Girls Versus Boys: Toys And Gender Role Socialization

1762 words - 7 pages

“What? A boy playing with Barbie dolls? That’s messed up man. Only girls play with dolls. Everyone knows that!” This is an answer from Cavin, seven years old, when asked what he thought about boys playing with Barbie dolls. Listening to these words can make one realize that even from a young age, children have been strongly impacted by gender through society. According to sociologist James M. Henslin, gender is “the behaviors and attitudes that a society considers proper for its males and females; masculinity or femininity” (280). Throughout time gender has been a way of thinking about what is appropriate of different sex, a term which Henslin defines as “biological characteristics that distinguish females and males, consisting of primary and secondary sex characteristics” (280). Since many years ago society has solidly built characteristics of gender and kept encouraging traditional gender roles to new generations. Toys, a common object which many children play with in the beginning of their lives, is actually an agent of gender socialization that many people take for granted. Through observations at a local toy store, such as Toys R Us, one can recognize how toys reinforce gender roles.
To fully understand toys as a reinforcement of gender roles, one can observe the display of toys in Toys R Us. When walking in a toy store, one can see the obvious categories the toys are separated by which is by sex. Entering Toys R Us, one can see the categories of the aisles on the left side are in blue. Some of the categories in this section were action figures, cars and trucks. From an overall view, the colors showcased from these aisles are in dark colors such as dark blue, black, dark grey, dark green, dark orange, etc. In this part of the store, most of the packages of the toys had males in it. For instance, on a package of a Nerf blaster, which many knows as toy guns, there is a teenage boy shooting his plastic gun to the right edge of the box with a serious face as if he was shooting to his rival. The colors which fulfill this particular item are blue and orange. Another toy a shopper can see in this aisle is a male action figure named Thor. Thor is approximately 5 inches tall. However, even though this toy is small, by looking with detail, one can see his buffed appearance. His body is very masculine with large muscles throughout his arms and biceps. Thor has blonde hair up to his shoulders and his facial expressions shows a focused and serious look. On his back is a long red cape and he also has a rock hammer in his right hand. The dark colors and masculine toys in these aisles represent toys for boys in Toys R Us.
In addition to the boys’ toys aisles, there are also aisles on the right side of the store, which have pink signs of different categories. Some of the signs are beauty and accessories, cook and clean, and dolls. Throughout these aisles are light and soft colors, such as pink, light blue, lavender, and so on. Interestingly, the toys that...

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