Blandness Girl

I remember a time about 25 years ago when it was possible to find unisex toys quite easily and more people were motivated to do so.  The assumption I made was that things would gradually get less oppressive for women, minorities and children and that society would progress.  After all, the Cold War was coming to a close, and the Berlin wall was taken down in this era.  We had not had a recent major war and the worst shadow was Reagan, but that didn’t seem insurmountable.  I had highest hopes for feminism and environmentalism and wasn’t ashamed to be linked with either movement, despite the demonism of “Liberals” by the right.  I guess I was aware of the nascent danger posed by the “Silent Majority” bullshit and the “Christian Coalition” concept.

However, I did not anticipate that things would get worse, much worse, in the arena of children’s toys.  I work with children, which is an excuse to play with children’s toys, and I have helped develop them when I was in research. 

The toy aisles are segregated once again, from the dollar stores to that big toystore downtown with life-sized elephants.  Boy colors are black, blue and maybe red and girls live in a pink, purple and turquoise universe.  If a boy wants a “doll” it had damn well be an action figure, particularly a military one, with “accessories” such as tanks and guns. 

& now we keep hearing about poison toys – lead, mercury, magnets to swallow.  & the contagion has spread all over the world as unscrupulous manufacturers have the toys made where labor is cheaper.  It’s kind of revealing when the manufacturer has English-as-a-Second language, as this doll found in Paris at Oberkampf Market reveals.  (see also Silenced Majority Portal

Dsc05196(Oberkampf Mkt, Paris)


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  1. and it isn’t code pink.  Here is an image from the Philippines:

  2. it comes with batteries…it must say or do something…

    im intrigued…

    i havent been in a toystore in years…but i coach 2 sports (track-field, and cross-country running) that have co-ed teams and practices.  except in rare ‘mixed’ relays, boys and girls dont compete against each other, but we do the same workouts in practice (except for the size of the shotput).

    in the organization i coach in, basketball is also co-ed for 3rd and 4th graders, and last year one of the 5th grade boys teams had 1 girl on it.  boys, however, would not be allowed to play on what should have been a girls team…..  hmmmm….

    • RiaD on October 7, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    my grandson is two & a bit…in my attic, where only he & I play, he has a real silverplate tea set & porcelain dishes we have parties with(I don’t use ’em-he might as well get enjoyment from)The guests are two full-bodied ‘china’ babies (that are anatomically correct), Pooh, Elephalant & Ribbit the rabbit. We sit on the floor.
    He has a set of little pots to ‘make’ the food with. We’ve made a wee kitchen from cardboard boxes. The rest is pure imagination.

    His dad (my son) came up to get him one day soon after the boy & I had finished making the kitchen & were having our first teaparty.
      Mo-o-om, what are you doing?
    Why, the same thing I did with you, son! Teaching him how to ‘cook’, how to have good manners at table & be careful with the dishes, to not leave anyone out- even if Elephalant Did trip you, to say thank you for coming and clean up after your guests!

    If and when we have a grandaughter I will teach her how to be an astronaut!

    BTW- my son is now a sushi chef; my daughter is appying to grad school in BioChem

    • robodd on October 7, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    is interesting, culturally.  I’m not sure what all it means.

    • KrisC on October 7, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    I have a 5yr old boy and a 3yr old girl, and in general, I hate the toys they are offered at the toy stores.  I detest the whole “Princess” phenomenon, war toys for boys and the colors drive me nuts.  I’ve always tried to stick with animal toys or wooden toys, but friends and relatives seem to go for just the opposite.
    In the end, my daughter loves to play with her brothers’ toys and he doesn’t mind, neither do I.
    Legos prevail at our house!

  3. Below the fold of today’s Sec. A NYT is “Thou Shalt Not Kill, Except in a Video Game.” Here’s a link to the full story behind the subsciptioin wall. I don’t subscribe.

    The lede print paragraphs report a trend in congregational amenities, providing multiple consoles to youth parishoners to play Halo 3, the newest release of the MSFT video game whose sales are currently estimated at $300M.

    • Slugbug on October 7, 2007 at 6:48 pm

    and he NEVER played war or with guns.

    People say it’s in a boy’s nature, and forbidden guns, he’ll make them out of sticks or whatever is around.

    He didn’t.  Possibly it’s because he didn’t see war movies or violence on tv (though Pee Wee Herman was encouraged!)

    Possibly it’s because he was a “Baby Against Bombs” up on the Canadian border, marched (with his parents AND teachers) against US intervention in El Salvador, and for the nuclear freeze.

    He doesn’t own a gun, and is completely secure and nonviolent.  He wouldn’t think of swallowing the bullshit they use to try to recruit people into the military.

    That is not to say that I didn’t engage in shouting matches and hang up with recruiters who dared to call my house, and who tried to use trickery to get him directly on the phone.

    It is only something like that which might make me momentarily conceive of violence!

    He loves animals too and has good relationships with women, including his mother, and a close relationship with his father.

    • Alma on October 7, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    Toy stores have always been one of my favorite places.  I haven’t been in one in years.  My kids are 24, and 25.

    I never picked toys by gender.  My son had dolls along with his boy toys and gender neutral ones like Lego’s, and my daughter had so called “boy toys”, along with her Little Ponys.

    To me, toys are for playing with and learning, not shaping kids into sterotypes.

    • Slugbug on October 7, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    & many are language-delayed. 

    They really do need to work with toys that teach cause & effect, perceptual skills like size & shape, then later “pretend” toys for imagining and realizing, knowing everything has a label, that there is something outside of oneself.

    Not only are most of the commercial toys and fast food giveaways just movie promotions (Disney etc) but there are spinoff products for each tv show and movie.

    So I see alot of kids with Spiderman shoes, Barbie backpacks and the like, and as you can see in Kayakbiker’s photo, it’s spread to places like the Phillipines, where girls look different from Barbie.  It can’t be good.

    & “Blandness Girl” herself is probably a ripoff of Barbie.  Actually “Blandness Girl” is probably a misunderstanding of “Blondness Girl” – which is kind of how someone from another culture (probably a non-blond one) would think of the image of these “princesses.” 

    I mean, there are folk tales in every culture, but Barbie and Disney Princesses definitely look like other people do their work for them and all they do is attend balls & stuff.

    I can’t tell you how many little boys come in clutching a Thomas the Train (little face) or Spiderman action figure.  They sleep with them, and tantrum if they forget them.  Would it really be so awful to let them have a doll or stuffed animal?! 

    & alot of the autistic kids are obsessed with Thomas the Train and that is the very series where James the tank engine had mercury in his red paint.  One mom found little teeth marks on her child’s train, w/red paint!

  4. I check in at the Rosie.Com blog every few days.  Love her vlog and she blogs in poetry verse (and it’s the only poetry that I have ever understood as I read it straight thru).

    ART is Rosie’s game.  And she and her kids and her wife immerse themselves in it all the time. They have a big art studio in both of their houses.  Paint is splashed all over the place!!  Lovely chaos.

    Rosie just upgraded her video system, and now has a camera in the art studio from the roof and she videos herself and her family creating the art. Always big abstract paintings.  She speeds it up and adds FANTASTIC music.

    Check out this clip:

    Set to one of Joni Mitchell’s songs on the just-released CD.  Really, really, really nice music to listen to on a Sunday morning. I recommend it.

    The difference I see today with the toys (from the 60s when I grew up… and, yes, there were loads of green plastic army men in our house….) is that everything else that kids are exposed to or are able to do lacks ALL CREATIVITY. 

    The kids can’t wander their neighborhood on their bikes from sun up to sundown. I wouldn’t let my kids play in the frontyard unattended today… so kick the can is out. Art and music has been scrapped from our schools!

    So, the toys and atrocious video games the kids have today is their exclusive ‘play’ outlet. 

    ***Do check out the fun video clip I posted. It makes me smile, I know.

    • Slugbug on October 7, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    Boy I sure never got to splash paint!

    We had art ONCE A WEEK – for 1/2 hour on Friday afternoon.  & that’s if we were good.

    But I soon learned that if I rushed through my work and was the first one done, my teachers would let me go to the library!

    & then I hated recess, because it was competitive and poorly supervised (so lots of bullying of people like me) so I’d sneak back in and head for the library.

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