Gendering the Holidays One Toy Drive at a Time

Posted on November 30th, 2009 by Katherine Franke

Who doesn’t like a toy drive?  Only a Grinch I guess, but some toy drives are better than others.  There are two going on in the law school this month – one run out of the Dean’s office, the other by two student groups – the Columbia Military Society/California Society.   One of the drives is explicitly anti-militaristic,  the other explicitly reinforces out-moded sex stereotyping.  Guess which is which?  Now look at their flyers, you may have guessed wrong.

Here’s the invitation to the Dean’s Holiday Party and Toy Drive:

Holiday Card 1“indicate whether the gift is for a boy or a girl”??????    What about, oh I don’t know, a book or a puzzle?  Or worse, what about a ball or a doll?  Why should we gender these gifts in advance?

And this is for the student Toy Drive:

Toy Drive Flyer

It seems the students are way ahead of the Executive Suite on this one!


  1. Granted, the staff & faculty invitation isn’t being very p.c. (btw, from an institutional viewpoint, why specifically designate faculty apart from staff?? But this is about “gender” not “workplace equity” – got it!). However, I notice that one requests “wrapped” gifts whereas the student one doesn’t. One could certainly indicate “both genders” or “any gender” on a puzzle, book, or other non-gender specific present. Also, in keeping with the “p.c.ness,” I wonder what the members of the Military Society think of the restriction of “no swords, guns or weapons.” And if we’re really going to be nit-picky, the student one promotes a “toy drive” and makes no mention of children in need (only the quaint phrase “brighten a child’s holiday”) whereas the staff one refers to it as “collecting presents” specifically for “needy children.” On the contrary, it doesn’t seem to me that either group is “way ahead” on this one, nor does it seem fair to glorify one group and vilify another because, according to this blogger, the wording on the respective invitations is off. In fact, I would question the whole notion of toy drives for needy children. Personally, I think it just reinforces the materialism of the holiday and doesn’t teach children (needy or not) the real value of giving and receiving, which in my mind, is the true message of the holiday. But we all (male, female, both/and, neither, still-deciding) just like to “feel good” around this time, don’t we.

  2. Gendering the Holidays One Toy Drive at a Time – –

  3. Spot on with this write-up, I seriously think this site needs
    far more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read through more, thanks for the advice!

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