Gender based marketing, has been an effective determinant of children’s toy consumption preferences due to the toy industries’ perpetual representations of stereotypical distinctions of boys’ and girls’ gender role in society. Some scholars question market’s attitude toward introducing products into the market that construct a strict line between girls’ and boys’ play preferences. In the article entitled “What’s Wrong with Cinderella”, Peggy Orenstein challenges people’s ideas about unrealistic girly-girl pink culture, and talks about how gender is oriented into the toy market industry.
There is a drastic difference in toys which are marketed for girls and boys. While boys are given such toys related with improving their math and scientific skills, girls are given such toys that require less skill and intelligent but incentive to do household work (ironing, cleaning etc.), or to take care of a baby etc. These kinds of illustrations of toy marketing industry do construct a specific portrayal of gender discrimination and their roles within society. There are even remarkable differences in the same toy product that are marketed for girls and boys. There are two kinds of laptops represented in the illustration on the left: a laptop marketed for girls and a laptop marketed for boys. It is expected that each laptop is made with same material and have access to the same function abilities. However, the laptop marketed for girls is half-functioned while the laptop marketed for boys have 50 functions. Furthermore, again we see the pinkish color( the leading color in girl’s toys) that represented in the laptops that marketed for girls. This is a perfect example of how toy industries make gender specific marketing by applying the stereotypes in their products. I believe that the reason why girls are always given such toys related with beautification, cosmetics, household works, baby-care etc. and the boys given such toys that calculate and improve their mechanical and mathematical skills is that either we as individuals had been imposing these ideas to younger generations or like the toy and many other industries are determining our beliefs of what gender and gender role is within society.
And yet, gender specific marketing has begun to change its attitude and started to market ‘gender neutral’ toys that challenge the binary and allow gender to have same equal playing opportunities. In September 2013, the famous toy brand LEGO introduced their first female scientist as part of their “Mini-figure Series”. Moreover, Toys R Us announced that they are partnering with Let Toys Be Toys, an organization that works to dismantle the arbitrary divide between “girls” and “boys” toys.
There are even couples that raise their children gender-neutral to avoid stereotyping. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9028479/Couple-raise-child-as-gender-neutral-to-avoid-stereotyping.html
To be honest, I don’t know whether raise to a child gender-neutral but there is an unavoidable strict stereotyping outside in the media and everywhere. This can be very irritating in some ways.
Lastly, I would like to share a video clip which consists of a child’s talking about gender role in a toy shop. Hope you enjoy it.