Let Toys Be Toys recently agreed to partner with UK SAYS NO MORE – a national campaign to raise awareness to end domestic violence and sexual assault. The NO MORE campaign started in the United States and launched in the UK earlier this year, overseen by London-based charity Hestia.
We heard about UK SAYS NO MORE on social media where we shared a video of theirs in which the first line was “Boys will be boys”, a phrase familiar to many parents and one which reflects cultural beliefs that we often see echoed in products marketed to boys. UK SAYS NO MORE contacted us, told us about their campaign and invited us to become partners.
So why would a campaign about gender specific toy marketing join forces with a campaign about domestic violence and sexual assault? The link is in the recognition that gender stereotypes in childhood underpin a culture of sexism in which male violence and violence against women and girls is widespread.
When Let Toys Be Toys began we tended to focus very closely on one issue – asking the toy industry to stop perpetuating gender stereotypes in marketing. Our initial aim was very narrow – to get retailers to take down signs, labels and packaging marked ‘boys’ or ‘girls’ and to arrange toys by theme instead. We felt that going through specific, measurable, ‘baby steps’, could be more effective than creating a broader campaign against gender stereotypes in childhood.
We think gender stereotypes, such as those frequently seen in toy marketing, connect to much wider issues of inequality.
People support our campaign for many different reasons, amongst them the belief that childhood gender stereotyping encourages boys to believe being tough is important and encourages them to look down on girls. Children deserve better.
We want to encourage a society in which children can explore and accept their true identities without the continual drip feed of reductive ideas about masculinity and femininity, that influence their beliefs and values at an impressionable age.
Play is an important part of childhood and toys play a big role. We think toy marketing is one of the ways in which sexism is passed on to children. We want to challenge the ways children are raised to believe that gender inequality is a natural state of affairs. If we can change the way our future generations are being moulded, right now, in childhood, maybe we can help to prevent a future as full of damaging belief systems as the present.
Find out more about the UKSAYSNOMORE campaign
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