British Toy Store Scraps ‘Sexist’ Sections for Boys’ and Girls’ Toys
Time Magazine: Hamleys, the famed toy store on London’s ritzy Regent Street, has stopped grouping toys by gender. My Little Pony, meet your new neighbor, Transformers 3 Cyberverse Commander.
This month, the 230-year-old toy store confirmed that it has dispensed with its pink “girls” and blue “boys” floors. From now on, toys will be organized around types like “Soft Toys” and interests like “Outdoor” and “Arts & Crafts” with gender-neutral red and white signage.
London blogger “Delilah” has taken credit for the change after waging a campaign against what she describes as the “categorization of toys by gender and sexist stereotypes.” (Her post is entitled, “Hamleys toy shop promotes gender apartheid.”) Delilah, whose real name is Laura Nelson, took up the cause after visiting Hamleys to buy a gift for her niece, only to be shocked by the fuschia-hued girls’ floor “filled with fluffy objects, beauty and hair-related toys and play cookery sets,” not to mention a beauty salon called ‘Tantrum.’ The boys’ floor, she writes, was “all about action and adventure. There are cars, trains, spaceships, science sets and construction toys.”
Hamleys denies that Nelson’s campaign had anything to do with their decision, saying they made the change to “improve customer flow.”
“Delilah” is a writer, blogger and a campaigner for equality, and has a doctorate in neuroscience. She writes on her blog:
- Gender stereotypes in toys are highly influential and pervasive, and influence children’s and parents’ choices, aspirations and expectations. These different toys also promote the development of certain skills and encourage boys and girls to pursue activities that are consistent with the gender stereotypes we see in our society generally (women in passive, caring and homemaking roles; men in active, leading and aggressive roles).
When I was a little girl, my parents were responsible for guiding and raising me and encouraging me to learn and play with things I seemed to enjoy. Sure, I loved Barbies and makeup, but I also played with Matchbox cars and many baseball games in the cul-de-sac with my friends. I loved gymnastics, track, basketball, and soccer. I even learned to shoot a shotgun and fish as a young tween. Guess my parents weren’t that influenced by the boy/girl section of a toy store.
You can force equality upon a young child all you want. But wouldn’t it be better to allow them to seek out what they enjoy without labeling it as “sexist” if a girl wants to play with dolls and a boy wants to play with Army men? Equality can never manifest itself if we continually perpetuate stereotypes. But then, I don’t believe we are all equal – aspirations, expectations, and skills are inherently different in each individual (no matter what toy you choose to play with).