I'm about to buy my daughter a toy gun. So shoot me.

Girls love pink… guns. This writer is taking the plunge into weaponry for little women, and she’s taking no prisoners. 

My amber-haired daughter is turning three in a few weeks. She is having a fairy party with a Princess Barbie cake and her two older brothers have bought her exactly what she has asked for: a pink crossbow and a Nerf gun.

Before you leap through the screen in horror, I have tempered it with gifts of My Little Ponies and a bulk buy of second hand Barbies from eBay.

This gender stereotyping of toys, though, has reached an unusual climax.

When I was a kid, girls played with dolls and dolls’ houses, boys played with things with wheels and everything else was fair game for both of us. Somewhere along the line, manufacturers decided that toys had two distinct binary roles. Girls’ toys had to be a shade of pink and boys’ were black or blue. Hence Toys ‘R Us does sell prams for boys, but they are blue. And yes, you can get cars for girls – but they are a shade of lipstick pink so bright you will want to lick it.

The Rebelle range of toy weapons for girls

But the newest frontier in toys are weaponry and arsenal. Popular toy maker Hasbro introduced the Rebelle line of pink-swirled weaponry last year.

Over a dozen new lines are due to be released this year. Amongst the most popular are the heartbreaker bow-and arrow and the Sweet revenge dart kit.

I can appreciate some parents feel uncomfortable allowing their children to play with weapons. Even I tried to fight it for a while.


My oldest son – now six-and-a-half - was told quite firmly that guns don’t shoot bullets, they shoot magical wishes (ya think that worked?). He was told that kids aren’t allowed Nerf guns till they turn seven (nup, didn’t work either), and to play pretend with sticks as ‘wizard's wands’ not weapons (‘nuff said, huh?).

As you can predict, after the arrival of a younger brother things rapidly changed until I found myself agreeing to purchase the “Army” bag at the local show - complete with three replica machine guns, a flight up flashing pistol and several round of pretend bullets.

Right now, I feel the need to justify the fact that my first grader happily plays teddy bear picnics with his sister and one of his favourite shows is My Little Pony. But give him a light saber and he’s a happy Jedi.

So can you blame a three-year-old girl who adores her two older brothers for wanting just one thing for her impending birthday? A pink gun.

Keen archer and huntress Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games

A recent article in The New York Times on the increasing market dominance of weapons to girls drew a line between the emergence of aggressive female warrior role models and the marketing of pink weaponry for girls. The article cited characters such as Katniss Everdeen, the huntress/survivor in The Hunger Games, the Black Widow of The Avengers, Merida of Brave and Tris of the book and new movie Divergent.


(Now just to digress for a second, but the HUNGER GAMES? My near-three year old won’t even watch Toy Story as it is too scary.)

The implication was that with the dawning of the aggressive female stereotype in films and TV came the necessary linked-in marketing. But, personally, I am not sure what the scandal is. Kids are just kids, aren’t they?

If a stick can become a gun – or a muddy puddle can be Ariel the Mermaid’s home - then are we really scandalised by a range of female toy role-play weapons? In fact, the marketing for this range calls for the ‘whole family to get involved’.

Didn’t we have Catwoman’s retractable claws and Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth and projectile tiara to corrupt us as children?

Experts agree there is no scientific evidence to show playing with guns makes boys aggressive or leads to a future interest in weapons. I can vouch for that anecdotally. My older brother – one of the gentlest men I know - had so many toy guns they were once seized at an international airport. He’s now a publisher of a major financial newspaper - about as far away from a life of crime as you can get.

So what are we so worried about with our daughters? If anything, what we should object to most is the colour! Why can’t those guns be silver, or beige or spearmint green? At least then they would fit in with my décor at home.

Do you let your kids play with toy weapons?