Childhood Genderization: Right on Target™

Gendering starts at birth

The onesies pictured above are made according to the gender binary. The “Little Brother” onesie is mainly gray with monsters on it with navy and orange lettering. The colors gray, navy, and blue and monsters are associated with masculinity. The “Little Sister” onesie is pink with elephants and features cursive writing. Cursive writing could be seen as more feminine and is not featured in the “Little Brother” onesie, which further suggests that cursive is more feminine. Also, pink is associated with femininity. The onesies we are looking at here come in sizes newborn to 6 months. This shows that we start enforcing the gender binary upon children at birth.

and follows them as they grow.

The picture above shows that we continue dressing our children according to the gender binary as they age. The girls’ section is mainly pink and features dresses and sparkles. It is also obviously the girls’ section since there is a girl pictured within the section. The boys’ section features a lot of blue with hints of orange and green. There are no dresses or sparkles within the boys’ section. By stores presenting their clothing sections as such, it shows that girls should dress one way and boys should dress another. If you look very closely, there is a boy pictured within the section, marking it as the boys’ section. It is also very interesting how they have the children posing in the pictures. The girl (who has long blonde hair) is making something like a kissy face. The boy (who has short hair) has no expression on his face and is standing in more of a relaxed pose. By the stores presenting pictures like this within their sections, it shows how girls should look and act versus how boys should look and act.

It determines what bike they ride,

Pictured above are two motorized bikes boxed and for sale. The bikes are genderized. The bike on the left is a pink and purple moped, while the bike on the right is a blue dirt bike. Pictured on the moped box is a girl riding the moped while wearing a pink helmet. She looks like she is going on a nice cruise. Pictured on the dirt bike box is a boy riding the dirt bike while wearing a black helmet and gear appropriate for dirt bike riding. He looks like he is ready to race. This enforces the stereotype that girls like pink and that boys like blue. This also enforces another stereotype. The stereotype being that boys should be more of a dare devil than girls. One can do many tricks and courses on a dirt bike, many people consider dirt bike riding and racing to be a sport. You cannot do any tricks on a moped, at least not easily and safely. Most people do not try to race one another on mopeds. No one considers mopeding to be a sport.

it determines what toys they play with,

Pictured above are toys from the girls’ toy aisle and a toy from the boys’ toy aisle. The toy on the left is a toy from the girls’ toy aisle. It features Barbie and a cooking set. Behind this toy is another Barbie and kitchen set, but a kitchen set with more pieces. There were many kitchen sets, baby dolls, and even sewing machines in the girls’ toy aisle. Most of the toys were pink and purple. Pictured on many of the toys’ boxes were girls playing with the toys. There were no boys pictured on these boxes. This shows that girls should want to be playing with these things. Not only should girls be wanting to play with these things, but they should also want to cook, sew, and be nurturing. The toy on the right is from the boys’ toy aisle. The toy is a wrestler. Wrestlers are tough, have muscles, and are very violent. The boys’ toy aisle was filled with wrestlers, super hero “action figures”, and race cars. There was no pink to be found in this aisle, but there was a lot of blue. Boys were pictured on some of these toys’ boxes. This shows that boys should want to be playing with these toys and that they should behave aggressively, be tough, and/or want to be a race car driver. They should not want to be caring and nurturing. It may seem like this is harmless since they are only toys, but by forcing these types of gender norms on children, we are shaping how they are going to think they should be and how the world should be as they get older.

and what toys they build.

Legos are now being featured in the girls’ toy aisle next to all of the Barbie dolls. This must be new because I do not recall them being featured there when I was younger. Even though they are in the girls’ toy aisle, they are very different from those being featured in the boys’ toy aisle. First of all, the amount of Legos in the girls’ toy aisle is much smaller than the amount in the boys’ toy aisle. The boys’ toy aisle had more than double the options. The boxes of the Legos in the girls’ toy aisle are purple and featured girls holding hands. They are all also called “Lego Friends” or “Lego Disney” . Also, girls only have the options of building things like princess castles, art studios, and cafes. On the other hand, the boys’ Legos are called things like “Lego City” and “Lego Star Wars” and “Lego Harry Potter”. Boys have the option of building a lot of different cars, trucks, airplanes, etc. This further shows what boys and girls should be interested in.

4 thoughts on “Childhood Genderization: Right on Target™”

  • I agree with your post and all these comments below. We do pin gender from birth. When we find out someone we know if pregnant we ask “Is it a boy or girl?”. The difference between these toys in just color is crazy! We all pin pink as the “girl color” and colors like blue and black as “boy colors”.

  • I really like the way you placed the images side by side for comparison. This set-up made the differences between the two really stand out. The photo of the mannequins is what speaks the most to me – even the way the mannequins are positioned is gendered.

  • I couldn’t agree more with your analysis of the way gender stereotypes and socialization are pervasive in childhood. The organization of the store to show that there are distinct lines between, and rarely any blending of, feminine and masculine is perfectly illustrated in your pictures. I love your analysis of the building toys sets and how girls have such limited options. The names of these building sets also illustrates socialization that girls build relationships in society (Lego “Friends”) where as boys build structures that uphold and define society (Lego “City”).

  • I agree we pin gender on kids as babies with the types of clothes and toys we buy them. A lot of these items if not all are insisting that females are soft and sensitive and males are strong, rough and aggressive.

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