Are kids’ toys encouraging domestic violence?

When the Greens began an Australian Senate inquiry into children’s toys, opinions throughout the media and population were strong and

When the Greens began an Australian Senate inquiry into children’s toys, opinions throughout the media and population were strong and diverse.

There is an increasingly strong argument that traditional “gendered” kids’ toys promote unhealthy ideas of the roles boys and girls play in the world – and that this, in turn, ultimately contributes toward a culture of domestic violence.

Today, many of these inquiry submissions were made public, offering a fascinating look into two passionate sides of a surprisingly complex debate.

To get a better understanding of the matter, recently spoke to advocates from either end of the debate.

“If we want to fix our domestic violence problem, we have to work towards gender equality,” said Sue Phillips from Junction Australia, an organisation supporting DV victims.

“These gendered toys are a part of that.”

“We have to start that national conversation. People need to get over the ‘It wasn’t like that when I was a kid’ argument and start to face the facts,” she said.

“Seeing Barbie looking beautiful and thin in a short dress, or playing with a doll in a toy kitchen, that reinforces the idea to girls that this is what women do.”

“And sure, sometimes there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a girl wearing pink and loving princesses and boys wearing blue and loving trucks.

“But the 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.”

“If you’re separating out the gender and saying ‘Girls do this and boys do this’, knowing that men have more power and control in our society as a whole, what you’re doing is perpetuating the essence of domestic violence.”

On the other side of the debate, Gabby Anderson of the Australian Toy Association told a child’s behaviour is “far more influenced by their family environment, school life or mass media, rather than the toys they play with.”

“ It’s too great a stretch to think there is any link between domestic violence and toys.”

“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 behaviours and playing with toys.”

Do you believe toys play a role in shaping unhealthy – and dangerous – attitudes toward gender later in life?

  1. JAY  

    Children naturally gravitate to certain toys. In mixed families they play with each others toys. Another case of being politically correct. Please bury these stupid dogooders. Nothing to do with in our day!

    • Agreed , but , someone has to create another job for a mate , so , why not make another stupid statement to justify the job.

  2. Norma  

    This rubbish had to come from the Greens. When I was a child I played with dolls, teddy bears, toy soldiers and toy cars. It’s the violence in TV and movies causing the large increase in violence,

  3. Joan  

    It’s all part of a society where girls grow up: wearing different clothes, playing with different toys, seeing women earn less than men, seeing men holding the majority of the positions of power, seeing violence portrayed on screens and reported as part of the news. May not be a major influence, but one of many they experience from birth. Recent research shows that girls get less pocket money than boys, so inequality all starts in childhood.

  4. Kids main influences are the parents not the toys. Boys usually copy the dad’s and girls the mums. Unfortunately you don’t need a licence to be a parent. Wake up Greens and stop trying to turn Australia into a “Nanny Country”.

    • Joan  

      Contrary to turning the country into a ‘nanny state’ the Greens aim for equality: by gender, religion, socio-economic status or disability.

  5. Ken  

    Get rid of the crap violence on tv shows AND the video games

  6. Pamela  

    The writer is assuming only men are guilty of domestic violence, which is quite wrong.

    At least 1 in 3 victims are male; possibly more because few speak out because of shame and ridicule.

    Let kids pick their own coloured clothes and their choice of toys and then take some polls.

    I know what they would mostly show with only few exceptions.

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