Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Monday, December 3, 2012

I used to have an Easy-Bake Oven--

When I had one, it looked like this:

It kind of has a very early microwave oven appearance, doesn't it? And sure, it's got pink accents on it, but it's clear that it's just a toy appliance. It isn't going out of its way like this is:

This is the souped-up pretty purple 2012 edition of the classic baby-foodie starter kit. Well, I don't know about you all, but I melted crayons in mine to do encaustic art and threw Playdough ashtrays in to see what would happen (and discovered that you do not use Woolworth cheapie nailpolish as a glaze and then expose it to heat unless you want to asphyxiate your fool self.) I hardly ever used used my "girl toys" for what was on the label, though. I turned doll highchairs into rudimentary rockets and converted most baby dolls into "patients" for playing doctor--if I didn't alter their appearances in peculiar ways and design new outfits for them. So I kind of wonder if the "new, improved" but "super, duper girly-girl-colored" Easy-Bake Oven of today is actually sexist. 

That's is what a New Jersey 8th grader, McKenna Pope sees:

I feel that this sends a clear message: women cook, men work. … I want my brother to know that it’s not “wrong” for him to want to be a chef, that it’s okay to go against what society believes to be appropriate. 
Please join me to ask Hasbro to feature males on the packaging and in promotional materials for the Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven, as well as offering the product in different, non gender specific colors, i.e. primary colors. … Help me in creating gender equality, and help the children of today become what they’re destined to be tomorrow.

She has a point. This toy oven doesn't look like the oven that's even used in the kitchen in anyone's house, let alone a professional kitchen. It looks like it's for turning out magical glitterbiscuits to be eaten by lavender unicorns who poop rainbows. Admittedly, I am a fan of wildly-colored kitchen implements, being of the DINKy homo neophilus gadget-loving breed--you can seriously get an espresso maker in any color you might want--but really? Defaulting to purple and pink? Why not stainless? And why aren't boys on the packaging?

The reason it gives me pause is because I'm seeing a metamorphosis backwards in gender roles and toy advertising. You all know about how awesome Legos are, right?

Well, here's Legos when I was a kid:

And then there's the Pepto Bismol-barf pink and raspberry sherbet purple of today's less imaginitive girl's Lego kits:

Where's the little girl discovering the joys of building totally new stuff with her hands and brains? It's just labelled "girl" and given "girl colors". I'm going to sound like "Hysterical feminist is hysterical"--but that's like marketing sexism right to girls, and telling them--"It's because you like it that way!"

And seriously, there is more of that brand of sexism as girls get older, too.

Anyway, I think kids toys should be for kids, and not so gender stereotyped. And yes, that absolutely means boys should play with dolls if they like, and girls can definitely play with trucks and tools. I don't really get why this is a big deal.  Grown men have children and feed and nurture them; grown women drive trucks and use tools where they work. Not knowing that is worse than childish. Thinking children can't figure it out is simply dumb. And restricting play based on gender stereotypes makes no sense if play is how kids figure out how the world works, whether it's how to bake cookies or how to make simple fireworks from a chemistry set. Or things like that.


Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

The Artist Formerly Known as Vacuumslayer put up a similar post. I don't get the obsession with clearly defined gender roles in our society. Can't people just do what they want to do? I like to fight, I like to cook. I can change a tire, I can do a load of laundry. I enjoy teaching little girls how to be tough. For the past three Saturdays, we've had two classes (6-7 year old girls and 8-9 year old girls) in the dojo. I really love having a tiny little pixie come at me with the conviction that she'll send me flying... of course we let them throw us in order to build their confidence.

Vixen Strangely said...

My mom could hardly be arsed to teach me to cook, I'm not sure she liked it herself. My dad loved to teach me to fight, so while I know of several ways to thump the crud out of a SOB, every time I go into the kitchen I am doing science--learning as I go along with some theory and a general idea of how the machines work. I do like to eat, and I do shy away from confrontations (I am very much a "use my words" person), but still--it's just all useful knowledge anyone might need. I think of the "Notebooks of Lazarus Long" about what a well-rounded person should expect to be able to do--build a wall and diaper a baby were equally on the list. (Not sure why benevolent sexist Heinlein comes to mind at once, but there we are. His heroines were sexpots, but they could do math.)