It’s that time of year again. The Christmas countdown has started and it’s time for me to wade through countless tonnes of plastic pink crap in search of the most glittering examples of sexism and stereotype currently available in toy form.
The usual disclaimer applies: this is NOT a judgement of the individual choices we make as parents and consumers, but I do think it is valuable to step back and look at these things from a wider cultural and societal perspective. And, more importantly, because I like to take the piss.
Each one of the finalists will receive the much-coveted “Hugzilla Award”, in recognition of their efforts for the Promotion of Casual Sexism and Outdated Gender Stereotypes.
If you are keen to check out last years finalists they can be found here at The Top Ten Sexist Toys for Girls: 2013 Edition.
1. Baby Jogger Stroller PLUS Barbie Coffee and Cake Set
The pressure to be a “yummy mummy” these days starts well before a female has given birth. Or had sex. Or reached puberty.
Every little girl needs a jogging pram, so she can run down to the beach for a brisk “Mums and Bubs” yoga session before meeting the other yummy pretend-mummies down at Starbucks for a skim-milk babycino and a low-fat chia seed muffin (if she’s feeling naughty). It’s important that young girls don’t let themselves go. Why walk when you can run? That’s just lazy.
2. Fisher Price Brilliant Basics Stroll Along Walker (ages 9+ months)
Correction: The pressure to be a “yummy mummy” these days starts well before a female has learnt to walk. Or stand up by herself. If you can lean on a walker without falling down, you can damn well push a baby around.
Product suitable for 9+ months. I mean, seriously, the kid hasn’t even been out of the womb longer than she was in it and already she is being trained for childbirth. Barely upright and we’re already saddling her with a baby. LET HER LEARN TO WALK ON HER OWN, FFS. The “male” equivalent of this product does not include a doll. Just balls. What do men love more than anything? Playing with their balls.
And people think social conditioning is bullshit.
3. Graco Room Full of Fun (3 years +)
Huh? Room Full of FUN.
What GARBAGE are we teaching our girls?
Look at her beaming SMILE. Look at those TWO babies.
THIS IS NOT FUN. THIS IS THE PLACE WHERE FUN GOES TO DIE.
Chronic sleep deprivation is not “fun”. Shuffling around like a zombie in the middle of the night with a baby that is screaming so savagely you half-expect a demon to come flying out of its mouth is not “fun”. Being on perpetual call to creatures that reward your attention by exploding with mucus and vomit and faeces is not “fun”.
This toy should be re-named “Room Full of Where the @#$% is Daddy?”
4. Princess Temperature Tester AND Princess Potty
First of all: yes, this is a real product. Don’t raise your eyebrows like that. It serves a VITAL and much under-rated function, because one should NOT dip one’s esteemed royal elbow into a tub full of fetid bathwater. That would be common, and unbecoming of a princess. And anyway, little heirs to the throne should only bathe in high-fat nubian goats milk straight from the udder, and thus at optimal temperature. Speaking of thrones, every little monarch needs the austere dignity of a bright pink potty to make her royal deposits.
“Her Royal Highness The Princess of Poo was safely delivered of a medium-soft bowel movement at 4.24 p.m. today. Her Royal Highness and her bowels are both doing well.”
5. My Pretty Learning Purse (6 – 36 months)
My Pretty Learning Purse contains all the things a scholarly-minded six month old might need to further her early infant education: keys, mobile phone, hand mirror and credit card. In between a repetitive series of inane giggles it squeals things like “Pink park!” and “Let’s get ready!” and “Let’s go shopping!”, before piping out a jaunty anthem that ends with the line “Yesterday was purple but today it’s PINK!”
Schooling young girls, one trip to the mall at a time.
6. Just Like Home Housekeeping Set (ages 3+)
The “pink” version contains enough equipment for your daughter to establish her own commercial cleaning business. The “blue” version features a broom and dustpan, so your son can sweep the kitchen in sixty seconds and then spend twenty minutes making sure the entire household knows he did it, before retiring to the couch with fatigue. There’s some serious social meta-data right there.
“Sweeping and scrubbing will make her feel so grown up!”
Lies, all of it.
“Sweeping and scrubbing will make her feel so resentful towards her malingering husband and his lonely broom!”
7. Nurses Play Set AND Surgeon Play Set (ages 3+)
This pink, flowery costume comes with everything a nurse needs to “mend sores, soothe headaches and diagnose all sorts of grandma illnesses”.
On the other hand, our young male surgeon is dressed in blue and will “enjoy performing delicate operations on Uncle Bob”.
8. Fairy Town Train Set (ages 3+)
Why on earth do girls need a pretty pink train set specifically marketed to them? It’s not like they are going to be operating them with their genitals. I mean, seriously, what is wrong with all the other wooden sets already on the market, with their gender-neutral primary colours and their otherwise-identical components.
“Sorry, I have a vagina so everything I touch from now on needs to be pink”.
9. Little Glamour Gift Set (ages 3 months+)
The failure to properly introduce glamour in early infanthood can lead to troubling deficiencies, specifically relating to the development of man-less spinsters with upper lip hair and an unhealthy obsession with social justice issues.
The good news for parents is that glamour can be absorbed through the gums via these specially designed teething toys: featuring a plastic diamond, handbag and a mirrored heart, it will also encourage timely development of the duckface pout your baby requires for those first tentative selfies.
10. Bruin Beauty Set AND Totally Me Cosmetic Case AND Shimmer and Sparkle Pampered Pedicures
Speaking of glamour, it is important to teach our girls from a young age that their god-given beauty is NOT OK and that the true essence of womanhood is the obsessive pursuit of adornment, grooming and body modification. Girls need to learn that they aren’t good enough in their natural state, and that various parts of their body will need to be plucked, primped, combed, teased, waxed, filed, clipped, tanned, lacquered and slathered in coloured goop before they are deemed acceptable for public display. And it needs to start as soon as they are old enough to stop eating the lipstick.
If you are keen to check out last years finalists the can be found here at The Top Ten Sexist Toys for Girls: 2013 Edition.