James O'Brien: 'What on earth is wrong with gender-neutral gear?'

11 October 2021, 15:25

By Seán Hickey

Amid news that some US toy shops will adopt a 'gender-neutral aisle', James O'Brien argues that gender specific toys are 'unhealthy'.

James O'Brien was reflecting on a new policy in California which would make large toy shops install an aisle which would hold toys traditionally marketed to either girls or boys.

The measure is aimed to remove gender-based associations around the toys and to give children and parents the freedom to choose products independent of societal norms around gender.

James referenced a study conducted into bias when it comes to choosing toys for children:

"If you put a baby in clothes that are masculine and then give that baby to another adult and give them a toy box, they will reach for the toys that are more spatially aware.

"This is the grown ups that are doing it, we will reach for the toys that are more spatially aware and that engenders more traditionally masculine traits."

James suggested people should observe and learn from such a report: "The idea that some toys are for boys and some toys are for girls, and this is where I do see the potential for debate, is, I'm going to use the word unhealthy."

"Tell me why it isn't unhealthy" he said to LBC listeners.

James also noted that "it has happened in some clothing departments where they've brought in some gender-neutral stuff" and as such there seems to be a broader shift in how we associate gender and identity.

"In a very long-winded way I suppose I'm asking what on earth is wrong with gender-neutral gear?"

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