Just look at these adorable girls wearing Superhero costumes. Girls make about 50% of the children population, yet toy stores and department stores, like Target, separate “boy toys” from “girl toys”. Separate but equal? I don’t think so.
The boy isle, colored with blue, is full of exciting Superheroes, trucks, and science toys. The pink girl isles are full of Barbie dolls, tiaras, domestic equipment, like a toy stove, and tiny jewelry. What kind of message does that send to the girls AND boys that are there? It seems that the message is that the boys should be heroic, science-y, and technical, while the girls should be beautiful housewives.
When John Marcotte, the founder of Heroic Girls, and his two lovely daughters went to Target to find a female Superhero action figure, they only found male action figures in the “boys” section of the store. The only female superhero they found was Wonder Woman, but she was only sold as a set with a large number of male action figures for a jarring price of nearly $50! That means that if a child (girl or boy) wants a female action figure, then they would have to buy a whole set of male action figures, just to get one female one. The message that this separation of toys is sending to little girls is that they can’t be heroes and that their only job is to be beautiful. The message that this is sending to the boys is that girls don’t matter and that to be a girl is to be weak. When my nephew was little, he wanted a toy stove because he liked to help his mother cook. He was, however, talked out of it because it was a “girl’s toy” (he ended up getting one eventually anyway).
In this inspiring TED talk, John Marcotte talks about the urgent need to have more female superheroes and to stop the gender-based segregation of toys. In addition, he makes a compelling case for more female superhero action toys. Take a look.
Dr. Janina Scarlet is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, a scientist, and a full time geek. She can be reached via Twitter @shadowquill, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Shadow.Scarletl, or via her website at www.superhero-therapy.com