Get them while they’re young!

January 6th, 2014 Category: Educational Establishments Office Cleaning

What did your children ask santa for last year? Did little Timmy ask for a water gun or a play kitchen? How about young Lisa? Did she ask for a fairy doll or a toy tool kit? 

Recently, pictures of a ‘Girl Stuff' toy cleaning set, taken at a SportsDirect store, surfaced causing outrage. 

People took to social media to voice their anger over the playset, which includes a dustpan, brushes and spray bottle, is sold in a bright pink packaging covered with flowers and a “female” gender symbol.

One user, Em Murphy-Wearmouth, a director at Octopus Communications,described it on Twitter as “outrageous” and “the most disgusting sexism I have seen targeting young girls”. She demanded that Sports Direct remove the range from its shelves.

Louise Mensch, the former Tory MP, also used the social media site to add her voice to the backlash, writing: “Wow. Total fail. @SportsDirectUK = Sexism Direct UK.”

Although many retailers do not classify toys as either girls or boys anymore, they still act as instruments of socialisation. Children can make assumptions about what is expected of them as adults by the toys they are given to play with. 

Many studies on gender and cleaning suggest that women still do the lion’s share of housework. Could this be because of toys, such as the cleaning playset, that promote dated stereotypes of gender?

According to the Daily Mail, women spend an average of 17 hours a week cleaning, compared to just six hours for men. Although women are increasingly becoming the breadwinners for their families, one in five men still admit to doing nothing around the house.

As well as being heavily criticised, SportsDirect have also been ridiculed as the image of the cleaning playset came to light a day after the company tweeted a blog about female athletes, saying “Do you think there needs to be more positive role models for girls? #RoleModels #StrongFemales.”

It appears that SportsDirect is a bit confused about where it stands on the idea of female empowerment.