Barbie is for girls, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for boys

Story by Jessie Tremmel, Op/Ed Editor

Little girls are shoved into the world of dolls and dresses, denied the opportunity to play with superheros, and they are starting to notice. A photo of 7-year-old Maggie, making a pissed off face, popped up on my Facebook news feed last week. She was shopping at Tesco, a grocery store chain in the UK, when she saw a sign in the superhero section that said, “Fun gifts for boys” with a Marvel alarm clock.

According to an article by BuzzFeed, Maggie’s mom, Karen, said, “She spotted the sign before I did and pointed it out to me by indignantly saying something like, ‘Well that’s wrong! Anybody can like superheroes, they’re being stupid aren’t they?’”

Boys who want to dress up are scolded and told that dresses and heels are for girls. I cringe when I hear moms tell their sons they can’t paint their fingernails, carry a purse or strut around the house in heels. What is the harm? Let the boy have some fun.

Mattel has recently issued an apology for a Barbie picture book. You would assume the “Barbie: I Can be a Computer Engineer” book would feature Barbie flaunting her coding skills, but instead she must rely on the help of her male friends to create her game.

When Skipper, her sister, asks if she can see the programming for the game about a cute robot puppy, Barbie says, laughing, “I’ll need Steven’s and Brian’s help to turn it into a real game!”

The separation of things that are appropriate for girls and things that are appropriate for boys begins at birth.

When born, the girl will be swaddled in a pink blanket, the boy in blue. That blanket will likely define all gifts the infant receives. A hat with a dragon on it, a pink crib set, a pair of Jordan Nikes, a mobile with butterflies and flowers or a onesie with a cute saying about poop.

While gift shopping this holiday season, think outside of the (gendered) box.