As one steps foot in the toy store, one can see which aisle or section is targeted to a gender. The division is clear, especially with the color coordination; girls’ sections are pink or white, while the boys’ sections are blue or green. Question is why this division everlasting? The two sections never come together or mix. What is this really teaching children? Toys play a significant role in a child’s development that is often overlooked. It does not only provide entertainment but strengthens the child’s cognitive skills and excites their creativity. Toys spark the beginning of children’s interactions with others and may have an involvement with how they carry on with their lives. Over time, society imposes sexuality through these playful objects; cars are for boys and dolls are for girls. Gender-specific toys have a negative impact on a child’s growth both socially and economically.
Gender-specific toys connect to the gender walls in society. Stereotypes are planted within these gender-specific toys. Adults enforce the idea of doll playing on young girls to enhance their femininity and fulfill the traditional societal values. To a certain extent, this works in their favor because it introduces the aspects of motherhood. However, it limits them from exploring other toys that bring other intellectual skills. Due to this, they are expected to live up to one standard. The same is imposed on males from a young age.
The belief of males obtaining a sense of masculinity is reinforced the minute they are given an object to play with. They are encouraged to choose trucks and cars throughout their playtime. The negative impact that tends to evolve from this is violence. Most of these objects influence aggressive actions. It then affects the way boys articulate themselves among others and how they solve the obstacles presented before them. By allowing children to use gender-neutral toys, it will fulfill the idea of a balance between both genders. The male population can enhance their social skills and the female population can awaken their risk-taking behavior. If the balance is not endured, then it will be one of the factors of the educational gap.
The weight gender-specific toys hold on the educational gap is frequently overlooked and not taken seriously. Numerous research has been done regarding the educational gap and why it exists. There seems to be a connection between females obtaining high grades on various subjects while males demonstrate a tendency of scoring high on areas of science and math. “ In the United States of America, studies spanning three decades of school achievement data showed an advantage for males in math and science achievement… while other research indicates that females are surpassing their male classmates in verbal and linguistic achievement” (Porter 232). The female’s academic strength lies among the language-based subjects, such as English or History. The possibility of this tracing back to their verbal interactions with their dolls is very likely. Anyone observing a child can see them constantly interacting with their toys. Males are better at math and science because they are constantly experimenting. Again, this goes back to when their curiosity took over during playtimes with their cars. Others argue that girls in the present time are surpassing boys in this area. The educational gap is becoming more and more nonexistent. This may be true, however, why are the STEM fields still male-dominated? Not only do gender-specific toys influence children’s scholarly achievements, but also their career choices.
The cultural fundamental norms of any community are required to be met by boys and girls. Nevertheless, these expectations may become disadvantages for both genders as time goes by. Toys are determining factors of a person’s personality traits More females are demonstrating risk-seeking conduct but it is still not quite enough. Since girls were forced to only play with “girl toys”, they may start to lack the capacity to explore the areas of science. Therefore, they will stick with what they are familiar with. Women will continue to choose language-based occupations. The visual-spatial skills, which are developed with toys that boys generally play with, are needed to be successful in the STEM vocations. Boys are more assertive, experimental, and bold while girls are more inclined to timidity. The principles created by mankind is still a participant in their future. This also connects to the disadvantages of career choices for women.
Gender-specific toys have a negative impact on a child’s economic future. As mentioned before, not many women go into the high-paying occupations. Even those who do enter this work field still struggle with the underrepresentation, allowing organizations to get away with acts of inequality. One of them is the gender wage gap. It is slowly closing but existent. Until the majority of professions are equally dominated by males and females, it will prevail. In order to find the solution to the problem, one would have to find the root of it and that is found in the children’s day to day life. By enforcing gender-neutral toys, it will result in more diversity in the work fields and promote economic growth.
Among the many controversial things that are said against gender-neutral toys, one of them is allowing boys to play with dolls. The traditional belief is that it will not endorse the boys’ manhood. If any parent were to be asked if they would give a doll to a male child, their immediate answer is a no. It is just common sense. But, a parent would want their child to take care of others in the future, especially if another child is on the way. Yet, they are teaching males that it is weak and too sentimental to nurture a child. A doll is a great example of teaching male children to be gentle. Unfortunately, the norms created by society for men are hard to break and could be the reason why the number of irresponsible fathers in the community is over the top. There is an argument towards the idea of permitting boys with dolls. The usual misconception of boys who play with dolls are more inclined to become homosexual is commonly brought up. However, there isn’t a solid connection between homosexuality and doll playing. ‘A child becoming gay can be from a number of reasons — boys and girls can be sexually abused by same-sex perpetrators; a child may be born with tendencies towards [members of the] same-sex; while some people will experiment. Studies have shown that one in nine boys will have a same-sex encounter before the age of nine. This is a form of experimentation that is usually harmless and children will not become gay. Usually, there is a biopsychosocial explanation for why people become gay as outlined above — biological, sexual abuse, or simply preference by the individual” (Honeyghan 2-3). It is proven that gender-specific toys bring more burdens onto both genders, causing them to live up to the cliched ideas in order to survive.
The social and economic consequences rooted from the gender-specific toys should not be ignored. It obtains a dominant role in a child’s development and future. It is a component of an individual’s occupation, interaction towards others in the community, and roles in the environment. Most of all, gender-specific toys are part of a being’s prosperity or demise.
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