Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The gendering of toys at a second hand store

I was trying to pass the time while waiting for my daughter to finish drama class on a rainy day, so I took my son to a used clothing store to let him look at the toys. This has always been a treat for my kids... to go to a consignment shop or a used clothing store and when we were done looking at the things that I wanted to look at, they would play with the toys. One of my favorite things about it was that all of the toys were mixed together, so there was no division based on age or gender of the children who are supposed to play with the toys, like in other toy stores. Much to my disappointment, this is no longer the case.

The section labeled "Girls Toys" contains stuffed animals, toys that are pink or purple in color, dolls and for some reason, board games (although that could partly be because there is room for game shelf here).

These toys include a purple My Little Ponies playhouse, a pink Littlest Petshop playhouse, a Littlest Petshop ice cream parlor, purple secret diary with a key card, jewelry and craft sets, a Bratz toy of some sort, Barbies, Dolls, High School Musical Cheerleading pompoms, skipping ropes, a cooking set and plastic dishes, and many other things that I cannot see or cannot identify (as well as what appears to be an electric drum and black boys dress shoes that I think waere left behind by a shopper, as they don't seem to fit in with the rest of the items). All toys that I have consistently seen gendered as female in advertising. The next picture shows the board games and stuffed animals.

The section labeled "Boys Toys," on the other hand, is a bit different. Although it does contain toys that I would suggest are typically gendered as being for male children (Tonka Truck, monster truck, transformers action figure and various other cars and trucks just to name a few), it also contains many toys that I don't think are typically gendered (Rubix cube, chess set, M&Ms Candy toy, math and reading flashcards, outdoor activities/sports toys, waterguns, keyboards, etc). Not seen in this picture, but still in the boys section, were 3 average lego sets (the kind that was marketed for all children before they came out with pink lego sets for girls).

This is just another example of male as standard or normal, along with the devaluation of all things female. All children are allowed to shop in the boys section. Boys, however, will not find anything suitable in the girls section (thankfully, my son would dispute that.. he loves Littlest Petshop and jewelry crafts). I think this store needs to seriously reconsider this new setup. I just want these toy stores to put everything back together on one big shelf and just let kids be kids.


  1. If you look near the pink keyboard in the girls toy section picture there is one of those Fisher Price Corn Popper toys. I had one of those when I was a kid and I am male. Damn my parents for buying me a girls toy. There is not even pink in it, the handle is even blue. This is an outrage!!!

  2. I had one of those for my kids... they thought it was a vacuum.

  3. I just don't understand the *need* for it. Why put signs up that serve no purpose other than to dissuade some of the children from buying certain toys? It seems like a bad business decision.

    Have you tried talking to anyone at the store about this?

  4. I'd be so tempted to do some guerilla restocking, and start transferring stuff over to the girls' section.

  5. I agree that it seems counterproductive to selling more toys... now little girls won't buy generic legos, or boys won't buy that little karaoke machine because it is in the wrong section. And I haven't bothered mentioning it yet, but it might be worth a letter at some point.

    And I am totally going to restock that section now... do I stop at toys, or do I move some science books, sports equipment, tools and electronics to the girls section... ok, well, maybe letting kids play with tools isn't the safest thing in that context.

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