Posted by: LesleySummerville | January 15, 2015

Obama on Toy-Gendered Stereotypes

I saw this video over break and it was interesting to see how shocked some people seemed watching the President put a basketball and legos in the girls’ bin. The toys you play with as a kid shouldn’t define who you are as an adult. I played with toy dinosaurs when I was a kid and I had no desire to own any dolls or dresses or pink anything. I still can’t believe how narrow-minded some people can be about gender stereotypes, especially when they’re applied to small children.


  1. I agree toys should not be contributing to gender stereotypes. At a young age, toys should be used obviously to play with, but most toys are created for a specific purpose. Most toys are created to enhance some aspect of learning. Most male toys, like Legos encourage creativity, stimulate imagination, and enhance spatial intelligence. Although toy companies are beginning to incorporate female games that promote these aspects, most toys for girls today are still promoting gender stereotypes. This can be seen in Barbie dolls, take home kitchens that are pink, and many other typical girl toys. In the video President Obama puts a stereotypically boy toy into a girl’s basket and says, “let’s break down gender stereotypes.” He is right. These social roles need to be broken because they are developed at a young age and that needs to change.

  2. I absolutely think that toys should be marketed to both genders. I remember as a child having an older brother so we both played with toys marketed to the opposite gender. We both played with Sock em’ boppers, marketed solely to boys so they could hit each other and be “manly”, and we both played with my barbie jeep, that was bright pink and covered in flowers. I find that the experience my brother and I had should be universal in that all children should not be forced into following gender constraints placed by society. I think it is especially important for children that are transgender. If a little boy finds he likes girls toys more and finds eventually that he actually identifies as a “she”, it can be psychologically damaging for that child to be taught that they are “wrong” or “different” just because they don’t identify with what society perceives as normal. Gender constraints on both toys and clothing are damaging to transgender people in so many ways, and can eventually lead to thoughts or attempts at suicide, as was seen in the tragic life and death of Leelah Alcorn. Just because she identified as a woman and wasn’t born that way, her parents rejected her and people bullied her. I find this to be absolutely disgusting and I think society needs to update the popular views on gender and the limiting constraints.

  3. I agree with this post; As a child I played with toys geared towards both genders. Some days I would play will Polly Pockets and some days I would play with hot wheelz cars, my toy dump truck, GI Joes, and play mobile. I didn’t care about whether it was marketed to boys or girls or what color it was, I just had toys for every mood I was in. I see zero problem with girls playing with boys toys or boys playing with girls toys. If a boy plays with a baby doll, it just means he has a nurturing side, and if a girl plays with a GI Joe, it just means she has a tougher side.

  4. This is an interesting idea, especially in relation to the video we watched, in class, on the 15th. Toys are being re-branded in a specific and gendered way to entice children to buy items that are not traditionally associated with their gender. Despite the new campaign to make toys that are traditionally boyish girlish, the controversial toys in the video above are a Lego set and a basketball, two toys that, although generally associated with boys, are also commonly played with by young girls. If this is unacceptable, then consider the controversy that would have likely been incited had President Obama placed a BB gun and a set of hot wheels into the girls bin.
    Additionally, all the videos we have viewed relating on the issue of gendered toys have primarily dealt with providing young girls with “boy” toys. I think that the controversial reaction to this would have been far more severe if President Obama had placed a barbie doll and a stuffed unicorn into the boys bin. The idea that girls can play with boy toys seems to be taking off, even if they have to be pink,
    Is there a greater stigma against boys playing with traditionally feminine toys than with girls playing with traditionally masculine toys? (Katie Justis)

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