VIDEO: Rebecca Hains discusses “Let Toys Be Toys” on Fox & Friends


Is getting rid of stereotypical aisles of “boys’ toys” and “girls’ toys” a good idea?

20130908-133214.jpgSabrina Schaeffer of the Independent Women’s Forum and I appeared live on Fox & Friends to debate that very question. I spoke in favor of de-gendering the toy aisles, while Sabrina argued in favor of the current system.

The impetus for this discussion: A new organization called Let Toys Be Toys recently convinced several major toy retailers in the UK and Ireland, including Toys R Us, to stop organizing their aisles by gender. The stores have pledged to reorganize their toys based on theme and function, instead–a major accomplishment.

The Fox & Friends video and a transcript are below.

What do you think? Is this a good thing? If you’re in the U.S., like me, would you like to see the toy stores here reorganize in this way?

Video [note: segment begins at the 47 second mark]:



ALISYN CAMEROTA (HOST): Sorry, Barbie! Toy stores in the UK will no longer be separating the girls’ section from the boys’ section. It’s all thanks to pressure from a group claiming gender stereotypes are harmful to a child’s development. Here to debate this is Sabrina Schaeffer from the Independent Women’s Forum and RebeccaHains, a blogger and associate professor of media studies at Salem State 

University. Ladies, thanks for being here.

SABRINA SCHAEFFER: Thanks for having us.


ALISYN: OK. Sabrina, I know that you are against the idea that these toys will now be co-

mingled. There won’t be any segregation of the aisles anymore. But, but why, Sabrina? Why pigeonhole little boys and little girls into certain stereotypes? Why not just let them choose whatever toy they want off the store shelves?

20130908-132719.jpgSABRINA: Well, I think little boys and little girls will choose what they want to play with, but the bottom line is, I don’t think companies like Hasbro, for instance, are trying to stem the tide of gender equality. They just recognize from a lot of market research that Transformers sell better with boys and Easy Bake Ovens tend to sellbetter with girls. And there’s nothing wrong with sort of recognizing that boys and girls are different, that we have different interests and preferences and aptitudes. It doesn’t mean that girls can’t go on to do anything that little boys can go on to do. It’s just that they like to play differently, and that’s okay.

ALISYN: And Rebecca, why not let children just gravitate towards whatever toys they choose?

20130908-133105.jpgREBECCA: Well, you know, it’s interesting. Organizations like Let Toys Be Toys in the UK, and here in the US, are hearing from parents that their kids are interested in toys that would cross the gender aisle, but they’re embarrassed or ashamed to ask for it. And that’s not right. We want kids to have access to any toy that sparks their interest.

20130908-132840.jpgALISYN: You know, as you’re speaking, we’re showing these advertisements–they’re sort of these newfangled advertisements, where Toys R Us–but of course this is just in Europe, it hasn’t made it hereyet– are showing boys playing with dolls, girls can play with guns, boys can play dress up, do hair, things like that– Sabrina, does that make you uncomfortable?

20130908-133011.jpgSABRINA: It doesn’t make me uncomfortable, but look. You can give a boy a doll; it doesn’t mean he’s going to play with it. I have two daughters and a son. I recognize that my girls are not as interested in basketball as my son is; he’s not as interested in princesses as my daughter is. I think to try to deny them who they are is really sort of misguided. So the best thing we can do as parents is let our children be who they are, and not be ashamed of their gender. If boys want to play with guns, and girls want to play ballet, I think that’s a good thing, and we should encourage them to sort of embrace the gender they’ve been given.

ALISYN: And Rebecca, talk about that. Aren’t some stereotypes true? Isn’t it true that most girls will gravitate to a doll over a truck?

REBECCA: Oh, sure! It absolutely is. But, the thing to remember is that there are many differences among girls as a group and among boys as a group. And so it’s important to recognize that, yes, some girls love playing princess, and that’s terrific. But some girls want the chemistry set. And they shouldn’t feel like it’s just for boys. If we don’t say, “Hey, these are jobs for men and these are jobs for women,” why would we say, “These are toys for boys and toys for girls,” when toys are really kids’ work?

ALISYN: You guys have made excellent points in a very thoughtful way! This is a fantastic learning segment here, ladies! Sabrina Schaeffer, Rebecca Hains, thanks so much for pointing out all the different angles.

REBECCA: Thank you for having us.


Rebecca Hains is a professor at Salem State University. Follow her on facebook and twitter.

20 Comments on “VIDEO: Rebecca Hains discusses “Let Toys Be Toys” on Fox & Friends

  1. If we don’t say, “Hey, these are jobs for men and these are jobs for women,” why would we say, “These are toys for boys and toys for girls,” when toys are really kids’ work?

    That is such a fantastic way to frame the whole toy debate! Great job on FOX, going on that network can be such a gamble sometimes.

    • Agree, that quote alone nailed the entire ‘debate’ as when I saw the rather ‘forced’ gender equity ads depicting kids play on the screen I thought ‘ruh-roh, another one’s gonna derail here’ rather than miss the salient points to simply “let toys be toys” and ‘get back to where we once belonged’ in EVERYone plays cues to kids!

      My goopy Creepy Crawler set would probably be pink sparkle bugs by now! And no, I don’t need Thumbelina in overalls either, just leave ’em be so kids can be kids and find what appeals sans slice-n-dice narrowcasting as visual cues count!

      Thanks, Rebecca for being such an articulate spokesperson for the movement, and for parents seeking reason sans ranting everywhere!

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    • I have hope for the US! So many people feel done with the hyper-gendering of childhood. We can convince retailers yet!

      • You made a good presentation and I agree kids should be able to choose their toys. I was surprised when you made the statement, “girls should be able to play guns” I do agree, but your liberal colleagues, who want to either repeal the 2nd amendment or reinterpret it, have to be in shock at your statement.

        • I don’t think I spoke about guns (I think that was Sabrina), but it’s true–if parents let their sons play with guns, they should let their daughters play with guns, too! Have you ever read the book Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence? It makes a good case.

          • I just watched the video again , and yes it was the other woman and not you who mentioned girls playing with guns. IMO I think there are some people that don’t want boys to play with dolls because they are worried about them being gay.

  3. Excellent, Rebecca! Thanks for fighting the good fight. What really got me was when she said that this move would try to deny children who they are (how on earth are they being denied anything), yet went onto how much she supported children in whatever choice they make (as long as it’s their gender-stereotyped choice)!

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  5. Rebecca, I love how you likened playing with toys as kids work. I think that kids shouldn’t be afraid to play with toys that are traditionally marketed to the opposite gender. Children are all different, but separating the toy isles just creates unneeded stereotypes. Kids should be allowed to play with any toy. I am hopeful we will see this trend move into toy stores in the US.

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