On Boy vs. Girl Toys (Also Known As Toys)

(This is something that has been on my mind for awhile, but much more so given the recent news frenzy...)

When Target announced that they were no longer going to be labeling toys for boys or for girls, my first thought was, "Yay!  Great!".  My second thought was, "Wait, why is this news, and why is it such big news that it is absolutely blowing up my news feed?"

Then I saw some of the reactions.  I was naive enough to think that my first reaction, a celebratory yay and "of course", would be everyone's reaction.  Obviously not.  Duh.  People from certain christian organizations decried the move since "God created two different genders" (major facepalm at these times for having to also identify myself as a christian).  A friend on Facebook posted that she overheard a conversation between a Target employee and a customer-at one of our own local Targets in my very liberal city-emphatically proclaiming that there were toys for kids with penises and toys for kids with vaginas for good reason.

I don't think these people have ever been in a room of boys and girls under the age of five or so playing together.

I have the somewhat unique perspective of having two kids-one with a penis and one with a vagina-of the exact same age (Caden's two minutes over Brooklyn not withstanding).  To them, toys are toys are toys.  We don't buy exclusively "gender neutral" toys, and I don't avoid or ban things that are more traditionally considered "boys toys" or "girls toys".  It doesn't personally bother me that Brooklyn's versions of things are pink, while Caden's are blue or green.  They each have a set of Duplos-one primarily pink, one primarily green-that all got jumbled together a long time ago.  Neither of them care about what color the blocks are (yet).  Blocks are blocks, as long they snap together to build the biggest tower we possibly can.  They play equally with their riding/push toys-"Caden's" is in bright primary colors while "Brooklyn's" is a Frozen-themed powder blue and purple confection.  All they know is they can push and ride on both of them.

(A random assortment of toys that I quite literally found on our living room floor.  Boy and girl toys all together, oh the horror!)

What does bother me is when other people push Caden and Brooklyn into gender specific play when Caden and Brooklyn themselves don't freaking care.  Nothing gets my dander up faster than when I  hear people tell Caden not to play with something because it's a "girl's toy", or because "it's pink".  Even worse, when people tell him that it's a girl's toy, so it's "yucky".  What is that teaching him?  What is that teaching Brooklyn?  They are a year and a half old, and kids are smarter than we give them credit for.  I don't want either of them from this young age to get the idea that Brooklyn is inferior because she is a girl, or that Caden and his toys are better because he happens to be male.  One of Caden's favorite toys is a pink purse.  Why does he like it?  Because it makes noise when it opens (appealing to the boy-or heck-the little kid in him). he loves to put things in and out of containers of all kinds, and he can carry it around.  That's it.  He doesn't know or care that it's pink or that it's for girls.  And I would like to keep it that way for as long as possible.

Similarly, Caden is gifted sports toys, and is then encouraged to use them, while Brooklyn is not.  Why isn't the basketball hoop/soccer ball/bat and ball/whatever for both of them?  Last I checked, girls played sports, too.  Girls sports are already devalued enough, without discouraging them from even playing.  When Caden is given a sports toy and then encouraged to learn how to use it, while Brooklyn stands by, it is insulting to both me and my daughter.  

At home, Caden and Brooklyn rotate together throughout the day, playing with all of their toys.  Dolls, blocks, trucks, a toy kitchen, pink and blue toys of all types.  I don't really encourage or discourage it...it's just what they do.  If either of them brings me a toy, I take the opportunity to play with them, whether Brooklyn brings me a truck or Caden brings me a doll.  I personally grew up with a sandbox and a whole boatload of trucks and tractors...and I also played with Barbies.  Why should I encourage Caden to play sports toys and not with dolls?  Odds are, he will be a father someday, while he may enjoy sports...or he may not.  Why shouldn't Brooklyn learn to play sports and build with blocks, as well as with dolls?

I'm kind of excited by the opportunity of having boy-girl twins to see how this toy scenario plays out as they get older.  I feel like Caden will have the chance to learn respect for girls and women from a young age that he may not get otherwise.  (If I ever hear him taunt Brooklyn or anyone else that they "throw like a girl", I will smack his little bottom.)  I love that they have played with all types of toys-of both the traditional boy and girl variety-right from the beginning, since both types of toys have always been around.  I think the more they are exposed to, the more they will learn.  And who can argue with that?