At a pediatric dentist’s office there is a toy machine. After their dentist appt kids get a token to put into the machine and choose which toy they want. The toys are little, like bouncy balls and erasers. One type of toy you can buy is “surprise toys for girls.” There is also a “surprise toys for boys” label. The toys “for girls” are little plastic pink rings and tiny dolls, while the toys for boys are little trucks. This is so normalised that no one thinks about it, but it’s there. Little girls should not feel like they have to play with rings or dolls because a label tells them to.


My husband just walked into Hamleys Regent Street to buy some Lego. He asked where to find it and was in return asked ‘Girls’ lego or boys’ lego’. He walked out in disgust.


I am 11. Me and my brother’s electronics kit says the company also has a “funky fashion kit for girls”! GRRR!!!


I was visiting family this Labor Day weekend. My 2 1/2 year old niece was coloring a picture, and I started flipping through the coloring book it came from. It was princess-themed, of course, and the more pictures I looked at, the more depressed I got. Here is a sampling of the captions that were at the bottom of each page: -Pretty as a Picture -Pretty as a Princess -Lovely Locks (underneath a picture of a princess brushing her hair) -Sweet Smile -Such Poise -So Graceful -In love (under a picture of a princess apparently daydreaming about a prince) -Beautiful new dress I counted at least 5 different pictures of a hand mirror or a girl looking in the mirror. Not one picture showed a princess or a lady actually DOING anything (unless you count the single picture of a girl dancing with a prince – I don’t). My smart, energetic, very active niece is not yet 3, and already the toys and books we surround her with are giving one clear message: you are here to be looked at.


Saw a male representative call large toy animatronic spiders “Very Boys” on a video of a toy fair. I find this kind of ironic considering that female spiders are usually larger than male spiders. Large Tegenaria (House Spider) females are usually what scare people indoors. Female spiders are usually larger because each has a large abdomen for producing eggs. It was clear that the man presenting the toy spiders thought that they would be suitable for “boys only”. I find it kind of sad (given that I am female and interested in spiders) that females are being stereotyped as being “Little Miss Muffett” while the boys are all deemed to be “Spider-man”. I have seen numerous scientific studies that claim that women are more afraid of spiders because the neurotoxins in poisonous ones could damage female reproductive organs. Having a natural fear for self-preservation is a fair point. This however, doesn’t explain how I trained myself to be calm around spiders and read up on which ones are poisonous. It also doesn’t explain the women on the internet who keep tarantulas as pets: one woman even let her spider climb right inside her mouth and out again! It also doesn’t explain the internet videos of petrified men who while shuddering and try to remove a large house spider from the ceiling. The truth is that poisonous spiders can cause men a world of hurt and damage to their reproductive organs also. So please don’t have a go at men who are afraid of spiders: human beings evolved to avoid neurotoxins and this includes a fear response. It is a cultural thing that men are encouraged to suppress their fears and women to express them. In short, everyone starts being somewhat afraid of spiders for bodily preservation reasons. Some people may start out being more afraid than others due to natural variation in the fear response. Tropical spiders that sometimes hitch a ride in bananas can bite and cause organ damage with neurotoxins. However, people can train themselves to not panic and learn about spiders with proper training. With spiders that are safe to handle, people can be trained to be calm and respectful towards the spiders. I remember watching one male professor of Arachnology on the TV. He talked about trap-door spiders and he explained how he managed his intense fear of arachnids by studying them. Everyone regardless of gender should be more educated about wildlife. I am very sad that I live in a house with arachnophobes: because of them I could never keep a tarantula as a pet. I would love to learn more about tarantulas and how to be safe around spiders. It is my dream to handle a tarantula (safely). It is sad that children’s wildlife education is being hampered by toy manufacturers who colour the animatronic butterflies pink “for girls” and call the large animatronic spiders “very boys”. In fact, it is the male butterflies that often have prettier (less dull) colours than female butterflies in real life! I feel lonely, because I was so touched by how a female garden spider would carefully make silken hammocks for her eggs. The spiderlings would hatch out in the springtime. People thought that as a female it was weird that I was interested in spiders. That was until they found a spider in the bath. I have “saved” numerous people at work, school and home by removing the “offending” spider. As a girl, I was fascinated by spiders and butterflies. There are men who study butterflies professionally, so butterflies aren’t just for girls toy companies! I miss “The Really Wild Show” on TV where the presenters taught children of all genders about spiders and butterflies.