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The ToyDirectory MOM
By Hollie Bethany
October 1, 2002

Puppy dog tails and sugar
(Gender issues in toys)

Why is it that even in the 2000’s we still think that girls play with dolls and boys play with guns and trucks? There have been a few attempts at cross-gender toys, but unfortunately they seem to be squashed by the stigmas still prevalent in our society.

My son has DOLLS. I get strange looks from some people when relating Hunter’s newest antic: He wants to take his Cinderella Barbie to day care. Hunter got his first doll in an effort for him to be gentle with children who are smaller than him. The poor thing (Barbie) was dragged around the house by her hair or her dress.

Alyssa, our young neighbor, is very much the little lady. She loves to be in dresses and be a pretty princess. But she also loves cars and trucks and will take out Hunter right quick if his airplane crosses her plane’s flight plan. I remember when I was a little girl my collection of Barbies was immaculate, since my brother and I only played with his GI Joes.

Removing gender bias in toys is going to require the emergence of a few great products that can get publicity and the support of retailers to “re-educate” the public. Even a popular fast food restaurant that was sued several years ago--for asking if the toy needed was for a girl or boy, rather than doll or a car--still has to continually remind their employees to use the correct wording.

So this month I am asking you, my faithful readers, to send in ideas of how a caring, nurturing retailer would approach a parent who is hesitant for their child to purchase a toy viewed as inappropriate for his/her gender. Is your store set up to segregate traditional gender lines? What is your idea of the best gender crossover toy past, present and future?

Hunter “ Mom where’s my naked girls?”

Mom “ In your playroom, you think you can put their clothes on? Are they are getting cold?”

Hunter “No, Hunter like them naked”

~ Happy Playing! ~

Just the Facts:

Name: Hollie Bethany AKA The ToyDirectory MOM
Email: hbethany@toydirectory.com
Education: MBA International Economics and Marketing, Augusta State University
Toy Industry Experience: Ty Europe, GyGy Inc., Aquatat.com, SunKids
Child: Hunter, age 2 ½, thinks he is a stunt man.
About my column: A sometimes humorous toy industry/business issues perspective as tainted by the eyes of a mother.


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