Tonka: Built For Boyhood


Susan Iverson wrote in to wmst-l about a flier she received from Tonka, whose tagline is “Built for Boyhood”. She writes:

A full page ad promoted that these toys were “built for the 3 stages of boyhood: smashing, crashing, and bashing”. The insert ad is framed around “you know you’re the mom of a boy when…” and it proceeds to describe boys as superheos, detached from peers, less verbal than girls, less emotionally expressive (“let him express his feelings his way”).

She goes on:

My daughter (age 5) looked at the pictures of the toys trucks and pointed to two items she’d like to have. As she continued to look at the insert, she asked “why are all the pictures of boys?” I shared with her that Tonka markets its toys for boys. She looked at me with confusion and said “well maybe if you tell them [tonka] that I am a boy, they’d let you get me the toys”… Yesterday she was playing with her Little People toys and asked “mom, are these toys only for boys too?” I assured her they were for any children.

The good news is that Iverson is exactly right how Fisher Price advertises its Little People stuff– not all toy companies are quite as into traditional gender roles as Tonka, apparently. After (completely by chance) finding a “digger with girl builder” for my son on ebay, I went looking for other examples. Fisher Price does show girls playing with just the sort of stuff Tonka sells for boys only.


Of course, like all these companies, progress is limited. The toys at Fisher Prince are still divided into boys’ and girls’ and gender-stereotyping is, as always, rampant. (Thanks, Mr Jender, for your technical assistance.)

Breastfeeding Lawsuit Update

In the Carnival posted yesterday, I mentioned that a woman was suing to be allowed adequate time to pump breast milk during her medical boards. She lost her suit yesterday, with the judge claiming that she could simply postpone the test until after she was done breastfeeding, and noting that she had been offered such helpful accommodations as the chance to pump in a separate room *while* taking the test. The AP article notes that “federal anti-discrimination laws do not protect nursing mothers. The Breastfeeding Promotion Act that is pending in Congress would protect women from being fired or punished for pumping milk or nursing.” It’s not clear to me whether this act would get the woman the breaks she needs. Lovely, isn’t it, that the same medical establishment that has compared not breastfeeding to riding a mechanical bull while pregnant is completely unwilling to make it possible for women to keep up their breastfeeding? And aren’t you proud to have a judiciary that is so respectful of mothers’ needs? (Thanks, Jender-Parents!)