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Do We Still Buy Boys Soldiers and Girls Princesses?

Guest Post by David Ryan

Without going too deep into what gender stereotypes are and whether or not we need to still be adhering to them, there are some interesting questions to be raised on, whether these ideals of what boys and girls like, still stand in 2013. We have a huge, flashing bulk of technology behind us to influence kids now and they aren’t always geared towards the polar opposites and tend to look at people differently depending on whether they’re a boy or a girl.

Sticking to Traditions 

Before you think we’re going to challenge some age-old institution of what people like, we can look at the idea of boys wearing blue and girls pink. This tradition has only actually been around in the last 100 years or so and it already seems to be dying.

In the 1800s all children wore white (white dresses even), supposedly because it was more important that you were or were not an adult, rather than if you were or were not a boy. Either way it meant horrid amounts of physical labour when you grew up.

The idea of the colours that boys and girls like have obviously diminished since the 50s and 60s, mostly because men and women now have more similar roles than they did then.

Technology bridging the gap

One of the big reasons there isn’t such a big divide anymore is perhaps down to the technology and media that we get now. If you look at the boys gifts section of www.gettingpersonal.co.uk we still have a few of the typical things such as football-based stuff, which will never change – nor does it need to, but mainly there are film, television and other media-based presents. Unsurprisingly, these will also turn up in the gifts for girls section of the site.

There is hardly a straightforward point to be made about this, but the general point is that the media we now produce is so complex and well thought out that we don’t have to gear it towards boys or girls, they tend to appeal on levels of genuine excitement with a few side servings of morality and all those messages about friendship.

Video games also don’t really appeal to specific genders. Minus the few exceptions, modern games are now good enough to interest all players. Player choice could be a big aspect of this. New games give the option of being good, bad or somewhere inbetween, so if you think that girls will want to go round helping everyone when the boys will just shoot stuff, that’s absolutely fine and doable within the one game.

So what should you buy for Christmas?

If you were planning on getting your friend’s new son a bucket full of footballs covered in guns, steak and a few copies of Zoo, but you’re now worried about what to get, don’t stress. Just think about what kind of gifts they would appreciate based on what they’re like. If they’re too young to tell, go on what their parents like as it’s generally a pretty good indicator.




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3 comments… add one
  • Jessica [WithLoveFrom] 26/03/2014, 11:01

    I think we should still buy traditional toys, it’s part of the growing up process but it’s difficult when everyone else at school has a playstation!!

  • rachel 13/09/2013, 00:28

    Perhaps I am unusual. My 9 yr old daughter has twice had a train set as her main present, loves climbing trees, star wars and plays football. My 2 yr olds favorite colour is blue, she loves Go Diego Go, pirates and sticks. My 4 yr old has recently started enjoying Ben 10. They all however love to dress up, go to ballet class, play fairies and prefer to wear dresses. Am I unusual in having such a healthy balance?

    • Jane Batt 13/09/2013, 00:40

      I suspect that the answer is that no behaviour is unusual. My boys are now into technology (particularly games like Minecraft, Skylanders and Roblox), cycling, dance, climbing trees and other very tall/high objects, gymnastics, musicals, cute babies and anything which looks like it might be a dangerous stunt on a scooter! Dressing up clothes, ballet, pink items and fairies do not reside here however.

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