Girls and Weapons: The Toy Industry Struggles


There on the front page of The New York Times, along with news of the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 and the Ukraine was this headline:  "Today's Girls Love Pink Bows As Playthings, but These Shoot." It seems, according to the article, that the toy industry recongizes that girls (think Title IX) are more athletic and aggressive than a generation ago.  But why the continuing obsession with pink and girly girl.  Here is how the article puts it: 

"Heroines for young girls are rapidly changing, and the toy industry — long adept at capitalizing on gender stereotypes — is scrambling to catch up."

The article makes the point that the movie roll models for girls are changing from passive princesses to active warriors.  The authors, Hilary Stout and Elizabeth A. Harris, ponders the difficulty the industry is having in adjusting to this change in girls and how soiciety sees them.  How do the authors see the results?

"The result [as] a selection of toys that, oddly, both challenges antiquated notions and plays to them deeply."

In other words, pink and purple versions of bows & arrows and guns with names like Heartbreaker and Pink Crush.  Is this diffrent from how we present boy's toy versions?  To find out, I thought it would be interesting to look at how the toy industry depicts the toy version of movie character weapons for boys and girls.  Here are eight images:


 Nerf Rebelle  Bow & Arrow Set


Katniss from Hunger Games

Merida_bow_and_arrow                                       Merida from Brave                                           

PTRU1-11963546_alternate2_dtMerida Bow & Arrow Set from Creative Designs


                                                        The Hulk                                                               


Hasbro Hulk Hands





     Hasbro Wolverine Electronic Claws

 I did a pretty wide ranging search and deem these to be representative of the difference between how boys and girls toys reflect the movie version.   It does appear that the boy's toys do better represent the original while the girl's versions seem to be more interested in providing girls with a "pink" experience.  It seems that the toy indusry deems  it more feminine to kill with a pink weapon than a black or brown one.

If you have a different perception please write in and let us know. 

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