Is it a girl or a boy?

In many of my classes, we often discuss the gendering of children’s toys (see here, here and here). This topic comes up a lot because not only does so much of my work have to do with gender and youth culture but also because, evidently, we can never have enough toys. Or stop playing with them.

[I have coloring book pictures hanging all over my house from my niece who sends them to me pretty regularly. She’s 19.]

In Adol Lit this week and next, we are discussing gender and reading. We’re learning, for example, that boys limit themselves to reading books about boys but girls will read books about both boys and girls (which might explain part of why Harry Potter was so popular). So this division of gender among youth culture is divided, even in reading.

What continues to surprise me, however, is the persevering ideological enforcement of dividing gender by color. In a country that had transgressed so much about gender division—Oprah hosting the first pregnant man

and even the first transgendered mayor,

—we are still locked in that gender codification of identifying our girls in pink and our boys in blue with no other consideration outside that binary.

With that in mind, chew on these for a bit:

Now let’s move into that “so what?” space I am always tossing at you. Are these just photos of kids with toys? What do they mean?


24 thoughts on “Is it a girl or a boy?

  1. Ashley Yang says:

    It’s an interesting point–and what happens if a boy likes pink? Or a girl likes blue? Furthermore why is it acceptable for a girl to like blue (plenty of 3rd grade girls will say their favorite color is blue), but not for boys to ever like pink or purple? What makes some colors “feminine” and others “masculine”, and why are ones like green or yellow gender-neutral?

    That being said, while I think it’s certainly interesting to ponder, if I ever should be unfortunate enough to produce spawn of my own, I will be dressing them accordingly in pink/blue. Primarily because all infants are kinda creepy looking, and frankly I’d probably forget if it was a boy or a girl if I didn’t have it in blue/pink.

    Also, my entire college bedroom is pink–despite the fact that I really don’t think I grew up super-socialized to be a girly-girl. My parents forbade me to dance and threw me into T-ball when I was 4 years old (epic fail), tennis when I was 11 (even MORE epic fail), and Dad continually pushed me in math and the sciences (though I think that had more to do with him being Asian than wanting me to break gender boundaries). Go figure, I end up a ballerina with a primarily-pink wardrobe who wants to be a teacher. Way to break the mold!!

  2. Sara Hollingshead says:

    These pictures represent socialization. We are all brought up in a culture that divides boys and girls, gives them their own toys, books, entertainment, food, and so on. It’s what our culture has done to us. Those girls who like pink and those boys who only read “boy books” are doing so because that is what our culture teaches them.
    Is it unacceptable or unfair to say that toy manufactures and book publishers create toys and books that cater to one gender? They only do so for profit. Because Barbie was so successful/brought in large profits, the company (name?!?!) continued making Barbie dolls. But how many Kens are there? One or two- because girls, (typically plays with Barbies) prefer to play with Barbies, not Kens. And why is that? It’s what society taught them to do. Large corporations that make money off of profits create/sell toys, books, etc that will make large profits. And one way to guarantee profit is to sell toward a specific age and gender group; enter toys. (If you search Barbie on Google, the Barbie website comes up and is titled, “ Games and Activities for Girls.” The company segregates itself.)
    So what are these photos showing? They show that these children’s parents were taught them girls must like pink and Barbies, and boys must like blue and superheroes. And by teaching their children this, these gendered ideas will continue to thrive until society becomes accepting of gender-neutral toys, books, and people.

  3. Cassie says:

    They mean that as a consumer culture, we have become so obsessed with buying things (shit) that “define” us-so we must do so for our children. My sister just gave birth to a baby boy in October and had a difficult time finding….basically everything in gender neutral colors (whatever that even means!). The other day she was complaining that his little t-shirts say things like “I’m smelly” because if she has a girl at some point, she won’t be able to reuse the t shirts. I told her that girls were smelly too and she told me that it wasn’t feminine. The truth is that gender is a construction-it is a social and cultural role we play. Femininity and masculinity have been defined for us by the media so when a little girl is stuck in a room full of pink vomit, she is basically being told that “this” is what it’s like to be a girl. Let’s give her a firetruck. I once played with a little boy who had more Barbies than I did.

    In response to the first comment: For some reason there exists a sexist hierarchy inherent in society. For example, a girl who has “masculine” is a step-up in the gender hierarchy while a feminine or sensitive boy is a step-down. Typically the sensitive boy is more harshly condemned but girls with masculine traits can also be out-casted.

  4. Rebecca Felt says:

    I was the child who played Barbies for hours, I completely bought into the “little girl scene”- In preschool and early elementary school I wore dresses almost every day, every birthday or holiday I’d get a Barbie doll or Princess movies. I despise science classes- not because I am bad at them, but because I don’t connect with them. Walk into my dorm room and my side is an explosion of pictures, shades of pink and… embarrassingly enough… a few rhinestones… sad I know.

    From the blue and pink blankets in Hospitals we are defined… as everyone I like to think of myself as the exception. Really, I was not influenced at all to play with dolls with proportions anatomically incorrect, or limit myself completely from fields of study… it has nothing to do with the consumer packaging or the movies I saw on television…

    I’m sure if I kept reasoning with myself maybe I could even convince myself that I was an original within the mold? [note to self try harder next time]

    The photos of the children sitting in the middle of piles of toys first forced me to recognize “consumer culture” … a few more toys and the kids would have drowned… but also take a look at the body language of the kids. The boys have power stances; the girls are posed seated looking very non-threatening. Not only are the pictures promoting the need to go out and buy “stuff”

    I read the article on the pregnant man twice; the concept is very foreign to me. But looking at the cultural norms, even the ones just shown in the pictures above- you can see how people can feel trapped within their sex. Everything is set up so from birth people can be separated into nice neat pink/blue boxes.

    I’d like to hear what the pregnant man would think about being in such a box.

  5. Antonia Rutter says:

    The reason for these pink and blue phenomenon is partly due to the media pushing it in childrens toys and clothing, but its also partly due to the parents. For the most part, when parents are preparing for the birth of their child, they do not want anything out of the ordinary to happen, they want it to be “normal,” healthy. Im going to guess that most parents do not hold their 6 month old baby boy and think, gosh wouldnt it be great, if one day he got pregnant?! Its the fear of the unknown that all humans have, we know that men are suppose to be tough and masculine and play with trucks and like superheros. We know girls are suppose to sweet and feminine and like dolls and princesses. Also, its always a little awkward when you see a baby and you dont know the gender, its tough to ask “oh, how cute.. what is it?”

  6. JoJo Vinick says:

    As someone who has worked at a Children’s clothing store before, I can say that this issue of gendered coloring is ridiculous. I worked at a Janie and Jack, an upper-class version of Gymboree (their parent company) which sells to wealthy mothers in the suburbs of well-t0-do cities. I remembered the first time I walked into the store to ask for an application. Like most clothing stores, the boy’s clothing was on one side, and the girl’s clothing was on the other. Every once in a while I walk into a clothing store and have to stop for a moment to figure out which side I should walk towards (aka the Gap where the girls shirts are looking more like boys shirts everyday) but I didn’t have to stop and look at ALL in this store. My peripheral vision told me, immediately, that the girls were on the right and the boys were on the left. Of course, by taking a closer look you can see the dresses vs. suspenders (yes they are selling suspenders to 2-year old boys) and understand the difference between the genders, but the fact is the second you walk in the store you see two competing seas – one of pink and light green and the other of blues and reds. While it’s nice that they have reds and greens working double duty, it is just the accent colors to the obvious pinks and blues. I think it’s just sad that we still categorize and gender colors – I mean, I wear blue and gray much more often than I wear pink and I still feel and look like a girl. I often feel bad for these children who are forced into wearing specific color schemes and, basically, fitting into this predetermined idea that their parents have conceived. It seems so old-school to have children wear colors based on their gender. As the original post says, we live in a world where men can become pregnant and transgenders can become mayor, why is it that we still live by the gender-colors that people have been following for years? Why is it that our expectations and limitations and social norms can change with time, but our sense of color doesn’t?

  7. Chris Drake says:

    Definitely some images here that are representing consumerism and how it defines us as people. It basically like self portraits, the tag-line under these kids could be “this is who I am”. The problem with this is that, as Cassie stated, the media and the consumer monster are in power of this ‘defining a person by what he/she owns’ I think someone should do a study on the origin of why girls are associated with pink and boys blue. When and where did this start? and right after I typed that sentence I went on the internet search to find, of course, that the research has already been done. check it out-
    theres alot more sites about this subject as well, pretty interesting.
    some say pink used to be the color for boys and blue used to be for girls.

  8. Daphney says:

    As much as I’d love to blame the whole color thing on parents, it’s a societal thing. Someone zillion of years ago probably decided blue is for boys, pink is for girls. Had they decided the other way, we’d think the opposite.
    We’ve been conditioned that way, and I bet we will all dress our little girls in pink, and our little boys in blue.
    The problem with that of course, is that we are already forcing gender on children.
    Of course, parents don’t usually think that maybe my little boy doesn’t like superman or maybe my little girl hates dolls, and would rather the superman action figure.
    The reality is these boys and girls grow up into adults, and sometimes they’re veer away from what society expects from them–transgendered woman, pregnant man.
    Someone above mention the fact that its usually acceptable for girls to like what boys like, but it’s not acceptable vice-versa. I think that’s a very interesting point, which (not to go into another different, but quite similar rant) says a lot about masculinity in our culture.

  9. Sara McMenimen says:

    This phenomenon of blue VS. pink hits home for me. I have been babysitting for two boys, Ben and Andrew, since they were 2 and from birth, respectively. They are now 9 and 4 and the difference between having a pink toy and a blue toy is ever present in their lives. Since I have known Ben, he has always strictly preferred blue over pink; calling anything with a stereotypically “girl color” on it, too girly to play with. He has always been a boy through and through participating in sports such as hockey and baseball. Andrew on the other hand was not born the same way as Ben. As a toddler, Andrew would play with any toy put in front of him. Andrew would have probably even play with Barbies if he was given them. He never differentiated between what was supposedly a girl toy or a boy toy. He would even play with my hair and pretend to own a beauty salon. Just a few short years later, Andrew is the complete opposite. He is now a mini clone of Ben. Playing with girly colored toys is now not allowed. He will refuse to do anything with the girl toys.

    How this came about, I have two different theories about. Not only is it from Ben constantly impounding him with the notion of boy toys and girl toys, but also the media. While I wouldn’t say the boys watch an unhealthy amount of television, their parents definitely do not screen what their children watch. Since I would say age 4 or 5, Ben has been watching shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy. Even though Ben is mature for his age, he does not yet have the skills to break down what is real and what is not in a television show. Andrew is also being exposed to this at a young age while watching television with his older brother. I believe this has led to some of their stereotyped behavior when it comes to gender roles. I can almost guarantee that if you took apart their rooms they would be very similar to the boys rooms in the photos.

  10. Becky says:

    I find it interesting that the issue of Colors,ie blue, pink, yellow, etc, are what define children when they are born. Either the room is painted blue or pink, or with accents of blue and pink. Teddy bears for children’s birth are always either blue pink or yellow. Pink for girls, blue for boys. I don’t necessarily think that the color should be as important of an issue when it comes to children. Children learn to diagnose colors and then find their favorites and stick to it. I feel that if a young girl truly has an interest in trucks, she will play with trucks and if a boy really does like dolls, he will inevitably find dolls to play with. It just boggles me that parents keep their children from doing and experimenting with things they find joy in.

  11. Amaury Ramirez says:

    Blink [blue and pink together]

    My eyes are hurting after looking at those pictures. Those pictures either have too much pink or too much blue. Either way, these children are so spoiled. I mean I wasn’t a child that long ago and I know I didn’t have that many toys. And I was what you would consider a spoiled child. So ponder on that?

    These pictures are more than just the fact that boys equal blue and women equal pink. It’s amazing that a single color can be the common denominator for an entire gender. I must say my favorite color is blue, and it has always been. I am not sure if my parents subconsciously made me like blue, or if it is just a natural thing or if blue just calls to a male baby.

    These pictures also speak on how our economy has been influenced by the societal way of thinking. Notice that in the photographs the doll “Dora” wears pink, when in reality girls don’t only wear pink. But because the doll is a female then it must be pink, or it will not appeal to anyone. If “Dora” were to be wearing blue then boys would not want it because it’s a doll—most boys don’t play with dolls. And if “Dora” was to wear blue clothes then she wouldn’t seem girly enough for the girls and so the girls wouldn’t like the doll. So pink and blue are strategies to sell more goods, at least in my opinion.

    It could be argued that there is such a big difference between the two genders because as children we are, almost, forced to believe that they are so much different from each other, as it is in race. Boys and girls play differently, with different toys, usually without the other gender—meaning girls play with girls and boys play with boys. As kids, since they do not know better, they see this separation and so they automatically assume they are very different, and thus the birth of sexism.

  12. cs5647 says:

    I agree, that gendered coloring and toys for boys and girls is completely ridiculous. I have to argue that these stereotypes stem from the parents and society before the baby is even born! Often times, mothers and fathers paint their child’s rooms blue if the baby is expected to be a boy, or pink if the child is going to be a girl. The family buys blankets, toys, and clothes to go along with this gendered color scheme! Come on people, isn’t this a bit ridiculous! I know that when I was a child my room was painted blue, proud to say it. Blue has always been my favorite color.

    In the pictures posted for this blog, you can tell that this is true about the parents instilling these concepts of gendered coloring and toys on their children. For example, in the first picture, the children are two young to have been able to pick out all items that are pink, or determined by society to be for girls! This demonstrates that through the actions of the parents, these ideas of certain toys and colors for the genders are extended, though they are hurtful to society as a whole.

    An instance in which gendered toys are supported by an business that has always upset me is at McDonald’s! When you order a happy meal, they always ask boy or girl. Why can’t they just ask Hot Wheels or Barbie? I often wanted the Hot Wheel car for the toy but instead, if they saw two girls (my sister and I) in the back of the car, you would automatically receive the Barbie. But, I’m not saying that I was against receiving the Barbie for a toy, because believe me, I was a big fan of Barbies. But I believe that it should not be so ingrained in our society how boys and girls should act, and what toys they should play with.

    Memories of mine during my childhood demonstrate this concept of different colors and toys representing the genders. Though my parents always encouraged my sister and I that we could choose which toys we wanted, not based off some societal norm on how a boy or girl is supposed to act, at friend’s houses the stereotypical natures of the genders could be found. For example, at my friend Scott’s house, we would always play Cops and Robbers and more active games. But, at my friend Taylor’s house (a girl), we would always play with American Girl Dolls. This demonstrates that these gender differences can be found anywhere.

    Lastly, as high school or college students, most no longer play with the same toys of which we played with in the past. But, these elements of gender are still exemplified in our everyday activities and interactions. For example, when it comes to athletics, men are supposed to be the athletes who are strong, tough, and competitive, while women are supposed to take more of the kind and passive role. But, society as a whole needs to overcome these notions about societal roles of women and men in order to have a society of increased equality and less judgments being made about those who do not follow these gender stereotypes.

  13. Sandra Saetama says:

    I wish I might of had that many toys when I was growing up. Immediately I think these children are spoiled. Their rooms are completely fill with every toy possible. One can easily tell which is the girl’s room and which is the boy’s room(if the children were not present in the pictures). Pink for the girl and blue for the boy. This is not the choice of many children if you ask them today, these colors have been associated withe gender for a long time.

    I am not a big fan of the color pink, it just doesnt attract me as much as green 🙂

    These children don’t realize the norm they are intended to be following . The color blue and pink attract the boys and girls, respectively. I could tell by the children’s faces. A children with so many toys would be very excited and would be grabbing for as many toys as possible at every second. The toys in these pictures are well organized (we all know toys can’t be this organzied).
    It comes down to how the parents raise their children most of the time. They are exposing their children to what thoys they should play with. Indirectly, they are saying,”These are what boy(or girls) play with. Maybe their parents just want to provide them with as much as they can becasue they could have been deprived of such marvels when they were toddlers.
    In these pictures the children are given toys that they are suppose to be playing with not just the color their toys should be. In the little girls’ rooms I see eating utensils, pink plush animals, dora the explorer toys, little pink dresses and other clothing.Odd how the walls weren’t pink as well. The girl in the second floor is a bit older but her toys compared to the two baby girls in the first picture isn’t very different.There are pink cups and plates(which can be associated with the kitchen), shoes, a lot of pink, and a bike. In the first picture the only female charcter seen on TV is Dora but now there is Barbie, Strawberry Shortcake, and Hello Kitty. Now these girls will see some of these characters on TV and begin to imitate their actions. At that age children mimick the actions and words of people they look to or are always exposed to.
    The superboy in the third picture is exposed to activities boys should be doing. Superman and Spiderman are major characters in this picture. Heroes are mostly male and they end up fighting criminals and saving the girl.There is a basketball hoop, a motor bicycle, a steering wheel toy, and what seems to be a doctor’s coat maybe.These professions and activities are dominanted by male so possibly the child will come to have one of these activities as a favorite hobby or even a career. The fourth boy is very similiar just that he has Bob the builder as a charcter in his room.
    There is one thing I saw in all these pictures are books or some sort of learning device(seems like the girl in the second picture has a Barbie notebook).

  14. king4648 says:

    Not only sexual organs or (sometimes) appearance differentiate boys and girls; colors does as well. These images above are definitely not just photos of kids with toys, it symbolizes the difference between boys and girls by color. The ideology that pink is for girls and blue is for guys is very rampant in our contemporary societies. I agree with Daphney that someone decided that blue is for boys, pink is for girls. I am pretty sure that this ideology of gender by color was not serious in the days of the yore.

    Thus, I do not blame parents either, because this issue is something that has been going on; it is a societal thing. Parents that decide to dress their baby boys in pink would rather be criticized by the society. For girls, it’s good for them to wear blue. But again, why is that? Why can girls wear blue but guys cannot were pink? If a guys goes out, dressed all in pink, the society will think he is gay. Were pink made for girls? Were blue made for boys? These are the kind of questions we should be asking ourselves. But all the same, I do not think there can be a change about this gender by color. It will go on in generations after generations.

  15. keysccr8412 says:

    Plenty of boys are born liking the color pink or purple, society is what makes them change their mind. They like the color pink until they learn from their parents or peers that it is not socially acceptable for them to like pink. Something that I have always found interesting about gender is that you rarely (if ever) see a boy doll. They are usually girls. Barbie dolls have an occasional boy (Ken) but for the most part they are girls.
    Now that I am on the subject of Barbie dolls I am going to go on a little tangent. Why do Barbie dolls always look perfectly flawless and beautiful. What kind of message does that send to kids? That you have to look like this in order to be pretty? Lets be honest, how many fat Barbie dolls have you seen…slim to none? Even the boy Barbie’s like Ken are jacked and have nice bone structures. My guess is that you have already heard this but apparently if Barbie was an actual person she would not be able to stand. Her legs are too long and skinny to ever be able to hold her up. I don’t think I have ever saw an ugly Barbie. If 99% of the population have at least one imperfection then how come 100% of the Barbie dolls do not. Is that an accurate representation of people? Not to mention I have noticed that the majority of Barbies seem to look American. Coincidence?
    Anyways enough of that, back to the actually topic at hand. I think that society has taught boys that boys are better which is why they want to read books about other boys and not girls. For the most part it seems like girls grow up thinking that the genders are more equal so they like to read books with boys as the main characters just as much as girls. As far as music goes, I know I personally listen to more boy bands then girls, and lets be honest what boys actually listen to Taylor Swift with all seriousness with out doing it in a mocking manner. I am pretty sure the song “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus only became so famous because boys thought it was a fun song to sing to in order to look cooler. It started with a group of guys singing it as a joke and it spread around the country. I am rambling without even realizing it and I am pretty sure I am not really addressing the topic at hand, but this just brings up so many things that I think about.
    Basically society has formed us the way we are, but that’s just my opinion.

  16. Isaias says:

    As I am looking at this post, the first thing we notice is the pregnant guy. however, that wasn’t the first thing that stuck out to me. the first thing was the fact that the boy and girl have an ABUNDANCE amount of blue or pink in their room. it is crazy how our parents drill the colors into our heads as a child. From toy cars to legos, it is all a color scheme. boys wear pink while boys wear blue their entire lives.
    I believe the parents engrave these colors because they fear their child becoming gay or something of the sort. i believe the pictures that we see in this post is a little bit tooo extreme though.

  17. Alex Cragg says:

    I love Happy Meals at McDonalds because they’re a perfect portion size and you get a toy. A TOY! Everyone looks at the toy before they start eating their meal. A couple weeks ago I get a happy meal thinking that I’m going to get a Batman toy which I am really freakin happy about. I sit down, open my bag and there lies a plastic Madam Alexander doll. I looked at my bag to make sure I wasn’t mistaken about Batman toys being available and I noticed that on one side of the bag it said “Toys for Boys” with pictures of Batman and on the other side it said “Toys for Girls” with pictures of Madam Alexander dolls. I was pissed. They couldn’t have asked what toy I wanted?! It’s not that hard! It’s just as easy as asking, “Do you want fried with that?”. Needless to say, I sat my Madam Alexander doll on the table for some other girl OR BOY to pick up and enjoy.

  18. It’s societal norm. My question is who made these rules anyway? It’s not just in children–it follows us through life.

    Go to a toy store, you will know where Barbie is from 3 miles away. When I was young it was an embarrassment to be seen in there. Even now when I’m looking for a gift people look at me oddly. If I were a woman, browsing Barbies wouldn’t be given a second thought. Whether it was my age or gender that garners the odd looks is insignificant–by even looking at a Barbie I’m breaking society’s norms. I’m supposed to look at action figures.

    The vocabulary we have come up with is also amazing. Boys play with action figures–that’s important to many parents. Only girls play with Barbies. But, a girl is free to play with any toy or game she wants. We simply call her a tomboy–another word of our creation. But, for a boy to play with Barbie? He’s a sissy or a queer. Even though women are the oppressed group, they get away with more in certain parts of life.

    Even now as an adult we’re still expected to fill our roles in gender. Men are supposed to be unemotional, fat, lazy slugs. WOmen are supposed to complain how their boyfriend or husband doesn’t do anything (Look how many sitcoms revolve around that idea). But, a man who works out, dresses nicely, and is sensitive? Well, we HAVE to call him SOMETHING. Oh! He’s metrosexual.

  19. MEM12 says:

    This has always been an issue that has bothered me. I have made comments before looking into the future that I would like to have two children, a boy and a girl. My father made such a valid point one day that it doesnt matter the sex of the baby, as long as the baby is healthy. Now looking back, my only concern now a days with all the potential things that go wrong during pregnancy, is that I will be blessed with a healthy baby whether it be a boy or a girl.

    Although I do not agree with this idea of color dentification for children, it has become such a social norm that I have found myself questioning whether that baby in front of my wearing all yellow was a boy or a girl. I honestly couldn’t tell and for a moment I was wishing that child had either blue or pink so I wouldn’t have been so embarrassed. I made it easy on myself and simply said, “what a beautiful BABY you have.” Later on I noticed small little earings in the babies ear, I thought to myself if I only saw those earlier before I embarrassed myself.

    We are just so use to this social norm and it has just become a tradition we can’t seem to steer away from. I, myself found myself relying on this color identification trying to figure out if this baby was a boy or a girl. I have to admit the yellow outfit with ducks on it threw me off.

  20. Obi Juan Breton says:

    Interestingly enough, this post made me go a little past the idea of toys and how the colors of these toys add to whether a boy is masculine or a girl is feminine. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has experienced this, while all of the boys want to play tag, all the girls want to play house or with their dolls. Why are boys so prone to go run around and get dirty while their female counterparts would rather pretend to run a household? There is an obvious extension of specific colors for toys for girls or boys. Is there a little skepticism if a boy wants to play house instead of playing tag? Hell no. I played house a few times in my day to “impress” the girlies. I must say it worked and as I look back I think that was kinda gay, it helped build who I am today.

  21. Isabella Comstock says:

    The colors pink and blue (or “gender neutral yellow”) act to identify a child in opposition to another child. The girl is identified as pink in opposition to the blue boy. This is an interesting concept in my life because I am an identical twin and my parents used colors to distinguish one twin from the other. My sister was the “blue twin” and I was the “red/pink twin” – two colors which i don’t much care for – do I secretly resent being labeled with colors?. I don’t think I do, I think i just don’t like the colors. I don’t think my parents did this to hurt us, in fact I was the pink/red twin because my skin was unusually pink and the colors helped to make it less noticeable – so the colors worked to my advantage.
    What I find very interesting is that as we grew up my sister was the tomboy and i was the girly girl. Now did the colors play a part in us coming into these societal identities or is this a mere coincidence? I honestly cannot answer that, it would be an interesting to study but i’m just not sure…it’s just an interesting thing to consider. Did my sister become the tomboy because of who she was/is/always has been or because she was the labeled “blue twin”? We were both subjected to the same activities, same schools (although different class rooms), and same friends. I like to think we grew into these two separate identities because of who we are and choices we made willingly with no determination from our culture. But is that pure fantasy?

  22. Claire says:

    I think it is pretty obvious that children’s toys are a major marketing ploy to not only distinguish genders but to instill cultural expectations. The concept of having colors that identify boys and girls speaks volumes about the boundaries our society sets for genders. We are socializing babies to resume societal definitions of masculinity and femininity. By doing this we not only exclude those who don’t fit the categories, but we make them feel bad about not “fitting in”.

    I have two younger sisters, ages 4 and 5. Both sisters love dolls, dress up, ponies, and the color pink. But they also love playing with trucks, wearing their brothers old clothes, and playing outside regardless of weather conditions. I feel that these are all activities that constitute being a kid. So why is it necessary to gender identify activities?

    I also couldn’t help but think of the subtle messages Disney Movies portray amidst all this talk about children’s toys. I know I had almost ever Disney movie ever made, and I know my younger siblings have them too. Disney is a classic childhood memory that I now look at from a critical standpoint. A normal night viewing of Cinderella is no longer as innocent as it appeared to be. Our cultural “norms” filter into what seems as every aspect of our lives starting at an early age. These norms percolate all the way up into adulthood and never stop or slow down. We continue to be exposed to expectations society has for us in regards to gender. It all starts at birth and bombards us from then on.

  23. Kelly- Ann Smith says:

    I think dressing up babies in pink and blue by what gender they were started off as just an innocent way for strangers to tell what gender a baby was. However society has definitely taken this and made it a social norm. From the moment we are a babies, girls are are basically forced to like pink because everything they were and are given are pink. From blankies to the lids of baby bottles, everything is pink and it is the same for boys with the color blue. However, as we grow older a girl can state she does like pink and be fine but if a boy states HE likes pink, there is something totally wrong with this. Society has taken specific colors such as pink and purple and have made them exclusively for the female gender for most of our lives. It is very rare you will see a little boy wearing pink because of the connotations society has put on the color by labeling it a “feminine” color.

    Toys are also marketed to each specific gender and also helps enforce gender roles. Little girls are given baby dolls to play with by the time they turn three. I remember being five years old with my baby doll; changing her diaper, feeding her with a little bottle, burping her, even putting her to bed. Now that I am older, my reaction is what the hell was my parents thinking?! Why was I given a toy at five years old that made me believe I had a baby??? It’s a little creepy when I think about it however, it is all about gender roles. It teaches little girls from a young age that when they grow up, their job is to take care of the children. I think this is a little funny because what is the purpose of little boys riding four wheelers and playing with action figures? Not to teach them the will grow up to be superheroes but to teach them that they could do be brave and save the world like these superheroes. Little boys are basically taught from a young age that they can conquer the world while little girls they’re jobs is to stay home and take care of the babies, bake (the infamous “Easy Bake Oven”) or dabble in makeup and accessories.

  24. I was just in Walmart the other day and thought to myself- why does Walmart have one aisle specifically for BOY’S toys and one aisle for GIRL’s toys?? Why are they separated? If you are girl, why can’t you play with a truck or why can’t you like playing with trucks? The simple answer here is gender roles. When we think of women or young girls, we think pink, care givers, house wives. When thinking of men, we tend to think blue, strong, brings the money in for the family. Gender roles are bad! When picking a gift or toy out for a child there should not be questions. Why have different aisles separating male and female toys. This is gender segregation. Girls are are being forced to like pink because their mothers most likely dressed them in pink and bought them barbies when they were children. Society has taken specific colors such as pink and specific things such as barbies and have made them exclusively for the female gender.

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