A few weeks ago, I had a horrible Toys R' Us experience with my 2-yr old daughter. Long story short, I found the differences between the "girl" toys and the "boy" toys more than a little disturbing.
In the girl's aisle, I saw little kitchen play-sets, a mop/soap/bucket set, ridiculous dolls (Barbie, Bratz, all that crap), dress-up clothes (including some less than modest little teenie dresses and HIGH HEELS FOR LITTLE GIRLS), and other typical crap.
In the boy's aisle, I saw Home Depot toy tool sets, cars and trucks, action figures, toy swords and guns, and ALL of the sports equiptment.
So, I had a pretty violent reaction to seeing all of that (until now, we had stayed in the "baby" section bc my daughter wasn't old enough for any of that other stuff, but this time she was walking around on her own so we ended up running through the whole store).
Between the baby section and the two gender-specific sections, there is this huge area of the store full of educational, brilliant, non-gender specific, non-sexualized toys (Leap Pads, and all of those amazing Melissa & Doug toys, and that kind of stuff).
So, I told my husband that I don't want Emily playing with any of those disturbing toys that aim to teach her to be a certain kind of woman. I told him I didn't want us buying her stuff like that, and that if anyone else gave her those kinds of toys, I was going to keep them in the packaging, give them to Toys for Tots and get her something else that is worth playing with.
He agreed, on one condition--that I don't tell the gift-giver that I am not allowing Emily to have the toy. I agreed, although I think it is kind of silly when if we just told people, they could get her gifts that are acceptable, ya know?
But here's the catch, and I hadn't thought of this before: What do we do when she gets a little older? What if she asks for a Barbie doll or something like that? Is it wrong for us to say no, on strictly sociopolitical grounds?
I would think that it would be intellectually and morally dishonest to say that something is bad, but give in when it is asked for...
I truly believe that there is no place in her upbringing for things that are teaching her that the only way to be a woman is to be pretty all the time, to clean and cook, and to do everything in order to please a man, and not herself. I believe that these "girl" toys aim specifically to do this, and I find that kind of indoctrination morally reprehensible.
(BTW, a good male friend of mine asked me a good question, and I still haven't really resolved it in my mind. He basically asked if it was any better for me to drill my worldview into her--but I am her mother, right? Isn't that my job? I don't expect her to agree with me forever, but I can only teach her what I know...)
Any thoughts? Has anyone else done anything like this, or thought about it? (Not just about girls, but the boy's stuff was encouraing violence and non-involvement with normal day to day household kind of work, and I think that is damaging as well--the boys are being pushed into certain roles just as much as the girls are.)