By: Anna Junko, Senior Editor for Literature and Art (email@example.com)
If you’re like me, you get a little annoyed walking past retail toy aisles and witnessing the fluorescent color line that separates the “boy” and “girl” sections. Companies market endless rows of pink tutus and purple dolls for girls and muscled blue action figures for boys. Even Lego, arguably one of the most popular and seemingly gender-less options, has a “boy” and “girl” gift guide on their website.
Hollywood’s recent obsession with female warrior heroes, however, seems to be evening out toy stereotypes. Girls now see strong heroines wielding weapons, like Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, or Merida from Pixar’s Brave. However, there’s one problem: most of the toy weapons are still pink.
It doesn’t make sense. Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games doesn’t carry a neon pink bow and arrow because it would be impractical. How can you avoid being bludgeoned to death by fellow children if your bow sticks out like cotton candy? The new pink weapons seem to both reinforce gender stereotypes while subtly resisting them, and the toys have forced parents yet again to address the age-old question of whether or not it’s appropriate for children to have toy weapons at all. Most day cares, preschools, and classrooms forbid children to play games that consist of weapons let alone brandish a plastic replica.
Which brings me to my next point: it’s sort of creepy that children are running around playing “Hunger Games” at recess and essentially role playing mass murder. However, the film’s premise is for whatever reason appealing to children, which is why some psychologists argue that toys allowing aggression are healthy for children and that parents should monitor but not control violent play.
Naming a toy the “Rebelle” [ahem, Nerf] unfortunately reinforces the detrimental stereotype that women can kick ass, but have to look hot doing it. Nerf, in fact, has a long list of annoying “girl” weapon names including: Nerf Rebelle Angel, Nerf Rebelle Pretty Paisley, Nerf Rebelle Heartbreaker Bow, and Nerf Rebelle Blue Crush. The toys can be found on here on Hasbro’s website.
Buzzfeed correctly sums up the toy divide in the article, “16 Ways the Toy Industry is Stuck in the Stone Age,” and The New York Times recently published an in-depth article discussing the new gizmos for girls.
Take a look at some of the latest playthings:
Nerf Rebelle Guardian Crossbow Blaster
Nerf Rebelle Guardian Crossbow Box
Disney Pixar Brave Merida’s Bow and Arrow Set
Nerf Rebelle Heartbreaker Bow and Arrow