‘Tis the Season for Gender Stereotypes?

If there is one thing the Holiday Season is good for, it’s bringing out the sexist toy ads among the different chain stores. Girls playing with pretty pink dolls and Barbies while little boys play with their castles, tool benches and, of course, laboratory sets. We’ve seen these ads a million times, and they’re back again the 2012 winter holidays.

I’ve got two things to say about these pretty, pretty store flyers.

One is that these ads infuriate me, as I’m sure they infuriate a ton of American parents. But that’s sort of a given, as moms and dads across America often complain about ads that try to pigeonhole our children by using gender stereotypes for their sales efforts.

Girls, of course, have to play with kitchen sets and baby dolls so they are well trained for their future roles as housewives and indentured servants right?  WRONG!  If you are in my household, girls play with whatever they damn well please. Dolls, kitchen sets, fire trucks, monster trucks, sports balls. Whatev!   We have a healthy selection of toys around the house. I have to admit that when we had a little girl, I had been so desperate to buy baby dolls and pink frilly stuff… but the moment my son (who was three-years-old at the time) asked for a baby doll, that is exactly what he got.

Instead of always posing the boys with the high tech science kits and laptops in these ads, we need to encourage our daughters to know if they choose that line of interest for a career, they will be just as good, if not better than their male counterparts. These ads are secretly and unintentionally demeaning our daughters before they get a fair chance at life.

My second issue is this — try to turn things around with a little gender balance, as Toys R Us in Sweden did, and what happens? International panic!! The Swedish ad depicts girls wielding Nerf guns, and boys playing with baby dolls. And what did the parents of the world do?  Freak the hell out!

Image via HuffingtonPost.com

An insane and unnecessary uproar of negativity, foolish nonsense further encouraging these deep gender stereotypes. What the hell America! Do you want to continue to suppress women? Do we want our daughters to think their only options in life include childbearing and taking care of a man?

Hell, if that is their personal choice, so be it! But if your little girl wants to be a doctor or a scientist they should know it is not only possible, but we should encourage it! At least one girl is showing some initiative this holiday time to make the traditionally girly Easy Bake Oven more boy friendly, and Barbie is wielding a hammer as she takes on the construction industry (though she’s still wearing a skirt). Now we just need to get some of those images into the sales ads and flyers our kids scour as they compile their holiday wish lists.

Image via BuzzFeed.com

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