I mentioned in my last post that we got the monster underwear with little tools all over them. I wanted to get him ones with monsters, but those are only available in 4T and he's not quite there. I also mentioned that the ones with "boy stuff" on them, were cheaper than the ones that were just solid colours. Because apparently we have to be financially motivated to enforce gender stereotypes (I'm poor, so this worked on me). I like building stuff, I want the monster to like building stuff; tools are cool - but since the girl equivalent underwear were a) more expensive again, b) covered in flowers, and c) had little, less comfortable lacy bands around the legs and waste instead of thick flat, comfy bands, this grated.
Anywho, after a walk to the fabric aisle for PUL fabric for the outside of said underwear (girls' available in pink, white and leopard print; boys' in monkey, owls and orange), we went to the toy section so that Mr. Wolfman could pick out a car for the monster (I think this is his favourite part of going shopping - Mr. Wolfman's, I mean). He took a while to choose the best possible car for the monster*, so I wandered the aisles and found, in 2016, this:
The "girl" aisle, which was a veritable sea of pink and purple, contained, big-eyed, alien looking animals, baby dolls and accessories (all the baby dolls were white, all of their accessories were pink), Barbie dolls, toy housewares and "girl" Lego. Just the Lego Friends and Disney Princess sets.
A couple aisles over, the "boy" aisle contained Ninja Turtles, superheros, various modes of transportation, Star Wars, video game characters, dinosaurs, astronauts, Playmobile and ALL THE FUCKING OTHER LEGO. Including the sets of just plain blocks. The First Builder Mega Bloks that come in "boy" (primary) and "girl" (pink, purple and neon green) colours were both there, as well, just to drive home the message that if you want to be creative and build something from your imagination, rather than Elsa's ice castle, you need the girl version of a toy that's actually for boys.
Oh, just to double up on that message, the one thing in the girl aisle that wasn't pink or purple was a blue and green toy vacuum. It was next to the pink and purple one, so if you're a boy and you want to play house, you need the boy version of a toy that's actually for girls.
The one seeming place of refuge, the baby aisle, is ostensibly just for babies. No genders in there. Until you look closer and realize that one small section of the aisle has princesses and ponies and pink and rest has everything else. The educational toys, the animals, the cars for littler hands, everything. This teaches kids that for boys is the default, and for girls is the exception. Also, it teaches them that for boys and for girls are things that exist. And they're not, other than in our brainwashed, apathetic minds.
I don't have a problem with the toys themselves, for the most part. I like tools and cars and dinosaurs and the rest, and my monster does, too. So while they're not promoting violence or animal cruelty or something, I'm happy to get them for him. I also like baby dolls and barbies and ponies, and I'd be happy to by those for the monster as well. But the colourcoding and weird segregation gets to me. I mean, wouldn't it make more sense to have a Lego aisle, organized by age appropriateness? or a playing house section with all the little irons and dishes and lawnmowers and barbecues in one spot?
I really think it is up to us as parents to combat this, actively. I've said before, I think it's especially incumbent on the parents of boys to teach our sons that there's nothing inherently feminine in playing with baby dolls or toy irons or whatever - and also that there's nothing wrong with being feminine. Because while Tomboy at least sometimes has some positive connotations, Tomina Girl probably never will. Our society, in 2016, still values boys and men above girls and women - no matter how much we collectively try to deny, ignore or avoid the fact. And it starts from the time they're born.
I'm beginning to think that all this isn't just a matter of corporations wanting profits and not caring about the possible negative effects they're having on kids; I'm honestly starting to think that they have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, and they're intentionally planting these stereotypical ideas in the minds of very young children.
*I love my husband. He is such an awesome Dad.