Ad Critique: Toys “R” Us’s Gender-Neutral Toys


Karin A. Martin observes that some parenting consultants tell parents to dismiss “gender nonconformity because the behavior is not really what it appears” (471). It does not seem presumptuous to assume that these advisors support would gender-neutral toys, though likely only for a limited time*. Some people may argue whether or not Toys “R” Us’s use of stereotypically gendered toys is effective toward the gender-neutral parenting stance. The Spiderman costume ad depicts both male and female stereotypical toys: the costume of canonically male superhero and a pink stroller respectively. Dean Spades would likely agree with this advertisement stance, “not arguing for a gender-blind society . . . but instead for a world in which diverse gender expressions and identities occur, but none are punished” (29). Other people may argue for that “society in which all people are similarly androgynous” (Spades 29). This advertisement would not achieve that idea, especially not with the parents who see and buy these toys for their children, having experienced stereotypes associated with gender, particularly the binary ones. However, the ad seems to declare that children can play with those toys regardless of their gender, which would suggest Toys “R” Us’s acceptance of all genders. Unfortunately, it is unknown whether Toy “R” Us would include non-binary genders. Nevertheless, it is a step.

*These advisors may believe gender non-conformity to be a “phase” and that preventing children from playing with toys of another gender “will create a problem” or backfire (Martin 470).

Works Cited:
Martin, Karin A. “William Wants A Doll. Can He Have One?: Feminists, Child Care Advisors, and Gender-Neutral Child Rearing.” Gender and Society, 19.4 (2005): 456-479). Print.

Spade, Dean. “Resisting Medicine, Re/modeling Gender.” Berkeley Women’s Law Journal (2003): 15-37. Print.

Torres, Alec. “U.K. Toys ‘R’ Us Going Gender Neutral.” National Review Online. Web. 3 December 2013.


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