Monday, January 7, 2013
Children's Toys and Gender Expectaions
I rarely pay attention to the colors of the toys my children prefer. Sometimes my daughters enjoy Barbies, sometimes they enjoy trains. Sometimes my son chooses to play with cars, sometimes he plays with Polly Pocket dolls. I recently saw media coverage because a child wanted the Easy Bake Oven to be in colors other than pink and purple plus she wanted the pictures on the packaging to have boys and girls, not just girls. My children have had an Easy Bake Over for years. It is white with a bit of blue/green on it. I suppose those who buy into gender norms here in the US would consider this "girly" but we never gave it much thought in our home. While writing this blog I wanted to see who made this product. This is what my search engine found:
"Easy Bake | Cooking & Baking Games for Girls | Hasbro"
Ok, yes, they are marketing to ONLY girls. It is pretty clear. If you click on the site you will also notice there is a daily tip. A girl hosts this short video. I am now officially not pleased. They stop short of officially declaring the toy not for boys but we all get the hint, don't we?
I am also kind of upset with myself because I purchased a Baby Alive for my son at Christmas because he asked for one. He is two and a half and enjoys playing baby with his sisters or on his own. Guess which company makes this doll? You guessed it, Hasbro. After playing with the doll for a week or so, I noticed that it says "I love you mommy" but not "I love you daddy". Perhaps this is not a huge deal in the greater scheme of things but I did see it as sexism against males. To use proper vocabulary we do need to use the term "daddy" when speaking of a male parent in this society so others will understand our sentence. This is why it is nearly impossible to raise children in a gender role free environment. Instead, we often say gender neutral because no pressure is put on the child to identify with "boy" or "girl" behaviors, feelings, etc. Back to the point, I decided to email Hasbro and find out what their response would be. Below is my less than perfect message and their response.
Me: "My son asked for a baby alive for Christmas. He got two, lucky boy. One of them talks one doesn't. The one that talks is fun for him BUT it says I love you mommy yet I have not heard it say I love you daddy. I wondered if it is supposed to say both or not. If not, perhaps you can change that for future dolls. We spent a lot of money on the doll we bought as well as a doll for one of my daughters, my in laws bought the other one doll, and really are sad that my son seems to be discriminated against after we spent so much cash bc of this issue. My daughters and son are always allowed to play with toys they want not just "girl" or "boy" toys so this is an issue for him. If this doll does not say I love you daddy, then could you please let me know when the doll is updated? Also, if you ever want a review let me know I am always happy to test out new items for my blog. Thank you for your time!"
Hasbro Customer Service Representative: "Thank you for contacting Hasbro regarding the Baby Alive My Baby Alive. I appreciate your taking the time to share your observations with us. I also appreciate your interest!
I do apologize, however, the Baby Alive Doll does not say 'I love you daddy.' Please be assured, your comments will be shared with our management team.
I want to assure you that we are dedicated to maintaining quality products and service and hope you and your family will continue to enjoy our products for many years to come.
Again, thank you for contacting us, and for your comments."
It appears to me that they really just do not care if boys are discriminated against. Chances are that no one who could change this toy is going to see my message. My son is welcome to have a pink or purple toy if he wants one or a toy that says I love you mommy, BUT I am getting really tired of the sexism against males in our culture. How can we eradicate sexism against females if males, often the ones in power, are being discriminated against? I mean really, heaven forbid you are transgender or intersex. I cannot imagine how much harder it would be to deal with issues like these as well. I cannot say yet whether I will avoid Hasbro toys or not, but I am leaning against purchasing anymore.