Society and Gender According to psychologists

Gender Identity Formation and Gender Norms in Toy Stores

According to psychologists, gender identity formation and the upkeep of gender norms are influenced by children's play and toys. Even though this assertion might seem improbable, what better method to support it than by carrying out an accurate survey in a toy store and looking into some of the issues surrounding this idea. That is the entire purpose of this essay. The analysis started once a fully stocked toy store was located, and the results were as follows.

Changes in Toy Store Layout and Types of Toys

When I compare them to when I was a youngster, the entrance to the store demonstrates the substantial change in the layout of such businesses and the types of toys. For a start, there were different sections and clear demarcation of the boys and the girls' toys. In fact, the boys' section had been painted blue, while the girl's section was painted pink. This was never the case when I was growing up whereby all toys were mixed up. In addition to that, the toys were more detailed with a greater proportion of them being electronic in nature unlike in previous years when most toys were mostly manual and slightly crude. The technology was less developed then, for instance, remote controlled helicopters were rare and very expensive, but now they are in almost every toy store and quite affordable.

Role-Related Toys in Boys' and Girls' Sections

Some of the toys in their respective sections were also related to some adult gender roles. It did not help matters noting that the store had allocated different specific genders to sell their products. There was a smartly dressed lady in the girl's section and a neat guy from the man's section. The expectations of what role each gender is supposed to take up was evident in the type of toys in those sections, for instance, in the boy's section, I noticed that there was an array of vehicles, some of them were army related and even with soldiers in them, boats and also musical instruments such as a mini piano. The girl's toys were more feminine and detailed. For instance, the different dolls were dressed up like tiny adults; there was a teacher doll, a nurse doll and one who just looked motherly. Besides, there were some plastic spoons and knives, and a kitchen themed cutlery themed plastic toy set. It went without saying that boys were oriented to take up aggressive roles such as combat, car racing, and fishing while girls were being attuned towards conservative roles such as being a housewife.

Masculinity and Creative Thinking in Boys' Toys

Most of the boys' toys were characterized by some form of masculinity or aggressiveness. For instance, Superman and Spiderman action heroes figures were many in the boys' section, and most of the toys were either colored in green, blue or black, colors synonymous with men. In this section, many toys also seemed to be related to creative thinking such as puzzles and board games and also motor skills. It is in the boys' section that there were colored blocks that the boys would arrange to a certain design. There were plenty of cars for the boys. This ultimately shows that boys are biased to be more masculine and also more creative than girls.

Femininity and Beauty in Girls' Toys

Something that clearly differentiated the girls' toys was the heavy pink and purple dominance of most of the toys in this section. The girls' toys had a feminine touch to them. To begin with, the colors were attractive, and the texture was tender. Most of the dolls had fur in them, and they also were gentle to the touch. I also noticed that the girl's toys promoted beauty and elegance, nurturing the growth and development of domestic skills as would be required of a wife. Every Barbie doll, for instance, was accompanied by a comb and a set of clothes. From this indication, girls from a tender age were directed towards learning how to dress up well and stylishly, and the emphasis on their physical beauty was evident by the presence of fake makeup kits in their section.

Gender Neutral Toys and Reasons for Their Existence

Some of the toys at the store may be considered gender neutral. The majority of these were instruments such as the piano, drum, teddy bears, kites, and balls. The neutral toys also did not have specific colors, with many being colored white, brown or beige. It was however not surprising that the proportion of the toys was about 20% of that of the entire store as it was stocked mostly with gender specific toys. However, the reason for the existence of a gender neutral section could be accredited to the fact that most of the parents that visited this section had more than two kids in tow. They were looking to cut costs by purchasing toys that could be used by any of their children in their homes. Also, most of the toys in this section were meant for children of lower than 5 years. This may be because; children at this age are still yet to discover their gender and therefore, may not be choosy in the type of toys they play with.

From this, it is evident that toy manufacturers have discovered that toys play a critical role in the development of gender identity and maintenance of gender roles and manufacture specific toys meant for specific genders. Unfortunately, there is also gender bias and limitation of a certain gender taking up a different role that is perceived to be out of its league because of the bias that starts early in their life. For example, girls may perceive joining the army as a role that they should not take because they were used to playing only with dolls and never encountered combat toy vehicles.

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