No Gender December, an Australian campaign to end the gender-marketing of toys to children was launched this week and it has already received a lot of media attention (for example here, here, and here). I am a passionate supporter of No Gender December and Play Unlimited. Why? Because I believe that children have the right to explore their world freely and widely, to have rich and complex dreams, to inherit a world of open doors. Why would anyone want to put limits on their child’s future potential? Play is the powerhouse of development. It is not a trivial leisure activity. The cognitive, emotional, social and physical development of children is fuelled by play. All children benefit from being offered a wide variety of play experiences. Girls benefit from playing with building blocks, dinosaurs, trains and chemistry sets. It fuels their interest in the world and builds the foundations to maths and science. Boys benefit from playing with dolls, tea sets, and doll houses. It fuels their interest in people, social situations and relationships and contributes to their social and emotional development. Sure, buy your daughter a doll (my daughter has several), and buy a doll for your son too. Yes, give your son a train set, and give one to your daughter as well.
I find it hard to understand why No Gender December has sparked controversy. The gendered marketing of children’s toys so extreme that it is entirely out of sync with contemporary gender roles. I tired of seeing science toys in the boys section, when I myself am a female scientist (and no one thinks that’s strange). I’m sick of seeing dolls in the girls section, when my husband lovingly parents our child everyday (as Australian men do across the country). We should, at the very least, pass onto our children the same flexibility and freedom that we live.
Children have the right to develop into well-rounded and complete human beings. But also, I want to live in a society of complete and well-rounded human beings. I want my children to live in that society.
If you do too, sign the petition.