Christmas may have come and gone for one year, but next year’s presents are probably going to be pretty predictable. It’s obvious, isn’t it, what children want? Girls like pink fluffy presents and cannot get enough of plastic dolls, make-up sets and shoes. Oh, and I’ve got proof. I actually witnessed a six-year old get a set of false nails for Christmas. There you go! Moreover, and with equal certainty, I can tell you that boys, on the other hand, are won over by action packed adventure games and guns and will most certainly NOT touch anything associated with prettiness and domesticity.
No! This message isn’t controversial. What do you mean? Let’s face it: most department stores would agree, wouldn’t they. Christmas might be over, but the shop segregation doesn’t stop at the end of seasonal festivities. We still have a rise of half-and-half shops after the 25th of December. Marks and Spencer’s boys’ and girls’ display went through apartheid to avoid touching during the festive season and continues to do so, which makes me wonder: what would happen if girls crossed the line and picked up a K’nex model or started flinging toy guns over their shoulders in a department store? Would the assistants worry? Would parents show concern? Well, it wouldn’t happen, obviously, because girls don’t like confrontation, fighting or shoot-out games. And boys wouldn’t exactly prefer Polly Pocket over COD.
Or would they? It’s hard to tell, in today’s socially conditioned world. Metaphorically, we’re TOLD that boys love all things blue and girls pink: but hold on a minute. Isn’t that labelling tragic? Isn’t the first paragraph of this article abhorrent? Isn’t gender just a product of our own stereotyped world? It’s impossible to tell whether boys and girls have different attitudes towards toys, because they’ve been encouraged so much to follow separate cultural ideals in shops and on television for so long. For instance, when do boys gather round for a game of dress-up and girls play table football in ad breaks?
And therein lies the problem. We are too quick to label children in society. It goes on too much. We are sure that different sexes like different toys and yet, surely, there should be no rule or example of what boys and girls like and dislike. Regardless of sex, children should be able to make their mind up without letting society make their minds up for them on what they like doing. If that means a girl likes Barbie, it means a girl likes Barbie. If another girl likes Lego, well, that’s fine too. Although people have different ideas on tackling this issue, one thing is clear in this confusing world of gender stereotyping: consumerism shouldn’t choose what’s right and wrong for boys and girls before they have had chance to decide for themselves. Next Christmas? We shouldn’t do the same either.