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Most toy catalogs have pages dedicated to girls or boys. Far from being trivial, this strongly influences children. It is essential that everyone can play with the widest possible range in order to develop their capacities.

Every year, it’s the same ritual. In letterboxes and department stores, catalogs of Christmas toys are piling up. Mini-ovens, remote-controlled cars, dolls or construction games, the colors are split in two: pink or blue. No shade, like “green-gray” for shy little guys or “bright orange” for daredevil girls. No. On pages and pages, the genres are well separated. They have the dinettes, the household necessities or the nurse’s outfit (no doctor, don’t exaggerate!) Or princess; to them the cars, the backhoe loaders, the weapons and the disguises of firefighters. Last Christmas, only the catalog of U stores had created the buzz by offering toys that featured both sexes. Going backwards to the evolution of society, since the 2000s, the phenomenon of girl-boy distinction is accentuated.

Lego with pretty hairstyles

In the 90s, you could find a redhead looking like two drops of water like Pippi Longstocking, proudly showcasing an intricate Lego construction. Today, the famous construction toy brand, which had nevertheless remained unisex for years, launched the “Lego Friends”, a variation “for girls”. The five figures have big eyes, skirts and beautiful hairstyles. They are very pretty, but seeing them hard not to remember the 80s, where we played for hours, girls and boys, with the famous little yellow-headed guys, with clawed hands and enigmatic smile. Mona Lisa… PhD student in sociology, Mona Zegaï noticed that the gendered difference in catalogs even transpires in children’s attitudes. In the photographs showing the toddlers playing, the little boys have manly postures: they stand on their feet, fists on their hips, when they are not wielding a sword. On the other hand, the girls have graceful postures, on tiptoe, caressing the toys. Not only do catalogs have pink and blue pages, but stores are doing it. The aisles are signposted: two colors of shelves clearly indicate the passage for parents in a hurry. Beware of the one who takes the wrong department and offers a kitchen kit to his son!

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Games for girls or games for boys: the weight of the norm

These representations of the sexes in games have a great influence on the construction of children’s identity and their vision of the world.. Through these toys, which might seem harmless, we send a very normative message: we must not depart from the social framework provided by society. Those who do not fit into the boxes are not welcome. Exit the dreamy and creative boys, welcome the turbulent loulous. Ditto for little girls, invited to become what they are not all: docile, humble and self-effacing.

“Gendered” games: a risk of reproducing inequalities between girls and boys

The first goal we assign to girls: to please. With lots of sequins, ribbons and frills. However, anyone who has ever had a real 3-year-old at home knows that a little girl is not always (if ever!) Graceful or delicate all day long. She can also decide to climb the sofa declaring that it is a mountain or explain to you that she is a “tain conductor” and that she will take you to Grandma’s. These games, which we play or do not play depending on our gender, can also have an influence on the reproduction of inequalities.. Indeed, if no iron or vacuum cleaner is offered in blue, with a photo of a boy who cleans, how to reverse the dramatic inequality in the sharing of household chores in France? Women still make 80% of it. Ditto at the salary level. For equal work, a man in the private sector will earn 28% more than a woman. Why ? Because he’s a man! Likewise, how can a little girl who has not been entitled to a Spiderman costume be able to trust her strength or abilities later on? However, the army has been open to women for a long time … These ladies have great careers there, no more abandoning their guys in the field than their male counterparts. But who gives a little girl a mini-machine gun, even if she cries out for it? Ditto on the guy side: while cooking shows with chefs are multiplying, a loulou can be refused a mini-cooker only because it is pink. Through the games, we offer restricted life scenarios : girls seduction, motherhood and household chores and boys strength, science, sport and intelligence. In doing so, we prevent our daughters from developing their ambition and we restrict our sons who later want: “to stay at home to take care of their 10 babies”. Last year a video was shot on the Internet. We see a 4-year-old girl in a toy store denouncing aloud this segregation, while for her, things are more nuanced: “” (“Some girls like superheroes, others princesses; some boys like superheroes, others princesses. ”) Riley Maida’s video on marketing is to watch on You Tube, a treat.

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Allow children to play with everything!

Between 2 and 5 years, play takes on a considerable importance in the life of the child. motor toys help him to develop, to exercise the coordination of his arms and legs. However, both sexes need to exercise, to run, to climb! Two years is especially the beginning of “imitation games”. They give toddlers the opportunity to assert themselves, to situate themselves, to understand the world of adults. By playing “pretend”, he learns the gestures and attitudes of his parents and enters a very rich imaginary world.. The infant, in particular, has a symbolic role: girls and boys are very attached to it. They take care of a smaller one, reproduce what their parents do: bathe, change the diaper or scold their baby. The conflicts, the frustrations and the difficulties that a little boy experiences are exteriorized thanks to the doll. All little boys should be able to play it. The risk, if we accentuate sexual stereotypes, through the environment and games, is to give boys (and future men!) A macho orientation.. Conversely, we would send little girls a message about their (supposed) inferiority. At the Bourdarias nursery in Saint-Ouen (93), the team worked for several years on an educational project around gender. The idea? Not to erase the differences between the sexes, but to make sure that girls and boys are equal. And that happens a lot through play. Thus, in this nursery, the girls were regularly invited to do crafts. Under the supervision of an adult, they hammer nails into wooden logs, hitting very hard with a hammer. They were also taught to impose themselves, to say “no”, when they were in conflict with another child. Likewise, boys were frequently urged to care for dolls and to express their emotions and feelings. Since then, the politicians have seized it. Last year, the General Inspectorate of Social Affairs submitted a report to Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem on “Equality between girls and boys in early childhood care arrangements”. In addition to raising awareness among early childhood professionals about stereotyping issues, from the start of the 2013 school year, a booklet and DVD on inequalities should be given to parents and fathers in particular.

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Gender identity is not influenced by games

Letting boys and girls play with both kinds of games, without worrying about colors (or looking for “neutral” colors: orange, green, yellow) is important for their construction.. Through toys, rather than reproducing a world of inequalities, children discover that they can broaden gender boundaries widely: anything becomes possible. Nothing is reserved for one or the other and each develops its capacities, enriching itself with the qualities of one sex or the other. For this, of course, you shouldn’t be afraid yourself : a loustic who plays with dolls will not become homosexual. Should we recall it? Gender identity is not influenced by games, it is in the “nature” of the person, often from birth. Search your memory carefully: haven’t you also wanted a toy that was not reserved for your genre? How had your parents reacted? How did you feel afterwards? Write to us at the editorial office, your opinions on the matter are of interest to us!

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