T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 13388
posted 08-10-2009 12:26 AM
You know the term
"Susie Homemaker"? I was thinking about it tonight and wondering about its origins. I ran across this old commercial: Suzy Homemaker Toy Commercial I think we've still got a long way to go in terms of feminism and equal opportunities for women. However, when I watch stuff like this, I also think of how far we've come. Older people will sometimes talk of the "good old days" when things were "better" but upon closer inspection, things don't look as grand as you might believe. (I will admit, however, that those cakes sure look tasty and even though I have a real oven these days, the one there looks like a lot more fun!) If you can watch that video clip, what do you think of the ad?
Member # 33665
posted 08-10-2009 04:24 PM
Oh wow. That was disturbing! It's like they are trying to make household chores look fun by instilling the idea in people's heads when they're young. Creepy.
But you know, when it comes to children's toys, we haven't come that far. Easy Bake ovens were really popular when I was a kid, and probably still are. And there are the baby dolls that you feed and they can pee and poop and cry (which I'm still not sure why someone would consider that to be a fun game, even if they do want to parent someday). They still have those vanity sets, too. All of those toys are heavily marketed toward girls, as evidenced by their advertisements. Likewise, more action-y games are marketed towards boys, like action figures and mini Jeeps (and I always wanted to play in one!). Children's toys are just so rigid in their gender construction. I wonder if there are some toys for kids that are more gender-neural.
Member # 43159
posted 08-10-2009 05:47 PM
This is an interesting thread. I agree that children's toys are creepily gendered... walking into any mainstream toy store can attest to that. I wonder if some people are more susceptible to socialization than others? Because, growing up, I would always make a b-line for the Barbie dolls, whereas some of my female friends wouldn't have been caught dead with one.
Member # 3
posted 08-10-2009 05:57 PM
I actually remember these: my aunt had the little blender. But I agree, I don't know how much different things really are.
In fact, in some ways, I feel like that ad was at least very honest about what it was endorsing, whereas now I feel like when the same sort of stuff is sold to girls, it's agenda is a bit more hidden.
Member # 41699
posted 08-10-2009 08:39 PM
I think everyone else who have posted thus far are right -- toys these days are still SO rigid in what gender they're geared toward. You go into a toy store and the toy aisles are almost colour coded! The girl's section is pink and a bit purplish, the boy section is navy and red. It's really pretty horrendous. I once heard an idea that I thought was good -- it was actually in terms of stopping kids from fighting over their toys so much, I think, but it'd work for gender-neutralizing the toys more if you had kids of more than one gender. Whatever one kid wants for christmas, you buy one for the other(s) as well. So if a girl wants a barbie, the others get a barbie too. If a boy wants a racecar toy, everyone gets a racecar. So the kids would get used to playing with toys from across the "genders", and are less likely to fall into that trap of gender construct.
In my childhood (and still even now) I found the most gender neutral toy to be Playmobil. Friggin' EVERYONE likes playmobil And even though there is the playmobil aimed more at girls (I did admittedly have the dollhouse and wedding cart) and some aimed more at boys (racecar drivers and pirate galleons), some stuff would just be considered awesome to either gender, methinks. There's zoo playmobil, world explorers, ancient aztec ritual, speedboats, castles, farms, lion prides, etc etc etc.
Member # 41657
posted 08-11-2009 07:29 AM
The problem with the "buy one for everyone" is that that's not easily affordable for all, I do think it's a good idea, but I think that sharing toys needs to be encouraged, generally (except sex toys).
Member # 43609
posted 08-11-2009 11:17 AM
I agree with all the posts. I think that add is aimed towards the idea that all girls will be stay at home moms when they grow up that cook and clean and take care of their kids kinda like the stepford housewife idea.
But I do remember when I was little I liked to lay house with my friends pretending to make food and I would vacume with mu toy vacume when my mom did vacuming. I guess when I was really young I wanted to do the same things my mom did bc it made me feel lik a grown up like her. I liked pretending to cook and clean and had barbies and baby dolls but I also loved to play outside just as much and build forts and stuff with my siblings. I think kids will pretty much play with any thing. I mean you could play outside with nothing but a stick for hours when your young. But I think it depends on the kid and how they are influenced and what is portrayed the most in their life that will help specify what they like to play with as far as toys the most. I do think that kids are influenced alot by mainstream society though as far as toys and how toys can define gender issues for kids.
Member # 41699
posted 08-11-2009 11:27 AM
Yes, I agree, that's the problem I saw with the whole thing. I think maybe another good way would be to get kids to agree upon one or two toys they all would like to get for christmas, and just buy those -- though sharing might become a problem, and even the decision making process, but you could really encourage it and deal with the problems diplomatically as they arrived, and starting at a young age with that sort of thing would probably teach kids a great deal about democracy
I think that might work well in that it'd lead to more gender-neutral toys being bought, because ALL the kids have to agree on which one to get.
Member # 42795
posted 08-11-2009 03:59 PM
Hmm... My brother and I always used to play Barbie together (and Playmobil! The pirate ship was without a doubt the best.). But I do agree that toys for children (and clothes) are so rigidly set. I've been sitting here and couldn't really think of childhood toys that are gender neutral... Except things like spirographs and etch-a-sketches, and board games/ card games.
Member # 33665
posted 08-11-2009 04:10 PM
quote: I think that sharing toys needs to be encouraged, generally (except sex toys). Hehehe! That seriously cracked me up, Jill.
I remembered earlier the one sort of gender neutral toy we all had growing up: Legos. Nowadays they're so expensive, but back then they were a lot cheaper. We had a couple of giant barrels full of Legos and playing with them was pretty much the only time all 5 of us kids would play together (of course, we still fought over who got what color or over a particular piece needed to finish one person's castle and another person's spaceship).
Member # 41699
posted 08-11-2009 06:24 PM
oh gosh, goodmagpie, I agree, the pirate ship was totally the coolest! But my oldest brother owned it, not me >:c My other brother had the castle, and I have the doll's house. But we did (me and the younger of the two brothers particularly) play with all of them a lot -- and we'd end up sort of mix-and-matching the different 'sets'
Lego was also a big thing of my childhood, orca! I can remember many a time building weird houses or cars or planes out of lego. I also remember chewing on a few pieces xD Ah the good old days of being a young'un. Also, I've noticed that although when I was young, stuffy animals was more of a gender-neutral thing, it's become more rigidly "feminine" over the years. Or am I just crazy? But when I was a kid winnie the pooh was owned by christopher robin, and plenty of boys had stuffed animals. And the toys themselves didn't appear to be so much geared toward one gender or another -- they're just animals. Whereas now I notice that winnie the pooh's owner is female, stuffy toys are becoming more and more big-eyed cutesy fluffy kitties and other baby animals, just generally focused more toward young girls.
Member # 41657
posted 08-12-2009 09:28 AM
I do think that cuddly toys used to be more unisexed, though I would still argue that the perception was that boys were friends with their cuddly toys (see Christoper Robin and Winnie the Pooh going on adventures, and I do love WTP BTW, some of my favourite children's books) whereas girls were supposed to take care of them as if the cuddly toys were babies. I also think that boys are expected to break toys occasionally but girls are supposed to play very gently, when they play with toys it's supposed to match the organised homemaker/mother role that society still expects, I don't think girls are allowed to have their play be just that as much as boys are. One good way to find more accurate cuddly toys is to buy them from zoo and aquarium gift shops, the best place to find an anatomically convincing AND huggable octopus, again, cost might be an issue, but if you want to fight the shallowness of the whole cute thing it's one option.
Member # 41699
posted 08-12-2009 11:41 AM
ah yes, that's very true -- boys were friends, girls were nurturers. I never really thought about that bit much because I guess I've always played with my animals in a very boy-ish way! They'd go on adventures, they'd be in a zoo, there was always a story and I NEVER looked after them in the nurturing sort of way. But thinking about it, my more "feminine" friends did tend to be a bit more like mothers towards their toys, and for sure that has always been fairly pervasive.
And same with the breaking of toys! Girls HAVE always seemed to be expected to be much gentler. It's funny though, because a LOT of girls destroy their toys, really Barbie with her head ripped off, or missing an arm -- whether by accident or on purpose -- and I know I used to throw my animals across the room (either because they were flying, or because I was throwing a tantrum ), and more than one got a tear. I had quite a few friends who were just as careless with toys, too :B And going to a zoo or aquarium for stuffy animals is a good idea! It's a bit saddening to see the number of just realistic stuffy toys going down the drain, because really, my favourite stuffed toy when I was younger was a pig! A very realistic, and still cute, pig! And I remember at the store where I got it, there were two baskety things -- one full of these realistic pigs, and then one filled with more cartoony, bright-pink-and-in-overalls, big-eyed pigs. And I had no interest in them whatsoever. I LOVED the realistic ones -- mum, mum, can I get a pig! I want a piiiiig! I doubt I'll ever see toy stores selling those realistic toys again. Haha, thank god for zoos, one of the only places that still provide realistic toys
Member # 42492
posted 08-30-2009 08:23 PM
This all reminds me when my brother and i were little.
I'd ask for "girly" things like dolls and barbies, and he would ask for "boy" things like matchbox cars. But in the end, we'd all end up playing with everything together. I remember us spending hours sending matchbox cars down those little battery operated race tracks. My absolute favorite, though, was the dolls. We would pretend our entire house was a time traveling ship, the grass was the ocean, and we'd travel into ancient egypt, or into different disney movies with the dolls. Each doll had a unique personality (there was even one gender neutral looking enough to a boy) and the two smallest dolls, the twins, somehow knew how to fly and dive bomb people. Ironically, they were the most feminine looking ones.