Risk: “Man Up”

Classic game Risk has manned up. Yes, laydeez, you’re no longer welcome. Nor are you girly-boys, either. Sociological Images has the scoop.


Yes, it’s by Hasbro, home of slagpiles of Disney Princess paraphernalia, My Little Pony, Baby Alive, Littlest Pet Shop, FurReal Friends, Easy Bake Oven, Star Wars, Transformers, Spiderman, G.I. Joe, Tonka, Super Soaker, and Nerf: all in carefully gender-segregated sections. Incidentally, the “Boys” section has twice as many toys as the “Girls” section.

As of right now, there’s one Transformer in the “Girls” section. I guess someone pressed the wrong button. Oh, and a pink, soft soccer ball.

Have your childhood favourites been reimagined through gender extremism? Have any of your gendered faves been re-cast as toys for all?

Categories: arts & entertainment, gender & feminism

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28 replies

  1. Lego. With the focus on movie or TV show themed sets Lego has become a much more gendered toy than it was when I was a kid. It really annoyed me that even with Harry Potter Lego, which surely was always going to appeal equally to both boys and girls, they came up with these silly little sets with pink and purple bits for Hermione so there’d be “girl” Harry Potter Lego. What? All the rest of the sets were supposed to be for boys only? Grrrr.
    And don’t even get me started on the Belville range.

  2. Because manly=dominating others. Lovely.

    I agree about the Lego. Is it even possible to just buy simple building blocks anymore?

  3. Yeah, you can buy Brick Buckets, but they’re not in stock many places, and even that range has the special pink box.

  4. I hadn’t seen the Belville range before – I just googled. I can’t help thinking “well, at least it’s horses, and not a manicure salon.”

  5. It’s horses now, there’s also been an awful lot of fairies and princesses. But yes, no beauty salon stuff that I can remember.

  6. strictly speaking this is more about sexualised toys than gendered ones, but the Lindsay Lohan doll has been reduced from $24.99 to $4.99 . I’ve heard it’s because they don’t want her hanging around Barbie anymore.

  7. I feel the same way about stupid girl lego. When it was just lego it was a great non-gendered toy. Now I have trouble finding lego that isn’t so obviously boy oriented but isn’t naff pink princessy stuff. The Belville lego doesn’t look like real lego, there’s like three bricks and the rest is moulded figures and buildings. Or from looking at the box anyway. Playmobil manages to cater to both markets without insulting anyone.
    I actually find the horse thing still really sexist and classist. It’s all dressage and appearances and shapely female riders. If I’m going to do the horsey thing, then I’d rather read an Alison Lester book or even The Saddle Club.

  8. Sigh. The only thing I can think of at the moment is a chocolate bar rather than a toy: Yorkie. It’s always had gendered ads – featuring truckers or builders, stuff like that – but in the last few years, it’s become far more explicitly so (with the explicit slogan, “it’s not for girls”*).
    * Naturally, it’s for men, not boys.
    Oh, and the logo on the wrapper has changed from this to this.

  9. even that range has the special pink box.
    At least, I guess, the Lego website itself doesn’t say that the pink box is “for girls”, even though it’s clearly done as a gendered thing– and most of the people reviewing the product are all “ZOMG, now my [grand]daughter can play with Lego too!”– because the primary coloured blocks are incompatible with girl-brains or something. There was, thankfully, one person who pointed out that a lot of boys might like pink blocks too.

  10. The idea seems to be “let girls be girls and boys be boys, look how the girls choose these pink things”, but it seems it’s made very difficult for boys and girls to choose toys that aren’t skewed towards an exaggerated version of their gender.
    If femininity and love of all things pink is so innate in girls, and khaki and love of all things domineering is so innate in boys, how come the corporate toy and entertainment world has to work so hard to convince them of this?

  11. Moving briefly from toys to clothes, I was delighted the other day to see a little girl in a yellow sun-frock that didn’t have a bit of pink on it. It was quite a girly frock, no worries that anyone didn’t know she was a she, but thankfully, for once, unemphasised by the dreaded pink add-ons.
    When’s the last time you saw a small girl out and about without at least one pink piece of clothing?
    I don’t remember the compulsory pink as a child, not at all. Babies, yes. But once a child was old enough to running around most people could tell whether it was a boy or girl by other gendered clues without pink having to be involved every single day in every single outfit. Perhaps flower patterns on clothing served much the same purpose back then – girls’ T-shirts and shorts often had flowers on (or delicate spots) while boy’s clothes had more stripes.
    Still, I don’t think anyone was in much doubt that skinny seven year old me was a girl even when I was high up in a tree in my blue shorts and blue T-shirt (I liked blue).

  12. When’s the last time you saw a small girl out and about without at least one pink piece of clothing?
    I honestly cannot remember– I’ve been taking note lately, and it’s virtually impossible to find a girl under ten years of age not wearing pink– and if the outfit is not dominantly pink, it will be dominantly lilac.
    I don’t remember the compulsory pink as a child, not at all.
    Me neither. I was a little girl in the 80s, and while I had some pink clothes (some of which I liked and some that I hated), my favourite outfit, that I recall, was a yellow T-shirt with a pleated red skirt. When I was around 5 or so I did get mistaken for a boy sometimes if I was wearing pants, because I had very short hair, and I hated that (in fact, I think it’s part of the reason I like having long hair so much now), but the response was never to dress me in pink to the exclusion of every other colour.

  13. Strangely enough, the SO and I were at a Toy World yesterday, and I had to confess my abiding lust for Sylvanian Families – though I had to let the SO know that, if we *did* get Sylvanian Families for our sprogs, we’d be selectively repackaging them to offer a full range of portrayals of adult relationships. Seeing as they’re already anthropomorphized animals going camping and riding in canal boats, I see no problem with Mr Badger and Mr Honey Fox adopting ducklings of their own.

  14. When my now 10 year old was tiny it was pretty difficult to find non-pink clothing but not impossible, I managed to dress her in navy blues, reds and yellows quite a bit, now it seems even worse. I was trying to buy an outfit for Ariane’s daughter for her birthday recently and in Target (I didn’t have time to go elsewhere) there was nothing that didn’t have at least some pink on it.
    I can’t tell you how relieved I was when my daughter decided pink was out, her favourite colours are now blue and purple.
    Boys clothes drive me nuts too, it’s all skulls, camo colours, and anti-social aggression. Not what I want to be putting on my 7 year old. Or my 11 year old for that matter.

  15. I do storytime and there are a few of the little girls who are all pink, all the time. There are a few who wear boys clothes. The babies/toddlers tend towards a lot of primary colours, but I think that’s a bit to do with culture as well (v. few of the Chinese baby girls wear a lot of pink in my end of town and I have no idea why).
    In any case, my Mama would kick anyone’s arse in Risk. She’s a tactical genius. Also with a streak of cruel pragmatism, which seems to be what’s needed for Risk.

  16. I still think marketing Pokemon as a “boy thing” instead of both was a massive stupidity on the part of the marketing division of that franchise.
    Surely I remember there being more boys’ dressup outfits back in the mid-80s, too? (though my MIL looked at me funny and said “I had 3 boys!” when I asked if my partner and his 3 brothers had a dressup box. So maybe not?)

  17. *2 brothers. Bah, braindead!

  18. Scrapbooks! When I was a kid there was one kind and the covers were usually designed in primary colours, even when my now 18 yr old was a little one, that was the deal.
    Now there are pink books with fairies on the cover and blue books with racing cars.
    I recently bought a little girl who lives in my building a toy toolkit, which I’m told she loves!
    Penni, your comments about the horse thing resonate with me. I was one of those horse crazy girls who had everything horsey you could think of (except an actual horse) and I also used to read a series of pony club books that, looking back, were horribly classist.
    Everything is becoming more gendered than it used to be, maybe as part of backlash culture?
    Even the Duck toilet duck has devolved from a cute fluffy character to Rambo on a mission to clean your toilet.

  19. Well I guess I’m not going to buy Risk or any other games from Hasbro for my friend who is going to take over the world. She can calculate probabilities in her head. My sister is also an awesome Risk player. Watch her play any game with a skill based component and be in awe. Yet out of my siblings she is the most “girly”.
    I hate gender based toys. Buying things for my kid cousins is like stepping into a battlefield of Pink vs. Blue. (Now that I think about it, wouldn’t it be cool if there was a satire version of Red vs. Blue with kids voices and biting social comentary?)

  20. Buying things for my kid cousins is like stepping into a battlefield of Pink vs. Blue.
    Yeah, I find the same when trying to buy for my nephews and niece– the last couple of years I’ve gone with books and art supplies, but it can be so difficult to find things that aren’t explicitly gendered.

  21. Yes, laydeez, you’re no longer welcome. Nor are you girly-boys, either

    Damn it! that’s me out.

  22. After listening to my ranting about this post, the SO went and played the “Risk Factor” game.
    He found the car-driving minigame relatively amusing, but cannot fathom on what level that game is meant to make people – *any* people – buy Risk. Even if it weren’t a pile of misogynist (and misandrist, ironically) crap, it still has no relation to the actual product it’s supposed to be advertising.

  23. My boy wants an easy bake oven. He likes to cook. When I’m in the kitchen he always asks if he can help. Every time he sees the commercial he keeps asking why they can’t make one for boys. Though he watches the food network and sees mostly male chefs the point that this toy is associated with femininity disturbs him. I guess my question is why do we assume that something like that need to have a gender at all. Cooking is an essential skill we all need to learn to do it to survive.
    Renee’s last blog post..Drop It Like It’s Hot

  24. I’m notoriously bad at Risk because I have zero strategic sense. That does not mean all womens are bad at Risk, though, or that it is a Manly Game full of Manliness. I’m glad neither my father and brother nor my friends in high school discouraged women from playing.
    Also, Belville and girly LEGO are nothing new. I recall those lines being out in some form when I was wee–so that’d be fifteen years ago at least. I’m not too proud to admit that I wanted some of them terribly.

  25. Bene, you’re making me feel old, my childhood Lego memories date from 30 years ago 🙂

  26. Even the Duck toilet duck has devolved from a cute fluffy character to Rambo on a mission to clean your toilet.
    So, has that led to an upsurge in men actually cleaning the toilet? Ya think?…
    Renee: Indulge your wee son with an easybake oven. I’ve told the story somewhere before about how in After School Care, my son and his tough little mate totally hogged the pink Barbie knitting machine and churned out miles and miles of multicoloured thneed. (Where are they now, I wonder?) Before that, there was the time he refused to take his sister’s tutu off in the morning, and the wonderful childcare ladies let him wear it, all day, they never said a word and he was happily wearing it when I picked him up. Of course the social conservatives would take that as proof that he’s beyond help 😉

  27. I’d like to know who decided My Little Ponies shouldn’t be having adventures and should do something much more exciting… like shopping and having sleep overs…
    seriously WTH? I loved MLP when I was a wee one and while they were still quite gendered they were always going out to restore peace to their world!
    I recently had a relative over with her 5 and 2 year old kids and was told about how one of the fathers at the day care made a homophobic comment about the 2 year old boy carrying and playing with his older sister’s pink hand bag, (I’m sure you can imagine) talk about gender being thrust upon kids before they can fathom what it means.

  28. Ooh ooh ooh! On my way into uni today, I saw a little girl wearing a yellow dress with red polka-dots!

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