While the Let Toys Be Toys campaign is not calling for legislation, we’re very happy that MPs across the political spectrum have recognised the importance of gendered marketing and spoken up in support of the campaign.
MP for Walthamstow, Stella Creasy
“Childhood should be a time of creativity, imagination and endless possibilities, so it’s infuriating to see the toy industry limiting children’s horizons by pushing outdated gender stereotypes on them. Its great to see campaigns such as Let Toys Be Toys are pushing back and letting the toy industry know its time to join the 21st century and let our children choose for themselves how to play.”
“I am encouraged at the progress which Let Toys Be Toys has made in persuading retailers to bring unnecessary gender-specific advertising to an end. Children get exposed to outdated gender stereotypes from an early age. Given the progress which has been made in breaking down gender inequalities in so many areas of society the risk is that these types of adverts will channel children’s preferences and expectations along traditional lines, narrowing their opportunities in later life.
“I very much hope that those companies which continue to advertise along traditional gender lines take a look at the positive steps being taken by Toys R Us, Tesco and others and bring their own practices into the 21st century at the earliest opportunity.”
MP for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas
“The Let Toys Be Toys campaign is right to challenge retailers to stop limiting children’s interests, and it’s encouraging that a number of big toy brands have made the change.
“It’s a start and more need to follow.”
Former MP for Mid-Worcestershire, Sir Peter Luff
“Toy marketing has an enormous impact on girls’ attitudes – and, indeed those of boys – especially on their perceptions about science, technology, engineering and maths, or STEM, subjects. We must address this if we are to address the serious gender gap in engineering and science subjects.”
Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office), Chi Onwurah MP
“Before entering Parliament, I spent two decades as a professional engineer, working across three continents, but it is only when I walk into a toy shop that I feel I am really experiencing gender segregation. At some point over the past three decades, the toy industry decided that parents and children could not be trusted to figure out what to buy without colour-coded gender labelling.”
“Forcing their stereotypes on children is bad for children, bad for society, bad for the economy. Let Toys Be Toys is doing tremendous work to highlight the presence and impact of gendered toy marketing and ensure retailers and toy companies are held to account.”
Read about Chi Onwurah’s parliamentary debate on the issue of gendered marketing.
Former MP and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Jo Swinson
“We shouldn’t be limiting young girls’ aspirations, and too many manufacturers and retailers offer up the same uninspiring ranges based on lazy assumptions. That’s why it’s brilliant to see… campaigns such as Let Toys be Toys and Pink Stinks encouraging children and their parents to look beyond these messages.”
Former Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education and Childcare, Elizabeth Truss MP
“Let Toys be Toys are running a fantastic campaign about abolishing the segregation in toy departments” - Interview in House magazine.
— Elizabeth Truss (@trussliz) December 18, 2013
Neuroscientist, Cordelia Fine
“While of course parents can challenge stereotypes with their children and support counter-stereotypical play, they don’t have massive marketing budgets at their disposal to promote an egalitarian perspective of the world.”
Read our interview with Cordelia Fine.
Dean of UCL Faculty of Engineering, Anthony Finkelstein
“Why would we restrict the opportunities to an arbitrary subset of children? Let toys be toys and let girls be engineers.”
Anti-bullying campaigner and writer, Carrie Goldman
“Let Toys Be Toys is a leader in the campaign to take back childhood and let kids play without outside agendas imposed upon them.
“Every store should be listening to what these parents and kids have to say.”
Read Carrie Goldman’s guest blogpost on the links between bullying and gendered marketing and our review of her book, ‘Bullied’.
Actor and equality campaigner, Natascha McElhone
“I support the Let Toys Be Toys campaign. I think it is simpler than we imagine to challenge gender stereotyping. Even if babies & toddlers are given toys which are unisex and have no hidden messages, as soon as they start groups or watch TV, most of the messaging for girls is centred around how they look, playing a princess or emulating a Barbie doll. The ‘girl’ toys don’t perform any function, or encourage girls to pursue any purpose just to ‘look nice’ and be looked after. What could be less exciting?!
“Kinder eggs have now designed their boxes on shop counters to have a boys’ half and a girls’ half, the boys’ half is blue and promises the surprise toy will be something ‘speedy’ that ‘goes’ and the girls toy is ‘a fashion doll.’
“We are going backwards, this doesn’t reflect our society, or the roles that men and women play. Why are we not embracing gender equality?”
Read an extract from Natascha’s speech on gender equality at the Wired world event in October 2013.
Kids’ TV presenter, Sid Sloane
“By not reinforcing gender stereotypes upon kids you are promoting free thinking and empowering self-esteem, which is essential to healthy person-centred development.”
Comedian and Writer, Robin Ince
“I’m happy to support Let Toys Be Toys. When my son was a little more than two years old he was playing with some dolls which had been part of my wife’s childhood. An acquaintance who witnessed this seemed almost comically appalled. ‘He’s playing with dolls, but he’s a boy.’
“Why restrict the freedom to play? There are enough rules to hinder joy in adulthood without gender division zealotry in the toy shop. I’ve seen boys kicking a football, climbing a tree, making machine gun sounds, then happily ending the day concentrating on designing an exuberant dress for a stick figure. And girls too.
“We don’t need to build the walls of gender division in the toy box, playing together, sharing common ground of imagination surely creates a healthier society. I used to read my sisters’ Bunty annuals, and I nearly turned out alright. I think it was the melting of my action men’s heads that suggested I may be a bit wonky though.”