Duplo blocks are made by the Lego company. They are like legos, but bigger and chunkier (less swallowable). Like this:
Amanda R. captured this screenshot on the Duplo website:
Apparently, if you’re going to buy Duplos for some little kid, the very most important first piece of most vital information you will ever need before you ever ask anything else is whether or not the kid has a penis or a vagina.
Meanwhile, Elisabeth R. found exactly the same thing at the Toys R Us website:
Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Tabatha — December 12, 2009
I know because I have a little boy -- the Duplo blocks come in either primary colors (for a boy) or pastels (and purples and pinks) I assume for a little girl. Because, you know, that matters to toddlers.
Victoria — December 12, 2009
Yeah, we wouldn't want our 3 year-old boys caught dead with pastel colored Duplo blocks, or girls being forced to touch icky primary colors!
C.G. — December 12, 2009
I pretended to shop for an imaginary 2 year old on the Toys R Us site, and the steps (aside from the mandatory gender split) weren't terrible. It asks for an age range and a personality, followed by an interests checklist. For both genders, the personality options are "adventurous, creative, sporty, techie, smarty pants, outdoorsy." The really odd exception is the interests checklist, in which the choices are identical except for the fact that girls are allowed to have one more interest than boys: cooking. Otherwise, they're all the same.
As far as I could tell, the results weren't horribly gendered. There were play houses, sleds, etc. None of it stood out to me as overly 'pink' or 'blue,' so to speak. But then again, I only looked 2-year-old appropriate options. One could spend a lot of time playing with this thing.
Melle — December 12, 2009
I played with it too and it looks like the results are almost the same for both sexes until after four years old. I think up until four they are trying to sell blocks and coordination toys to both sexes. I even selected things like, "3 year old, Smarty Pants, and Animals & Nature" and the results were a bunch of blocks...which had nothing to do with Animals or Nature. That search is just a joke and they want parents to think those toys are exclusively for girls or boys but they are selling you the same things.
I really do like the search because if you are buying something for someone other child its nice because they separate the ridiculous "Glamour Girl" stuff from the "Smarty Pants" but then it made me think...so if I am a smart 14 year old girl, I am being grouped into stereotypical categories? Therefore I should have no interest in make-up and chemistry at the same time? That's weird...because I am a 20-year old Pre-Medicine and Biological Anthropology student and although I love chemistry, microbiology, physics, and medical anthropology I also love fashion, graphic design and making my own crazy outfits to wear to class--because my dad got me interested in fashion and design. But according to this search, that should never happen.
Parents should know what their child wants if they take the time to get to know them. Plus, I have the type of relationship with my parents where they buy me things I personally request for. If I did not ask for it, they do not buy it. They know I would never use some randomly bought item that I had no previous need for.
Melle — December 12, 2009
EDIT: I meant, "some other child." Sorry...haha! And the "Glamour Girl" stuff isn't ridiculous. I realized that could insult someone's child. It is ridiculous to me because when I thought of "Glamour Girl" I was expecting more toys directed at beautifying someone or making make-up and things of that nature.
Kelly — December 12, 2009
I love the cartoony pictures of a GIRL and BOY so you can TELL THE DIFFERENCE. If only they'd have chosen a cartoony picture of a little kid penis and little kid vulva, just to be ABSOLUTELY CLEAR we should in no way commence buying toys unless we are SURE what genitalia the recipient has.
Makenzie — December 12, 2009
I got basically the same results for an adventurous, creative child who liked music and building things, regardless of which gender I chose. With a few differences; the magic princess castle and the Hannah Montana guitar only showed up on the girl's page.
Even if you ignore the stereotyping, this is just an incredibly useless sorting tool.
Merinda — December 12, 2009
I used to work for Toys R Us and I can' tell you how much the boy/girl split annoyed me. Cooking and housekeeping toys were in the "girls" section, all of the craft kits were pink and obviously for girls, and it irked me to no end that we sold a pink telescope (and not a high powered one).
And yet there were customers that would have a veritable fit if we didn't have a toy in pink.
Molly — December 12, 2009
I found this while stumbling and found it really interesting.
also how are Swedish kids this smart and proactive?
Jamie — December 12, 2009
I love pink, but I never had a pink toy when I was little. I think the closest thing I got to pink was an orange bear. I've never understood the whole color issue or why it's so important to parents, and it almost seems like it's getting worse every year, instead of better.
Citizenparables — December 12, 2009
Minor point amongst all the rest of it, but this gets to me....
As a parent I would be closing the browser as soon as I saw:
"First thing's first"
I'm not a spelling & grammar nitpicker in personal correspondence of any kind, but once you're in the professional arena, if you as an organisation allow someone who makes a high-school error like that write copy for you, and no-one spots it in proofing...I lose all my respect for you. No eye for detail. No credibility.
Selidor — December 12, 2009
I played with the Toys R Us gift finder a little and compared the options for boys and girls if I picked 5-7 years old and adventurous - for boys you got a total of 239 gift ideas, and for girls... 7 ideas (and the majority of the suggestions for girls were actually DVDs). 8-11 years is even worse with 245 compared to 5!
Rachel — December 12, 2009
When one of my cousins was a little baby, I remember once time at Christmas, I saw him pick up a barbie doll and just look at it and wave it around like babies do. His aunt rushed over and snatched it out of his hand as fast as she could. It was a very interesting thing to watch. I wonder when the whole pink and blue thing began. I am assuming that it is a Western thing (as in it has European origins)?
Kookaburra — December 12, 2009
Pink and red used to be boy colors - strong, manly colors of flesh and blood. Blue was a girl color, as it was the color of the Virgin's veil.
jane — December 13, 2009
And this is from Denmark, one of the most progressive societies there are in terms of gender equality! Or maybe it was the American branch of the firm that made this advert. But still, it is a Danish company. I guess the powers of capitalism overrule any notions of gender equality in the home society when you're marketing to an American market.
Reba — December 14, 2009
Makes me glad I'm Swedish.
Trains are for Boys and Dolls are for Girls | Xenia Institute — December 14, 2009
[...] blog called Sociological Images posted this screen capture of the process of buying legos, which seems to be as gender neutral a [...]
Shana — December 14, 2009
When I shop for my eight year old daughter, I look at both. So I first search the girl option, then the boy option. She often likes the "boy" option selections better than the "girl" options. As she says, "Barbie just doesn't do it for me."
Ben Zvan — December 15, 2009
My wife relates her experience with LEGO and gender roles: http://almostdiamonds.blogspot.com/2008/01/oh-lego_18.html
Butter — December 15, 2009
I checked out the Toys R' Us Canada (http://www.toysrus.ca/) page and they do not make you have to browse by gender. But, if you scroll down the first page they give a few category ideas by gender. Boys get Action Figures, Electronics, & Trains. While girls get Baby Dolls, Houses & Castles, and Crafts.
Also, once you start browsing you can narrow you search by gender. I found that it didn't make much of a difference except that girl results had more Barbie's and Brats and boys had more toy guns. There was a lot of cross over (science toys, cameras, playmobile...).
So, the Canadian site isn't great, but it doesn't force you to look by gender.
TJay — December 17, 2009
Is it that surprising? The fact is that in general girls like Barbies, dolls, and crafts more, while boys like hot wheels and tools. Whether that's socialization or not is irrelevant from the store's point of view; it's just good business to cater to demand.
Gender, Technology, and Toys R Us » Sociological Images — December 21, 2009
[...] up on a previous post about gendered gift giving guides at Lego and Toys R Us, I discovered something [...]
“Gender Advertisements” in the Korean Context: Part 1 « The Grand Narrative — March 4, 2010
[...] embarrassment compared to the relatively gender-neutral tone of the early-1980s (compare these to this, this, and this), and also there is now so much partial nudity in advertisements that several [...]
Michelle — April 14, 2011
I work at a day spa that hosts "Diva" birthday parties for young girls. The party room is pink and purple, as is our dress code, but I tend to find that the blue, green, gold and other not-strictly-"girly" nail polishes are really popular, sometimes more so than the pinks and reds. I also enjoy asking the girls what their favorite color is-- many of the very young ones (4-5) will say something like pink or purple, but as they get older I find that their favorite colors tend to vary more, with more than a few girls telling me that they like too many colors to choose. By age 8-10ish, I rarely get pink for an answer, though purple isn't uncommon. I've had girls whose favorite colors are orange or yellow or even black. Not really sure what that says about genderization, but I certainly find it interesting.