Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Marketing toys to boys and to girls

    Here's a link that came my way today at work. Crystal Smith is the writer of The Achilles Effect, a book examining the messages of gender and masculinity in popular culture, particularly as they relate to young boys.
    As part of her research, she's examined the language used to promote toys to both boys and to girls, and produced a pair of eye-catching word clouds showing how such promotion reinforces gender stereotypes. I can never resist a pretty infographic so I'd like to direct my readers to her blog, which given its subject matter I am sure many will find interesting.


  1. When I look at those two 'clouds' I am trying to recollect my thoughts as a child and what things interested me as well as the things that were directed to me. Although many of the things in the bottom cloud were not part of who I was, none of the things in the top cloud came close! I took no interest in those things that were directed to me as a boy but I took interest in some of the things directed toward my sisters. I think it is difficult to bring up a child totally in a non-gender specific environment. The problem is that boys and girls (in general) are inherently attracted to different things. Behavioural patterns are different for each gender. Naturally, or unnaturally, there are non-conformities to the general rule. Nature or nurture? I think it isn't possible in a modern society for children, who are not being raised in isolation, to be greatly influenced by nurture when their natural instinct tells them otherwise. I think nurture merely re-inforces what is already there in nature. These clouds go a long way to show what children are subjected to in trying to impose a stereotypical role upon them. If it is their nature to respond positively they will.

    Shirley Anne xxx

  2. There are two of us here agreeing with Shirley and one of us started as a girl!

    There is some crude polarisation going on in that advertising.

    Caroline xxx

  3. A couple of years ago I saw similar gendered vocabulary in WHSmiths, on blue and pink magnetic strips of fridge words.
    I remember my first reaction was 'Surely this isn't legal?'.Still think there's something so very problematic here and there.

  4. Morning all,
    Absolutely, it would be wrong to pretend that boys and girls do not naturally gravitate towards different things. But I can't help some shock at the violence expressed in the boy cloud. I know I had the same influences when I was a kid, did it affect me? As part of a complex web that pushed me into the closet, I think so.

    What I want to know is this: why "Snow" in the girl cloud? Are there no winter sports toys aimed at boys?