For those of you not linked in with the Trans and Godless facebook page, I posted this yesterday:
Dear Toy Advertisers,
The image in question comes from a Swedish toy catalogue that works as an importer for Toys R Us. Last year they were in some hot water for violating Sweden's laws against sexist advertising. Yes, you read that correctly. There are laws in Sweden against sexist advertising. How. Fucking. Cool. Is. That? You may also recall from previous posts that many European countries have laws that limit or prohibit the types of pervasive marketing to children we have in The States. This means Swedish children may have the least amount of brainwashing when it comes to selecting toys they enjoy. It means Swedish children will be more creative with their play because they're not just mimicking what they've seen advertised ad nauseum on television. It means Swedish children can have more fun and enjoy their toys more. And because they're not being told to limit their selection to only one half of the store, they have more variety to choose from and the toy sellers have twice as many opportunities to sell the same number of toys. If nothing else sinks into the heads of Corporate America, that concept should. Why on earth would you intentionally alienate half of your potential buyers for a product?
My point is, you don't have to radically change toys in order to appeal to all genders. A lot of the most popular toys out there are popular because they're fun to play with. Legos are awesome! Nerf guns are awesome! I loved my baby doll as a toddler and learned to double-dutch when I was in elementary school. We shouldn't try to limit who is allowed to play with toys or tell kids how they should play with them. Playing is how kids learn. It's how they figure out the world and decide how they're going to fit into it. If they want to coordinate Barbie's outfits and style her hair, that's great. If they want to strip her naked, paint a costume on her, and have her fight crime, that's great too! Toys are fun and kids don't need any help from adults figuring out how to play. It's when adults get involved and start trying to make rules that we stunt their imaginations and limit who they can be.