Let Toys Be Toys says it hopes to end gender stereotyping in toys because it’s so “limiting” for children when they see a play kitchen in the girl aisle or a racetrack in the boy aisle. Here in the U.S., an online petition is asking Toys R Us to also stop gender-based marketing. The petition’s organizer claims that it’s healthier for children to play with a wide variety of toys so they can learn to “fight gender roles.”
These efforts are both silly and pointless. Boys and girls are free to choose any toys from anywhere in a store. There is no conspiracy by toy producers to get boys to like action figures and girls to like dolls. Ads and store signage focus on gender for a very simple reason—like all businesses, stores increase their sales by marketing products to a target audience. It makes good business sense to market some toys to girls and some toys to boys because boys and girls actually do tend to like different toys. These are natural tendencies that boys and girls already have, because -- surprise, surprise -- boys and girls really are different. Taking down signs in retail stores is not going to change that.
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