THE BLOG

Calling a Spade a... Boys' Toy?

16/09/2013 13:19 BST | Updated 16/11/2013 10:12 GMT

Sometimes when I commission an editorial answer on Quib.ly, I'm curious to see whether it will capture people's imaginations. But then there are the others. The ones that I know, before I've even clicked send on the commissioning email, that it will catch on fire.

On Friday, Quib.ly caught on fire. We posted this question: Does gender classification of toys really affect kids?

Peter Jenkinson, a great toy expert who tweets as @toyologist let out a sigh and began...

"Just this week Toys R Us have agreed, after some pressure, to remove BOYS and GIRLS classification signage from UK stores.

"Now I might have been shopping elsewhere, a parallel universe but I have NEVER seen the signs which read 'Welcome to the toy shop little person, now please wander to the appropriate gender aisle to find a toy suitable for your play pattern - thank you'."

"Now the shops are removing signage it'll be far less clear in the larger ones where to find construction kits, diggers and remote control tanks or princess based role play/dolls and plush bears with oh-so-cute eyes. What will they now do?"

And so it began. Within minutes, it was trending on Quib.ly and spreading across Twitter.

"I am sorry to say that I disagree so heartily mine just fell onto my keyboard," wrote Tamsin Oxford.

"Let's take a look a bit beyond signage. The gender classification of toys isn't merely a sign in an aisle, it's colour and branding and the fact that every Lego pack that isn't Lego Friends very rarely includes a female minifigure.

"My daughter recently discovered Lego and when I took her into the Lego store she saw the "pink" section and ignored Lord of the Rings and the other totally awesome stuff because (and I quote this earnestly) 'It's for boys'. Why? The colouring. So I bought her a Lego car that changes into five different shapes in an incredibly dark blue box and she loved it. It's her favourite. Now we have the Police Helicopter (which has no female police in it)."

"Gender classification of toys really does affect kids," said Simon Munk. "And if you can't see that, you need to look around a bit more closely!"

"Those signs, those labels - they stick - they tell kids what they're meant to be and do."

It goes beyond toys, signs or shops, says Anita Naik:

"I find what affects my kids more than gender specific toys is other people's opinions on the toys they play with.

"My son likes prams and dolls and I can't tell you how many parents have told him these are girls toys. One even asking 'If it worried me?' - but refusing to be drawn on what my 'worry' should actually be!"

Joanne Watts agreed. Wholeheartedly.

"My son is certainly affected by gender stereotyping. He would be very embarrassed if anyone thought he liked anything pink or girly. I think it's so sad that boys are taught to shy away from girls' stuff - as some of it gives rise to a lot of imaginative role-play."

"Let Toys Be Toys is an organisation calling an end to the gendered in-store signage, which is a start to tackling the problem of gendering toys. If you are interested follow them here @lettoysbetoys. Better still sign their petition."

I just did.