Photo Essay

Same old gender stereotyping when it comes to Christmas toys?

Photo Essays | ByWill Halsey | Gender equity

December 21, 2010 — This photo essay was not taken in the 1950s or 1960s. It was not taken in a traditionally conservative part of the United States. It was taken in the heart of New York City just before Christmas, 2010. Remapping Debate visited two national chain stores (one primarily devoted to toys; the other having toys along with a wide selection of other merchandise).

Free "consumer preference," or gender stereotyping, or both?

  • Gender signaling, Christmas edition 2010. Not terribly subtle.
  • If that weren't enough, the store provides crystal clear guidance as to the intended audience.
  • They don't just label things for girls, they do that for boys, too.
  • Here, the toys for boys are set off against aisles of toys for others.
  • These aisles. These toys. The ones for girls.
  • Sometimes there is a "total environment" provided. Might boys be deterred from entering?
  • Would you like to be a Barbie girl?
  • Oops. Different gender signals. In an essay, it's just one click away from Barbie. In the store, it's worlds away.
  • Back to Stepford, or at least to worrying about one's hair or outfit.
  • If words and color don't do it, then just add a pictogram.
  • Or maybe an inset showing the intended user.
  • Old-fashioned Super Hero. Light on the aggression.
  • Star warriors. Gender-coded, but still not brutal.
  • Ready for a fight.
  • What can one say?