By: Ashley M. Austin
Teacher: Mrs. Phyllis Lembke
Class: PSYC-C148 Human Sexual Behavior
Date: February 24, 2011
There are hundreds of thousands of toys sold in stores all over the world that are geared towards a particular sex. Many toys are an extension of popular television shows on Cartoon Network and other stations that air animated and other live-action programming targeted for children. When watching a primetime channel on television, you can rarely watch a commercial break (especially during the day), that does not feature a commercial for the latest greatest toy on the market. The goal of this essay is to examine just a few toys that are aimed at boys and girls, as well as neutral or unisex toys, determine what makes them “gendered” or “neutral,” analyze how they are marketed, and assess what is accomplished in society by having such gender-based toys.
After looking at the online catalogue on Walmart.com, it was not difficult to find a plethora of toys aimed at boys, from trucks and race tracks to action figures of some of the most popular characters from movies, animated television programs, and so on. One of the first toys that caught my attention that is targeted toward boys was the Bakugan Special Attack Figure. Bakugan is a very popular animated television show that airs on Cartoon Network every morning that has a significant following of young males. It is about a group of friends who battle each other using their Bakugans, creatures that one day fell from the sky in the form of little balls that when used in a brawl can be called upon to open and show their true, very large form, and battle each other using their own unique attacks and abilities.
One of the reasons this toy is definitely geared toward boys is simply because it is a replica of one of the Bakugan from the series, an action figure, so to speak, that also comes with one Bakugan Ability Card and one Gate Card. The fact alone that the Abilities and Gate cards are included with the Bakugan would make any fan of the show want to buy this toy. Like the days when boys would have Pokémon battles, now boys can have Bakugan brawls. Just the words “brawl” and “battle” make any toy desirable since boys are considered to be aggressive and crave action and excitement in a very physical sense. Watching a fight is exciting but actually being involved in a brawl is even more thrilling to a young boy. With this toy, a boy can have a battle without physically harming himself or the other person. The child can just throw down his Bakugan and play his Ability and/or Gate card and have an electrifying experience.
Another male oriented toy that caught my attention was the Beyblade Metal Fusion, Dragon Bite Strike 2-Pack. This is yet another toy that is paraphernalia of a television show that airs on Cartoon Network in the morning. Beyblade is a fairly new animated show that is basically about a group of boys that use magic spinning tops to battle against villains who want to use their magic for evil purposes. I have never personally watched even a single episode, but I am aware that it is filled with special effects, fighting, and excitement; every boy’s dream. Any boy who has this toy can battle it out in any Beystadium arena, which of course is sold separately, with their friends for hours until their Beyblade skills are top form. The desire to be the best at an activity is universal among both boys and girls, but the appeal of being the best Beyblade warrior is more likely an achievement a boy would want to have. Again, this is a very “active” toy that can be used to extinguish a lot of male aggression and angst.
Another reason this is a toy geared more towards males, other than the fact it is a more masculine toy is the fact that many girls are not or barely aware of the television show in the first place since it airs very early in the morning and is not known to have a very large female...