Why we partnered with the UK SAYS NO MORE campaign

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

Read our other blog posts connected to this issue:

V Day – counter violence against women by fighting stereotypes
What do toys have to do with inequality?
What have toys got to do with violence against women?


  1. Richard

    It’s a very worthy cause and I understand why you’ve drawn the link between the two campaigns. But I am a little confused. What does “partnership” mean? Is there any reason to be a “partner” rather than, for example, highlighting their campaign on the site (as you have) or exploring how gender stereotyping in childhood exacerbates inequality later on in a blog post or essay?

    • Tricia

      I was a little unsure of the term myself when we were first in contact, but in this case ‘partner’ basically means supporter. In practise it means we’ve agreed to endorse the campaign through social media and by including the logo and website link on our website; as well as to promote awareness of the issues. They have a wide range of supporters and LTBT are on the list of non-profit partners: http://uksaysnomore.org/partners/

      • Richard

        Thanks for the clarification, Tricia. I guess I was just concerned that a more formal approach dilutes the core message of LTBT (one of those, “where do you draw the line in partnering sympathetic causes?” things); and if it was very prominent, it might make some people (especially older people and kids themselves) upset, distancing them from LTBT. But I guess a link is pretty safe.

        (In general, I find “partner” is one of those commercial marketing terms that’s become overused and abused – a shame it’s crept into NFPs, too. “We’ve seen this great campaign and it reminds us of the potential positive impact our own work might have in other areas – check it out, we’d definitely endorse them and there’s a link in their logo on the right” is a lot more long-winded, but somehow feels better to me than “becoming a partner” – which implies something a lot more involved.)

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