Saturday, March 06, 2010

Of toys and stereotypes

Since I totally loved our two ELC toys, Subhash got me one of their catalogues when he went to London. I was browsing through it and in the section for toys of older babies and kids there was a marked difference between those for boys and those for girls. The boys ones were mostly tool sets, railway lines, cars, copters etc and the girls were predominantly cooking and dressing up stuff, crockery, kitchen in a bag (some of them were real nice, four grill stove, oven, microwave and what not, and all life size, as tall as the kids were), powder room stuff, dolls to dress up etc. Predominantly pink.

I made a comment saying whoa! why are they segregating toys into neat slots for boys and girls, they are encouraging stereotypes that girls cook and boys work with tools!! (I mean secretly, if you asked me to pick the toys I'd go for that kitchen set anyday, but still!).

So Subhash asked, well, if you had to buy something for Rohan what would you buy? (Trust my husband to deflate me when I am pumping up thinking I made a remarkably clever statement ;) )

Well, it is true, I would never buy that pink stuff for Rohan. (I mean I'd still buy it since it was so cute, but it would be for me, not for him. But if I had a girl, I'd never shy away from buying her the tool set, the railway lines etc, although they were shown with boys playing.

It then hit me that a guy's life is hard. When women dress up in guys clothes like jeans etc, it is all too cool, in fact in this generation you can no longer call trousers, a "guy's apparel". It is universal. But if a guy was to wear a skirt? That would be so no-no. (except in Scotland, but then we are digressing)

We have pervaded and taken over for ourselves everything that was exclusively men: clothes, occupations, lifestyle and habits (drinking, smoking for example) and have at the same time more than zealously guarded and kept our domains to ourselves (anything slightly womanish that a man does and we immediately suspect him to be gay). Poor guys! I feel sorry for them. One of my friends was once saying, you guys can wear mini skirts, shorts, 3/4th pants, capris and what not, and all we are left with is shorts and full length jeans. If I was to wear a 3/4th jeans, I shudder to think what people would make of me.

How true! ;)


Shubhika Taneja said...

Hmm..Although baby girls should get tools, railway tracks & all the toys which seem to be more intelligent than a cute kitchen set. But i guess that depends on the parents, what they pick up for their girl..

Abhinav said...

Interesting, and valid observations. But a couple of comments :

1. Most chefs/cooks, across all varieties and classes of food places from a darshini to a 7-stars, are male

2. A significant proportion of fashion designers are male.

So even if guys don't grow up with kitchen sets and barbie dolls, some of them do make a living doing just that, without the stereotype coming into play (as long as you're successful ? ) :)

DivSu said...

@Abhi - Agreed :)

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