TMF: Toy Marketing FAIL

I just can’t resist this topic because as I shop for things for my baby I come across so many sexist toy/clothes/etc offenders! From little boy clothes that feature activities (like skateboarding and playing guitar) while girl’s t-shirts feature only flowers and “Daddy’s Little Princess” to toy sets that are identical save the gender-coding blue and pink — there are just too many sexist toys and/or toy marketing out there!

Consider this, Exhibit A in this new series:

These are infant teethers/rattles. (I apologize for the poor image quality.) The purpose of these toys is essentially the same. But what these toys market is a world apart. Why is the “girl” teether a pink purse? Why is the “boy” teether a saw? Why are we telling girls that their only valuable skill is to learn how to be pretty while we tell boys that they must learn a skill in order to become men?

And, by the way, I use power tools. And one of my closest friends raves about her power saw that she got for Mother’s Day. So the idea that women don’t like to use tools is total bullshit. Meanwhile, the message we give the little boy is that he will not be a real man unless he conforms to rigid masculine rules: He must fix stuff!

Now, I also have purses. And I personally like the color pink.  But I don’t think that all girls should feel forced into a color-coded box (or purse, as it where). I know many women who hate pink. I know many women who don’t own or use purses. So, fuck that gender stereotyping.

Now, you could argue that you could still give the saw to a baby girl because the colors on it are primary colors rather than all blue. But even the packaging makes sure to reinforce that this is a toy for BOYS. And what about that pink purse? Could you give it to a boy? I would argue yes. But would there be a stigma? Again, sadly, yes.

And finally, why the hell is the “girl” teether a dollar more than the “boy” teether? So it’s not only sexist, it’s also going to charge you for it?! Ridiculous!

The real question is, why the hell do we need gender identifiers on teethers anyway? The purpose of the toy is to go in a baby’s mouth! The baby does not know what s/he is seeing. The baby does not understand what a saw or purse are. The point of this gender-coding is for the adults! And that makes it even more ludicrous! Stop the insanity!

If you have a nominee for TMF: Toy Marketing FAIL, please send it to me!


  1. I have a couple examples for you that bugged me. First is the Glow Worm, a favorite childhood toy of mine, but there is a boy version which is blue and a girl version which is pink. I recall my Glow Worm being a gender neutral green when I was a kid. Grr.
    Last fall I was shopping at the super Babies R Us/Toys R Us near me and I saw these awesome little cars. Then I realized they had a boy version, with the cars being blue and red, as well as a girl version which had purple and pink cars.
    If my daughter wants to play with cars (and she does!) then I don’t see why they have to be ‘girl colors.’ Does that somehow make them ‘girly?’ Grr!
    The other one that bugged me is a product by LeapFrog. They have two characters, Scout and Violet, with Scout being blue and green (clearly boy oriented) and violet being purple and pink (girl colors, if the name wasn’t already an indicator). I thought it was a cool toy if the manufacturer didn’t insist on gender specification. Grr!
    Also, if you look at baby dolls, they almost always are dressed in pink. They are very few that are boys or in blue or aimed at boys. Also, just now as I was looking at Target’s toy section online, I noticed that a kitchen toy set had a baby girl while a push toy with a seat for a baby doll was purple and pink and was pushed by a girl.
    And don’t even get me started on Disney Princesses!

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