By Eliana Buenrostro
As a feminist, I am constantly hearing about the ways companies continue to treat the differences between girls and boys as innate. But this past Christmas, it really hit home when I heard about the toys my cousins received. My 6-year-old cousin received a Nintendo 3DS – a game with infinite play possibilities – while his 11-year-old sister received an easy bake oven. Huge cost discrepancy aside; this is particularly infuriating because 11-year-olds are very intelligent, yet when it comes to toy play, girls are reduced to the same-old gender stereotypes.
The issue isn’t that girls shouldn’t cook and have fun with it. It’s that we’re being told by companies, toy stores, and their marketing teams that this is the way it’s supposed to be. Girls should cook and clean (essentially playing “mom”) while boys create, destroy, and learn to save the world. Toys like LEGO, light sabers, and toy cars are all primarily marketed towards boys and these toys have far more creative possibilities and give room for more brain development.
Toy stores play a large role in continuing to support the way children of different genders play and think. From an early age girls are given little options of what they can think and become. It is no coincidence that there is a serious lack of women working in the science and math fields.
That’s why SPARK is asking you to join us in our Toy Aisle Action Project to bring attention to the gender divide in stores! We are SPARKing this movement armed with Post-It notes and cameras in the blue and pink aisles. (Seriously, some stores have actually colored their toy aisles pink and blue! When will it end?) With your Post-Its, make a note using slogans like “Where My Girls At?” in the blue aisle, “Your Girl Needs Joe, too” on a GI Joe, “This Is An Option For Everybody” and “What About Dads?” on the baby dolls.
Use statistics, too. Here are some we found: women make up only 13% of architects (I wonder why LEGO?), 14% of active US military (Where is G.I. Jane?), and 4% of executive chefs — so, why are all the kitchen gadgets pink when so many chefs are men?
Be creative! Place Post-It notes with stats and slogans on the shelves and toys, snap a picture, and then email it to us and we’ll post it on our Facebook page! Please do not do any damage or toy rearranging and be sure to clean up after yourselves. Your pictures will be worth a thousand words. Perhaps these notes will also make parents, grandparents, shoppers and employees question why there are blue and pink aisles in the first place. Let’s make ourselves heard. We can’t wait to see your pictures!