An open letter to Grand River Toys

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Dear Grand River Toys,

I was looking around your website this morning and was so pleased to see that you don’t have sections for “Boys” and “Girls.”  More and more toy companies are finally figuring out that gendered toy preferences are not only false, but also harmful to both boys and girls in terms of who they think they can be and what kind of toys they are “allowed” to play with, without breaking gender norms.

But, I was very disappointed to see the “For the little Mommy” headline for the category of Doll World. Don’t little boys want to play Daddy? By categorizing playing with dolls in this way, you are in essence shaming boys who play with dolls. It shouldn’t be shameful to be like a girl, but sadly this is not the message our children are getting.

Then, I clicked on the Active Play category and find pictures of mostly boys (7 out of 9 children pictured on the first page are boys)…

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Perpetuating the idea that boys like active play and little girls want to be mommies greatly contributes to disparities we see in girls in engineering and the disconnection and lack of empathy men feel towards women which has been linked to domestic violence. The more we entrench the idea that girls and boys are so fundamentally different, the bigger the problem gets.

Be part of the solution!

I would love to see Grand River Toys take this all the way and really make an effort to join the Let Toys Be Toys movementScreen Shot 2013-11-30 at 10.59.47 AM

Thank you for listening….









After writing on their Facebook page and sending them tweets, I sent Grand River Toys a private message on Facebook:

I sent your company a message a few days ago about the gendering of products on your page. I am wondering if you are just going to ignore me or if you are considering my letter and my issue with having messages like, “For the little mommy” on your website. Why promote the idea only females are parents, don’t boys have a job to do here someday also?

They responded later on that day saying that they didn’t mean to ignore my message and that their company does try not to say that certain toys are for boys or girls. That the “little mommy” headline was meant to “showcase a couple of items that girls do use” and was not meant to say that boys don’t play with these toys or have parental roles to play.

To which I replied:

Thanks for getting back to me. I got that impression from your website, that you try not to say which toys are for whom. Girls do play with dolls, but mostly because we tell them too. It is not an innate aspect of being female. Its messages like “the little mommy” that reinforce this stereotype.

I am happy that they responded to my concerns, but unhappy that some people think that girls just innately want to play with dolls. Society, the media, toy stores, and parents, constantly tell girls that they need to learn how to be a mommy.  I think it is hugely problematic to suggest that boys and girls are born with preferences of any kind and limits who we can be.



About Theresa

Writer, sister, mother, human.