Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 16th 2013 Contents B41
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• From Page B40
Plastic stoves, brooms and shopping
carts surround her. Each is gussied up
in pink packaging, and all have photos
of ecstatic little girls who ve plainly
reached the peak of childhood delight.
I don t see exultant, vacuuming boys
on these wrappers. In fact, here in this
mass-market toy store, Sandberg s
vision of a world where men run half
the homes is looking a little naive.
(Though we do have to thank Hasbro
for coming out with an Easy Bake Oven
last year that isn t girlish pink, but it
took a 13-year-old girl to suggest it.)
Just to be sure, I peek into the boys
aisle to see what sort of fantasies they re
engaged in while my daughter scrubs
It s all blue and camo brown in there.
Alongside guns, swords and wrestling
belts, I see a lawnmower, a carpentry
bench and a grim-looking toy that sim-
ulates bug extermination.
In mimicking traditional (read: manly)
roles at home, the little boys on the
wrappers have clearly reached the sum-
mit of childhood delight.
"These are the boys who ll leapfrog
over my daughter in the workplace," I
think, sweat prickling my wretched
It gets worse. Back in the girls aisle,
I spy a pink doll stroller and even pinker
microwave. My feminist heart sinks for
I just know that of all the toys in this
massive store, these are the ones to
make my child squeal with delight.
I draw closer. A vision of Sandberg s
face leans toward me, but I swat it away
as I look around for gender-neutral
versions of these toys. Nope, the only
option is pink.
Sandberg s face reappears (she is after
all the emblem of tenacity).
"Do you want your daughter to suffer
unequal pay and a lopsided marriage?"
she asks with a penetrating California
smile. "You re encouraging toys that
glamorise domestic toil," Sandberg
warns. "We all know what research
says about that."
I m seized with motherly self-doubt.
Thanks to an unimaginative toy indus-
try that continues to typecast our kids
by gender, I ve turned a family outing
into an obstacle course I can t win with-
out being a killjoy.
To make matters worse, my daughter
doesn t even like gender-neutral toys.
Her happiest fantasyland is one sparked
by her pink broom, her pink cookware
and her pink collection of dolls. Maybe,
I think hopefully, that s because she
hasn t seen any toys more appealing?
What s a feminist mom to do?
As if party to my tortured tête-à-
tête, my daughter says helpfully from
within her fuchsia car: "My favourite
colour is pink."
With a sigh, I curse the mass-market
toy industry for hindering the progress
of her emerging Lean In generation.
Defeated, I guide my mother and her
checkbook toward the pink stroller and
even pinker microwave oven.
But surely, I ask, buying toys for little
girls ought not become an existential
battle. As things stand, I see my daugh-
ter s girlhood scrolling before her, spool-
ing from pink ovens to blond dolls tee-
tering on high heels, to neon thongs
for preteen Lolitas who ll grow up to
do most of the housework.
That doesn t seem rosy at all.
For Mother s Day, perhaps the mass-
market toy industry could have chal-
lenged designers to get more creative
about what little girls want?
After all, I bet I m not the only parent
for whom the finest gift would be the
end of all this pigeonholing pink.
• Zimbabwean by birth, Carolyn
Jones is a freelance writer living in
Austin, Texas with her husband, toddler
and wayward dog. Her monthly par-
enting column appears on TIME.com.
set girls back'
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