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Girls suck at math and boys shouldn’t wear princess crowns

By March 17, 2013 3 Comments

Gendered advertising sucks. Seriously.

Just last weekend, I was in the grocery store with my partner when we stumbled upon some energy drinks marketed specifically toward women, called Her, which were so uniquely (sarcasm) colored bright pink. Because apparently, all other energy drinks weren’t “feminine” enough, we needed one just for women. Just like we need our own beer. And other alcoholic beverages that cater to the fact that all we want in life is to be skinny (again, sarcasm).

Image of 4 AP Exam books, girls featured on English and History while boys are on Calculus and Physics.

Do you think this was a coincidence?

The most recent annoyance I’ve seen in gendered advertising was pointed out by blogger Libby Anne.

The first photo she shared was of study guides for AP exams; the English and History exam books feature girls, while the Calculus and Physics exam books feature boys. Coincidence? I think not. Let’s keep perpetuating the “girls aren’t good at math” myth and see how that goes.

The next photo the article features is of Barnes and Noble sets of classic books, one for boys and one for girls.

This immediately reminded me of the recent story about the London department store, Harrods, pulling their How to Be Gorgeous book for girls and How to Be Clever book for boys from their shelves.

The Barnes and Noble set for boys features books focusing on action and adventure, while the set for girls contains books with steady themes of friendship.

Last time I checked, friendship was good for all people, regardless of gender. And who doesn’t enjoy action and adventure? Especially children!

Children of all genders would benefit from reading the stories in each of these sets. Why not condense them down to one set, with books of varying themes, and have a “Classics for Children” book set, rather than separating them into categories for boys and girls?

Screen shot of Barnes and Noble

The boy set includes books like Journey to the Center of the Earth while the girl set includes books such as The Secret Garden.

Lastly, Libby Anne points out some gender-marketed cookies and crayons, because we’ve got to start putting them into those gender boxes while they’re young, folks!

The cookies for girls are hearts while the cookies for boys are footballs. Geez, what happened to just animal cookies?! For children (and adults) of all genders?

The crayon set has a similarly stereotypical theme, with one blue set in the shape of a truck and a pink set in the shape of a princess crown. Of course. Because a regular Crayola cardboard box of crayons was much too gender-neutral.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that princess crowns and blue trucks are great; I just think that those things should be presented as gender-neutral as well, and not marketed specifically toward one gender or the other.

And children shouldn’t be scolded for wanting the product that might not be typically marketed to their gender.

The author of the article said it best: “Because boys are supposed to be out there being active and building and making things while girls are supposed to be practicing being pretty princesses and showing off their clothing, right?”

This theme of boys as active and girls as passive in advertising and marketing is old. If companies really want to stand out from the crowd, they should knock it off, stop drenching things in pink and calling them girl toys, while drenching things in blue and calling them boy toys, and join us in 2013.

Is that too much to ask?

Stacey Jean Speer earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Women and Gender Studies at San Francisco State University. While she waits to discover her calling in life, she enjoys utilizing the tools she gained as a student of Women and Gender Studies to critique media and the world around her from a feminist perspective.