The Equalities Minister, Jo Swinson, has said that gender-specific toys marketed at boys and girls are limiting children’s aspirations and will damage the economy in the long term.
With Christmas fast approaching, we’d love hear from dads of all backgrounds about their experience of raising sons and daughters:
- What toys did your sons and daughters love playing with?
- Do you encourage your children to play with toys associated with the “other gender”?
- Do you think you children face pressure to conform to gender stereotypes?
- Do you think you face pressure as a parent to nurture boys and girls differently?
- Is your experience that boys are from Mars and girls are from Venus and that this is just natural?
According to an in depth article by Sally Peck, lead writer at The Telegraph’s new digital parenting hub Mother Tongue (note the sexism against fathers in the title?), Jess Day of the campaign group Let Toys Be Toys, believes that:
“The stereotypes we see in toy marketing connect with the inequalities we see in adult life. By late primary age, research by the Welsh organisation Chwarae Teg shows that children already have very clear ideas about the jobs that are suitable for boys and girls – ideas that are very hard to shake later on.”
According to Peck:
“A growing number of parents, educators and governments want to redress this by making the world “gender-neutral”. The idea is to make all things available to all children. Pink isn’t banned. Rather, it’s up for grabs. More subtly, and onerously, it means being careful about language and behaviour so, for example, boys are given the same amount of attention as girls when they are upset, to counteract the assumption that girls are more emotional and boys are naturally braver.”
Peck says that experts claim that such interventions in childhood will enable girls to grow up able to assert an equal role in the workplace, while boys will be less likely to become stoical adults who are three-to-four times more likely to die from suicide.
Not everyone agrees with the drive towards gender neutral parenting. Peck’s article quotes two women with dissenting views. Siobhan Freegard, founder of the parenting website Netmums says:
“Most ordinary mums will say: ‘Yeah, but boys and girls are different. Parents don’t really get what the point is of campaigns like Pink Stinks,” which fights gender stereotypes.
Angela Spencer, who has owned and operated nurseries for the past 21 years, agrees with Freegard saying:
“Boys and girls develop differently, socially and emotionally. The anatomy of boys and girls is different and their subsequent developmental needs are different. In this ‘gender-neutral’ trend, we are running the risk of losing gender identity completely.”
—Photo Credit: flickr/JDHancock
Article by Glen Poole author of the book Equality For Men
Tell us what you think? Will boys be boys (and girls be girls) or are the toys we give our children helping to condition them to be masculine or feminine?
Also on insideMAN: