This holiday season, conservatives such as Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott have made international headlines for insisting that children’s toys should be segregated by gender, as “boys’ toys” and “girls’ toys.”
What a delight, then, to read Addicting Info’s new report on President Obama’s decision to deliberately and publicly ignore gender stereotypes while sorting gifts into “girl” and “boy” bins (which, honestly, I don’t see any need for in the first place). He found the opportunity to do so when he and Michelle Obama delivered 1,000 toys from the President’s staff to the annual U.S. Marine Corps.Toys for Tots campaign at the Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C. this month.
As the below video shows, the President placed a basketball into the “girls'” bin, declaring, “I just wanna make sure some girls play some ball,” eliciting applause and a “Yes, sir!” from delighted onlookers.
As President Obama continued placing sports and science toys in the “girls'” bin, he noted, “I wanna mix some things up.”
When a person from the crowd questioned his decision to place some LEGOs in the “girls'” bin, the President responded: “Girls don’t like toys?”
Narrating his decision-making process aloud, the President picked up a t-ball set and remarked, “T-ball? Girls like t-ball,” and placed the set in the girls’ bin.
Then, addressing the crowd of onlookers snapping photographs, he stated his intent: “I’m just trying to break down these gender stereotypes.”
Nicely handled, Mr. President. Thank you for being a role model on how to select toys for little girls. As a well-informed father and leader, it’s clear that you understand: toys don’t need to be gender-stereotyped. Toys are for everyone!
So, one small request: Next year, would you mind making a statement by throwing craft kits and Easy-Bake Ovens in the “boys'” bins, too? Because that would really rock.
For further reading: The President also made a statement on gender issues by calling only on women during his last press conference of 2014. It’s proving to be an interesting December!
Rebecca Hains, Ph.D. is a media studies professor at Salem State University and the author of The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls Through the Princess-Obsessed Years, a book meant to help parents raise empowered, media-literate daughters.