More Gendered Advertising—Sigh

I’ve talked before about gendered advertising. I want to take a moment to give some more examples. First, there’s this:

Because English and history are for girls, but calculus and physics are for boys. Duh. And we wonder why boys disproportionately go into STEM fields while girls disproportionately go into the humanities?

Here’s another: Barnes & Noble has book collections for boys and girls.

Here are the overviews for the two collections:

Because action, adventure, and exploration are for boys while friendship is for girls. Duh. Is it any wonder men end up being more independent while women end up more relational (if that stereotype is even true, of which I am skeptical) when we as a society tell boys to be rugged individuals while simultaneously telling girls that friendship is the best thing of all?

Next, how about some gendered cookies and gendered crayons?

Because love is for girls and football is for boys, just like princesses are for girls and trucks are for boys. Duh. This reminds me of the shoe advertisement I showed several months ago in which the shoes for boys bore the slogan “keep them active” while the shoes for girls bore the slogan “show them off.” 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? Sigh.

I have to say, I really find the messages this kind of gendering sends highly disconcerting. As a feminist mother, I will do my best to counter these messages with my own children, but that won’t stop them from picking up things subconsciously and from feeling pressured by peers or teachers to conform to these gendered ideas and stereotypes. And not every child has a feminist mother. I’m not sure how people can claim that these gender differences are “natural” and somehow immutable when we as a society still put so much time and energy into hammering them into kids.

Hat tip to Sociological Images.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • http://republic-of-gilead.blogspot.com Ahab

    I think heavily gendered advertizing does a disservice to both sexes. People are individuals, and trying to shoehorn everyone into gendered boxes ignores that individuality.

    • jose

      One sex gets the pros and cons of being leaders and the other gets the pros and cons of not being leaders.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

        I really hope you were being facetious, jose. Being a not-leader sucks. The “pro” is not having to make decisions. The cons are far too long to list.

      • jose

        Hi M,
        that’s the response I usually give to people who maintain feminism should be about men too because sexism hurts everyone and boys have it bad too and all that kind of stuff. I think they should be reminded of the class hierarchy we live in.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

        Figured that might be the case. I’ve seen your responses on other posts and this just didn’t seem like something you actually believed. I should have gone with my initial reaction, which was to stick tags on it and move on. My apologies.

      • jose

        ^__^

  • http://sylvia-rachel.livejournal.com sylvia_rachel

    Bleccchh. I may be wrong, but I feel like this phenomenon has gotten worse since my childhood (I’m 38) — back then there were tons of gendered toys (pink-clad baby dolls and Barbies for girls, GI Joes for boys, etc.), but I don’t remember all this superfluous gendering of things like Legos, yoghurt, and crayons. But maybe I just didn’t notice.

    Here in Canada we have this icky new thing, the pink Kinder Surprise Egg with “girly” toys inside. (The regular Kinder Surprise eggs have a wide variety of toys in them, from the fun to the inexplicable, from little vehicles you put together that kind of go to a weird-looking upside-down bunny with a carrot that just sits there looking anatomically impossible — I wouldn’t have said they were particularly gendered in either direction.) We saw a commercial for these things on TV last night. “Wow, sexist much?” I said. My 10yo DD immediately replied, “Yeah! ‘Cause some boys like that stuff, too!” (Sometimes my kid is very smart :))

    • Ibis3

      Ha! Those new Kinder eggs were the first thing I thought of when I saw the headline. Very sad. We’re going backwards.

    • http://brokendaughters.wordpress.com Lisa

      I saw these around here too – it’s actually pretty hard to miss them because they push them in your face. I thought it was strange too. I know lots of women I’m friends with expressed the same disdain for girl’s eggs. They all agreed that they loved kinder eggs when they grew up despite them being gender neutral until recently. I like them too. No need for an extra dose of pink and glitter.

  • http://truthspew.wordpress.com Truthspew

    Interesting post. Even Lego genders their toys now. But it’s essentially the SAME product.

    • Anon

      Lego-gendering annoys me the most.

      When I was a kid I had two huge boxes of just plain lego bricks. I built things out of them. And yeah, I built houses for my barbies to play in. But I also built a computer (looking thing) and animals and 5 billion other things.

      Now all you see are these gendered ‘kits’ where all the kid does is put Lego together in a specific way to get a particular outcome. That was never the point of Lego. The point of Lego was to build and create whatever came into your mind (and to administer extreme pain to any parents silly enough to walk around at night after you’d been playing with Lego on the living room floor and who would invariably step on the one piece of Lego you left behind).

      If I have kids, they’re getting a couple of big bags of Lego and told to go be creative.

      • Carys Birch

        I was thinking this exact thing the other day. My friends’ kids build Star Wars vehicles out of Lego and then never touch them again lest they break. I built a million varieties of vehicle out of mine (Star Wars varieties included!) and horses and houses and towers and swimming pools…. And I never ran out of things to do, and I never regretted not having every piece perfectly in place! If I wanted my sand crawler back later I could just build it again!

        (sorry, nostalgic Lego rant over… for now.)

      • Rae

        Even the architecture kits – if I want to build a Frank Lloyd Wright house out of Legos, I’m going to do it the old-school way!

        The only specific kits I like are the movie tie-in ones, though, because then you can mash them up with all the other movie tie-in kits, and regular legos, and then Gandalf and Loki are having an epic battle in the middle of a woodland castle while Hermione is trying to give Gollum some clothing, and you’re trying to figure out if there are any minifigures you can re-combine to make The Doctor… I’ve got way too much imagination, lol!

    • Sabrina L.

      Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency has commentary on lego’s sexist advertising and how it progressed from a more egalitarian standing to what we see today:
      http://www.feministfrequency.com/2012/01/lego-gender-part-1-lego-friends/

  • Bobby

    I don’t know exactly what the companies who make these products are thinking when they are considering how to market them, but maybe the books are a result of the fact that boys tend to enjoy action and adventure more than books that aren’t, and girls tend to like books that are about relationships more. There is a serious problem in this country when it comes to boys ability to read and write. By marketing books that boys tend to like towards boys, it could encourage them to read more, and we all know that reading helps one become a better reader and writer.
    The books they assigned to us in school were never as good as the books that I could find and read on my own, and almost every time we read a novel as a class, the boys, with a few exceptions, complained that it was boring, and either struggled through and didn’t take in anything, or didn’t read it at all. What’s the point of assigning a book to a class where a lot of the students won’t enjoy it. Many boys think that reading is girly, in large part because they do so much better than boys on average. Assigning them books like Speak, wherein a girl spends a year dealing with the fact that she was raped, or Walk Two Moons, wherein a girl deals with the death of her mother, is never going to get boys involved the way that books like Eragon, or Harry Potter will.
    And the active thing may look sexist, and I agree, the show them off thing is, but boys generally are more active than girls. A huge problem in the public school system is the profligacy of ADD and ADHD, especially among boys. I put forward the notion that maybe the fact that boys have large amounts of energy, and many are bodily-kinesthetic learners, does not gel with the way schools usually have a policy of sit down and shut up for large periods of time. Therefore, after a while, they start to fidget and stop paying attention because they have too much pent up energy to do so.
    I do not want to get into the topic of schools and the ways that they shortchange boys right so, so I will end on this note.
    There are differences between the genders, at least on a group level, and they aren’t all societal. Try not to look at the issue through a lens of feminism, but with an objective eye. I am not saying that gender biases created by people don’t exist, but that ones that aren’t created, but just are, do. Thank you for your time.

    • http://sylvia-rachel.livejournal.com sylvia_rachel

      I hear a lot from parents of boys that the school system favours girls. I find it a bit difficult to get on board with this complaint as a gender issue because the same things that make school difficult for active, restless, kinaesthetic-learner boys make it difficult for my daughter — so I sympathize with them and the problems they’re having, but it’s very frustrating that they don’t hear me when I talk about my daughter having many of the same issues as their sons. I mean, she wears pink and purple and likes pretty earrings and plays with dolls and is into drawing and fashion and dance, so *obviously* she must be exactly the kind of nice compliant little girl who does well at sitting still and writing neatly and following all the rules, right? ::rolleyes::

      Don’t get me wrong, I think the complaints are legitimate. Kids do need more active time, there does need to be more attention to and understanding of different learning styles, and the extent to which fit between teacher and student can affect the student’s attitude and success is HUGE. I’m just not so sure it’s accurate to frame these issues as an effort to favour girls over boys (as I’ve seen a lot of people do), because I really think it’s More Complicated Than That.

    • Michael Busch

      >>maybe the books are a result of the fact that boys tend to enjoy action and adventure more than books that aren’t, and girls tend to like books that are about relationships more. <>boys generally are more active than girls. … I put forward the notion that maybe the fact that boys have large amounts of energy, and many are bodily-kinesthetic learners,<<

      Citation needed that there is an innate difference there and _not_ the several years of gender-dependent socialization that kids get before they start in the school system.

      • Michael Busch

        Formatting fail again:
        >>maybe the books are a result of the fact that boys tend to enjoy action and adventure more than books that aren’t, and girls tend to like books that are about relationships more. <<

        Where do you think that asymmetry comes from?

      • Gwynnyd

        I’d read pretty much all the books on both lists by the time I was a teen back in the dark ages. I tried very hard to expose my kids to all sorts of books. It was very hard, though, because the packaging has become so stupidly gendered. The kids bought into it more than I wanted them to.

    • KM

      I think you’re sort of missing this part of Libby’s argument: “Is it any wonder men end up being more independent while women end up more relational (if that stereotype is even true, of which I am skeptical) when we as a society tell boys to be rugged individuals while simultaneously telling girls that friendship is the best thing of all?”

      Even if it is true that boys tend to prefer books about adventure while girls tend to prefer books about relationships, what Libby is saying (and I wholeheartedly agree) is that this sort of marketing creates these differences, instead of just responding to them.

      Are there biological differences between boys and girls? Sure, and it’s silly to pretend that there aren’t. But what good, solid science is showing us is that these biological differences can’t account for the extent of gendering we experience. So that means we most look toward social factors perpetrating these unnecessary differences.

      • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

        Exactly. Boys are told from a young age they’re suppose to be active and aggressive, and they are given toys that reflect this. Girls are told from a young age they’re expected to care about their looks and relationships–especially eventual romantic interests–and are given toys that reflect that expectation. Last time I went to a baby shower there was so much pink it was sickening. This child was surrounded by ‘girl’ things from the time she was born–are you willing to say that that won’t affect how she sees herself as she grows? I can tell you that as a child there were a number of things I ‘liked’ because I was a girl and thought I was supposed to like them (I eventually realized that no, I don’t, and stopped forcing myself to try). Children start to be aware of these things at a fairly young age–they know the division between ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ exists and it’s constantly being reinforced as something that matters when it really doesn’t. They’re encouraged to do certain things based on their gender, occasionally even forced into or prevented from doing activities based not on their actual interests but on what’s between their legs. Those that don’t conform get messages about something being ‘wrong’ with them (worse for boys than girls, generally).

        So of course we’re going to see gender differences, because boys and girls get different feedback from the same interests.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

      I read and enjoy most things. I can’t stand most romance novels because they’re sooo poorly written and have one-dimensional characters and no plot, and I’m not fond of horror, but other than that … Anyways, I can enjoy and identify with a male protagonist. I enjoyed Huck Finn. The Time Machine is a critical piece of science fiction literature. I still love Lord of the Rings. I also loved Alice in Wonderland and Little Women. Are you really saying that boys can’t enjoy and identify with female protagonists? Is it too much to ask that boys read a book that might be “boring” dealing with rape recovery, when some of them are the victims of sexual assault who might need help healing and some of them are potential perpetrators who should learn the consequences of their actions?

      There’s this weird assumption that girls can identify with male protagonists while boys can’t identify with female protagonists. That’s utter bullshit. Wide reading of all types of stories about all types of people is part of education. And don’t even get me started on how Alice in Wonderland is totally an adventure story, while Huck Finn is all about relationships at its core.

      • http://sylvia-rachel.livejournal.com sylvia_rachel

        Word.

      • Karen

        After Suzanne Collins’ success with “The Hunger Games” that particular trope should die, but of course it won’t.

      • Hilary

        You go girl. And how much in Harry Potter is about relationships? A lot. More then fighting and magic battles, actually. I’m right there with you M that most romance is boring as all get out. Now, a small side of romance in the midst of saving the world from evil dragons, draconians, black robed wizards and gods that haven’t been around in about 350 years since they trashed the continent in a Cataclysm isn’t the worst thing, as long as it stays a subplot. Or turns into a love triangle between an elven princess, bastard half-elf, and dragon highlord . . . ok so I was a DragonLance fan in grade school. It was better then reading Baby Sitter’s Club or Sweet Valley High. And I’ve always wanted to create a race of magical Jewish Elves who cast spells in Hebrew.

        Yes, gendered toys are damned annoying. Gendered cookies, yogurt, and crayons? Ugggh.

        Hilary

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

        I never did get into Dragonlance. Fantasy is still my favorite genre though; Darkover by Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Bone Doll’s Twin by Lynn Flewelling, Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey, The Sun Sword by Michelle West, and Rosemary and Rue by Seanan MacGuire are some of my (current) favorites. For romance/”female porn”, I have to recommend Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart series. She has real stories that just also happen to have a lot of (well-written) sex in them.

        I think you’d probably really like Rosemary and Rue based on your post. It’s modern fantasy with faeries who are very Celtic. There are changelings and faerie courts and tribulations with cell phones.

      • Hilary

        M

        I love the Valdemar books, and music. I’ll check out Rosemary and Rue, I have some of Seanan MacGuire’s filk music, and Faeirie Courts with cell phones sounds great. I’m not disciplined enough to write my own fanfiction, but I make it up anyway and I have my own Harry Potter alternative universe with a few added characters, one of whom’s a witch of his parents generation who is also a fan of Star Wars, Monty Python, the Beatles, Lord of the Rings and Valdemar. Her lover is a muggle who’s a computer programmer, and he ends up working for the Ministry of Magic as a computer and technology consultant as the wizarding community confronts living in the shadows of 21st century technology. Yes, the trio end up with magically enhanced cell phones.

        Maybe you could just email me privately, if you still have the email Libby sent us for our intro’s on her Jewish post, I’m cheztikva. House of Hope, in French and Hebrew. We’re getting way off topic here, but I’d like some help figuring out where to start with the Darkover series. I’ve read some other stuff by MZB, and seen those books around, but never got into them.

        Hilary

      • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

        Just a word of warning for the Kushiel books, they have some BDSM in them, heavily in the first three, and some scenes that I don’t really want to label ‘rape’, but it’s hard to label them otherwise. The Naamah trilogy mostly avoids this, though I can think of one scene of ‘heavily encouraged’ sex.

        They’re great books, very sex-positive among other things, but I wanted to put the warning out there, especially for the first trilogy.

      • http://sylvia-rachel.livejournal.com sylvia_rachel

        Seanan McGuire is excellent. You might also like Ilona Andrews.

        Hilary, one of the novel ideas I have floating around in my head is an SF concept I call “Jews in Space” — it seems to take place on a planet settled exclusively by Jews who left Earth several generations ago for some reason, and now have (among other new chaggim) a Pesach-like festival, with a seder and a haggadah, that celebrates the departure from Earth. There’s a line in the haggadah that goes “And the more one tells of the departure from Earth, the more is she to be praised.” (It may also be a matriarchal society, I’m not sure yet; the whole thing is still very embryonic.) I have a lot of other things I need to write first, but I hope I get to come back to that one at some point, and that it goes somewhere …

        If you hunger for Jewish elves you might enjoy a graphic novel called Hereville, which is about an Orthodox Jewish girl and a troll ;)

      • Nea

        Alice in Wonderland is totally an adventure story, while Huck Finn is all about relationships at its core.

        I hadn’t thought about them that way! You’re right!

      • Sheena

        Highest. Of. Fives. You are spot on, friend.

      • Carys Birch

        I’ll second the recommendations for Seanan McGuire and Lynn Flewelling (although Flewelling gets dark sometimes… at least for me). And throw out Lois McMaster Bujold’s fantasy stuff too! The Curse of Chalion is in my top three, and her Sharing Knife series? Even my mother ate that up, and my mother does NOT go for fantasy.

      • Rae

        I’ll third the recommendation for Seanan McGuire’s stuff! I met her at a signing at Comic-Con once, and since it was later Sunday so the con itself was pretty empty and that part of the floor was abandoned, I got to talk with her a bit and she’s really awesome!

        I’ve meant to read Bujold and Flewelling, but haven’t got around to it yet.

        I’d also really, really, highly recommend Kristin Cashore’s stuff – it can feel almost a little cheesy sometimes, and the first book (Graceling) isn’t extremely remarkable, but it’s really engaging after that. There’s also characters of different races, and different sexual orientations, and while the sex scenes aren’t really described the female protagonists are making conscious decisions about reproduction and the kinds of relationships they want and all that – one book sets up with a trope that looks like it’s going to romanticize abusive behavior but then calls it out, and another book features characters talking about power dynamics and consent when one partner is royalty and another isn’t.

    • The_L

      As an ADHD woman who played with her brother’s Matchbox cars and superhero action figures way more often than she played with her own Barbies, I call B.S.

      • Samantha

        Another ADHD woman here. I grew up playing with pretty much everything, including Barbies and Grand Champions but also Matchbox cars, Transformers, and Power Rangers. I also loved (and still do love) reading and school. I have a graduate degree with all A’s in my grad-level classes and yet I still can’t sit still and only focus on one thing.

        Fact of the matter is that every person is more or less unique and you can’t just brush things off as boys being ADHD, kinesthetic learners, or not interested books. Doing so is failing them just as much as our system of a single form of learning is. Many boys are getting the message that they’re expected to fail at school and not like reading, and that’s negatively influencing them. Yes, we need to improve our school system, but we also need to stop thinking that someone being a bit different from what’s considered “normal” means they’re incapable of adapting, learning, or improving their education and/or themselves.

    • http://ripeningreason.com/ Rachel Marcy (Bix)

      Bobby, feminism is a theory that allows us to discuss society. Everyone approaches the world from a theoretical perspective, even if they’ve never studied formal theory and aren’t consciously aware that they do so. Feminism isn’t the most relevant theory in every circumstance, but it definitely is when we’re discussing gender. It’s not possible to lay feminism or any theory aside to be purely objective, because pure objectivity does not exist in social science. If you think that it does exist, I would invite you to examine who you think gets to determine the objectivity of people’s lived experiences, and why.

      I would like to echo everyone who says that there isn’t a real dichotomy between adventure and relationships. Most of the books on the girls list are fantasy adventures and feature intrepid protagonists (female and male), and also deal with relationships and the theme of gaining independence and growing to adulthood. (I’m kind of bemused by the inclusion of Wind in the Willows. I guess (male) talking animals are for girls?) Anyway, both boys and girls need literary examples that help them navigate their own lives. Boys have friendships and relationships, and girls like adventure.

      Also, developing empathy is a really good thing. I think the conventional wisdom that boys won’t like female protagonists needs to be actively challenged at every turn. Are girls so foreign that boys couldn’t possibly identify with them? And as others have pointed out, maybe boys reading the novels you mentioned are themselves dealing with sexual abuse or the loss of a parent. Why wouldn’t those books be valuable to them? We expect that girls will relate to male protagonists; why don’t we expect boys to relate to female protagonists? This contributes to the notion that women are incomprehensible others from another planet, that their stories don’t matter as much and that their perspectives and experiences don’t need to be considered. Which is rubbish. Learning about the experiences of other human beings is a necessary component of education.

      If boys aren’t reading because they think reading is girly, it’s because they see girly things as bad and inferior to boy things. That’s the root of that attitude, and that’s what needs to be combated.

      I also hope that The Hunger Games will be a game changer, but I’ve read recently that even when established writers and directors in Hollywood pitch ideas for shows and films with female protagonists, they get shut down by studio executives who tell them they won’t be successful without a primary male protagonist. Which is empirically untrue, because many of the highest grossing films of all time had female protagonists, even though most films are overwhelmingly male. Very entrenched attitudes.

    • Noelle

      I have still have some underlying restless kinetic energy, and I’m guessing I’m older than you. I have always had difficulty being still and am now in a profession where I am physically all over the place and have to continuously switch gears every fifteen minutes to do tricky mental tasks and fix complex problems all day long. This is the way I’m wired and the way I like it. I don’t see how things would’ve been different had I gotten the XY combo pack, instead of the XX. Except maybe I’d be color-blind like my brother. Though I’m pretty lucky I’m not color-blind as a female, seeing as my mother carried one X with the trait and my father’s only X left him color-blind. Hmm, maybe I’d be a few inches taller and have to shave my face? Meh, 6 of one, half a dozen of the other.

      I always preferred scary or action-packed stories as a kid too. I don’t think it has anything at all to do with my gender. Stories are better when stuff happens. It’s always more of a chore to read about abstract feelings and internal struggles. Where are the axe murders and nail-biting escape scenes?

      I also did much better on my AP Calc test than my AP English one. So it’s amusing to see the gender splits on the study guides. Perhaps I could’ve used the English one, seeing as I was already kicking ass at calculating the area under the curve.

    • ako

      It seems like what you have here is a good argument for teaching children with a mix of learning styles, and presenting a variety of literature, but not a good argument for marking either one as “For boys” or “For girls”. Whether or not more boys than girls like adventure stories on average, it’s demonstrably true that some girls like adventure stories and some boys like stories about feelings. (And some boys and girls like both types, and some really just want something funny, etc.) If there’s a tendency for most boys to be one way, and most girls to be the other, then giving the kids free choice without marking anything as gendered won’t change that, and it will make the outliers feel less awkward about their preferences. If there isn’t a tendency, preferences should be pretty even. Either way, I think you’d agree that boys shouldn’t be pressured away from reading Alice in Wonderland or The Hunger Games (or even, if that’s what they like, Little Women.)

    • Rosa

      In general, kids products are packaged for adults. Adults have the money.

      More advertising is aimed directly at the kids, but point-of-sale effects like packaging and pricing are for the adults doing the actual buying.

    • Datdamwuf

      I disagree with your premise. The way boys act in school is socialization – “boys will be boys”. raising boys in a way that gives them license to act out while girls are not given that license and so are better behaved by the time they enter school.

  • Saraquill

    What made me particularly uneasy since I was little was how feminine things are frowned upon. I did not get this much at home, but at school and other places I was considered yucky for liking dresses and pink things. Seeing these products and reading the commentary brings back these feelings.

    The mention of under representation of women in STEM fields reminds me of how I used to like math, until a teacher stopped making it fun. My mom tried to convince me that this was because teachers didn’t want girls to like math, which my seven year old self thought too absurd to believe. I still think it’s a bit absurd that my teacher was attempting a conspiracy. Incidentally, I do like math and science, it’s just that I find them much more enjoyable outside the classroom, on my own terms. I’m satisfied with my degrees in the humanities.

    When a female enjoys pink, skirts, history and other things under feminine advertising, she shouldn’t be considered bad or disgusting.

    • alr

      Oh, but while all the things you list in your last sentence are the only acceptable things in the fundagelical world, they are deemed totally unacceptable in the world of feminists. I will never understand why I can’t have my humanities degrees, wear pink, polish my nails, enjoy lip gloss, cooking and baking, and be smart and believe in equality at the same time. But I have been told over and over again that I can’t and that the worst fate possible for the young girls I know is to own something pink.
      That attitude doesn’t promote equality. It simply promotes a different kind of conformity.

      • Anat

        It’s not the ‘owning something pink’ that is a problem, but believing one is limited to a narrow spectrum of choices. It’s the ‘all pink (with occasional lavender)’ – especially when applied to many areas of life.

      • ERose

        It is hard for me to see parents and relatives buying the pink-washed version of something solely because they’re buying it for a girl without thinking about who that girl is and what she likes. I can speak firsthand about how much it hurt to feel like even though I liked my pink tutu, I only got to wear it if played tea party instead of looking for bugs.
        I mean, do you realize how hard it is to find stuff for a girl who likes dark blue best? My little niece does and I had to dye a white ballet costume for her when she said she wanted to be a blue ballerina at her birthday party.
        I do think there aren’t enough options yet when you don’t like pink, or traditionally feminine things and I do think there are a lot of parents and adults who don’t put enough thought into it when they buy the “girl version” of something. I’ll tell you right now I had to keep asking for three years before I realized I had to say I wanted a castle playset “with a castle that looks like a real one” in order to avoid getting a pink princess set from my aunt.
        I don’t believe it’s a judgment and sentence on those who do like pink and traditionally feminine things to acknowledge that and fight for more options.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        I will never understand why I can’t have my humanities degrees, wear pink, polish my nails, enjoy lip gloss, cooking and baking, and be smart and believe in equality at the same time. But I have been told over and over again that I can’t and that the worst fate possible for the young girls I know is to own something pink.

        What kind of feminists have you been hanging out with? Because I seriously, honestly, truly don’t know a single feminist who has a problem with women liking nail polish, lip gloss, cooking and baking, or liking pink things. And I know a lot of feminists. Heck, the most ardent feminist person I know loves fashion and is constantly perfecting her cupcake recipes!

      • Carys Birch

        My memories of what colors were “good” for girls are confused and panicky. I remember having it be frowned upon to like pinks (which I like and always have liked… I love warm colors) and everyone liked blues (which I do not like and never have liked). I suspect it’s because we girls had somehow sensed as early as elementary school that things masculine were considered superior to things feminine and were aspiring to that. Still, it’s a weird mix, and I still get overwhelmed with confusion when I think about it, because pink is supposed to be “for girls” but all the girls wanted blue, because pink was “ewww girly.”

        I really do wish things could just be about individual taste, and not rules and hierarchy. I do think in some ways things are better though… my friend’s thirteen year old son loves hot pink and isn’t afraid to wear it anywhere!

    • Bobby

      However, when women do enter the STEM fields, they tend to get paid higher than men. Companies will offer higher pay to entice them to join, just because they’re female.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

        Uh, not so much, no. Women in STEM fields tend to have lower salaries than their male counterparts. They negotiate less aggressively for initial salary and raises (directly tied to socialization to be nice), they are seen as less competent than men even with identical/similar resumes, and they are derailed more by parenthood quite often.

        Your ability to say “[t]ry not to look at the issue through a lens of feminism, but with an objective eye” is one of the most perfect examples I’ve ever seen of privilege. What is objective? Who gets to decide that? Why does your “objective” view get to trump my feminist view? “Objective” in relation to what? You’ve never been hurt by the traditional status quo, so you don’t see anything wrong with it. As things change and get more uncomfortable for those who are now forced to relinquish advantages they never earned, you argue that something isn’t fair and you want your problems to be the ones everyone cares about. I sympathize, because figuring out how much we have we didn’t earn kinda sucks, but it’s still something well worth doing. To learn more about this http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/03/11/faq-what-is-male-privilege/ is a good place to start.

      • Michael Busch

        Bobby, you are wrong.

        In fact, the opposite is true – equally qualified women are often offered less pay than equally qualified men. And employers often _unconsciously_ perceive female applicants as less qualified than they actually are. See the reference on gender discrimination by science faculty that I provided below. I concede that is from an academic rather than an industry sample, but the point that there are unconscious biases that must be recognized and corrected for is what is important.

      • OurSally

        No, you are entirely wrong. I have been an engineer for 38 years and I assure you the men get preferred every, every time. Women get paid less, they get the boring jobs, and if they get promoted after all those years of hard work, of course it’s only because they slept with the boss…

      • Noelle

        As the others said, that’s not true. It should be equal, and some companies do pay equal. But many do not. The average still leaves women making less for doing the same work, even at these higher levels.

      • Christine

        There are some areas (like the Alberta oilsands) where companies do tend to offer women better packages, because they’re trying to recruit them. However, I believe that a lot of this is non-monetary (“you won’t have to work more than 70 hours a week!”) to appeal to the reasons that women leave the field.

      • Bobby

        M,
        I have been hurt by the system. I was taken from my father by a female judge who openly advocates stripping fathers of all legal child rights, off the bench of course, when my parents divorced, even though there was clear proof that my mom liked to abuse me both physically and mentally, including my testimony and the hospital records. I asked to be put with my dad, and the judge said that she could not condone my mother being shut out of my life, even though that was my wish. From the time I was ten until the day I was eighteen, I saw my father twice, because even when he wasn’t in prison for INABILITY to pay child support, my mother refused to allow him visitation per the court order, which, the one time he was able to scrape the money together to challenge it, the courts did nothing. And the situation I describe is not unusual in the court system. I have a hard time believing that a system that favors men is responsible for my situation, and that of others.
        The facts about the so-called pay gap are that you take into account factors like experience, time spent in the field, danger inherent to the job, the fact that men generally work more overtime and on the least desirable shifts, and other factors, women do not make less than men, and in many cases earn more. You’d think that, because at the end of the day their only concern is profit, that if they really do pay women less, they would only hire women. Why waste extra money on men if women’ll do the same job just as well for less money? I’ve worked at a grocery store for three years, and women who’ve worked here less time than I have are paid more than me. I’ve asked for raises, only to be denied and told, “that they couldn’t afford to do it,” right before the three female assistant managers got raises. When I complained, I was told that if I didn’t shut up about it I’d be fired. The only reason I haven’t quit is because I can’t find somewhere else to work, and I’m financing my way through college. My mom can’t help because she’s never had a job, but has mooched off of the taxpayers and my dad for years. One of the jobs I applied for, at another grocery store, went to a 18-year-old high female school dropout, with no GED, no work experience. When I asked why I didn’t receive the job even though I was better qualified, I was told that because the girl had a baby, she needed the money more. Great, the girl was stupid and had a kid as a teenager, and because of that, she automatically needs the job more.
        Since feminism became all-pervasive in our society, the success of boys in school has gone down, while that of girls has gone up, yet feminists still say that there’s a girl crisis in schools, conveniently ignoring the facts. Men are more likely to drop out of school, die on the job, get sent to prison, and be painted as violent abusers, which is weird since women commit just as much domestic violence as men. Men will go to the courts in divorce cases and be told that they don’t have the right to equal time with their kids, they will go to criminal courts and given years more in prison than females, who often just get probation, for the same charges. I need you to explain to me how this shows male privilege.
        Looking at it through an objective lens means that you notice how both men and women are screwed by the system, not just women. Every time I run into a feminist, either online or in real life, I never see them say anything about how males are discriminated against. You’d think that if they were for gender equality, they’d also fight for male rights, but I guess that’s a bit too much to ask. For example, I see all these women screaming, “my body, my choice.” And that’s great, I agree. But that same woman shouldn’t be able to force a man to pay through the nose for 18-21 years for a kid that he never wanted should she go through with the pregnancy. Males today are seen as disposable, even more so than in the past, where the only reason males couldn’t be thrown away like trash is that they were needed to take care of women and children. Now guys are seen as not even needed unless the woman doesn’t have enough cash to take care of the kid(s). Now that women have the means to take care of themselves and children, it’s kind of left us in a position where we have no real role in society. And how are people who are made to feel obsolete going to act? They are going to rebel against that which they see as threatening who they are. I admit, there is some discrimination against women, but you can hardly expect thousands of years of societal norms just fade away like wisps of smoke.

      • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

        “Why waste extra money on men if women’ll do the same job just as well for less money?”

        That argument gets trotted out a lot, and I think it fails on the assumption that employers are doing this deliberately. I’m sure a certain amount (not all) of it is sub-concious bias–women are often perceived to be less competent than they are, or more likely to be a liability if they’re of child-bearing age, or even just the idea that a man needs more to ‘take care of his family’ (nevermind that women have families too). Women and men also tend to be perceived differently for the same things–a man might be seen as ‘assertive and a leader’ where a woman might be seen as ‘aggressive and bitchy’. So it’s not necessarily employers going ‘oh she’s female, we don’t need to pay her as much’ but a sub-concious process that tells them that men make better employees. Given identical resumes with different names on the header, the male name will garner more interviews. This doesn’t reflect an idea that women are ‘just as good but cheaper’.

      • Michael Busch

        @Bobby:

        I cannot speak to your personal experience. But nothing you have said justifies your assertion that women get paid more than women in science, technology, engineering, and math. As we all have pointed out, _that is provably wrong_.

        I direct you again to the Moss-Racusin et al. 2012 study. Applications were submitted for an entry-level lab position with a well-defined responsibility and workload, so there were no considerations of experience or employment history. The applications were given equal qualifications; the only differences the faculty making the decisions saw were that some were given female-gendered names and others were given male-gendered names. And the faculty still _unconsciously_ profiled the first set of applicants as less qualified and offered them 88% as much pay on average as the second set. That’s the point – there is both overt and covert sexism, and women are often discriminated against _even by people that who think they are being egalitarian_. The faculty members in the study, incidentally, were equally biased regardless of their own gender.

      • Michael Busch

        Bobby said: >>For example, I see all these women screaming, “my body, my choice.” And that’s great, I agree. <>But that same woman shouldn’t be able to force a man to pay through the nose for 18-21 years for a kid that he never wanted should she go through with the pregnancy. <>Males today are seen as disposable,<> it’s kind of left us in a position where we have no real role in society<<

        No. Feminism and gender equality simply _change_ the roles that men occupy, as well as those women occupy. That's what gender equality _means_: in the end state, men and women would occupy social roles independently of their gender. If I may use a personal example: My wife and I are friends and equal partners. We split the chores and the cooking and we both go off to work and do different kinds of science. When it comes to caring for hypothetical future offspring, we will split that job too (although I have a thought that I will start a few months behind). If you want another example of how egalitarian relationships play out in practice, Libby Anne has written about the subject extensively.

      • Michael Busch

        When will I learn to format things correctly?

        Bobby said: “For example, I see all these women screaming, “my body, my choice.” And that’s great, I agree. ”

        Good. But I ping on your calling pro-choice activism “screaming” – I hope you are not being dismissive in any way of the need for reproductive rights and for autonomy of person.

        Bobby again: “But that same woman shouldn’t be able to force a man to pay through the nose for 18-21 years for a kid that he never wanted should she go through with the pregnancy.”

        I disagree with that statement, but let’s skip that discussion. Given that you say that, can we assume that you support making effective contraceptives freely available to all women, making similar options freely available to men if and when they are ready for wide-spread use, making condoms freely available to everyone, and providing effective sex ed to everyone so that they know how to use those tools? Because that is how to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies.

        And once more, Bobby said: “Males today are seen as disposable,”

        Citation Seriously Needed. And male humans have never been disposable – everyone has equal potential value. I could also talk about evolutionary biology and how Fisher’s principle ensures that all mammals have gender ratios close to 1:1. But that’s a bit too far back, although it feeds forward into anthropology and sociology.

      • Malitia

        @Michael Busch:
        Several people pointed out to Bobby previously (in other comment sections) that “tricking guys(?) into playing child support” is not the way to an easy and glamorous life he seems to imagine, because being a the custodial parent is a lot more expensive. To date he refused to listen. (He also conveniently forgets cases where the woman pays and the man has custody.)

      • Michael Busch

        @Malitia: I noticed that from a quick search through the archives. Since that has all been explained to him several times before, I suggested skipping that discussion here.

        One other observation: Bobby seems to be considering men and women as two groups with opposing interests, and phrases things in terms of “what is good for me and my group” rather than “what is good for everyone”. I can understand how in-group-out-group biases like that can develop and perpetuate themselves, but how can they be broken down?

        But all of this is rapidly becoming far off-topic for this thread, so perhaps Libby Anne will want to moderate things and shunt the discussion elsewhere.

  • http://smashed-rat-on-press.com/ The Rodent

    Mm… Hm… It’s certainly pervasive in our society… And with non-stop advertising blasts from every corner of the material world every minute of the day, it’s really hard for parents of young children to not get caught in the trap and perpetuate the yucky stereotypes.

  • Michael Busch

    I observe that the kids are being shortchanged by Barnes & Noble: when I was in elementary school, I read all of the books in both of those collections (and how does Peter Pan not count as an adventure story?).

    Re. the general problem of gendered socialization:

    There’s been some evidence that it can be fairly effectively subverted, at least in some contexts. Lately I’ve been reading up on how to combat stereotype threat in science and math education. Appropriate slight changes to teaching styles can, for example, dramatically reduce the asymmetry in male and female students passing the AP Calculus exam. Changes to how job applications are processed can greatly reduce the asymmetry in hiring and in salary in entry-level science jobs. These are small parts of a very large and complicated social problem, but they are encouraging.

    • ScottInOH

      Do you have any suggested readings on teaching styles or reviewing applications? I’m always looking for new ideas.

      • Michael Busch

        I’ve only done a little bit of reading on this myself, since it seems good stuff to know if I am ever pulled for a faculty job. So I can’t claim to have read enough of the relevant literature to suggest the best material; I can only recommend the good papers that I’ve read.

        The one about reducing the gender asymmetry on the AP Calculus exam was Danaher & Crandall, 2008, “Stereotype threat in applied settings re-examined”, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, vol. 38 no. 6, p. 1639-1655. That reviews a study where the demographic questionnaire included with the exam (in which students are asked to identify their gender and race) was given either before or after the test questions were completed. When given before (the usual method), stereotype threat was triggered and only 2/3 as many female students as male students scored high enough to get AP credit. When given after, the ratio improved to 8/9.

        The one on reviewing job applications was Moss-Racusin et al., 2012, “Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students”, PNAS, 109 (41) 16395-16396. When presented with applications with equal qualifications, both male and female science faculty assessed female applicants for introductory lab positions as being less well-qualified and recommended that they be lower paid than male applicants (88% as much). There are other biases later on in terms of promotions and other opportunities for career advancement that increase this initial disparity, but it is still an impressive demonstration of unconscious bias. A suggested fix is to redact personal information from applications as much as possible, especially during the early stages of a review and when setting salary recommendations.

        Again, these are only two small pieces of the much larger and complicated social problem, but they are encouraging that at least some gendered socialization can be significantly neutralized.

      • Kristen

        One that came out just recently was Cimpion, et al, May 2012 in Psychological Science, “Who is good at this game? Linking an activity to a social category undermines student achievement.” I was looking at it because some of the educational research into self-efficacy really hit me, and I’m trying to figure out some ways to improve student self-efficacy in my classes. The theory in this article is very similar–basically, that when students feel that their performance will be mainly dictated by something they cannot change, like their innate intelligence or their gender, they tend to do worse. If they’re in the favored group, they worry about measuring up to what is expected, and if they are in the non-favored group, they feel less able to complete the task. I’m too lazy to look it up, but there’s a fairly old study that I’m pretty sure found that you can almost eliminate the gender gap on a math test if you simply tell all the students before the test that there is no gender advantage and that boys and girls test at the same level on this particular test, even if that’s not true. I think it’s all rooted in self-efficacy. In my class, I’m working on identifying when struggling students do well on a task, and then asking them to look back on what they did that helped them succeed on that task, with the goal of helping them connect their work and preparation with success. With our son, my husband and I are trying really hard to praise him for being hard-working and persistent, and trying to avoid calling him smart or attributing his success to innate characteristics. We’ll see how it all works out.

      • Michael Busch

        @Kristen:
        Looks like we’ve been reading some of the same stuff – what you’re describing is stereotype threat. It can be significantly negated, but it would be better if it were not so strong in the first place.

      • Datdamwuf

        I can’t find it right now but there is a recent study where they found that the first time a math test was given the boys did better, the second time the girls and boys were pretty equal. They found a way to ensure this was equalized without having to do the test twice but dam I can’t find the study.

  • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com MargueriteF

    Interesting grouping of books. I have a feeling they’re packaged to appeal to the traditionalists (often homeschoolers) who want to teach their kids to read using the supposedly better writing of yesteryear, or else to grandparents who want to give their kids Really Good Books. (My granddad belonged to that school, and gave me Gulliver’s Travels when I was I was nine– long before I was ready to read it.) These books are classics, but a lot of them are not read a great deal by today’s audience, and certainly not much by kids. Kim is perhaps the oddest; most people nowadays are only familiar with Kipling via The Jungle Books or Just So Stories. Several of the “classics for boys” (The Time Machine, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Last of the Mohicans) aren’t children’s stories at all. And The Wizard of Oz is about friendship, but it’s also about adventure.

    In any event, I think they’re aiming these particular books at an audience that isn’t particular influenced by feminism, and which may in fact be actively anti-feminist. The way toy departments are routinely broken up into “boy toys” and “girl toys” these days bothers me far more. My boys like Legos, but so did my girls. I’m annoyed to see building blocks and action figures labeled “boy toys.”

    • http://sylvia-rachel.livejournal.com sylvia_rachel

      Several of the “classics for boys” (The Time Machine, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Last of the Mohicans) aren’t children’s stories at all.

      And I think the number of twenty-first-century kids (of either gender) who are likely to enjoy Last of the Mohicans is probably vanishingly small. It’s a pretty bad book :S

      • Michael Busch

        I liked The Time Machine the first time I read it. But re-reading it and some of Wells’ other works a few years ago, I was struck by the racism, classism, and sexism. So it may not be the best option either, unless you want to add in a bunch of commentary on how Wells was writing in a different society.

    • http://www.seditiosus.blogspot.com Schaden Freud

      I agree with you about the target markets for the books. With all due respect to the authors, and without meaning to imply anything about the quality of the books, I do wonder how many 21st century kids would pick out these box sets for themselves.

  • Tess

    Hey, at least they included Lewis Carroll’s books in the girl’s section! Maybe they’re in the girl’s section just because Alice was a girl, but they’re about adventures, not relationships–and they’re just kind of absurd yet at the same time have mathematical and logical elements (even references/allusions to calculus or abstract algebra–Carroll was a mathematician after all!) I absolutely loved them growing up.

    • Karen

      My sons like the Alice and Oz books and HATED “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” which doesn’t surprise me since that book has entire chapters devoted to collecting supplies and discussing navigation charts. The movie is a huge improvement.

      • The_L

        I was so happy when the Wishbone Classics series did an abridged version of Journey to the Center of the Earth with all the supply-collecting bits cut very, very short. I read that book to death.

      • Emmers

        +1 to abridged versions of the classics. I read the abridged Moby Dick (and also Journey to the Center of the Earth!) and loved it/them.

  • Christine

    While separating things into “pink” and “not pink” (and the ubiquitous pink-blue-green options for baby stuff) is problematic, at least the marketers have made some progress. The crayons are specifically not given explicit “boy” or “girl”. This brings it back to “it’s ok to be a tomboy”, but at least we’re there, instead of “girls like pink”.

    • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

      I generally find the Mellisa and Doug line to be pretty good about this. There’s still a little implicit gendering going on (Glancing at their website I certainly see some with which gender is playing with which toy, though a lot of images just show the toy alone and there’s no boy-girl distinction made in browsing, unlike some other places) and the first time I saw this I noted the princess dolls in the background–probably all portraying females–but what you’re seeing is about as bad as that particular line gets. I can’t recall seeing anything of theirs that was explicitly gendered. Little of it even goes this far.

  • http://ansilica.tumblr.com/ Aighty

    I agree with you in a general sense, but to be honest, I’m REALLY not seeing how the cookies are gendered. I mean, a parent could potentially choose to give the girls the heart ones and the boys the football ones, but I’m not seeing anything on the packaging itself that implies that hearts are for girls and footballs are for boys. Then again, I can’t read most of the writing on the packaging from those pictures, so maybe I’m missing something. I also don’t see any overt implications on those crayons, but that one I can sort of see, since they’re the exact same crayons but one in a blue truck packaging and one on a pink crown packaging (no real reason to do that unless one is supposed to be for boys and the other for girls).

    Oh, and on the AP textbooks, I’d be curious to see all of the subjects’ study guides to see how many of them follow stereotypical gendering. If it makes you feel any better, I’m pretty sure the Chemistry GRE study guide I have has a woman on it.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

      I will say the AP books are the worst example. They change up the covers every year and actually do a good job mixing up boys and girls on the covers across subjects. Those four happened to come up that gender package this year, but it’s not like that every year.

      • http://ansilica.tumblr.com/ Aighty

        If that’s the case, I’m not sure they could do much better, unless they want to change the format of putting a picture of exactly one student on the cover. Knowing that, it sounds to me like they’re doing just fine.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        I’m glad to hear that’s the case, though I’d agree with Aighty and suggest that having just one student on the cover is a bad idea. What about a group of several students, with mixed race and gender? Or what about an image pertaining to the subject—molecules for chemistry, or numbers for math? I guess I would just avoid anything that gives the appearance of gendering STEM fields male or humanities fields female, even if it is something they only do every other year, or what have you.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

        Oh I agree that they could have better covers. But since they do have a 1-student-per-cover policy, they do a pretty good job of mixing it up. They’ve got girls on a lot of STEM covers and boys on a lot of humanities covers, just not those specific four. Taken as a whole, I don’t really think AP study guides belong in this list of gendered products/advertising, but I know they were on the original list you pulled from.

        Here’s the full list of the 2013 study guides. They’re pretty well gender-mixed. http://www.randomhouse.com/princetonreview/college/ap/

    • Generally Speaking

      I agree about the cookies and crayons. Only the pink crown crayons package does say “Princess,” indicating it’s intended for girls.

      • http://ansilica.tumblr.com/ Aighty

        Oh yeah, that’s true.

    • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

      Actually if you look closely there is some difference between the two sets of crayons beyond the packaging. The princess set has a couple more pinks and purples, the truck a bit more green and blue.

      • http://ansilica.tumblr.com/ Aighty

        Totally did not notice that. I guess I should pay more attention to the details before analyzing stuff like this. >.>

      • Rae

        And, maybe I’ll take a photo next time I’m in the store, but they have more then “princess” and “truck” crayons, they also have “underwater” crayon packs that involve lots of blues and tropical coral reef kinds of colors, and I think they have a “space” or “dinosaur” pack, too.

        In any case, all the crayon packs feature different combinations of colors, but they’re generally the appropriate colors for drawing the subject listed on the package. Except, then you get into the “princesses wear pink because they’re girls” thing.

    • The_L

      Except that the packaging on the heart cookies is PINK (code for “girls’ stuff”) and the packaging on the soccer-ball cookies is BLUE (code for “boys’ stuff”), and the stereotype is that girls like love and fluff, while boys like sports. I liked hearts and fluff as a little girl, but by age 12 or so I was SO SICK OF THEM that I’m only just now rediscovering how good pink and fuchsia can look.

    • ako

      With the cookies, it’s really seeing the two packages together that sticks out for me. “Soccer ball cookies” wouldn’t stick out for me, and the package is mostly green, which I don’t normally think of as a gendered color. But looking at them next to the heart cookies? Yeah, gendered. There’s the green-and-blue package of sports cookies and the pink-and-blue package of heart cookies, both by the same company, both apparently differently-shaped versions of the same food, and it’s going to come off, to a lot of people, as “boy version” and “girl version”.

      Same with the crayons. The blue truck crayons with a relatively dark range of colors looks a lot more gendered next to the pink princess crayons with all the light pinks and purples. And these are different versions of the same product by the same company, not just unrelated products with coincidental similarities, so overall it comes off as sending a message about what kinds of things boys and girls are supposed to like.

      • http://ansilica.tumblr.com/ Aighty

        Fair enough. I still think that it’s not on the same level as the book example, which is explicitly gendered and would be no matter the case. The crayons and cookies, on the other hand, are only perceived as gendered because of the context in which we’re seeing them–that is, you and The_L are arguing that they’re gendered because they fall under the “girl” and “boy” stereotypes we have. There’s nothing explicit on the packaging that makes them gendered, but the context makes them so. I dunno, I guess in my mind, hearts don’t have to be just for girls and sports don’t have to be just for boys, so they didn’t really stick out as gendered to me.

        That said, I did realize that there was a good chance that those who made the product did mean for the former to be for girls and the the latter to be for boys. Also, there are almost certainly parents who would perceive them that way. I guess my initial reaction was to say that it was parents’ perceptions that would make them gendered and not the thing itself. That’s still problematic, though. >.>

      • Christine

        And Michael Busch has just found the words that the rest of us were missing: “gender-coding is a self-reinforcing cycle. It takes deliberate effort to break the feedback loop”. So if we didn’t have a problem then the cookies wouldn’t be bad, but because we do, they are. (I think that the crayons are a slightly different case because the product is actually different. They’re still slightly problematic, but at least an argument can be made that there is a real difference.)

  • Teshumai

    A quick note on your first picture: If you do an Amazon search of the Princeton Review books, you will see they have girls on Chemistry, Statistics, and Economics, and boys on English Comp and World History. I think the example above is not representative of the series of books as whole.

    However, I share your frustrations whole-heartedly on gendered toys/books/etc- I wonder if anyone has done research into the amount of square footage in toy stores that is gender segregated. It certainly FEELS like it’s increasing.

  • ERB

    For a bit of relief, it’s worth checking out this Toys R Us catalogue for a Swedish licensee:
    http://blogs.wsj.com/corporate-intelligence/2012/11/29/highlights-from-the-gender-neutral-swedish-toys-r-us-catalogue/

    • http://raisinghellions.wordpress.com/ Lou Doench

      That’s a really cool link.

  • Charlotte

    Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz are not about “friendship”. In fact, they’re about plucky young girls exploring awesome fantasy lands. Why weren’t they on they on the boy list , since they’re about exploring? Oh right, because boys wont read books with female protagonists. Ugh.

    • http://raisinghellions.wordpress.com/ Lou Doench

      I read all of the Nancy drew books myself. I thought she was a better detective than The Hardy Boys. ;)

  • beccadi

    I also notice in the B&N collections that the boy’s books are all more challenging reading than the girls books are.

    • Michael Busch

      Depends a bit. It takes a bit of work to understand all of the references Carroll makes in Alice.

      • The_L

        I was an adult before I understood what the joke was behind the “caucus-race.” Most children’s books don’t include political “zingers” like that, and this is the only example I can think of that is actually a good book.

  • Edward Gemmer

    I think this is one of key factors the skepticism movement can address. I don’t really blame the marketers – they are just trying to make money, and their ads reflect what they think will make money. Instead, we should be looking at whether their strategies work and thinking about why they aim this way. Our skeptical kids can hopefully see a commercial and be able to identify what is being said and why.

    • Michael Busch

      Good idea, but there is still part of the problem that would not resolve:

      A lot of gender-specific socialization happens at very early ages. I’m recalling a piece by a sociolinguist, who suddenly realized she was calling her young son ‘tiger’ and her young daughter ‘sweetie’ – she was unconsciously stereotyping them from the day they were born. It is not immediately obvious how much such differences persist if the kids are taught to be critical of gender stereotyping as soon as they are able to understand the concept, but there is still a lot of stuff being absorbed before that.

    • The_L

      “Our skeptical kids can hopefully see a commercial and be able to identify what is being said and why.”

      Not necessarily. Studies have shown that before a child is about 6 or 7, they even have trouble telling the difference between commercials and the show itself, much less being able to separate what they really want from what the commercials tell them to want.

  • http://AztecQueen2000.blogspot.com AztecQueen2000

    Makes me glad the good people at Crayola haven’t strayed from the formula. Crayons in a yellow box, no princesses, soccer balls, or trucks. Awareness is the first step. The second is voting with dollars. Plain crayons over “princess and truck” crayons. Cereals and snacks without gendered marketing. Avoiding all products that are specifically gendered will cause them to not be made anymore.

    • Christine

      I’ve tried to do that. The problem is that often a store will carry only one or two brands. Those brands offer “pink/blue/neutral” options. I can preferentially buy the “neutral” one, but that only does so much good. Same thing with some toys. My daughter one of those corn popper push toys. It’s the standard, gender-neutral coloured version. But now there’s also a pink version, which means that we accidentally bought her a “boy” version. Same with her stacking rings. I think that once she’s older it will be possible, but I don’t like that I’m having to buy “boy” stuff for her. Why can’t it all be “baby”? (Seriously, since when do babies have gender?)

  • http://omorka.blogspot.com/ Omorka

    Most of the books on the girls’ list are actually adventure stories of one sort or another. I suspect this is an issue of “boys won’t read books with girl protagonists” rather than a significant difference in subject matter.

    Also, at least the Princeton Review books have a decent spread of ethnicity this year; that hasn’t always been the case. And I’m pretty sure the Calc book has had a girl on it in previous years.

  • http://www.seditiosus.blogspot.com Schaden Freud

    “I’m not sure how people can claim that these gender differences are “natural” and somehow immutable when we as a society still put so much time and energy into hammering them into kids.”

    Well said!

  • Kristen

    Speaking of Sociological Images (great blog), this is the post I always think of when I am bothered by gendered marketing. I’m not going to link it because I’m not sure if linking is allowed here? The title of the post is “Girls vs Boys Laptops: Guess Which Does More?” The laptop marketed to girls has 25 functions, the boy laptop has 50. The link in the post sends you to a telescope ad, where of course there is one ‘girl’ telescope that isn’t very powerful.

    It’s really hard to be a parent. Really, really hard. As a feminist, the issue I’ve always been most passionate about is gender stereotyping. One of my earliest memories was the time when I was attending church and asked my mom how old I would have to be in order to pass the sacrament (something only boys could do). I vividly remember how unfair it felt when she told me I never could. I envied the boys for the Boy Scout adventures they went on while we girls made crafts and cross-stitched.

    Even with all that…… it’s hard to live what I believe when it comes to my son! We’re determined to raise him without gender stereotypes as much as possible, but I still get a little nervous flutter when he wants to go outside wearing his Hello Kitty necklace. I want him to be secure and happy and himself, and we’re not going to compromise on that, but I’m worried about how other people will treat him if he doesn’t conform. So far, we’ve been lucky with all of the kids at his day care. His two favorite shows are Dino Dan and Sophia the First (which, by the way, is fantastic, despite being princess-ey). So far he’s gotten no flak at all for talking about loving Sophia, but he’s still so little…. it’s the next 5 years that worry me the most. It’s just so ridiculous that I even have to worry about my son potentially being bullied for liking something girly.

    • Bobby

      As a feminist who is against gender stereotyping, which gender would you say is more prone to violence?

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

        Men are socialized to be more violent, so in our society they are. They’re taught that feelings, especially empathy, are “sissy stuff”. The media portrayal of the ideal man is one with bulging muscles, no emotions but anger and protectiveness towards “his” women, and the propensity towards violence as the first solution to any problem.

        Does that mean men are inherently more violent than women? No. It does mean that in the USA today, men are more likely to be the perpetrators of violence than women. We desperately need to break down what masculinity means, what being a man means, and what being weak is and is not. It’s high on the list of feminist projects :).

      • Kristen

        @Bobby — I’m not sure what the purpose is of that leading question, or how it’s relevant. I am against stereotyping because even if it is true that there are measurable differences between the population of boys and the population of girls, that doesn’t apply to a child as an individual. It’s hard to tell what is biological and what is conditioned, but even if there is a biological basis for gender differentiation in traits or personality, it doesn’t apply to an individual because the range of those traits is so broad. My son demonstrates some qualities that are more masculine, and some that are more feminine, as does my husband, as do I. If you were sorting people into two boxes, I probably have more traits that would mark me as masculine, and as a child, I was constantly frustrated because the people around me ignored my success in some areas because they were embarrassed that I was pursuing activities that they felt were more appropriate for boys.

        What I want to see is a world where those masculine/feminine codings either go away or are acknowledged to be unimportant. Boys should be praised for doing “boyish” things and criticized for doing “girlish” things–they should be encouraged to pursue activities based on their individual traits and talents.

      • Bobby

        M, study after study has shown that women are just as likely to abuse their significant other, and some studies find that more women are violent in relationships in men, but the figure in these studies is always around 50/50. They are also more likely to use weapons, and to abuse children. This does not gel with the idea of men being more violent.
        I wonder how you would react if men were going around saying that we need to discuss what femininity and being a woman means.
        I recommend to you a video that, if you haven’t seen it, you should watch.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vp8tToFv-bA
        It’s called, Feminism and the Disposable Male, by girlwriteswhat.

      • http://eschaton2012.ca Eamon Knight

        @ Kristen @Bobby — I’m not sure what the purpose is of that leading question, or how it’s relevant

        The purpose is so that Bobby can do more of his usual grandstanding on how bad the menz have it and the Evil Feminazis are out to castrate them all. This seems to be pretty much the entirety of his contributions here.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

        First of all, your domestic violence claims are way off. Women do abuse men sometimes; that is unquestionable. It’s also never acceptable. Unfortunately for your ‘but what about teh menz!’ claims, more women are domestically abused than men* and the abuse is likely to be more violent when it happens.** I also suggest you look up the number of domestic assaults by the victims’ gender: go to http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/law_enforcement_courts_prisons/crimes_and_crime_rates.html, subheading 318 – Violent Crime Between Intimate Partners by Sex of Victims. Women are more likely to commit child abuse, neglect, and homicide than men are. When it comes to domestic violence, the data is mixed: some studies do show that men and women appear to commit domestic violence at similar rates. However, women are almost always more heavily injured by it, and other studies show much larger numbers of women who have survived domestic abuse than men. More study is obviously required. Also keep in mind that these numbers DO NOT properly count rapes, as those are counted under ‘violent crime’ and not ‘domestic violence’.

        Secondly, you were referring to violence in general across the US I believe, not just domestic violence? Men commit violent crimes at a rate of nearly 9:1 compared to women. Data for 2008 indicate that, of 16,277 murders, 10,568 were committed by males, 1,176 were by female, and 4,533 were committed in which the offenders sex was unknown.*** Rapes are committed by men the vast majority of the time. Property crime such as burglary and personal crime such as assault are both much more likely to be perpetrated by males then females. So, you maybe want to walk back your claims a bit in light of the evidence?

        *”Although the exact rates are widely disputed, especially within the United States, there is a large body of cross-cultural evidence that women are subjected to domestic violence significantly more often than men. In addition, there is broad consensus that women are more often subjected to severe forms of abuse and are more likely to be injured by an abusive partner.
        According to a report by the United States Department of Justice, a survey of 16,000 Americans showed 22.1% of women and 7.4% of men reported being physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, boyfriend or girlfriend, or date in their lifetime.”
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_violence

        **”According to a 2004 survey in Canada, the percentages of males being physically or sexually victimized by their partners was 6% versus 7% for women. However, females reported higher levels of repeated violence and were more likely than men to experience serious injuries; 23% of females versus 15% of males were faced with the most serious forms of violence including being beaten, choked, or threatened with or having a gun or knife used against them. Also, 21% of women versus 11% of men were likely to report experiencing more than 10 violent incidents. Women who often experience higher levels of physical or sexual violence from their current partner, were 44% versus only 18% of males to suffer from an injury. Cases in which women are faced with extremely abusive partners, results in the females having to fear for their lives due to the violence they had faced. In addition, statistics show that 34% of women feared for their lives whereas only 10% of males felt this way.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_violence

        ***”Nearly 9 times as many men (5,037,000) as women (581,000) had ever at one time been incarcerated in a State or Federal prison at year end 2001. However, women are the fastest-growing demographic group in prison. Statistically the ratio of 9 to 1 has not changed making this increase worth study, however, it is nevertheless statistically insignificant. [1].
        In 2004, males were almost 10 times more likely than females to commit murder, including rape-homicides. However, men are also far more likely than women to be the victims of violent crime, with the exception of rape.”
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_and_crime

      • Bobby

        @M—- 50 Myths of Domestic Violence
        http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/RADARreport-50-DV-Myths.pdf

        Please read the following in rebuttal, as I do not have the patience to copy and paste everything
        http://www.avoiceformen.com/activism/about/

        @Eamon, my point is to point out feminism for the lie that it is. You cannot honestly tell me that they are for gender equality, when the only thing that those who have power ever talk about is how to get rid of the discrimination. You may say that true feminists aren’t like that, but that’s the no true scotsman fallacy in action.

        I honestly cannot see how feminism benefits me, or the others of my gender. In fact, I am not the only one who sees it that way. Just look up Erin Pizzey
        http://www.avoiceformen.com/feminism/dear-colleague-i-quit/

      • Bobby

        There’s also this:
        Processes Explaining the Concealment and Distortion of Evidence on Gender Symmetry in Partner Violence
        http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mas2/V74-gender-symmetry-with-gramham-Kevan-Method%208-.pdf

      • Malitia

        “I honestly cannot see how feminism benefits me, or the others of my gender. In fact, I am not the only one who sees it that way.”

        So you admit not wanting all that “privilege” all those “rights” women have according to the protectors of the current status quo? How hypocritical. :)

      • Michael Busch

        Bobby said “I honestly cannot see how feminism benefits me, or the others of my gender.”

        Then you are being artificially blind, either deliberately or by not having examined the data. Gender equality, which – contrary to your assertion – is the goal of most feminists, benefits everyone in many ways. Most basic: artificially handicapping what people are able to do is bad, and penalizing them for no reason is even worse. If you are unable to appreciate that from basic empathy, then I invite you to consider the economics. Gender equality in education and employment gives twice as many potential people to do each job. That means better people are available for each position, and everyone benefits. This does connect back to gendered advertising and gender coding of objects – it’s part of the larger social problem that artificially stereotypes people into different groups.

        You appear to be saying that society as a whole should sacrifice so that you can enjoy an advantage over a large section of the population, even if you yourself would likely end up worse off (if I am incorrectly interpreting your words, I apologize). If I understand the terminology correctly, that is an example of entrenched privilege.

        Also, you are misrepresenting the data on domestic violence.

        In the United States, women are as likely to attack men as men are likely to attack women (and we might expect parity if people tend to fight back). _But_ women are injured at roughly twice the rate of men, even when reporting rates are taken into account. Part of that is the asymmetry in average body mass, but not all of it. Men being the victims of domestic violence is certainly a problem, especially because the reporting rate is low (due to gender stereotyping making men less willing to report being abused), but women are still the bulk of the injuries.

        And _the United States is not the world_. In countries that are even further from gender equality than we are, the rates of domestic violence against women go way up – by up to factors of several. The rates of domestic violence against men do not increase by anything like the same amount. (Values from Wikipedia and its sources).

      • Bobby

        I don’t consider feminists to be for gender equality, because I never see them actually advocating for it, at least as a group. I do admit that there are individuals who do want gender equality, but in my opinion, they are far and few between. I only see them saying something when it’s men who are perceived to have the advantage.
        I agree that gender equality in education and employment is a valuable goal, but I don’t see feminists fighting for it. I see all of these educational programs geared towards girls, to help them get interested in science and math and provide scholarships available only to a certain gender, but you don’t have groups trying to help boys catch up to girls in reading and writing. Boys are way more likely to drop out, to not go to college, and get caught up in a life a violence, yet there are few programs to address these issues. Is it discrimination that 65% of college degrees are earned by women?
        When it comes to equality in the workplace, the pay gap has been debunked time after time, after time. It is women’s choices that affect how much they earn, at least in the majority of cases. I will concede that there are most likely cases where the bosses are sexist assholes, but the same is also likely to be true of women who employee others.
        http://www.businessinsider.com/actually-the-gender-pay-gap-is-just-a-myth-2011-3?op=1
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Cb_6v-JQ13Q (Part 1)
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=jIo-EHQqSFo (Part 2)
        There is a slight sound issue for a minute or so in the first video, but they sort it out.
        There is an excellent article by a woman known as girlwriteswhat about privilege blindness. One of the things she addresses in it is the fact that a lot of women see having a career as a right, one held by men for a lot longer than women. But, the funny thing is, men usually don’t see it that way. There are those rare few who genuinely like what they do, and most of those are the ones who got their dream job. Men more often see that job as an obligation, that he has to work, or face being a nothing. This is because men find their self-worth and common ground among each other through what they do, not the fact that they are men. In other words, we feel that in order to be worth something we have to be valuable to someone, even if it’s only ourselves. That’s why you see men so willing to give up their lives, not sacrifice, because sacrifice implies that you are unwilling to do so but still do it, for women and children. It’s also why you almost never hear a man complain about working a job he hates, or complaining about being a stay at home dad. If the man has feels needed and feels like he accomplished something, he is usually ok.
        http://www.avoiceformen.com/feminism/letter-to-a-young-man-privilege-blindness/
        Feminists complain that they have it bad, but almost every issue they bring up is non-existent, not as one-sided as they claim, or just flat out false.
        http://www.avoiceformen.com/feminism/feminist-lies-feminism/what-do-you-have-to-complain-about/
        For example, genital mutilation. You cannot sit there with a straight face and say that this is mostly a women’s issue, when over half of our nation’s men have the most sensitive part of their penis lopped off within days of being born, without anesthetic. There is some debate over health issues related to this, but, what gives a person the right to say that that baby boy doesn’t have the right to choose if he wants to be circumcised.
        For the pay gap, see above.
        Feminists say domestic violence is a women’s issue, when the facts say that it’s a human issue. If you are man, you are very unlikely to find programs out there to support you when you need help getting away from abuse. In fact, two years ago, I accompanied a female friend to a domestic violence awareness rally. Not a single one of the speakers was a man. No one in that entire time mentioned men being victims. When it came time for a Q&A session, I asked, “Why have none of you mentioned female on male domestic violence?” I was booed and hissed, and looked at like I was a piece of shit’s shit. I left shortly afterwards, and my friend never spoke to me again, claiming that I embarrassed her, when all I did was ask a simple question. I have never heard anything or read anything wherein a feminist mentions this fact. For more on this, see earlier posts.
        They claim we live in a rape culture, and they claim that women are the majority of sexual assault victims, as least in America. This is utter horseshit, as the person most likely to be sexually assaulted in this country is the prison inmate, who, as has been pointed out by someone else, is most likely to be a male.
        http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/men-outnumber-women-among-american-rape-victims/ But no one mentions the double standard about rape, such as, when two people are stone-cold drunk and have sex, the woman will almost never, if ever, be charged with rape, though men will if she regrets it. Somehow, the woman is supposed to be equal to the man, but he should have stronger resolve. Or the kids who are put on the sex offender registry because they have consensual sex with someone of the same age, but they are legally not allowed to consent. I have yet to find a case of a little girl on the registry for this, but boys, yes. There is one case of a girl getting charged with creating and distributing child porn for sending a boyfriend a naked photo of herself, but she is the exception, not the standard.
        Men are the most likely victims of violent crime, yet Congress introduces the Violence Against Women Act.
        Men make up 90% of the homeless population of America. I usually only see stories about homeless women and children in the news.
        Women rapists can force their victims to pay child support.
        In the justice system, women typically get lesser sentences for the exact same crime.
        Men are more likely to die earlier than women, but there’s no government groups focused on improving their help, or, if there are, the have really shitty publicists.
        Men die of prostate cancer at rates roughly equal to those of women who die of breast cancer, and it has it’s own month, but there’s no national campaign to raise money and awareness.
        Men are way more likely to successfully commit suicide. My opinion on this is that men, when they attempt suicide, they more often than not really want to die, but, with women, it is more often a cry for help. Not to say that there aren’t women who do want to really kill themselves, or that there aren’t men crying for help, but like I said, this is my opinion.
        51% of the country controls where more than 80% of consumer’s money is spent.
        Feminists complain about the fact that women are underrepresented in the STEM fields, but say nothing about men being underrepresented in fields such as teaching or nursing.
        Women can interact with other people’s children, including those of strangers, without being suspected of being a pedophile.
        Women can choose to raise children, or abdicate that responsibility at will, even after the child is born, with no negative outcome. The minute a guy tries to walk out of the kid’s life, he’s slapped with child support payments. Even if it’s proven that a woman lied to the man, and the child isn’t his biologically, the law says if your name is on the birth certificate, you’re the one who has to pay. And, when women are assign child support, they are less likely to pay, and no one says anything, but men are deadbeats when they don’t, even though 2/3′s of those “deadbeats” don’t pay because they can’t afford to.
        Feminists will claim that single mothers are worse off than men. They don’t mention that a lot of women are single mothers by choice. Around 50% of marriages end in divorce, and women initiate divorce 70% of the time, often with the excuse, I just don’t love him anymore, or, he doesn’t understand me.
        I have never seen a single feminist address even a single one of these issues. I have seen them waffle, I have seen them claim that it’s not comparable, and I’ve seen them attack me as a person and ignore my arguments. In fact, this is probably the only place I’ve gone on the internet where feminists have actually rebutted my points, and backed their rebuttals up with sources. Most of the time, I get something like, “You’re offensive to women,” or, “You just don’t know what I face because you’re a white male.” I’ve even gotten the response, “You made some good points, but, you’ve offended me, and I can’t debate with someone who offends me.”
        I do not hate women, but that does not necessarily mean that I like the majority of them either. I see how most of the girls my age show how entitled they feel. Whenever I bring up something that they don’t like, they claim that I offend them and that I don’t have the right to say it. They feel that health insurers should be forced to pay for birth control, even when they it goes against the values of those who sell the health insurance. Would you go into a Jewish man’s clothing store and demand that they sell Nazi regalia? It interferes with their right to conduct their business in the way that they see fit. I support a woman’s right to control when she has babies, but you also have the responsibility to make sure that you don’t have the babies. It is not upon someone else to provide you the means by which you do so. Birth control pills are not that expensive. If you want the more expensive kind, save up for it. I do not mean to sound like a misogynist, as some will surely accuse me of being, but just look up how women react to males possibly having a birth control pill. However, as a person who, if he had sex with someone and she got pregnant, I would be told to man up and pay for the kid, even when I have no right to abdicate like her.
        They complain about men not wanting to get married, but they don’t explain why. They say that men don’t want the responsibility. The truth is, more and more men are realizing that marriage is a losing proposition for men. Why should they get married, when they have a large chance of getting railroaded a few years later?
        Another issue that goes along with entitlement is women expecting businesses to change how they operate, just to help women succeed. This is narcissism trying to mask itself as someone asking for gender equality. They are saying that they cannot cope, so they need the bosses to change the rules just for them. If a employer wishes to do so, fine, but I do not see how someone has the right to force the place to comply via lawsuit. You chose to work there, it’s on you to succeed or fail, it’s not on them to make it easier. This is what police and fire departments and the military have done when it comes to physical fitness standards. I have a link bookmarked somewhere for this, I will post it when I find it.
        From what I write, some may infer that I am only for men’s issues, and that I think that all the women can hang themselves for all I care. This is not true. My problem is with those who proclaim to be for equal rights and privileges, yet never speak up for men.
        My problem is those who protest when people try to speak about issues men face, and call it hate speech, in the manner of the Warren Farrel Protest in Toronto.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iARHCxAMAO0
        To those of you do truly support gender equality, I salute you.
        To those of you who call yourselves feminist, I challenge you to name one legal right that I have that you do not. Name one privilege that I have that you don’t. I’d prefer the legal right though.
        To those of you who say that our society doesn’t see men as disposable, look at the high single mother rate. Look at all the health issues men face, without anyone saying anything. Look at the high murder rate, the high number of men in prison, how men, especially married men, are portrayed in the media. Yet no one raises a peep in the mainstream media. Meanwhile, if such a thing happened to a female, they would be all over it, and they often are.
        For those of you who took the time to debate with me, thank you. I am young, and I need every chance to exercise critical thinking skills that I can get. I apologize if my post seems to be arranged in an odd manner, but, I wrote this in an hour and a half with constant adding and deleting.
        And Kristen, I apologize for the leading question the other day. I was attempting to see if you were one of those people who automatically spit out that men are more violent.
        And finally, thank all of you for showing me another side of things. I look forward to any and all replies to my post. Thank you.

        P.S. Michael, if most feminists want gender equality. they need to speak up, because the ones with the ears of senators and representatives and other politicians may pay lip service to such goals, but their actions tell a different story.

      • Michael Busch

        Many of your statements are becoming offensive. You say “I support a woman’s right to control when she has babies, but you also have the responsibility to make sure that you don’t have the babies.” and then seem to assert that _men_ don’t have equal responsibility to women in that regard, which is offensive to everyone.

        Things such as “if most feminists want gender equality. they need to speak up, because the ones with the ears of senators and representatives and other politicians may pay lip service to such goals, but their actions tell a different story” are disproved by five minutes reading Wikipedia.

        And this “To those of you who call yourselves feminist, I challenge you to name one legal right that I have that you do not. Name one privilege that I have that you don’t. I’d prefer the legal right though.” is such transparent nonsense as to almost not be worth addressing. Once again, I remind you that the United States is not the world. There are still places in the world where women do not have the right to vote, or to drive a car, or many other of the rights that are given to men. In the US, there has been a lot of progress on assigning equal legal rights to women but gender equality is still not included in the constitution (due to the Equal Rights Amendment not being ratified).

        And, yes, men do have privilege in current US society. See the above discussions about stereotype threat artificially limiting women’s performance (men get damaged by stereotyping too, just not as badly) and about pay gaps due to overt and subtle sexism. Or even consider how American English is still significantly male-default-gendered. Recognize that privilege appears on the scale of all of society. Your personal experience is not an adequate guide.

        I also notice a theme to your posts: you keep saying “feminists don’t do X”. That would be untrue in the general case, since feminism takes many different forms. But feminism exists to fight a certain set of serious social problems, the solving of which would benefit everyone. It does _not_ exist to solve all social problems. And you don’t get to decide what problems other people will be fighting. You may try to persuade them that other problems should be addressed as well, but it is not helpful to say “You’re doing Y. You should not do that. You should do X” when Y is an important cause.

        And unless you are willing to recognize and acknowledge your mistakes, I see no point in continuing this discussion – especially since everyone has already allowed you to derail this thread. Goodbye.

      • Bobby

        Michael,

        1) I thought long and hard about how to reply about birth control. And I eventually came to the conclusion that if a woman doesn’t want babies, then the onus is on her to provide birth control for her sake. It is not a man’s responsibility to keep her from getting pregnant, unless he doesn’t want kids, which means that he should use condoms, but that is for his sake. The question is, why would a woman who doesn’t want kids sleep with someone who won’t use protection? And vice versa. The problem with reproductive rights, as I and many others see it, is that women can drop a kid off at an emergency room or a fire station, or give the kid up for adoption, often without telling the father, and no one will do a thing about it. But the minute a guy tries to duck out, he’s labeled a deadbeat and hauled into court. If a woman wants to choose whether or not to have kids, that’s her right, but don’t try to rope a guy who doesn’t want kids into being responsible for that child. You would expect feminists, who want gender equality according to you and others, would speak about this issue, as it is the flip side of women wanting full control of their bodies, but they are strangely silent about it. And no, I don’t support free birth control, or free Viagra or what have you for men. I also don’t endorse forcing insurers to pay for birth control or Viagra. If the companies want to alienate a potential market, let them. Provided that there are are no government bailouts, that company will eventually go under as all those companies that do offer them take the other company’s business. If you want sex, you should pay for it. If you can’t afford birth control, and you don’t want kids, don’t have sex. If it should fail, and you can’t afford birth control, how in the hell could you afford to have an abortion or raise the kid?

        2) Feminism has this in common with religion, the ones claiming that there is a pay gap, the ones who make up or alter statistics in order to justify huge amounts of government money going into programs for women when so many of the problems they claim affect only women by neglecting to mention how much they affect men too. Claims that helping women will help men too I put in the rubbish bin with things like supply side economics. Setting up domestic violence centers around the country that often refuse to take in men is really helping them. Here is the website for an organization against domestic and sexual violence in South Carolina, where I live. http://www.sccadvasa.org/facts/domestic-violence-facts.html Not one mention of men being the victim, only the perpetrator. I ask you, if a man, or a woman who cares for him, looks into getting help for him and runs into the website, and they already have a problem with seeing men as victims, how are they likely to react? Setting up government organizations for women’s health really help men. Funny, there’s a http://www.womenshealth.gov , but no http://www.menshealth.gov. Setting up program after program and thousands of scholarships to women, just for being women, really help men. In fact, the focus on girls and women in school has been argued, credibly, to hurt boys and men. In order to help men, you have to set up programs designed to help them, or at least both sexes. You can’t say that making things that are for just women helps men. I’ve seen the claim that VAWA is to help all people, well then why call it the Violence Against WOMEN Act. Violence Against Humans Act would make it more violent. Anyone who is for gender equality will not help to get these programs enacted, then just ignore men. I admire the professed goal of feminism, to insure gender equality, but I am left with a sour tongue with the practical results.

        3) You failed to name a single right or privilege that males have that women don’t. You also make a mistake. Rights are not given to people. They are things that our government acknowledges that they have no right to restrict. Sadly, our government is slowly trying to take rights away from all people, instead of enforcing thing. If you go to prison, you get your right to vote revoked, your right to bear arms revoked, regardless of whether you are there for a violent crime or not. The Patriot Act allowed the government to listen to all communications without a warrant, and the NDAA allows people to be detained indefinitely without a trial, in clear violation of the fourth amendment. About the Gender Equality Amendment, do you really think it matters. Women make up the majority of those who vote, and they control over 80% of consumer spending. They have the power in this country. They elect the leaders. Look at the last election. Who were Obama’s biggest supporters? Women. What about Romney? White men, particularly older and younger, white. We all know who won. With all of this political and financial power, how are women still oppressed. Women, provided that they don’t have children, often make more than men doing the same job.
        http://www.asylum.com/2010/09/08/census-bureau-american-community-survey-data-young-childless-single-women-earn-more-than-men/
        The sentence at the end of that article is highly sexist though. “So, what’s going to happen when all these newly wealthy, single women hit 30 and their biological clocks start making noise? Well, there will be a whole bunch of under-employed slackers, ready to sponge off of their salaries and provide them with some sperm. So, yes, ladies, it’s a trap.” And the nice, dependable guys who spent their twenties being ignored by these very same women going through their sowing oats phase will be the ones they eventually convince to marry them.
        I talk about the United States because that is where I live. This is like Christians asking why atheists pick on their religion. If you want to help those other people, go there and preach change. But first think about how much more dangerous those places are for men too. Think about how poor they are. Much of the world, men included doesn’t have the right to vote. On a historical level, males got the right to vote only a short time before women, as, for the vast majority of human history, no one had the right to vote, with a few rarities like ancient Athens or Sparta and even then it was only a certain class of men. The average guy in the street didn’t have a say. Driving is not a right, it is a privilege, and rightly so. Denying it based on the gender of a person is wrong, yes, but don’t pretend that it’s a right.

        4)I provided several sources about the pay gap being a myth. Here are more
        http://www.businessinsider.com/actually-the-gender-pay-gap-is-just-a-myth-2011-3?op=1
        http://www.businessinsider.com/women-in-tech-make-more-money-and-land-better-jobs-than-men-2010-9
        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christina-hoff-sommers/wage-gap_b_2073804.html
        http://articles.marketwatch.com/2012-07-26/commentary/32859540_1_gender-wage-women-staffers-higher-paying-fields
        http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2012/11/05/the_female_wage_gap_is_a_major_economic_myth_99969.html>Sowell backs up these findings, “comparing never-married women and men who are past the child-bearing years and who both work full-time in the twenty-first century shows women of this description earning more than men of the same description.”
        http://www.examiner.com/article/obama-s-gender-pay-gap-is-myth-it-s-just-not-true-experts-say
        http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2012/04/16/its-time-that-we-end-the-equal-pay-myth/
        And yes, there probably is some sexism when it comes to hiring and paying women, but I would hardly say that it is rampant. Women are statistically more likely to leave their jobs than men. Why would any business owner pick the person more likely to leave, or invest nearly as much as them. But the facts are that men typically work longer hours, in more dangerous jobs. Women typically pick lower paying, but safer jobs, and work less hours. The pay gap is calculated by taking the average of men and women working over 35 hours per week and comparing the two. Since men typically pick higher paying jobs, and work longer hours, their average is going to be larger. Basic arithmetic.
        I’ve heard the argument that a person who has privilege is blind to it. Could it be that women, those that identify as feminists, don’t see their own? Could it be that it’s not benevolent sexism?
        Because if men really wanted to oppress women, it wouldn’t be that hard. One could argue that it was a relatively short period from the time that women demanded the same opportunities as men, to the time that they got them. Shit, it took longer for slaves to be freed.
        Language evolves over time, it doesn’t change over night. But, since women make up half the population, you’d think that they would influence the language just as much as men. However, I do admit that I have not researched the history of language in any meaningful manner other than reading a book about the phonics approach to teaching reading and writing compared to whole language method.

        5) Like I said earlier in this post, and in other posts, feminists don’t typically fight for gender equality. They fight for women to be considered victims, while at the same time claiming that they are strong, and can take care of themselves. You can’t have it both ways. Look at patriarchy theory for a moment. It’s basically a politically correct way to say that all men, or at least those that don’t identify with feminists, as sociopaths/psychopaths. Who else would willingly subjugate those that they love?
        I quote from a very intelligent, rational woman known as TyphonBlue on Youtube.
        “If you don’t believe in patriarchy theory, you’re not a feminist.

        If you believe in patriarchy theory then you believe that men, throughout history, oppressed their wives, mothers, sisters and daughters in ways comparable to racism and classism. Except that, obviously, men oppressed their relatives rather then an ethnic, racial or cultural “other”.

        If you believe men are capable of creating a system expressly for the purpose of oppressing the people they have their most intimate relationships with then you believe men are sociopaths.

        How are men supposed to work with a group of people who deny their humanity?”
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hipo2byrQAM
        If they’re for equality, is it too much to ask that occasionally they pay attention to men’s issues? To actually work towards what they claim is their goal?
        You cannot be for equality if you never touch on the issues that the other person or group faces. I have never seen a feminist talk in depth about any of these things, I’ve just seen a few mention them in passing. When things are bad enough in the court system that a man set’s himself on fire in protest, yet is overlooked by the media, what message does that send about how they view men. When young men go missing, you’re lucky to see a blurb in the paper or on the news, but with women, they talk about it for weeks on end. But you don’t see feminists mentioning this. They say, oh, patriarchy is bad for men too. I’d say no. I’d say that things have gotten worse for men under feminism. Because now, not only do we do most of the shit work in society, in the media we’re also portrayed as daft, bumbling, incompetent, inconsiderate, lazy, unfeeling, violent, abusive, potential rapists whenever we’re not portrayed as the alpha male type, cool, suave, handsome, intelligent, rich, ladies men. Rarely do you see someone in the middle. If we’re not the alpha male, we’re seen as weird, or creepy, or useless, or the nice guy you’d ask for favors, but would never fuck, otherwise known as being in the friend zone. Just see Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin, The Sitter, The Benchwarmers, Two and A Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, and others. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy seeing a lovable screw-up, but how many would be offended if it was a woman who played Jonah Hill’s part in the sitter, letting herself be led on by a man? How many would laugh at a woman who lives an insular life like Kevin the The 40 Year Old Virgin. How many would laugh at the Big Bang Theory if it was about 4 women scientists who were socially inept and their hot male friend? How many would laugh at the scene in Get Him to the Greek where Jonah Hill gets raped, if the roles were reversed?
        I will admit my mistakes when they are pointed out to me using logic and evidence, which you have failed to do. Finally, here’s a piece about gender differences.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTOFXLl7eh4
        Thank you for your time. Good morning.

    • Michael Busch

      How and why would anyone age-code laptops or telescopes, let alone gender-code them? All of the personal computers and small telescopes I’ve ever used have been industry-standard hardware (even the OLPC XO-1 – which is a very cool device, since you can use all of Linux functionality on it). The software on the computers was different, at least at first.

      Perhaps excessive age-coding of merchandise is also a problem?

      • Kristen

        I think some of it has to do with sales, too. If people have multiple children, gender-neutral toys and equipment and clothes make great hand-me-downs, whereas most people will replace toys that are coded for the ‘wrong’ gender.

      • Michael Busch

        It’s certainly a marketing strategy. It just occurs to me that some things don’t need to be child-specific, let alone gender-specific.

        My first computer was my parents’ old Commodore 64, on which I learned a bit about how to type and also how to fry disc drives. My cousins’ kids play with the family iPads. The programs they use are different from what their parents use, but the hardware is the same.

      • The_L

        Well, a lot of kiddy “laptops” aren’t full computers. They’re learning toys that are laptop-shaped. My second cousins used to have some, and I remember owning a book-and-cartridge-based version called “My Talking Computer” when I was a tiny tot.

  • http://amethystmarie.com/ Amethyst

    “Because action, adventure, and exploration are for boys while friendship is for girls. Duh. Is it any wonder men end up being more independent while women end up more relational (if that stereotype is even true, of which I am skeptical) when we as a society tell boys to be rugged individuals while simultaneously telling girls that friendship is the best thing of all?”

    Or that these boys grow up so starved for emotional affirmation that a show called “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” is watched by more grown men than little girls?

    • TheSeravy

      Oh the Bro-nies. My extra manly best friend loves that show; his favourite is Shadow Bolt.

  • Mafrin

    I have a five year old daughter, and it is so difficult to avoid gendered messages. Just the other day she told me that “no, pink is only for girls” and was quite shocked when I told her that colours are colours, and liking a particular colour has nothing to do with whether you are a boy or girl.

    It doesn’t help when all she seems to get as gifts by the rest of the family are “princessy” type things. I try to combat that with helicopters, trucks and (normal) Lego.

    It just goes to show, though, that it is still important to talk to your kids about gendered messaging, and how it doesn’t really say anything about who they are as a person.

    • Rosa

      My son got his love of pink, purple, and sparkles so squashed – mostly by other kids, incidentally by his grandparents, sometimes by random adults including store clerks – that from about 5-7, if you pressed him into choosing a color in a hurry, sometimes he’d just say “The boy one!”

  • kisarita

    What comes first; the chicken or the egg? are advertisers creating the gendered messages or are they aiming at what they perceive would most attract their customer base?

    • Michael Busch

      That’s part of the problem – gender-coding is a self-reinforcing cycle. It takes deliberate effort to break the feedback loop.

    • jose

      They are creating the gendered messages and then selling gendered stuff because if stuff is separated in narrow categories people buy more.

      If you only market a videogames console, people buy the console. If you market the adult version (black, sleek, games about killing arabs) and the children’s version (bright colors, games about killing animals), then people buy two consoles. If there is a girl version of the children’s console (pink, games about clothing and children), then people buy three consoles.

  • http://puddinsilovemylife.blogspot.com/ Tonya Richard

    I tend to not notice these things, probably because I am and was a stereotypical girl. I was all about the princesses and flowers, and not about dirt and trucks LOL Of course, this is just MY personality. I know there are girls and women who are all about the dirt and trucks. However, I am a huge science and history freak, and was always very good at math. I have 3 boys and 5 girls, and my girls are all excellent at math. Actually, my 15 year old daughter wants to be a high school math teacher, she loves it that much! My youngest son is good at math as well, however my 2 oldest boys suck at it LOL Their brains just don’t work that way. All of this to say, we are all INDIVIDUALS! The fact that we are male or female makes no difference in our preferences and academic strengths. And yes, I agree, marketing needs to reflect that.

    • syfrably

      May I suggest she look at engineering, physics, or accounting/acutary if she likes math? She might not know these jobs exist, and are options for a person who really likes math.

  • CodaSammy

    Some people here were saying that the yoghurts are not gendered because they don’t mention “boys” and “girls”, they’re just showing two different interests.

    I had a feeling the company meant to be more explicitly gendering than that, so I went to the website.and I found this: http://www.mullerkidscorner.com/vote

    Again, no actual “girls”/”boys”, but the fact that they chose a binary system illustrated with pink and blue seems to make a pretty clear case. And YUK. What a narrow range of choices we present our kids!

    I hope to have children within the next few years, and gendering is something I already stress out over.

  • Noelle

    A company will do whatever it thinks will sell more of it’s product. If the word princess and some pink dye sells, then they’ll make it. If army men and camouflage colors sell, they’ll make it. If a kid is always surrounded by a particular theme and color palette, and told the other choice is for the other gender, then it makes sense that kids will continue to request more of the same.

    Back in my day (I can’t believe I’m old enough to say that now), there were no prenatal ultrasounds. Any pre-buying and making gifts for babies was in neutral colors and themes. When I look at my baby pics, my clothes were in neutral solid colors. My childhood toys were not all girly. The light brite was black, the etch a sketch was red, the microscope was gray, the chemistry set was plain, the sit and spin an royal blue, my first bikes were blue and red. I did own some dolls and what-not, but my younger brothers played with them as well. A walk through the toy section of a store now shows a much smaller collection of neutral colored and themed tous. Where did we end up going backwards on this?

    • Carys Birch

      Hee. I know we are roughly contemporaries from your list of toys.

      I agree, I do think things were much more neutral then.

    • Kristen

      Cheaper, more flexible manufacturing lowers the expense of producing multiple version of the same toy, combined with higher profits when one family buys a pink princess bike and a blue superman bike for the older girl and younger brother, instead of buying the girl a small bike when she’s three and giving it to younger brother when she grows out of it.Result: Profit!

      • Noelle

        I agree. And as a parent of 1 boy and 1 girl, I find this annoying. It would be so much easier to purchase a standard neutral learning bike of different sizes to pass down to the next kid. Thankfully, my kids don’t care so much and I can get them to accept the “wrong-colored” item.

        Even the girly toys of our generation, they weren’t all pink. Rainbow brite was a bunch of colors, Care Bears were all over the place (how cute, autocorrect made me capitalize that), strawberry shortcake and friends had variety, Barbie will wear anything and preferred the nudist life in my family.

        I think I noticed the divide when my baby brother was born in ’88. Diaper companies insisted that boys and girls needed different diapers. I don’t think that fad lasted. It makes me wonder how the GenY’s fared differently overall than their hippie-raised GenX siblings.


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