Gender and toys

Interesting story in the NYT about gender and children’s toys.  Something I notice a lot about in my house filled with Star Wars legos, dinosaurs, My Little Pony, Barbie, etc.  Anyway:

Aliceana and her parents, Brittany and A.J. Belling, make up one of many families that are fed up with the strict princess dresses for girls, action figures for boys stereotyping that they say still pervades children’s toys, clothes, costumes and other merchandise.

Retailers and manufacturers in the $22 billion toy industry, along with media companies, are starting to heed these concerns. Not only are toymakers more wary of marketing some items only to boys or only to girls, they and major store chains are creating gender-neutral or androgynous labels and store aisles.

In August, Target announced that it would no longer use signs to label toys for girls and boys in their stores. For the first time this year, the Disney Store is banishing girl and boy designations from its children’s Halloween costumes, labeling all outfits “for kids.” It also has switched to generic tags on lunchboxes, backpacks and other accessories.

Amazon no longer uses gender-based categories for children’s toys. Next spring, Mattel is introducing a line of action figures based on a new franchise, DC Super Hero Girls. And on Monday , the TV series “Supergirl” debuted on CBS.

“The gender barriers are breaking down, and both manufacturers and retailers are not labeling toys like they used to,” said Jim Silver, the editor in chief of TTPM, a toy review website. “The industry’s learned that you shouldn’t be labeling for a specific gender. There are so many girls who want to be Iron Man and Captain America, and boys who want to play with Easy-Bake.”

That said, I suspect this is mostly about labeling.  I have no interesting in pushing my daughter towards pink, being a princess for Halloween (again), loving Barbie and My Little Pony, etc.  She’s all over that on her own.  She’s also never had much interest in Legos.  Until this:

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Some toy makers have made some efforts to change that rigid assortment — but not without controversy. Lego’s “Friends” line, introduced in 2012 to appeal to girls, upset consumers because of its pink and purple blocks, curvy figurines and themes like hairdressing and horse riding.

But, most telling:

And despite the recent changes, a stroll through the toy section at a Target or a Toys “R” Us is still a gender-specific experience. At a Target store in Brooklyn, there were the “Frozen” princess dresses, My Little Pony figurines, and the convertible-driving, glitter-haired Barbie dolls in one half of the children’s section. Then there were the separate aisles of Roboraptor robot dinosaurs, Star Wars spaceships and Nerf guns.

I’m totally for kids playing with whatever toys they want.  And yes, I know that society encourages boys and girls in different directions.  That said, I still do think there’s something more to my boys’ love of dinosaurs (and Sarah’s total disinterest– other than the “How do dinosaurs…” books) and her total love of Barbies, etc.  Mostly, though, I wanted to write a post where I could include the adorable photo above.

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Photo of the day

Telegraph’s pictures of the day have some nice wave/surfing shots from a giant swell hitting Portugal:

Surfer Sebastian Steudtner from Germany rides a big wave, while a crowd watches from the cliffs at Praia do Norte in Nazaré as the first big swell of the year arrives

Surfer Sebastian Steudtner from Germany rides a big wave as his tow-in jetski rides to safetyPicture: Pedro Miranda / Demotix

Kasich– too sane for the GOP?

I enjoyed John Kasich’s interview on NPR this morning while driving my oldest to school. He marked how much more sane and reasonable Kasich sounded than his other competitors.  Yes, I explained, that is why he is near the bottom of the polls.  The GOP primary electorate is many things.  Sane and reasonable are not near the top of that list.  From NPR:

“Look, we’re hearing all kinds of crazy things right now on the campaign trail,” Kasich added. “One of the guys wants to abolish Medicare and Medicaid. Another guy wants to deport 10 million people out of America.”

There, Kasich was referring to retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who recently talked about replacing Medicare and medicaid with private health savings accounts, but later insisted he wasn’t proposing the elimination of the programs. Kasich also sounded like he was calling out Trump, who has repeatedly talked about deporting millions of immigrants who are in the country illegally.

But Kasich refused to attack them directly. When pressed on who he was referring to, Kasich said, “Everybody wants me to start attacking people by name. You all figure out who I’m talking about.” …

The battle for the Republican nomination is fought state-by-state. Kasich has not been investing much in Iowa, which is dominated by religious conservatives who would not be likely to support him. New Hampshire is friendlier territory for more mainstream, establishment Republicans like Kasich.

He has been clear that it’s an important state for his campaign. But even in New Hampshire, Kasich is stuck in the middle of the pack. Trump and Carson dominate there, too.

So, what gives?

“Well, I think the people are unsettled,” Kasich said of GOP voters’ reticence to support establishment candidates. “I think they’re saying, ‘Ok, we’ve tried these folks and it hasn’t worked. And so, therefore we ought to look somewhere else.'”

The problem is that Kasich’s candidacy is predicated on his long record in government. He talks up his experience in Washington during the 1990s, when he was chairman of the House Budget Committee and the federal budget was balanced.

Of course, when you are looking to lead a party that has spent decades trying to make government not work and that is constantly telling us how horrible government is, perhaps it is not so surprising that this party’s activists don’t actually value successful government service.

Short version: you reap what you sow.

Men’s biological clock?

Interesting Wonkblog post on the issue.  I did find these two charts particularly interesting:

So, obviously, men don’t fact the same biological constraints as women do, but male fertility definitely decreases:

 

The science of the male ‘biological clock’

Studies indicate that a man’s age can affect his fertility in three main ways. The older the father, the harder it may be for a couple to conceive a baby. Older fathers are also more likely to see pregnancies result in miscarriages. And the older age of the father can potentially trigger health problems in a child, too.

Unlike women, who are born with a finite number of eggs, men continue to produce sperm throughout their life, and some can father children into their 60s and beyond — an age where women’s clocks have totally stopped ticking. George Lucas, Steve Martin and Rod Stewart all famously fathered children in their late 60s. But for most men, testosterone declines as they age, which can lead to decreased libido and erectile dysfunction. And as they get older, men also see a decline in the quantity and genetic quality of sperm.

“The aging male, at least from a reproductive perspective, is not as good when he’s older as when he’s younger,” says Alexander Pastuszak, an assistant professor of urology at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and a specialist in male fertility and reproductive problems.

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