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Children, gender, and toys

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An article by Stéphane

Published on 15 April 2014

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Gender ethology: a dad and two kids. Prejudice 101.

Christelle Mozzati tweeted an image and said “Voilà”:

Gifts for boys do things, gifts for girls are “pretty.”

(Image by SMBC, hat tip goes to HTeuMeuLeu and Julien below, ex-aequo)

A few weeks ago I did a test with my kids [1]: I bought each of them a Lego Technic set, you know, the race cars with pull-back motors. My boy is 7 and loves Lego, so this was a first step into complicated assembly. My girl is 9 and luuuuuuuvz Lego Friends [2].

I thought that if I gave them 20 euros, they would end up with a Star Wars set for him and a Friends set for her, so I pre-chose and said “each of you, choose a pull-back car.”

And guess what? They both had the same fun building them, and then they ended up doing “boy stuff,” racing their cars all over the house. No gender differentiation, just shared fun.

This tells a lot, I think.

On the fact that girls are conditioned to think pink things are shiny and are so fit for them, on the fact that people think girls will not be interested by “virile” activities.

Prejudice is not the truth. It’s just a twisted, most often false, outlook on our society.


[1Kids are guinea pigs for people who don’t work in an ethology lab.

[2Verbatim. “I luvvvvvvv Lego Friends.”


    • 15 April 2014

    Reply to Julien CROUZET

    • 12 May 2014

    That’s cool. But you know what, I’m going to totally call you out as being as sexist as the toy makers. Yeah! I am! Because you think there’s something uncool and wrong about dolls and playing with dolls.

    And so do I, so I know it when I see it. But my kids don’t.

    When they play with dolls (the boys too), they create an equally infinite imaginary world where dolls, cars, dinosaurs, lego and toilet roll tubes are called on to prop up the narrative. My sons do this with their little sister, and then she’ll take some time out to stack lego bricks while they’re in the Wendy house. It’s beautiful.

    So I think our idea, in this case as engineer dads (?), that there’s something wrong with "girls toys", and that the gender normalised boys toys are the fun ones, is just as much a part of the problem.

    If you’re with that and I’m missing the implied irony, sorry. I kind of wonder if that’s implied in the strip, now, in fact. But anyway.

    Reply to Benjohn

    • 12 May 2014

    Benjohn : haha, you’re probably right though!

    Yesterday the boy planted flowers in the garden while the girl lazed in front of the telly. Gender equality in both directions wink

    Reply to Stéphane

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