From the moment she was born I was sure that my daughter was destined to be a tomboy.
With two older rough-and-tumble brothers surely she had no choice.
I frowned when people started buying her pink rabbits and raggedy patchwork dolls. She wouldn’t play with them!
Fast forward two years and her favourite toys are Shrek’s princess Fiona (in complete top-to-toe bridal outfit ) and a one footed Barbie that an older girl accidentally left in our front yard.
Give her a train, and she would probably put it in her toy pram and push it to the shops complete with her pretend handbag and her pasta-and-string threaded jewels.
That’s why the recent call in the UK for more gender-neutral toys in the lead up to Christmas made me call BULLSHIT.
Britain’s Telegraph write: “Walk into any British toy shop and you’ll be faced with a fork in the road: do you take the blue lane, with its miniature helicopters, chemistry sets and binoculars, or do you take the pink lane, with its kitchens, dolls and make up kits?
Despite the leaps and bounds in the gender equality movement over the past few decades, children’s learning tools are still stuck in the Fifties.” Perhaps things are different for the readers of the Telegraph, but take my kids into a toyshop in Australia and no matter the colour of the lane you’ll have the same result.
My sons inherently want the ugliest nosiest, sharpest, slimiest monster in the aisle, while my daughter just wants to give a cup of tea to the nearest cabbage patch kid and sweep the aisles with the mini pink broom.
My four-year old son has a natural ability to turn any long pointed object into a sword or a gun.
A toilet roll – a pistol.
Christmas wrapping paper – a pirate’s sword.
He is like a bowerbird seeking out shiny material. A nail on the street, a loose screw can become a plaything for hours.
Give him the one-footed Barbie and he would probably turn it upside down and shoot bullets out of its stumpy foot.
However it seems my kids might be walking these pink and blue aisles alone.
A UK initiative, the Let Toys Be Toys campaign asks retailers to arrange toys by theme and function rather than by gender.
The idea being that archaic gender stereotypes, limit the skills and hobbies children feel they are allowed to pursue.
Major retailers like Hamleys and Toys R us have embraced the idea and will now group their toys by theme rather than by gender.
Sweden too has embraced the idea of gender neutral toys, following in line with their gender neutral preschools where there are no boys and girls—just “friends” and “buddies.” And where classic fairy tales like Cinderella and Snow White have been replaced by tales of two male giraffes who parent abandoned crocodile eggs.
The idea behind the toy store campaign is heartfelt but will it really have any practical use?
Adolescent and Child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg says that there are marked differences between the brains of boys and girls. He points to a new study published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, that has found striking differences between the way that men’s and women’s brains are wired to work.