argument top image

Should children's toys be gendered? Show more Show less
Back to question

Traditionally, toymakers market their products to either girls or boys. The toy industry presents dolls and dresses as being girls’ toys, while cars and construction tools are for boys. In recent years, advocates have highlighted the presence of harmful gender stereotypes in such marketing tactics. Considering our society’s ongoing discussion of gender identity, should children’s toys continue to be gendered?

No, toys should not be gendered Show more Show less

Gendered toys reinforce stereotypes and harm childhood development.
< (2 of 2)

Gendered toys reinforce harmful stereotypes

Gender-specific toys encourage children to internalize harmful notions about gender identity.

The Argument

Gender-specific toys reinforce harmful stereotypes about girls and boys. Traditionally, girls' toys involve the more "feminine" characteristics of caregiving, creativity, and social communication, while toys marketed toward boys channel action and aggression. The toy industry should not seek to cultivate these ideas about gender identity. As a society, we have moved away from rigid gender roles, recognizing that children should feel free to express themselves regardless of gender expectations. By marketing gendered toys, toy manufacturers reinforce harmful stereotypes. They make girls feel obligated to play with "feminine" toys exclusively, and boys with "masculine" ones. In this way, the toy industry encourages children to internalize harmful ideas about gender identity. [1] Toys marketed to boys are often oriented around action and excitement, and often include more aggression and conflict than girl toys. Toys marketed to girls are generally pink and passive with an emphasis on beauty (as in princess toys and fake cosmetics) and nurturing (toy babies and cute stuffed animals). A developmental psychologist who specializes in gender and sexual socialization has pointed out that this divide teaches boys to reject vulnerability, emotion, and caring, since they see these traits associated with girls and are at the same time taught misogynistic sentiments like "You throw like a girl." Thus, boys are taught to want to distance themselves from femininity, and thus distance themselves from traits that could be understood as feminine, even when these are beneficial traits to have. On the other hand, girls are taught that beauty and their ability to care for other beings are the most important things in their lives, and do not internalize the emphasis on action and taking initiative that toys marketed to boys enforce. Girls are taught to be passive and to view their self worth as directly related to their adherence to specific beauty standards.

Counter arguments

Although the toy industry produces gendered toys, it does not restrict a child's freedom to ignore marketing tactics and play with a toy for the "other gender." Because of this, they do not necessarily impose gender stereotypes upon children. The toy industry profits from our society's gender stereotypes, but it does not necessarily encourage children to internalize them.



[P1] Traditional gender stereotypes are harmful.

Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Sunday, 12 Jul 2020 at 21:54 UTC

Explore related arguments