The No Gender December message: give gifts, not stereotypes at Christmas

The No Gender December message: empowering kids by not limiting them to gender stereotyped toys.
The No Gender December message: empowering kids by not limiting them to gender stereotyped toys. Photo: No Gender December

No Gender December has kicked off with the powerful message that gendered marketing has no place in the toy aisles of 2015. Making a distinct link between toy choice and bullying, the campaign states:

"Gendered marketing informs children's feelings about whether it's socially acceptable to show interest in a toy. Some take this "knowledge" into the playground, where they quickly chastise any child who demonstrates an interest in the "wrong" colour or toy for their gender."

No Gender December calls on shoppers to think deeply about the toy choices they are making for children and the subtexts at work when girls and boys are given stereotyped gifts.

Co-Founder of the advocacy group Play Unlimited, Julie Huberman says last year's campaign received a mixed bag of reactions with worldwide coverage of the event sparking comment by then Prime Minister Tony Abbott who said, "Let boys be boys, let girls be girls."

Ms Huberman says of the 2015 campaign, "I think there's been a lot of traction and discussion about the issue over the year – particularly in relation to the many changes we've seen from retailers, both here in Australia and overseas.

With Target in the US announcing it's intention to stop using gendered marketing, along with most major Australian retailers removing gender categories from their online stores and catalogues, attitudes are finally starting to change."

Play Unlimited co-founder Thea Hughes says last year's response - especially from Australia's politicians and tabloid media - was disappointing, but a clear indication how very important it is that this work continues in order to shift perspectives.

Internationally, the campaign gained a nod from President Obama himself, who put stereotypically-male toys in the girls' boxes at a Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots event in Washington DC, exclaiming to the audience, "I'm just trying to break down these gender stereotypes."

Locally, No Gender December again has been endorsed by Greens Senator Larissa Waters who launched a senate inquiry report into the cultural factors surrounding domestic violence in Australia.

For the 2015 campaign, No Gender December has initiated a video wall, which together with its 'Pledge wall' gives people the chance to record a personal message about the importance of the cause.