All posts in Perspectives

David as Santa

Santa’s end of year review

David Kinnaird has been a professional Santa in Scotland for over 20 years. Here he reflects on how children’s toy choices have been changing in the last few years.

I’ve spent two decades ‘Behind the Beard’ – performing as and training Santas for sites around the UK. One of the first things I seek to instil in those entering the National Elf Service is that there is one question they simply Do Not Ask of the tiny travellers passing through their grottoes.

“What do you want for Christmas?”

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Elsa doll and Baymax toy

Setting the children free: parenting without stereotypes

When Rebecca Asher was researching her book Man Up, she found one message consistently came through loud and clear: the commonalities between boys and girls far outweigh the differences. She outlines for Let Toys Be Toys how the way we raise children and the gender stereotypes we bring to our parenting create and magnify any differences between the sexes.

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I have never put much store by parenting manuals. Eight years into my career as a parent, I have turned to them on only a handful of occasions. Yet at the same time I have always been baffled by folksy advice to ‘rely on my maternal instinct’. I am not convinced that I have that instinct – maternal, parental, call it what you will. I love my children but I don’t believe that this love translates into always knowing exactly how best to meet their needs. Read more…

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Book review: Man Up, by Rebecca Asher

Rebecca Asher has charted the one-dimensional view of boys and men throughout their lives, from ‘boys are like dogs’ to teenage troublemakers to non-communicative breadwinner and on to isolated older men in her latest book, Man Up: Boys, Men and Breaking the Male Rules. 

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Woman standing in front of screen with writing White House Conference on gender in children's toys and media

The White House takes aim at stereotypes in children’s media & toys

The recent White House conference examining the issue of gender in children’s media and toys shows how the issue is being taken seriously. Sociologist Dr Elizabeth Sweet, who presented her research at the event, shares her perspective on the day.

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18 female scientists tell us about their favourite childhood toys

Every child is a scientist… but what encourages them to make a career of it? To celebrate International Women’s Day, science writer Laurie Winkless talked to other women working in science and engineering to see the role their childhood played in their career choices.

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Two years on – who’s letting books be books?

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Since we launched our books campaign on World Book Day 2014, ten publishers have agreed to Let Books Be Books. Two years on, who are the publishers still labelling books ‘for girls’ or ‘for boys’?

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Image of blue and pink aisles in a toy shop, text: 'We can change this'

Why I quit the United Nations to battle toy discrimination

Hai Tiet is the man behind US online toy retailer Woozy Moo, but his background isn’t in the toy industry. He explains why he thinks running an inclusive toy store is an important way to combat gender inequality.

I was walking down the halls of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Higher Education with a colleague when she told me that she was looking for the women’s restroom, but a ministry official said there were none. There were none because, the official said: “Women using restrooms is disgusting.” Read more…

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What’s wrong with pink and blue?

“What’s wrong with pink and blue?” Let Toys Be Toys campaigners are often asked this question. Tricia Lowther looks at some of the issues around colour coding.

How can there be anything wrong with pink or blue, aren’t they just colours?

Yes they are, and they are also used as cultural signifiers; codes that mean ‘boy’ or ‘girl’, and are used to segregate children (and sometimes adults) into two distinct groups to be targeted in very different ways. Despite retailers moving away from explicit ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ signs in shops, while we still have pink aisles and blue aisles we still have toys segregated by gender.
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The Gender Police: A Diary

Through their Twitter account @GenderDiary Ros Ball and her partner James have been cataloguing the drip-drip-drip of gendered messages their children receive. With the e-book of the project out today, Ros explained to us how the project came about, and what they hope it’s achieved.  Read more…

composite of images of preschool TV

Girls on TV – who’s watching?

Campaigner Jess Day looks at the links between toy marketing and children’s media, and why discussion of how girls are represented in media needs to talk about boys too.

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