread of chatter on the rather scary-sounding Mumsnet, is asking retailers not to label up toys as being gender specific, to better allow children to make genuine choices about what they want to play with.
Apparently as things stand, the boy/girl split of toy collections in shops is pushing girls towards nurturing, housekeeping, sparkles and careers in the Fairy Kingdom and discouraging them from considering the building and sciencey stuff, which has been figuratively roped off in blue.
So, after being one of a dozen-or-so national chains who said they would change the way they display their toy collection a while ago, it seems More Reasons were given a little tap on the botty to see if they could chivvy things up a bit, and have obliged.
So, in the not too distant, you will no longer find pink or blue sections in the toy aisle or anything else which pre-determines whether girls or boys should be interested in a particular plaything.
From my point of view, I can’t say I’ve ever noticed the divide, but then it might be that our local branch doesn’t have a major toy department, much to the parentals’ delight (and me and Big Bro Fred’s disgust).
Nevertheless, I do applaud both the campaigners and their supermarket supporters while thoroughly agreeing with the principles behind the stand they’ve taken.
Girls and boys should indeed feel like there’s no right or wrong thing to pull out when they metaphorically reach into the Toyland lucky dip. That said, I do think there’s much work to be done... and it’s going to take a lot more than taking down a couple of signs and dyeing everything green.
Take my toy collection for example. There’s no denying that it has pink and purple as its signature colour theme... there’s also no hiding the fact that the ratio of dolls to Thomas the Tank Engine trains is a lot larger than it was when Fred was my age.
But I can honestly say that this turn of events has had very little to do with me.
I can count on one, possibly two hands the members of my plaything library which I have specifically asked for. Everything else has been bestowed on me by my generous crop of family and friends.
So while I can see that you have to start changing attitudes from the ground up, until grown ups stop playing out the old-fashioned gender stereotypes with the toys they buy us, nothing much is going to change.
- P.S. I just wanted to point out that one of my favourite things in the world is my (pink) box of Duplo building blocks... and in addition, Fred remains very attached to his Thomas collection, and is reluctant to hand it over, which may explain some of the current state of boy/girl play in our house.