January 13, 2021
If you found yourself anywhere near a toy shop during the holiday period, chances are you’ll be able to attest to the difficulty of finding toys that were not categorised by gender – pink toys “for girls” on one side of the aisle, blue toys “for boys” on the other.
However, the gendered labelling, marketing and display of toys, and the unconscious bias that lies behind our own buying choices, shape children’s identities, perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes and can cause children to internalise the attitudes and values that shape gender inequality in later life.
With this in mind we’re challenging you to making 2021 the year of gender non-conforming play! It’s time to set your imagination – and that of your child or young friends – free and encourage children to explore the full range of possibilities that are available to them in life and to make their own choices about what they like or are interested in.
So, where to start? Expose your children and young friends to a wide variety of toys – dolls, trucks, adventure games, construction toys, pretend kitchen utensils, kites, science kits, tea sets, scooters – so that they can select the toys that interest them the most. (Get acquainted with your local toy library so that you can borrow and regularly swap your toys!)
Head to your library to find children’s books that celebrate diversity and break gender stereotypes – books like 10,000 Dresses by Marcus Ewert; Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall; Andrea Beaty’s series of STEM books – Ada Twist, Scientist; Rosie Revere, Engineer and Iggy Peck, Architect.
For more gender-non-conforming fun stuff, check out the work of Australian non-profit PlayUnlimited on Facebook and click here for a handful of great stories and recommendations.