Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Think pink?

A few weeks ago I went into a local shop, looking for Christmas ideas for the children.  I immediately noticed how there were shelves and shelves of 'girls' toys that were pink in colour.  I have to admit that it's not the first time that I've noticed this, and there's certainly been plenty of talk about it on-line, but it did depress me.

Think pink?
Pink as far as the eye can see
It's not that I have a problem with pink as such, although it's not my favourite colour, (I do have a daughter that loves it though), but it's more to do with the lack of choice, and what this colour coding, for want of a better phrase, is teaching our children.

Gender colour coded boys toys
Blue is for boys
You see, here's the thing, children have no idea what colours are for boys and what colours are for girls. At least they don't to begin with, until society starts to tell them that pink is for girls and blue for boys. They also don't see certain toys as being boys toys and other toys being for girls, but for some reason society seems to feel the need to define these things in this way.

Pink is for girls
Dolls must be pink
If you spend time with small children, you soon discover that while some will gravitate towards dolls and 'family' play, others will go for train sets and cars.  Little boys have no problems with pushing a pink pushchair and little girls will play with blue building blocks.  Surely then, if that's the case there's no problem really? They can just play with what they want to play with, and parents like me that cringe every time they see these toy shops filled with pink and blue toys are just making a mountain out of a molehill?

Cars can be girls toys
Girls can play with cars too
Well, no, not really. You see the thing is, while children may not start out seeing these toys as being for girls or boys specifically, the fact that everything is so colour coded and designed to be for a specific sex means that before long children start to take on board this gender separation.  The colour coding starts to mean that the toys are seen as being just for girls or just for boys.  Why should construction toys just be for boys? Do girls not build things? Why should dolls just be for girls? Surely little boys should be playing at being Daddy?  Why is it that certain licensed items, from programmes and films that are loved equally by all my children are marketed for a specific gender?

Lego for girls
Lego for girls; because they couldn't possibly play with the 'normal' sets
There is no reason why a boy can't play with a pink toy, but even with the best of intentions we start to influence their behaviour when these colours come into play. I remember my oldest son being around at a family members house, and they commented on the fact that he'd picked a pink plate, "He's always been a bit like that though hasn't he?"
What? Not bothered by gender stereotypes, that he's too young to understand?

Not coloured for gender
At last! Some toys that don't have a gender specific colour.
Toys are toys and children are children, there should be no boys toys or girls toys, just toys for children.