Gender and Class Divisions in the Toy Department

Experiencing the toy department in Dalhart’s Alco reminded me that, particularly when I was growing up, there were always the same divisions among the toy aisles. The Baby aisle, the Girl aisle, the Boy aisle, and…the Motorhead aisle. Technically also a Boy aisle, the Motorhead aisle is filled entirely with cars of various sorts. From what I recall as a youngster, the denizens of the Motorhead aisle were from the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum. What does it say about that demographic that their toys are entirely based on real-life objects? The Boy Aisle contains spacemen, pirates, talking animals, Lords of Rings, robots…all these fantasy characters. And these toys are more expensive. I guess it’s just another way that lower class kids are cut off from dreams and things larger than the day-to-day grind by lack of access. Not to say that they’re entirely prevented from having an imagination, there’s just no commercial support from toy companies. And Hasbro with its $8 Star Wars figures isn’t helping any lower-income parents. Of course having no money for toys certainly can force some kids to make their own fun and be more creative, but I’d wager that’s a much smaller portion of the total audience than those who just end up playing with cars and not using their imagination.

Yes I know this blog entry is rambling and thesis-free, but these are just thoughts running through my head that I’ve attempted and failed to organize and you’re the beneficiary of my failure.