Do So-Called “Girls Toys” Push Girls Toward Girly Careers?
2:42 pm, December 14th | by Amy Tennery
Young, the writer of “How To Lose Friends & Alienate People” (heh), is extremely upset over Hamleys toy shop’s decision to remove signs indicating which of its toys are for boys and girls. Outrage!
So, let’s back up here a bit. As Young explains in a Telegraph column today, Hamleys decided to remove “boy” and “girl” signage based on a blog campaign from Delilah, which argued that gendered toys manipulate girls’ career aspirations. Here’s a portion of Delilah’s argument that Young excerpted:
We have a severe lack of women in senior positions in our society and a severe problem of inequality. Only 22 percent of UK parliamentarians are female. A survey of Britain’s top 100 companies find that, of 329 executive directors, only 20 are women. In the media Guardian top 100 this year – the most powerful people in the industry – the first woman is at number 18… There are many contributing factors, and one is conditioning of children from an early age. Deep-rooted in our society are stereotypes that dictate to women and men and influence them on the roles in society that they are expected to fill.
And, yes, there is research to back up the blog’s claims. (And, I know this is beside the point, but gender neutral children do exist, so I’d argue that words like “pretending kids are ‘gender neutral’” is fairly destructive).
But while Delilah has research on her side, Young has… a parable from the turn of the century (an era known for its nuanced gender politics!) to prove his point:
[After hearing of Hamleys' decision] I was reminded of a famous short story by Saki called ‘The Toys of Peace’. It concerns the efforts of two earnest, middle class Lefties to re-educate their military-obsessed nephews by giving them ‘peace toys’ to play with. Trouble is, the progressive intentions of the manufacturers are lost on the boys… The moral of Saki’s story is clear: nature will always trump nurture and any attempt to re-educate children so they grow up to be model citizens in some socialist utopia is bound to fail.
Yes. At the time he wrote this story, Saki (and likely many others!) believed that women were women and men were men and ne’er the twain shall meet. Of course, it’s also worth noting that Saki died before women in the U.S. or the U.K. were granted the right to vote, so maybe things have changed just a smidgen since his time.
Of course the outcome of this decision, Young points out, has devastating consequences:
Henceforth, dads looking for Scalextric and mums searching for My Little Pony will just have to wander aimlessly around the shop’s five floors until they stumble across them.