Why do parents and stores put limitations on play? Target recently has announced that they will begin to eliminate gender-based descriptions for children’s toys and sections in the store that have been geared towards girls or boys in certain ways. Many parents feel the need to focus on making sure their newborn girl is wearing pink and playing with dolls by the time she knows what a doll is. Same way goes for a boy, parents feel the need to dress him in blue and make sure he is playing with trucks and cars.
As we can see in this picture, from inside Target, they have gender-specific sections in the store. Several customers have complained to Target about the separation in the store.
When I noticed this gender separation in Target, it was around the time we started reading The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Claudia’s doll play in this story is something that I feel relates and links with what we are seeing at Target. As soon as Claudia received the doll for Christmas, she stated, “What was I supposed to do with it? Pretend I was its mother?” (20). Claudia was stating that she just wanted to be around and act like people her own age and size. She also couldn’t get any excitement in her to be and act like a mother. She was taught quickly what to do with the doll…”the motherly things”.
Many girls are pushed to know how to do motherly things, and that is why many parents have their young girls play with dolls; to learn to be nurturing, loving, and caring for children. We have seen this in several of our stories we have read this semester. We saw it in Little Women throughout the story when Marmee is trying to raise the March girls to be motherly. We also see this in Bluest Eye and Little House on the Prairie.
Why is it this way? Do you think gender-specific toys put limitations on girls at play?