Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gender Essentialism in Your Stocking This Christmas

This showed up on my Pinterest feed yesterday:

It's a list of stocking stuffer ideas for Christmas, by age.  I groaned inwardly when I saw that it was divided into a list for boys and one for girls.  Then I got a little optimistic when I saw that the first half-dozen or so items on the list were identical.  Play dough, art supplies, bubbles, stickers.. I can totally get behind this list.

And then as I continued to scroll down, my heart dropped with an almost audible sitcom trombone chorus - You know the one... wah wah waah waaaaah. About six or seven lines down, we get to the inevitable.  Cars and action figures for boys, dolls and jewellery for girls.


Can we step out of our boxes for a minute and consider the fact that some little girls just might enjoy playing with cars?  Or maybe there are little boys that enjoy playing with dolls?

I know many people will jump up with "But My Daughter LIKES dolls! My Son Likes Trucks! They wouldn't WANT to play with trucks/dolls!"  That's awesome.  Really, it is.

Your kid is not EVERY kid.

How many kids out there aren't getting what they would really like for Christmas because lists like these reinforce gender stereotypes that dictate what toys are appropriate for what gender? I'm not even going to get into the assumption of a gender binary here, because people tend to lose their shit when faced with the suggestion that a kid may be anything more than all-boy or all-girl.

What I wonder is why the creator of this image couldn't have amalgamated these items into one list and done away with the unnecessary gendering of sunglasses, jewellery, Nerf Guns and Barrels of Monkeys?

Speaking as a former little girls I, for one, LOVED Barrel of Monkeys.  It was a goddamned barrel of FUN.

UPDATE: So last night I posted a comment on the blog where this image originally came from asking, very diplomatically, why split the list into boys/girls, since parents clearly would already know whether their kids were into dolls or trucks, regardless of gender.  I wish I had taken a screen cap, because I went back to see if there was a response and my comment has been deleted.  I followed up, although I doubt my response will garner a response.

There's also a disclaimer at the top of the blog now asking not to leave harsh comments regarding the splitting of the lists into boys/girls.  That may or may not have been there before I commented.  I hadn't really paid attention, so if it was already there, my bad.


  1. I can't wait to dive into Cinderella Ate My Daughter with you! And ... I'm going to go ahead and say the disclaimer was most likely (99%) added after your comment. Hahahahaa

  2. I appreciate your concern. I appreciate your comments. Both of them. Yes it was a fair question. I appreciate your opinions. Yes it is my blog and my decision, and after the post comments previously had a MASSIVE blowup of people arguing and calling each other awful vile names all over something I think should be dedicated to Christmas shopping. I was done. I deleted all the fighting hurtful comments and any FOLLOWING comments that brought up the topic of misunderstanding. I thought I'd disable comments for the post, but there's many people trying to be helpful and adding more items and ideas. Each parent knows what their child wants, It may be too difficult to gaze in the same box for age appropriate ideas I guess -with out being offended that it says boy/girl. It was there to be helpful in quick-shopping not offensive. I'm not telling ANYONE how to shop for their children. My daughter was spiderman this year for halloween and darth vader last year. Not a frilly princess with makeup. but I hope no one would be offended if she WAS dressed as a princess either. I'm not TELLING people how to shop for their children. I was trying to make shopping for Christ's birthday a little easier.

    Yes it was my decision to delete your comment, I'm sorry if it offended you. There's no reason to judge me on top of that. I tried a second time to let people calmly state their opinions (after the initial blow up) about the topic and it quickly got heated again and people decide to be quite evil towards each other. That's not what my blog is about, so if it's okay with you, I'll keep my blog how it is. I'd appreciate it. Just like I appreciate your opinion. Thanks so much for your kind publicity.
    Best Regards,

    1. No offence taken. As I said, your blog, your rules. I have deleted the occasional comment that I thought was a derail or unnecessarily hurtful, myself. My intent was not to start any kind of internet flame war. I was curious as to whether the implication had been taken into consideration at all.

      It's not a question of any one blogger telling or instructing people how to shop. But I did find it another somewhat depressing example of how the gender binary is pretty much taken for granted when it comes to children's toys and I wanted to discuss it because the gender binary is something that is so ingrained into how we raise kids that very few people conciously realize they may be contributing to it.

      Anyway, my apologies if I did cause any additional undue trouble and thanks for your reply.

  3. As a kid, I played with my sister's Barbie dolls, and she played with my cars. Of course, the dolls were hers, and the cars were mine, cause that's how our parents raised us.

    Barrel of Monkeys is a lot of fun.

  4. I'm 25 weeks pregnant and when I found out I was having a boy, I was really disappointed at first. What bugged me more though were the comments "oh you just want a girl to dress up in frilly pink things!" erm... no... until my child is old enough to pick her own damn clothes and define herself as girlie, I most certainly would have dressed her in something gender neutral. And I'm 28... I'm having a child because I want to be a parent, not because I want a doll to play with. Shopping for clothes and toys has made me nothing but angry about how gender biased shops are. Not just the shops but the manufacturers of the toys - their packaging, advertising... UGH. Come on world - its 2012.

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