This WTL (Writing to Learn) assignment is a short assignment aimed to help develop your understandings of gender socialization. Childhood consumption reflects cultural constructions of femininity and masculinity and some have referred to this phenomenon as the “Cult of Pink and Blue”. However, this pattern is more than difference in color. The commodities of childhood including toys, games, and clothes reproduce gender difference and norms. This activity will allow you to examine empirical examples of how material culture is connected to the symbolic meanings of gender.
Chose an online store that sells children’s toys and clothes such as Target, Walmart, Amazon, Kohls, or Kmart. Browse the website and observe how the toys and clothes are constructing gender norms and roles. Then answer the following questions in 1-2 sentences each.
- How are the toys/clothes different? Consider the type, color, what it is for, and what it represents.
- How do the clothes or toys indicate different future roles for children as adult men and women?
- How does the packaging reflect and reproduce commonly held ideas about genders?
- Are there gender neutral toys or clothes? How do they differ?
- What is the larger impact of children’s toys on society and the reproduction of the gender system?