Type: Research Essays
Sample donated: Johnnie Fisher
Last updated: February 23, 2019
“Room number 305, 3rd floor on the left,”answered the nurse after I asked her about my mother’s delivery room. Whilewaiting the elevator, all I was thinking about whether I’ll have a baby brotheror a baby sister. Mom always refused to announce the gender of the baby,keeping it as a surprise for the whole family. And finally, the elevatorarrived, I entered it, going up, counting the floors one after one until Ifinally reached the 3rd floor.
I felt as if it took me a whole hourjust to get out of it. Suddenly, I couldn’t hear anything except the sound ofmy heart, beating so fast form excitement.”Room 305 on the left…”repeatingit over and over while searching to find it. The moment I spotted it, I ranquickly toward the room, entered it in hurry without even knocking the door,and here was the surprise.
A room full of pink decorations, pink balloons, pinkribbons and pinkish toys everywhere. No! I didn’t see the baby itself, but yesdefinitely it’s a girl. I wondered how easy it is noticing one’s sex fromsimple symbols or signs. Yet the baby isn’t able to know or have no idea aboutall these traits that were immediately considered part of his/her life. Formerprime minister Tony Abbott once said ” Let boys be boys, Lets girls begirls”, after all , it all begins within the childhood where toddlers arebrain washed to what they consume through the chosen toys they have betweentheir hands.
From that moment, only one thing stroke my mind, it is the role ofcolors and toys in forming gender differences. Entering the world of kids, the moment they are born, theyare subjected to a certain type of toys without even choosing what sort of toysthey would like to have or play with. In the society we live in, parents andadults tend to give their children toys according to their gender. For example,if she’s a girl she must have a pinkish fluffy toy whereas if he’s a boy hemust have a blue speedy car. Therefore, kids are no more learning orexperiencing their own interests nor building their own traits.
It seems to bea normal issue for parents or adults not to be aware of how toys affect theirkids mentality and behavior, but in the childish world toys are everything,children create their life journey through those toys. All of that is a resultof some sort of myths where historical stories are being invented to end up asnatural facts and explanations to people, where it is hard to break or changethem due to those fixed beliefs. It is that serious and important to noticewhat gender creates, on the moment you are born, half of your life is formedupon to what is seemed natural to the society. In my research paper I’ll bearguing about the role of children toys not only in affecting their behaviorthrough metal development but also in the gender inequalities and stereotypesthey form.
1. Children are impressionableKids are born as a blank page, they have no concept of who they areand who they should be. And here begins the role of the parents where they tendto supply their children with these answers. Thus, we can say that they arehighly impressionable. These ideas are inserted based on the parents’background and the society. From the moment they are born baby boys and girlsare treated differently as if they were different categories. Therefore,because of these differentiations, children form their gender identity wherethey will have the ability to label themselves and others as boys and girls.Toys are considered the tool for children to earn practicallyphysical and mental skills.
It is the first step to get involved in the worldof making decisions, learning skills, thinking critically and gainingconfidence in order to develop their personality. But what if the toys given tothese kids are structured upon what society believes is true without giving thechance for the children themselves to choose what they feel close to. Startingfrom age 3, children will be able to designate which toys and activities areassigned for each gender. By limiting their ability, they are being raised oninterests they won’t experience by time but interests as a result of what isculturally known. Kids usually do not know how to make decisions but it isimportant to give them the opportunity to have different choices in order forthem to choose what they think they are familiar with. And because children arefast learners, they consume information and behaviors that surround theyunconsciously like a sponge. Therefore, giving a baby girl a well-dressedBarbie with all her makeup needs and accessories, teaches the girl that herduty in life is to take care of her beauty and focus on the outer appearance tolook like dolls and search for perfection, thus attract opposite gender.
Whereas for baby boys, they tend to give them rough toys like weapons, cars,trucks, and so much more in order to build the sense of masculinity anddominance. Social learning theorists pointed out that parents reinforcesex-types activities in children as long as 18 months. They give them toysbased on their gender and respond more positively when their sons play withtucks or when their daughters play with dolls. Playing with the other sex’stoys is directly associated with homosexuality. If a boy liked to play withdolls, there’s a fear that the he will grow up to being homosexual. This goesback to each culture and their understanding of homosexuality and the reasonsbehind it.
An experiment done by BBC news, showed how people used stereotypicbehavior with toddlers without actually being aware of it. In this experiment,a baby boy wore a girl’s dress and a baby girl in a boy’s clothes. They broughtin adults to a room full of cars, dolls, animals and fluffy pony. Withoutknowing the gender, these adults figured out what toys should be given to eachchild based on their clothes. The girls wearing boyish clothes was given carsand tools whereas the boy wearing a girly dress got the dolls. All in all,results showed that the chosen toys where based on the gender of the child noton what they prefer to play with.
2. AttitudesParents usually are unaware and have no idea about the effects ofgendered toys on their children’s mental development. When it comes to thefather he wants to see his son’s personality as copy of himself, raising him upon the same track, same rules thus having the same traits. So to be a real manlater on, he must play with weapons and violent toys to build a strong andbrave personality. The same thing applies on the mother, she treats herdaughter on some makeup tutorials, buy her makeup stuff , high heels, and apony for her charming prince to come and see her ready to become his wife.Therefore, the boy becomes that strong rough man who saves the world and thegirl is that cute creature that has no job except to wait for this man.
Starting with toys children begin to associate certain tasks andbehaviors with men and women. For example they link domestic toys and taskswith girls such as cleaning, cooking sets, play house and dolls whereas toolsand cars with men. There are no rules that specify which task should be foreach gender; our culture is behind the reason these gendered behaviors exist.The culture specifies the set of attitudes, behaviors and duties that areviewed as appropriate for each gender.
A study by Williams and Deborah Best(1990) showed that the most stereotyped traits are softheartedness, gentleness,and weaknesses are associated for women while cruelty adventurousness andaggression are for men. Parents encourage boys to participate in sports morethan they do with girls because of their belief about different abilitiesbetween genders. In other words, women are expected to be more emotional whilemen to be aggressive. Women are also expected to be thin and elegant while menare expected to be muscular and tall. Parents also tell their children whatbehaviors are acceptable and which are not based on their gender. It is finefor boys to be noisy and mischievous but it is no suitable for girls to be so.Girls should be calm and well-behaving according to our society. Thesestereotypes are harmful for the individuals as they won’t allow them to expressthemselves the way they want.
For example, men are not allowed to cry becausethey should be muscular and “big boys do not cry”. These stereotypes also limitgirls from being independent or even smart. By breaking these boundaries,individuals can follow their ambitions and act the way they like. 3. Skills and CareersChildren’s future expectations are based on toys they play with. Toysplay a huge role in preparing the kids for the upcoming challenges in differentfields. They form a serious role in creating in the children’s mind the waythey imagine themselves in the future.
Mostof those who are facing problems because of gendered toys are women, wherethese toys limit their expectations to get involved in all sorts of sciences,technological and political fields. Thus, masculinity dominates over feminism.What’s so important to know is that different toys given tochildren serve different and specific messages about what is suitable for each boysand girls. We can notice that the girl’s toys include dolls, nursing andcooking and cleaning sets.
While when it comes to boys, toys involve actionsuch as construction, technical, and machinery models. These toys give childrenan image of what is expected from them in the future. For girls, they mightbelieve that their role when they become adults is to become a housewife, raisekids, clean their homes and cook. They might also believe that their workfields are limited to teaching, nursing, care taking and being a secretary.These jobs according to our society require femininity. On the other hand, boysare projected to become engineers, doctors and business men. While nursing anddoctoring might look similar, peoplefind it bizarre for a boy to be a nurse.
It is carved within us that nurses aresupposed to be girls. Girls cannot aim to become an astronomer or a pilot butthey can be teachers or nurses. According to OSN figures, more than 80% of the work force inscience and technology are males in contrast to 82% of workers in teaching,care taking and other services are females. For example, only 9% of nurses aremales in America.For some, they might think that there are no differences betweenwhat’s being given to girls in comparison to those of boys. Toys help childrenin discovering their surroundings and giving them a sense of who and how theyshould be. Children games play a great role in developing their cognitive andintellectual skills. According to research, building and construction toys helpthe most in developing critical skills.
These kind of toys are usually absentbetween the girl’s toy sets and are more present for the boys. We see lots ofbuilding blocks and legos for boys while girl’s toys tend to be more on thecare-taking side ( Lopa, 2016). Children have to use their critical thinkingand reasoning. They also help with their problem solving skills; when somethingdoes not work or fit they have to find other ways.
These toys also help inincreasing the child’s attention span and focus.4. Toys and stereotypes in mediaThrough movies, music videos, television shows and advertisementschildren get an idea about how each gender should be and act. Media can sendharmful and confusing messages about gender stereotypes. On T.V. shows, womenare usually shown as housewives with their houses always clean and tidy, theirchildren are always healthy and they are organized and good-looking.
Theyusually do not have jobs; they are “stay at home” mother and oftenare submissive to men. On the contrary, shows and movies show men as thedecision makers and the bosses. Cartoons also show stereotypic images forgenders. In most cases the strong, undefeatable super hero is a male whilefemales are portrayed as feminine and delicate. Most cartoon shows have themale as the leader and the main character of the show. Even if females weregiven roles of a hero, these females usually have a male under their hand thatsupports them.
In addition, men are characterized as smart and clever whoalways find solutions for all problems. As for advertisements, women and menare portrayed in totally different ways, where advertisers try to deliver theproduct according to what people view as natural to each gender. This hugeinfluence of media made it so natural for children to form their identity, itis seldom to see an ad for a cooking product or a food with a man acting in it.Similarly it is weird if we see a women advertising for a car but it is sonormal if a man advertises for the same car but portraying women as sexualobjects and part of this product .In addition to that, we never see an ad wherea girl is playing with cars and tools, and vice versa.5.
Counter argument (Patriarchy)However, toys had never created any gender stereotypes, it is anatural tendency for boys to lean towards tougher toys than girls.Biologically, hormones form gender differences in people’s DNA that affecttheir behavior as men and women. In addition to that, brains are structuredvery differently between the two genders which play a huge role in formingone’s identity.
Due to the differences in the brain structure, women developed tobecome the care givers in the family, while men became providers of the family accordingto