How Barbie & Other Toys Contribute To The Gender Inequality & Domestic Violence Debacle

By Samantha Finch, Parent Herald April 10, 07:10 pm
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Barbie and other children's toys have an important role in the domestic violence debacle. Gendered toys reportedly contribute in forming gender stereotypes among kids.

Australia's toy industry and domestic violence groups made an inquiry to the Senate regarding the issue, News.com.au reported. They are arguing that children's toys and entertainment play are forming gender stereotypes and contributing towards domestic violence.

Sue Phillips from Junction Australia, an organization that gives services and housing to domestic violence victims, said gendered toys contribute to gender inequality. Barbie and G.I. Joe are some of these so-called gendered toys. "Women are not valued, respected and treated as equals and that allows the power, control and cycle of abuse to continue," Phillips said, as quoted by News.com.au.

Toys Teach Gender Stereotypes

Phillips noted that the marketing and display of toys greatly influence the development of children. They also reinforce society's gender stereotypes in the minds of kids.

"When we separate the two genders in toy stores and catalogues -- by saying that blue is a boy color and pink is a girl color -- we reinforce the idea that boys play with these sorts of toys and girls play with other toys," Phillips added, as reported by the news outlet. Phillips said there's nothing wrong with Barbie wearing a short dress or being in a kitchen.

Boys loving toy trucks isn't wrong, but this kind of segregation "does perpetuate those gender stereotypes, which is what this is all about - gender inequality. It's saying that women are in a different space in terms of their influence in our communities than men are," News.com.au reported.

When a man believes that he has more power and control over his family because of his gender, it can escalate into making decisions for his female partner. If she breaks away from her partner's view of a relationship dynamic, that's when the male wants to control her, the report stated.

Toy Industry Rejects Argument

Australia's toy industry fired back at the suggestion made by Phillips' organization. Gabby Anderson, executive director of the Australian Toy Association, said that toys are important to a child's growth because they challenge and stimulate the kids. He argued that family environment, school life, and mass media influence a child's behavior more.

"It's too great a stretch to think there is any link between domestic violence and toys," Anderson said, as quoted by News.com.au. "We believe there is an ongoing problem between domestic violence and gender inequality, and it's definitely worth investigating. But we strongly reject any link between these behaviors and playing with toys."

Pamela Blyton, the owner of Monkey Puzzle Toy Store in Summer Hill, avoids gender stereotypes in their toys, but she admitted that it isn't always easy. Like Anderson, she also dismissed the idea that playing gendered toys could lead to domestic violence.

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