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Barbie vs. Lottie: the issue of gendered childrens’ toys

Over the holidays, my daughter received many gifts for Christmas. I was grateful for them and honoured to have love surrounding us. On the other hand, the choice of toys given to her did not inspire a great sense of happiness. Almost every present was pink, directed towards my daughter female status and unequivocally sexist. Toys can be great tools for child play; yet, connecting the meaning behind the toys we give our children needs to be seriously considered.

Most of the time we are given two options: girl toys and boy toys. Girl-oriented toys often emphasize beauty over action and caretaker roles. Purses, dolls, barbies, and play dresses are common examples. Boy toys are more focused on active activities such as building, and they promote a rough and tumble ideology. Toy guns, action figures, and building blocks are typical. Both extremes of gendered toys have detrimental effects on how children associate with their gender and create a sense of self that is enforced by societal rather than individualized values.

Baby dolls or pet animals indicate that little girls should focus on caring for the toy they are given, while barbies place emphasis on the importance of beauty and downgrade other skills. Toys targeted towards boys often challenge cognitive abilities by getting young children to create structures or address problem-solving skills using building blocks. The National Association for the Education of Young Children spoke with Judith Elaine Blakemore, a professor of psychology and associate dean of Arts and Sciences for Faculty Development at Indiana University−Purdue University, who said that gender-typed toys might encourage behaviour that parents may not want associated with their children.

“For girls, this would include a focus on attractiveness and appearance, perhaps leading to a message that this is the most important thing—to look pretty. For boys, the emphasis on violence and aggression (weapons, fighting, and aggression) might be less than desirable in the long run,” she said.

5568057827_a50bdc8c94A 2013 study conducted by the University of Derby says that values embedded into children’s toys and play can affect career choices later on in life. Women are directed towards more caretaker roles whereas men fill the role of the engineer or lawyer. These defining gender gaps cause imbalance in society and initialize in values that are presented to humans at childbirth.

The study also indicated that 81 per cent of parents wanted more gender neutral toys in stores; but there were only limited options available. Pink and blue marketing strategies make money and promote an early sense of consumerist desires through specific ad campaigns directed at children. In simple terms, gender sells.

Toys directed specifically at boys are ideologically harmful as well. Limiting young boys to action toys and promoting the rough and tumble lifestyle excludes more creative and sensitive children, which can open doors to bullying. Boy toys also define action as an essential male skill, which can undermine the progress of academics. The lack of caregiving boy-oriented toys also takes away from an emphasis on playing a compassionate role in a family.

downloadThere are initiatives that have been launched to educate people about the effects of gender-oriented toys. Pinkstinks is a popular campaign in the United Kingdom that advocates against toys that marginalize girls. #caringboys is a twitter feed that allows parents to post photos showing young boys playing with dolls. Several innovative toys that promote gender-positive messages have also crept up on the market, including the crowdfunded Lottie Dolls which have garnered over 12
international awards for being a toy with a positive message. Lottie Dolls have a range of designs, from a robot to the animal protector, allowing girls to play with dolls that have empowered career roles in society.

Women and men have fought for equality for generations. We live in a society that claims gender balance and embraces the dual power of having both women and men involved in career and family-building scenarios. It is only sensible that children’s toys should reflect this hard-fought need for gender equality. Dolls are welcome to stick around, but I have a dream that my daughter can play with a mechanic and mobile Barbie with a realistic waist, who doesn’t wear makeup. Let’s create that, shall we?

 

Everyone loves chicken wings

By Marcia Barhydt

How could there be a football game on TV without chicken wings? Or a poker night for the guys? Or any impromptu party for either guys or girls?

This year, however, this culinary treat was severely threatened for the Super Bowl, possibly the ultimate wing event of the year.

According to WSB-TV, “Two storage workers in Georgia are accused of stealing $65,000 worth of frozen chicken wings amid a high nationwide demand for the delicious Super Bowl snack. Dewayne Patterson, 35, and Renaldo Jackson, 26, allegedly used a rental truck on Jan. 12 to steal 10 warehouse pallets of frozen wings from Nordic Cold Storage.”

Ten pallets? I have no idea how many wings a pallet holds, but 10 pallets certainly seems to be a plethora of wings to me.

Don’t you have to wonder just how these two stored those 10 pallets to keep them frozen and in top black market condition? I think this may have been more wings than would fit into my little kitchen freezer. Did they borrow freezers from their pals? Maybe they rented freezers the way you can rent tables and chairs for a banquet. I just think that 10 pallets of wings would be a hefty amount to secretly store and I’m not sure that DeWayne and Renaldo would have been up to the task.

And there’s another question here. Wings come, of course, coated with various sauces: zesty, hot, super-hot, blow-your-head-off hot. Were the stolen wings pre-coated in their pallets of storage boxes? That just seems unlikely to me. So did these two bright bulb thieves also steal the sauces? How did they decide which strength of sauce would be the most popular for their…clients? Do purchasers of stolen wings even have a preference or are they just delighted to have a huge stash of these chicken delights?

How much would you pay for a box of heisted wings? Or a pallet of them, for that matter? Would you buy wings out of the trunk of someone’s car parked at the side of the road advertising “Wings – Cheap”?

Maybe I need to stop laughing at this ridiculous heist, because the brazen theft took place on January 12 and the date of the news article is January 28, so there was some wiggle time there for the sticky-fingered thieves to dispose of their wings in the most profitable manner before this year’s Super Bowl Sunday.

These two innovative thieves did the nasty deed in broad daylight with little concern of being caught – so caught they were. They were later released on $2,950 bond.

The wings, however, were never found. Pass the napkins please.

 

Serenity now

This past week has been one of the hardest Boyfriend and I have ever had. On Sunday we were having dinner and joking around, ready to watch the third episode of Breaking Bad, everything was good and then the phone rang. Boyfriend’s grandfather had taken a turn for the worse and he had to leave for the hospital right away.

We’ve spent the past week communicating through Facebook, text and the occasional phone call. Unsure of what to say or do I tried to be the bright spot in all the badness. I cracked jokes, sent pictures of puppies and GIFs of playful corgis because that’s what he needed. Inside, however, I was dying. He was in so much pain and all I could do was send memes to make him feel better? I felt weak and powerless.

I know everyone grieves in their own way but it hurt me that I couldn’t be there for him, physically. He didn’t want me at the hospital and yesterday after his grandfather finally peacefully slipped away he told me he didn’t want me at the funeral. I want so badly to be there for him and planning to bring him ice cream and pizza after a funeral feels like something a roommate would do, not a girlfriend. He says that he doesn’t want the rest of his family to meet me at a funeral, he wants me to meet them when they are smiling and acting goofy, but I can’t stop this helpless feeling. Shouldn’t I be there to hold his hand? Isn’t that what having a partner is all about? A partner is supposed to be someone who is there to hold you in the cold, in the dark and when you feel like the world is falling apart.

I know it’s selfish to question his grieving process, I know it’s irrational and he needs me to be there for him in the way that works for him, but I hate feeling useless. I’m a fixer, it’s what I do and I want to fix this situation however impossible that sounds.

I know that we’ll get through this, I know that the bad is almost over and even if it isn’t, bad is part of life and I didn’t sign up for a fair weather relationship; I’m here for the long haul.

I just don’t understand why he doesn’t want me there. If I lost a family member or a friend I don’t know that I could do it without him, I would need him by my side. The fact that he doesn’t need me now breaks my heart.

I’m trying to put my hurt feelings aside and just be there for him in the way that he wants and needs but it’s a lot more difficult than it sounds. So I’m choosing to focus on the future. I’m choosing to plan our anniversary, trips out of the city and a visit to my family, which hopefully will help me shake this nagging feeling that we might be coming to an end.

 

 

Date night

I’ve been on a lot of dates: with boys I liked; with boys I hoped would call and never did; with boys I was serious with; but I’ve never been on a double date, not really. The Big Ex didn’t want me around his friends because his relationship with me was somehow different from his relationship with his friends. In the end I realized that he was just never sure about ‘us’ and we stayed together for as long as we did because I was filler, I was the girl he dated before he met the girl he loved and he was the man I needed to be with so that I could appreciate what was coming.

So on Saturday night Boyfriend and I went for drinks and a movie with two of my friends, a lovely couple who glow with happiness in love in a way that probably would have made me a little sick when I was younger. No one can be that in love right? That’s movie love, heartbreaking, crazy, sick to your stomach, put a radio over your head in the middle of the night in love. But my friends have that and I look up to them because I hope that after a couple of years Boyfriend and I will be like that, crazy-happy and living in sin. My Catholic upbringing leads me to believe that living in sin would be awesome, like when you first move out on your own and realize that there are no rules and you can go to the store and buy candy at midnight, just because. I assume that is what living with your partner is like, please don’t correct me if I’m wrong.

I was a little nervous to try this double dating thing, being new to healthy and happy dating. I was worried that Boyfriend wouldn’t get along with my friends and I really wanted them to like him and like us together. I shouldn’t have been worried, they loved him. The best thing about being with Boyfriend is that when my friends see how happy we are together they immediately like him.

The only hiccup to an otherwise perfect evening was that when I was being fake angry with Boyfriend my friend pointed out that, “It’s not going to work. No one believes that you’re actually mad when you’re so clearly in love with each other.”  Since Boyfriend and I still haven’t said that very terrifying four-letter word, I was afraid that he would freak out, I was nervous that my feelings had been outed and he would start acting weird. He didn’t. Nothing changed, except that he knew he’d won this particular battle.

So we haven’t said the words yet. I’m pretty sure they are going to burst out of my mouth any day now, and it’s nice to know that everyone can see how in love we are. It’s a win for me at least… now I know I’m not crazy. Not completely anyway.

CREEP: This guy gropes women while posing for photos

There is a joke online about the so-called “hover hand” — where men posing with women for photos won’t actually put their hand on their female companion’s shoulder but instead will let their hand hover just shy of a normal photo pose. Silly, yes. Most women would find it a bit funny that these guys are too shy to even put their hand on a shoulder.

This guy, however, is billed as “the opposite of the hover hand” for his flagrant disregard for boundaries as he shamelessly gropes women who he poses for photos with. This website applauds the guy for being a public perv.

Check out the series:

 

The women he is posing with are all in costumes, leading us to think they are either trade show models or at some sort of cosplay convention.

Are they inviting this kind of behaviour because they are dressed up in revealing costumes? the answer is, of course, no. In fact, if these women are trade show models they are bound and pressured to stay quiet and pose for the photos with this creep at the risk of losing their job by complaining. These women are hired to be dangled along with whatever is being promoted at the show, to complain because a patron went a step too far and groped them would probably get them in trouble or fired for shattering the illusion that they are hired to promote.

Creep factor: 100% — this guy is taking advantage of women who are incapable of fighting back.

Someone should also tell this guy that Jamiroquai called and he wants his fun-fur bucket hat back.

 

 

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

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Why don’t people believe a man can be raped?

Not too long ago we saw that the people of Toronto have no sympathy for a male rape victim. In a disgusting display the Toronto Twitterverse summarily dismissed the idea of a male rape victim by telling him he should be so lucky as to be attacked by four women, that he was lying, that he was gay or a prostitute, and that his victimisation doesn’t matter.

Cretins like Rosie DiManno came forward to say that “one man’s sexual assault is another man’s fantasy come true” and display a fundamentally flawed understanding of the very basic understanding of what rape is. Rape is forced, unwanted sexual interaction. You cannot want to be raped, because if you wanted it, it wouldn’t be rape.

The man, who decided (for what seems to be good reason considering the amount of ridicule he received) to stay anonymous, was a laughing stock to his peers, men and women who thought simply that a man can’t be raped. This reaction leaves me wondering just how many male rape victims have refused to step forward or seek police intervention or even counselling simply because they have been told time and time again that a man cannot be a rape victim, that they should have enjoyed it, or that in the stereotype of a man always wanting sex they were asking for it simply by being male.

With all of the time, energy, funding, and attention that is given to preventing rape why is it that the average Joe or Jane still can’t wrap their head around this?

Well first let’s take a quick look at the definition of rape. Until recently this was what Google returned:

 

Google’s victims are gender neutral; however, their aggressors are male.

A Google Image search for “how to stop rape” also brings up countless images where men who might otherwise be aggressors are told not to rape or are congratulated on stopping when told.

What is surprising is the heteronormative gender binary approach to rape as a topic. Men rape, women are raped. There is very little discussion in between for men who are raped by men, women who are raped by women, and men who are raped by women, like the victim in Toronto.

The response I’ve heard is that because the number of rapes that is reported in these scenarios is lower that it isn’t worth the time. I can think of one young man whose experience and entire existence was deemed worthless by the internet who might disagree. This notion may also be a beast that feeds itself: if no attention is given to these matters because they are reported less, when it does occur victims might be less likely to report it because they have no concept of a precedent.

If we want to do right by victims like Toronto’s John Doe we need to break away from this male vs. female conversation. In schools, posters, and awareness campaigns we need to stop addressing men as aggressors and potential aggressors and women as victims or potential victims. Instead we need to think about it simply as rapists and victims outside of their genders.

You’ve heard a thousand times before that rape isn’t about sex (sexual intercourse in this sense) but instead about power. Power isn’t limited to one sex or gender. The idea that “we need to teach men not to rape” ignores scores of victims who don’t fit into that construct and encourages the mentality that men and boys can’t also be victims like what we saw happen in the aftermath of the Toronto gang rape victim.

My heart goes out to this poor soul in the hopes that someday in the future a man can come forward as a victim without being victimised continually through social media and the press for simply being the wrong gender to feel sorry for.

Until then we need to teach people that rape is a genderless crime.