Friday, December 21, 2007

Feminism: C'est pour les enfants!

I have seven nieces. Seven. This means that every year I spend November and December staring down the legions of Disney Princesses and Bratz that line the girls' isles of every toy shop. As I search for gifts the girls will like, but that won't reinforce all the worst stereotypes about femininity (see, for example, the Pink Monopoly game), I know that the deck is stacked against me. The girls have asked for new recruits for their armies of Polly Pockets. Savvy marketing reps have already defined femininity for them as being based on glitter and cheaply produced plastic dolls with microscopic waists. All the toys that I think are cool are done in 'boy colors' and show boys all over the package.

So, what's a feminist aunt or mommy to do? We want to give gifts that will encourage the kids to explore their many interests rather than just dolls to dress up, but we know that giving a little girl a gift that screams 'for boys!' is a big taboo in Tot Land.

This year, though, I think I've done alright. So, for my fellow late shoppers, or for those re-thinking all the Bratz dolls currently under the tree, I've complied a list of the things that looked like good gender-neutral or girl gifts that I found this season.

10 non-sexist gift ideas for girls:

1. The Anti Coloring Book

2. Magic Set

3. Face Painting Kit

4. Crystal Garden

5. Rock Tumbler

6. Microscope

7. Gingerbread House Kit

8. Science Kit

9. Puppet Theater

10. Books that feature strong female protagonists

I'm always on the lookout for good ideas, though, so if anyone has found other good gifts for girls, let us know.


Alice said...

Well, the general gift in my family is books, but I think the best one we got for my cousin was a T-shirt transfer set. The kit had blank iron-on transfer sheets and special crayons (plus a few 'ideas' for tracing, we got it from Nature Discoveries, so they were all native NZ animal motifs), and we added a few cheap white T-shirts. It was so good, I wanted one myself (I was 16).

La Pobre Habladora said...

Christmas isn't over for us yet, still more kids to see, so we're open to more ideas. So far though, the ginger bread house kit was a hit.

La Pobre Habladora said...

The holiday season actually just ended for us last weekend (yeah, we know how to make the party last and last), so I can now report that the big hit presents for the nieces were:
1. The magic set
2. The bouncy frog on which my 3-year-old niece could ride around the house
3. A children's book about the universe written by Stephen Hawking.