In Print: Toys Will Be Toys
The Newscripts blog would like to be closer Internet buddies with our glossy print Newscripts column, so here we highlight what’s going on in the current issue of C&EN.
As the cashier at the fast-food restaurant is finishing our order, she grabs a small plastic doll and tosses it in my kids’ meal.
“Excuse me,” my mom says testily. “You didn’t give my daughter a choice of toys.” Even at age six, I can tell my mom is using tremendous restraint to give this young woman a chance to rectify her unintentional wrongs.
The woman looks at my mom, then at me, and asks, “Well, do you want the girls’ toy or the boys’ toy?”
I don’t remember if I ended up picking the doll or the toy car on that particular occasion. But I do distinctly remember the feeling of trying to weigh the gaps in my own eclectic toy collection with the point my now-fuming mother was trying to teach both me and the young woman at the cash register. Toys are toys, and kids should be able to choose their own interests without feeling undue social, gender-specific pressure.
Twenty years later, I call my mom and tell her about this column, and she’s outraged we’re still having this debate. As I write in Newscripts this week, the gender-specific labeling of toys came under fire in England recently. Specifically, customers and online advocacy group Let Toys Be Toys took issue with science kits and chemistry sets being designated for boys. Since the backlash, toy giant Tesco and pharmacy chain Boots have changed their girls- and boys-specific toy labeling and issued apologetic statements.