Unnecessarily Gendered Products

Melissa Carr

Mariah Negrillo-Soor, Staff Writer

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Kinder's "surprise"

Kinder’s “surprise”

Surprise! You’ve just found out you are going to have a baby girl.  Now you tell your friends and family to buy an assortment of pink clothing and toys.  If it were a boy, they’d be blue.  This is the usual routine for parents, to distinguish their child before they have even arrived.  It seems innocent enough, but it is more problematic in that as a society, we are imposing gender roles right from birth.  Now, colours may seem simple and harmless, but it has come to the point where there are products unnecessarily gendered, like food.

In the summer of 2012, Kinder Surprise decided to make chocolate eggs with toys made especially for girls.   You know the deal, jewelry, princesses, fairies, all in pink.    They also require little assembly compared to the usual Kinder Surprise toys.  This may not seem as bad as little girls playing with toy vacuum cleaners and ovens in the 1950s, but it is.  By providing these toys that are supposedly meant for “girls”, it perpetuates the idea that only girls can play with these things.  It makes it seem like boys are not allowed to like the same toys as girls. Pink toys do not overtly tell girls that they have a specific role such as a homemaker, but it tells them what they can and cannot like in order to be considered a “girl”.    Gendered products are not only limited to toys and colours, but to food.  In an ad for Wendy’s “baconator” burger, there is a group of men and one woman following the smell of bacon.  In another New Zealand Easter ad, the baconator comes with a Cadbury Cream egg and the commentator says it will “make the manliest of men into a real sweetie”.  Red meats like steak are generally marketed towards men which is quite ridiculous; it is as though barbecues are a rite of passage for males and if he prefers salads over meat, he is considered “feminine”.

When companies market products like this, they are essentially reinforcing the boxes of gender and the idea that there are only two; male or female, with nothing in between.  It eliminates space for people to exist outside of this.  However, gender exists as a spectrum and is fluid; there are different degrees of femininities and masculinities and different ways to express these.  Since this is not a common belief, when one does express their gender in another way, they are often teased and bullied, their sexuality called into question.  They are exiled since they do not look or act the way they are “supposed” to.  We “other” those who do not fit the way we have constructed gender because we are taught that “abnormal” things are deviant; they are evil, will cause harm, and are wrong.  The problem is that as a society we accept the portrayal of gender through these products.  We see it from such a young age that we never think to question it.  The perpetuation of gender stereotypes is a result of people buying into the idea that pink is for girls and blue is for boys.  There are boxes but they are not made for people; people belong outside of them exploring different ways to exist instead of the limited space inside the box.

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Unnecessarily Gendered Products