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1 expert and 7 parents have answered

Tamsin Oxford writer
Tamsin Oxford Professional writer and editor Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, UK

I am sorry to say that I disagree so heartily mine just fell onto my keyboard. Let's take a look a bit beyond signage. The gender classification of toys isn't merely a sign in an aisle, it's colour and branding and the fact that every Lego pack that isn't Lego Friends very rarely includes a female minifigure. My daughter recently discovered Lego and when I took her into the Lego store she saw the "pink" section and ignored Lord of the Rings and the other totally awesome stuff because (and I quote this earnestly) "It's for boys". Why? The colouring. So I bought her a Lego car that changes into five different shapes in an incredibly dark blue box and she loved it. It's her favourite. Now we have the Police Helicopter (which has no female police in it).

Then let's take a look at Disney Infinity. Lovely new game. A bit buggy and temperamental but my daughter is so addicted that banning TV during the week is a bit painful at the moment. She adores it. The packaging? Mr Infinity, Jack Sparrow and Sully. Not a girl in sight. If you want the laydeez you need to buy another expansion pack which consists of Barbossa, Mike Wazowski and Mrs Incredible. Oh look, a girl, squeezed in.

Violet is separate. The only expansion pack with Play Set that includes one girl and one boy is Cars. The rest are all male characters. Disney most certainly does not have a dearth of female characters so what's with totally alienating half your target market? The research by the ESA (http://www.theesa.com/facts/gameplayer.asp) puts girls at 45%. Not necessarily seven year old girls, but still. What the living sexist eggplant is going on? Was the marketing room filled with only men in suits who somehow missed the memo that's been circulating for the past year? This is not news. It doesn't make financial sense either. Why would you alienate wallets? Girls have money too (when they grow up).

And there is Disney releasing only three (3!) female characters with their biggest game launch ever.

So, what does this have to do with removing the signs for Boys and Girls in toy stores? It's a step. It's one step of many towards kids just not being told that Pink is for Girls and Blue is for Boys and Girls Don't Like Diggers/Games/Balls/Lightsabers and Boys don't like Dolls/Dressing Up/Pink.

Let me conclude my rant with this delightful fact. A few hundred years ago pink was deemed a far more suitable colour for boys as it was stronger whereas girls were more suited to blue as it was more delicate (Source: http://jezebel.com/5790638/the-history-of-pink-for-girls-blue-for-boys)

Isn't it time that the girls wandered down the digger aisle without feeling like they are somehow in the wrong area? And vice versa for boys?

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Opinion 3 years ago
Simon Munk writer
Simon Munk Consumer tech journalist, mountain biker, dad of two. Walthamstow

Gender classification of toys really does affect kids. And if you can't see that, you need to look around a bit more closely! My daughter's only six and my son's only four and I'm already fed up to the back teeth of having to explain to them and their friends that:

a) It's OK for boys to have long hair and even for them to wear pink and even to wear dresses if they want to. Luckily, my long-haired, tutu-wearing son is also a tough little character, otherwise he'd have been bully-fodder by now.

b) It's OK for girls to play with stuff that's active and actiony. And not just the body dysmorphic princess Barbie stuff. All girls toys seemed designed for indoor, inactive, imaginative play. All boys toys seem designed for grr, macho action. And by six, it's certainly very noticeable that my daughter is getting peer pressure to be dainty and delicate and not jump in muddy puddles. Luckily, again, she loves jumping in muddy puddles and killing witches far too much to go too far down that route.

Those signs, those labels - they stick - they tell kids what they're meant to be and do. So I'm all in favour of ripping them up.

And to Peter, who worries about how people will know "where to find construction kits, diggers and remote control tanks or princess based role play/dolls and plush bears with oh-so-cute eyes" here's a suggestion. How about signage that simply says "construction" or "military" or "royalty" or "teddy bears" for flip's sake? It's not rocket science - that's in aisle 3 along with "electrical sets". Duh.

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Opinion 3 years ago
Joanne Watts
Joanne Watts Reading, England

My son is certainly affected by gender stereotyping. He would be very embarrassed if anyone thought he liked anything pink or girly. I think it's so sad that boys are taught to shy away from girls' stuff - as some of it gives rise to a lot of imaginative role-play. Newsround are actually doing a segment on this subject and are looking for kids' views here

Let Toys Be Toys is an organisation calling an end to the gendered in-store signage, which is a start to tackling the problem of gendering toys. If you are interested follow them here @lettoysbetoys or on FB

Better still sign their petition:

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Experience 3 years ago
Anita Naik writer
Anita Naik Writer and mum of two London, UK

I agree with all of the above having lived through my daughter's pink princess stage (now thankfully out grown). But I find what affects my kids more then gender specific toys is other people's opinions on the toys they play with. My son likes prams and dolls and I can't tell you how many parents have told him these are girls toys. One even asking 'If it worried me?' - but refusing to be drawn on what my 'worry' should actually be! My daughter now loves the colour blue and chemistry sets again many parents at school felt the need to tell her that this is a boy colour and science - boy territory! Arghhhh

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Experience 3 years ago
Peter Jenkinson writer
Peter Jenkinson Toyologist, Fanatical about Fun Blackheath, United Kingdom

I’m all for online campaigning, it is a powerful thing, raising awareness of issues which may have profound impact on societies in remote/disadvantaged/forgotten parts of our planet or indeed locality.

Just this week Toys R Us have agreed, after some pressure, to remove BOYS and GIRLS classification signage from UK stores, the pressure from a UK movement, who claim to have already scored the same 'victory' with Tesco, Sainsbury's, Bots, The Entertainer and TK Maxx all of whom were stereotyping kids from a very young age. Their beef, well 'to stop limiting children's imaginations and interests by promoting some toys as only suitable for girls, and others only for boys.'

Now I might have been shopping elsewhere, a parallel universe but I have NEVER seen the signs which read 'Welcome to the toy shop little person, now please wander to the appropriate gender aisle to find a toy suitable for your play pattern – thank you'.

Now the shops are removing signage it’ll be far less clear in the larger ones where to find construction kits, diggers and remote control tanks or princess based role play/dolls and plush bears with oh-so-cute eyes. What will they now do?

When you’re in a toy shop mums and dads, hark back to just a few years back when you were immediately drawn to your gender aisle and, if nothing grabbed your fancy, would most likely have a look around the rest of the shop. Well no point rushing out, you had your parents and their wallets through the door so keep them in as long as possible.

Of course we’ve all grown-up thinking we can’t play with dolls, wear pink or playing shops is all girls play/work and perish the thought that any girls ever came close to the boys bit of the shop, purchased a tank and went on in later life to join the army (gasp).

The point is it doesn’t matter, the boys and girls signage is nothing but just that – signage. It does not, and I have asked a ton of parents, have discriminatory connotations, it is just really quite helpful.

So if little Miss want an army tank you’ll find it in the boys aisle and if little Mr wants a kitchen play set, well, head off the other way.

Can we please just let kids be kids?

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Opinion 3 years ago
expert answer
Maria  Sibireva expert
Maria Sibireva Senior lecturer Saint Petersburg, Russia
Child development expert

According to my study (more than 100 children who are 4 - 7 years old took part in this research), such toys as dolls, soft toys, cubes and so on have gender specific which influence on the choice of children to play with the toy or not. Girls prefer to play with dolls, boys like to play with cubes.

But I revealed another interesting fact which is connected with computer games. Only few girls who are 4 - 7 years old answered that they play computer games which are connected with cooking of food and changing clothes of dolls. This kind of games is typically associated with female gender. But girls prefer wars, cars and some games which are based on animated films.

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Opinion 3 years ago
Phil Allen
Phil Allen Lover of all things tech Epping, GB

I struggle to see why we need to change or force the issue. My sons have girls over to play and they all play happily with whatever they get there hands on. Likewise he has dressed up in princess outfits when he's been at their house (he's nearly 5)

The way some people talk its like we need a revolution. Is this really the biggest issue facing children?

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Opinion 3 years ago
Олег Кияшко
Олег Кияшко Don't mind my display name >.< Kyiv, Ukraine

Not just plain yes.

It's very okay for boys to have long hair and wear pink, I am a guy and I wear long bangs and hair myself. As for pink - some boys really do wear pink. THough I don't wear pink or dresses (imagine myself with twin pink'n'cyan tails in a Bodyline sweet lolita dress or in Alice in Wonderland's outfut >V<), I love stuff that girls love more than boys. I am not talking about barbies (not just dolls, exactly mattel's barbies) or high heel shoes - trust me, some of my friends who are female dislike it.

I hate when people say that kids should only play with same gender. This is total mayhem. I know stuff about bronies (I fear being called a bronie though I don't watch MLP. Hot Wheels breeds aggressive boys (I hate the car's design there - it's not a car, but a bone shaking rattletrap with huge engine and minimum capabilities for driving), Barbies make girls slutty (I know Valeria Lukyanova, she's kinda ewwwh....) - but what is the other solution?

That pink thingy is........ just a color. Cute, adorable, bright and rocking color. I have pink walls in my room.

)

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Opinion 3 years ago

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