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Playmobil WIN!

February 8, 2010

Over the Christmas season there was a lot of chatter around the blogosphere about the stupid, unnecessary and sexist gendering of children’s toys and toy websites.

Things like this screen capture from the Toys’R’us website particularly irk me.

Are toys really so separated that there are toys for girls and toys for boys and no toys that are for both or either?

And then of course there is the rampant and rather disgusting sexualization of children’s toys.

Given the current climate of explicitly gendering and sexualizing most children’s toys and the toy buying process, I would like to congratulate Playmobil for not following the trend.

Playmobil’s toys are and continue to be aimed at all children regardless of their gender. The Playmobil website is organized by theme or location (such as Farm, Pirates, Police, and Circus) rather than by “boys'” and “girls'” toys. Ok, so there is a little bit of pink behind the lettering for the Dollhouse, Fairy World, and Magic Castle play sets, but that’s about the extent of the gendering. And even then the Magic Castle is mainly decked-out in tasteful shades of white and gold with a few pink accents, rather than being entirely pink and sparkly and covered flowers and kitties.
A plastic castle that can be used like a dollhouse for children to play with.

And then there’s the classic Playmobil figurines. I really appreciate that their people figures are completely non-sexualized and are in fact frequently not explicitly male or female. In the example below, there do seem to be men and women figures, but they are wearing similar clothing and Playmobil has not bought into the gendering of colors. (The man and woman on the right are wearing the same shade of blue and they do not use color to indicate gender).

As a teacher, a feminist, and a consumer, Playmobil gets my stamp of approval for producing clever, fun, and age-appropriate children’s toys and advertising those toys in a socially responsible way that does not reinforce traditional gender roles.

One Comment leave one →
  1. nko permalink
    February 11, 2010 6:10 PM

    I really love this post. I was following your links, and there is one paragraph I would like to share.
    It comes from the article you link to, analyzing cabbage patch dolls whose sex is a “surprise” until you take them home.

    “I think this is a pretty great example of how we socially construct gender to emphasize differences between men and women. Like most babies, these dolls aren’t identifiably male or female…until we provide signals to differentiate them by buying the appropriately-colored clothing, putting bows in little girls’ hair, decorating their rooms with butterflies or race cars, and on and on and on. People treat kids differently depending on these gender signs, and they expect (and justify) different behaviors based on them.”

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