Girls Like Robots Too

from the 'Girls Like Robots Too' shop on
from the 'Girls Like Robots Too' shop on

This (pictured; and more here) is the second example I’ve found lately of a genre of children’s things that one might call ‘girlie boy toys’. They also have robots, rockets, castles, volcanoes, and aliens. The other girlie boy toy I came across recently (and so loved) was the excellent Automoblox C9P toy car construction set. I was so pleased when I found it: a toy car company that puts pictures of GIRLS on their web site! But when I showed it to mr. lp, his reply was “why does it need to be pink? Why does a toy have to be pink for a girl to play with it?”

Hmm. And now I don’t know what to think. He does have a point. My thinking was: If little girls see that they can like science, and engineering, and so on and so on and still be as pink and sparkly as they please, this seems like a good idea; divorce the fashion of the gender from the stereotypical interests of the gender. Let girls say “I’m still a girl, I just like cars!” (N.B. I don’t endorse “girlie” fashion. I’m against it–except on boys–truth be told. But obviously, a lot of little girls aren’t.)

But maybe mr. lp is right. Maybe making the girls’ dinosaur shirt pink only widens the pen a bit, when what we want to aim for is (if you will) free range girls (and boys!). What do you think?

20 thoughts on “Girls Like Robots Too

  1. My niece (daughter of my brother, my own blood!!) is now 6.5 months old, and I am so going to buy this stuff for her.

  2. My younger son still wanted to wear Winnie the Pooh clothes when he was around six, but when I tried to buy them, it became apparent that after preschool, only girls are expected to be interested in such things. I don’t see why the clothing companies don’t think there would be a market for kids’ clothes featuring a great many themes in gender-neutral colors and styles.

  3. “…divorce the fashion of the gender from the stereotypical interests of the gender.”

    “I’m against it–except on boys–truth be told.”

    I think the above two quotes from the original post indicate exactly why the dinosaur *must* be printed on a pink shirt. It’s the cross-wiring of fashion norms that makes it an exciting affirmation of socially unexpected (unaccepted?) possibilities. I mean, if it were a blue shirt with the dino on it, that’d just be a little boy shirt, right?

    I think that this is exactly the sort of thing we should see in the world…five, six, seven, eight or nine times over. Thanks for sharing the image.

  4. Henry – maybe we do. But we think this is an interesting topic and we like discussing it.

    I’m inclined to agree with Dee Es.

  5. but monkey & dee es, playing devil’s advocate: are we telling girls that cars (&c), in general, aren’t for them by giving them this specifically *girlified* toy/shirt? automoblox, as an example, makes cars in about a dozen different colours. does making one pink one make the other 11 choices seem off-limits to girls?

  6. One can always shop in boys *and* girls departments, choosing whatever colors and designs strike one’s fancy regardless of the sex of the child. And no reason why girls can’t wear hand-me-downs from boys and vice versa – although dresses and ruffles might be a problem with the peer groups of the little ones (thanks to parental influences). Basic jeans/levis/trousers are pretty much unisex as are a lot of shirts and jammies (and pink kitties or footballers or trucks or elephants or ducks on jammies or shirts may well appeal to boys and girls equally). Shop wherever you want! Don’t let manufacturers and advertising and other parents tell you where to shop and what to buy.

  7. j, i totally agree with you…tho i worry that once mine is school-aged, his peers are going to tell him otherwise. it’s hard to even find *jeans* these days (in uk, anyway) that aren’t boyified (trucks, etc) or girlified (ruffles, sequins, etc). my son is an excellent fan of pink kitties *and* trucks and dinos, but when he gets into school are the other kids (those whose parents have pushed them very firmly into these gender boxes) going to let it fly? i worry about it. i bet he’ll be teased. but i agree with you unreservedly on one thing: NO WAY am i going to throw out his wardrobe if number two turns out to be a girl! i think this whole “we have to buy all new stuff if the second one is a different sex” thing is one of the most shocking excesses of our consumer culture!

  8. RE the last question: one wants to aim for free-range, but there may be no direct route.

  9. I would like to see the day when pink t-shirts are featured prominently and sold in the boys department.

  10. I should add that while it’s normal and healthy for girls to wear shirts with dinosaurs on them (pink or blue or any color), a larger obstacle is the acceptance of boys wearing what is considered girls’ attire, and doing “girl” things. It’s considered normal, or perhaps “tomboyish” (still acceptable) when girls do “boy” things. It’s somewhat fairly well accepted by a lot of people that girls should be able to do the things that boys do (or at least a lot of it), but it’s really not accepted by most people when boys are “girlish” or do “feminine” things. When this is well accepted feminism will have made a lot of progress.

  11. PQ, and how does one hold in place the gender norms for boys? By teaching them – or at least letting them ‘learn’ – that it’s commendable for a boy to view girls and anything girlish as yucky, wierd, alien. Hmmmmmmm.

  12. I agree that we’ll have come a long way if boys can go unteased at school and behave in “girlie” ways. Although Vince from the Mighty Boosh might be a role model…

    All I know is that blue was my favourite colour as a kid and I hated anything that wasn’t trousers because you can’t climb trees in anything else, I ADORED my black and red Jurassic Park ring binder and spent my time poking about with a screw driver in the family VCR. This in a family of four right wing women who act like they’ve never heard of feminism. It was the 80s after all.

    Mum was very good, she just bought my sister and I what we wanted (walkie talkies, train sets, binoculars…) I think kids can ignore the “gendered” colouring for themselves if parents are willing to just let them have the object they want.

    If manufacturers don’t catch on, so be it – down with capitalism!!

  13. jj, I don’t understand your question. I don’t think that the main way that boys in general are limited is by teaching many or some of them that “girl” things are “yucky.”

  14. I’m sorry. It was a rhetorical question, but something like that often fails to be clear on the ‘net. Do you have any ideas about how it is taught?

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