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Open, Ungendered Play is Cultural Defiance and Historical Reclamation

I grew up during the years of Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters, and Batman. Saturday mornings were for bowls of cereal in front of the television, watching cartoons until my parents got up and cleaning day started.

But for me, this era had a huge drawback. You see, I was a girl. And if there was anything little girls couldn't do in the 80s, it was to enjoy superheroes (or so it seemed to me at the time).

My brother and the neighbor boy wanted to play Ninja Turtles? Well, maybe I could be April. But then I'd have to get captured so they had someone to save.

My resentment over the lack of female representation in classic superhero cartoons aside, the gendering of toys (which really became clearly delineated in the 40s) hit a new extreme level in the 80s and 90s.

Along with "dolls for girls" and "trucks for boys" we now had brands capitalizing on the gendered toy industry to bring us such gems as these:

Tyco was a great example of "do it again, but this time make it pink. Now girls can play with it"

Gendering became SO ingrained in the toy industry that the world LOST ITS MIND when Target announced their plan to move away from labeling toys "For boy" and "For girls" in 2015.

There is a fascinating history behind how and why toys became so marketed toward specific genders and how and why they promote specific gender roles, but the long and short of it is this:

Promoting toys based on strict gender roles makes money, even if it harms a child's development.

"Harms a child's development!?" I hear you say. "Preposterous!"

But it's true, especially when we consider the roles toys and play have on emotional and social development of children. ESPECIALLY BOYS.

I would like to think the gendering problem has gotten better, and it has in some ways, but really only for girls. Science toys are marketed for the purpose of getting more women into STEM fields and more female superheroes in the public eye than I recall in the 80s, but for boys? Unfortunately there is still a lack of toys marketed toward caretaking, emotional development and expression,

That's one of the reasons Audrey and I work hard and deeply consider the impact of everything we make at Scadoodle. We firmly believe that play belongs to all children, and the need for emotional expression and wellbeing, as well as the concepts of compassion and caretaking are not limited by assigned gender.

It is our act of cultural defiance, to break from the billion-dollar pink-and-blue scam, and reclaim a history of play that did not promote gender, but imagination and exploration.

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