The toy is not an object to be insignificant and futile. It is an object of study that allows the researcher to see the power of gender representations. During socialization, be it by parents, friends or teachers, children begin to develop gender-based roles and gender stereotypes. Very early in life, children will determine the behaviour that is appropriate or not to their sex. Children in contact with a lot of toys, building up through them a knowledge base about the convenience or not of these toys compared to the two genres.
How to explain the tendency of children to prefer the toys stereotyped gender and to hate the toys that are considered for the opposite sex ? Because of the socialization, the children are able to develop preferences for certain toys, based on the characteristics of the toys, which are derived from their experiences with toys stereotyped ; or knowledge that children have of gender-based roles may lead to preference for toys stereotyped. The young boys usually play with cars, construction toys and toys of manipulation, while girls play with dolls and stuffed animals. As early as 16 months, the boys prefer to look the cars and the girls dolls. Several studies report that preferences for toys of their own sex are stronger in boys than in girls and that boys are also more likely than girls to hate toys of the opposite sex.
The analysis of the catalogues of toys during the traditional celebration of Christmas led by Sandrine Vincent, in The toy and its social uses editions The Dispute in 2001, is very revealing. First note that jumps out at you in front of the catalogues : two colors organized in a manner separate toys for boys and toys for girls. Pink for girls and blue for boys. In addition, the texts of the catalogues of toy reproduce this imaginary sexual : a little girl is ” calm, sweet and cute “, a little boy is ” active, brutal and efficient. Sandrine Vincent shows that girls are offered toys for the home, utensils and accessories to learn the traditional functions of the mother of the family and internalize the requirement of seduction that weighs on the people of their sex of assignment, as well as outfits of professions that are recognised as primarily feminine (nurse, school mistress, market…). For boys, the choice is wider, except for the domestic sphere where the diy is the only game presented. They are offered activities strongly connoted masculine, encouraging the spirit of adventure, combat, protection. Sylvie Cromer in “private Life of girls and boys : socialize always differential ?” in M. Maruani (ed), Women, gender and society. Paris, La Découverte, 2005 reminds us that toys are the so-called male ” facilitate mobility, manipulation, invention and a sense of adventure, those of the girls […] to develop the interest of both self and other, in setting before the seduction and maternity. “
If the universe toys is highly stereotyped, the transgression is, however, possible, but it is then differentiated according to the sex of the child : tolerance or even encouragement for girls who choose boys games socially valued, reprimand, and refusal to the boys who choose the “toys for girls” not socially valued. Although the evolution of social representations leads to the parents to declare to want to raise their girls and their boys “the same way” as shown by Granié, Ricaud & Camus, ” Influence of gender on the perceptions of the educational practices of parents of children three years of age “, in Lescarret, O. & Leonardis, M. (Eds) Separation of the sexes and competences, L’harmattan, 1996, p. 45 – 61). The world of toys is today still a vision of a very traditional separation of tasks according to sex.
It should be noted that in the work Against the toys sexist published in 2007 published by The breakaway, associations antisexistes (Mix-cité, the Collective against the sex sells) to take the floor. In this regard, you can consult the catalogue from toys sexist that they have edited.