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April 10, 2011



I can see "mommy" in the girls' cloud, but no "father" "dad" etc. in the boys'. Wonder why that is? Also, "love" isn't for boys?

Duncan Gough

Interesting to see it laid out like that. In my experience all those boys toys focus explicitly on the heroes journey and life as something which needs to be conquered. Pretty lonely.


"Adorable heroes in glam armor ride cute stealth pets, battling pixie special-forces, sharing robot outfits with glitter ninjas, and making friends with ultimate fun mega-babies."
That apparently would be the ultimate cross-gender toy narrative. (I must admit, it sounds intriguing.)
The boy's word cluster is pretty disturbing... I think it also equally works as a word map for fascist military narratives... So apparently girls = "affectionate, nurturing fashion victims" and boys = "hyperactive, fascist, war pigs."

@Emmeline : apparently boys don't even get "friendship." They're allowed to have a (very occasional) "buddy" only.


Frightening, isn't it?

And horribly, when you talk to kids (say, girls, about say, dolls), they're so very influenced by this stuff that they're a bit suspicious of innovation. Anything different, or standout, is eyed with nervousness, whereas something pink and sparkly says, "you can play with this, it's okay", and so they do.

Vicious circle. A piece of feedback I got already in doll research: kids like to not have to throw away old doll clothes, which means as many have an existing Barbie wardrobe, if you can make a doll that fits Barbie clothes, they like it. But if you want to change the doll shape, to say a healthy BMI, of course the clothes won't fit. And so the stick-insect bodyshape is perpetuated...

(makies btw have healthy bmi. We'll ride that one and see what happens.)


COuple thoughts:

1) At first I was equally horrified, but it also made me think of "Snips & Snails & puppy dog tails..." nursery rhyme. Plus ca change?

2) 'American Girl' dolls have healthy BMI, but I seem to recall their marketing materials being aimed at mom more than they are at the girls?

3) on the "don't fit barbie clothes" point - until it come to plushies. My daughter can wrestle a 12" teddy bear into barbie clothes. Good thing dolls don't need to breathe! :-)

The Urban Domestic Diva

I think this was very eye opening. I also thin that this sheds light on a major issue for me personally, being a marketer by trade, and a mom of a precocious daughter who does not fit the mold nor does she care to. My daughter likes Star Wars, Legos, Martial Arts, Dragons, Basketball and stuffed animals. The only "girl toy" she ever considered was Littlest Pet Shop. So we shop in the boy section, and I know a few other Moms that have girls that don't necessarily want sparkles and Barbie either. But that's all that there is, unless you (like my daughter) are brave enough to shop the boy section without having a complex. It's not as black and white as marketers think it is. I think they are missing opportunities with kids that don't fit so nice and tidy in these awful sterotypes.


I really didn't like barbies at 8 and the only real "girl toy" I had was a Polly Pocket. That was it.

Lydia Porter

At Mcdonalds, My girls often ask for boy toys. They feel you can look good and save the universe. Most of the girl toys are better for "saving" than being saved by.It is sad that the theme of the boy word cluster is death and distruction. The girl's seems better until you notice it is helpless. We do need a more balanced way to teach our kids and not just mixing the two word clusters . We need to think how we want our kids ( not boys or girls) to define themselves.


Actually, every word in the boys' cloud is "fun"!


my daughter wants more girl superhero toys.

George Lowry

i dont see the problem. boys and girls are different, and fulfill different roles. so why would we expect them to play with the same toys? girls shouldnt go to war, they should be protected from war. its horrible. its like taking out the trash. its not a girls job. girls bake cookies. they concentrate on bringing wonderful things into the world, and then boys stop bad guys destroying those beautiful things. know your role. do it well. im glad to see toys scaffolding kids in the right way to promote this system. its a good system.


Battle and power for boys..This is not good..This will produce violence..


For the last decade or so, we've been at war - Iraq and Afghanistan, amongst others - and yes I know there have been other conflicts going on before this period too, but is it any wonder that little boys are growing up with those 'buzzwords' given the ever-rising influence of 24-hour media and the net on young lives? As someone who grew up on RAF bases as a child, when we hit 'Civvy Street' when I was aged 8 or 9, I was shocked that my new schoolfriends didn't want to 'play army' as my brother and I did. We soon learned that playground banter revolved around what people had watched on TV the night before, so Dr Who, Starsky and Hutch etc figured large in our young lives. It's the environment we grow up in, as much as anything, that makes a massive difference. In the absence of proper parenting or choosing to sit your child in front of a TV/PC/PSP/XBOX/WII [Delete as applicable], what else do you expect?


I'm quite a few days late for this post, and this is pretty much the first time I've been to your blog. But I would like to say this.

When I was young, we didn't have much in the way of toys except some My Little Ponies that my (girlier) sister somehow got. We put battlemechs on them and play war games set in a country where everybody is too busy starving to field an army. There was a 'girl' doll that we got later. She became the haunted doll of a dead little girl.

I'm pretty sure that wasn't really what the marketers intended.


Thanks for sharing!

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