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Do you agree that it’s discriminatory to show girls playing with “girl” toys and boys playing with “boy” toys? Why or why not? I do not think it is discriminatory to depict children in advertisements playing with toys classically associated with their gender. The photographer may even have asked the child to choose a toy for the photo shoot. Having said that, boys playing with boy things and girls playing with girl things is an old-fashioned construct and no longer represents what many people think is acceptable. For-profit companies would be wise to adjust their marketing. CVS is one such company that recently announced that store brands will no longer use re-touched photos because they know that their customers want to see more realistic looking people. Savvy toy stores should take a more modern approach to advertising that is inclusive and diverse. Is there a distinction in how boys vs. girls play? I have witnessed some of the different behaviors referenced in the article about how boys and girls play and socialize differently from each other: girls are more nurturing and boys want to build things and then knock them down. The article mentioned observations by several groups that also point to natural and environmental differences: toy makers saw how boys and girls played with toys differently; psychologists saw differences in how parents interacted with their male children versus their female children; studies showed that girls with high levels of male hormones play more aggressively; and scientists asserted the importance of gender play as part of normal development. Is it possible to change children’s preference for certain toys depending on how they’re socialized? Explain your answer. According to the article, gender equality is such a high priority in Sweden that children are forced to play with gender-neutral toys in school. Toys deemed unacceptable are removed. I believe this approach is dangerous to a child’s sense of identity. It is not possible to program a child to prefer gender-neutral or stereotypically feminine or masculine toys against their will without instilling fear. To prefer something, especially a toy, one must derive pleasure from it. You cannot force a child to be pleased. What is possible, however, is for role models, peers and the media to use their influence to expose children to variety and diversity and accept their choices. Forcing children to prefer one type of toy over another is a losing battle that may lead to a stigma of certain types of toys being wrong and children having guilty feelings for wanting to play with them. If the same assertion was made for sexual preference, most enlightened people would argue that it is impossible and ridiculous to try to program a child’s sexual preference. Egalia, the Swedish group promoting forced gender neutrality in schools seeks to “obliterate male and female distinctions,” yet they say that children are free to be who they want to be. These conflicting ideals send the message that children can be who they want to be so long as it is what Egalia wants them to be. It sounds totalitarian. Cultural competency is a continuum of behaviors used in healthcare to effectively relate to other cultures. On one end is the destruction of the other culture; on the other end, esteem. One of the early stages is called blindness. It is an ethnocentric assertion that everyone is equal, has the same needs and desires and should all be treated the same (as the reference culture). It is my opinion that the proponents of gender neutrality are at the blindness stage in their thinking. Girls, boys, men, and women are not all the same. Ideally, society will move to the next stages of competency where each group accepts, respects and holds the other’s differences in esteem, rather than trying to obliterate them from existence or pretend they do not exist at all. In a society where children were free to choose their own toys based on what brings them pleasure, it would be perfectly acceptable for a boy who wants a dollhouse so he can catapult the dolls off the roof or a girl who wants to put a toy train in a baby carriage to get some sleep or either of them wanting a box of Legos to make whatever they imagine.