Girls With Guns, Boys With Dolls: Does It Matter?

Some stores are doing away with gender-based, pink and blue toys because of accusations of sexism.

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Some see gender-specific toys as a problem and are demanding that major toy companies change their marketing. One major toy retailer in the United Kingdom is making a point of ridding itself of the classic pink-for-girls and blue-for-boys aisles in its stores. Before the 2013 holiday season, under mounting pressure from a group called Let Toys Be Toys, retail giant Toys R Us agreed to drop gender labels from all of its products sold in the U.K.

Let Toys Be Toys consists of shoppers who are concerned about the sexist labels in the toy industry. They feel that having gender-specific labels on toys can be detrimental to children. Not only were the labels dropped, but Toys R Us in the U.K. also decided to change its marketing efforts to be more inclusive. Its advertisements now feature boys and girls playing with the same toys. 

Although the British subsidiary has made huge strides in ridding its stores of gender-specific labels, Toys R Us in the U.S. has not made any major changes. But one toy manufacturer has. Hasbro recently launched a unisex Easy-Bake oven after complaints from parents who said that the ovens should not be marketed specifically to girls. Because, you know, boys like to cook, too. Can you say “G. Garvin” or “Emeril Lagasse”?

Nowadays, kids have more than enough stuff to worry about without wondering if they’re going to be teased for playing with a certain toy. If a boy wants to play with a doll, an Easy-Bake oven or a kitchen set, why shouldn’t he? The same goes for a girl who’d rather make her WWE action figures jump off the right turnbuckle than dress up Barbie for a night out on the town with Ken. We can only hope that Michael fully recovers from his suicide attempt and doesn’t let his peers ever destroy his love for My Little Pony dolls.

Yesha Callahan is a full-time writer and single mother living in Columbia, Md. She has written for BlogHer, Jezebel and The Grio and has been seen on HuffPost Live and TV One’s NewsOne Now With Roland Martin. She is currently the managing editor of Clutch magazine and is a former comedy and politics writer for BET’s Don’t Sleep! Hosted by T.J. Holmes.

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Yesha Callahan is editor of The Grapevine and a staff writer at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.

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