OMG! I'm Going to Be a Grandmother and I Hate Gender Marketing

6 years ago

When I hijacked TW and told her we were going to Toys R Us for inspiration for my blog post about all of the baby gear parents have nowadays, she heckled. Inspiration at the toy store? Impossible. We'd just be frustrated and grouchy! Which is generally true, but I was prepared for all of the things that generally bug me about toy stores.

I was prepared for the pink princesses and Barbies marketed to girls. I was prepared for the Transformers and toys of destruction marketed to boys. I was prepared for pink play houses for girls and adventure houses for boys. I was prepared for kitchens that show little girls and workbenches that show little boys. I was prepared!

After all, I grew up with the message that some toys are for boys and some toys are for girls. My kids grew up with the same messages. And while things are a tiny bit better now than they were 20 or 40 years ago, there's still a whole lot of gender stereotyping in the toy aisle. No big deal, I know how to handle that.

Johnny Mac Pippin will get a kitchen and a workbench. He'll get Barbies and Transformers. He'll get pink Legos and primary color Legos. He'll get dress up clothes with bride's dresses and police uniforms. He'll get a purse with play makeup and he'll get a tool belt. I can fight the stereotyping, not a problem.

See -- prepared, right? Well no. I wasn't prepared because somewhere along the way toy companies have come up with a new, and just as bad if not worse, gender marketing technique.

Think back to your childhood and your children's childhood. Remember the Corn Popper? A gloriously perfect toy. Blue wooden handle. Clear plastic bubble. Brightly colored balls. That wonderfully annoying noise as you (or your children) ran the popper all over the house and yard? Every child deserves a Corn Popper -- even if they did change the handle to some big, weird, plastic monstrosity. I was dying to buy Johnny Mac Pippin a Corn Popper some day... Until I saw this.

What ridiculous asshattery marketing is this? Why would a child need a pink version? Why would any adult looking for a toy for a little girl need a pink version in order to know that this is a good toy for her? What would lead anyone to think that pinkifying a corn popper was a good idea?

No. Just no. And now Johnny Mac Pippin will not have a corn popper -- unless I can find a very old wooden handled blue version.

Lest you think that it's only the corn popper that has been pinkified -- remember the most awesome garage in the world -- the Little People Garage? There's a new version that's more than two feet tall and while I like the old version better, the one is cute -- or would be cute, if it did not come in two versions: traditional yellow (for boys!) and pink (for girls!)

Why, why, why? Now I will have to beg my nephews to pass along the original Little People Garage to Johnny Mac Pippin. Hopefully they will be willing to share because as long as there is a yellow version and a pink version, I am not buying it!

Then there's the Elefun. It has a new design, which I actually like. The original had some design flaws and this one looks much better. There was no doubt in my mind that Johnny Mac Pippin would have one of these, his mother collects elephants, after all. But, you've probably guessed what happened.

Yep. We've got a pinkified elephant too. Because little girls need pink elephants? Because blue elephants scream boy toy? Because.. I don't even know why.

And there's the problem, I understand why a company would market a Barbie for a girl and a Transformer for a boy. I understand why girls get purses and boys get tool belts. Society says this is how men and women are and what they like so this is what boys and girls like. I understand it. I don't agree with it or like it, but I do understand it. But, the pinkification of toys that have no societal stereotypes behind them should have no gender marketing. They should be for all kids - period. This marketing goes beyond anything that makes sense. It's wrong and I'm not going to stand for it or buy into it with my dollars.

Except I did.

Have you heard of the Laugh 'n Learn Puppy? I've never paid any attention to this toy but last week one of my favorite coupon bloggers told me that I could by the Laugh 'n Learn Puppy for $3.50, (normally priced on Amazon at around $25.) I was very excited about this deal -- Johnny Mac Pippin's first Christmas gift! I got to the store and my heart sank. My stomach churned. Right next to the brown puppy, (which makes sense because puppies are quite often brown), was a pink puppy. WHAT THE ... ? (Sidenote: The pink puppy is more expensive than the brown puppy... and how often does that happen? Pink/girl versions generally cost more than the primary colored/boy versions of toys.)

I laughed and said, "I could buy the pink one...". I picked up the brown one and pushed his paw and then his tummy. I set him back on the shelf. I started to walk away. But... $3.50 dammit. I picked him up and I bought him. And it makes me angry.

Every time I see him I get angry all over again. Every time someone presses one of his buttons, (which is often), I get angry. I won't be so angry next Christmas when I see how much Johnny Mac Pippin enjoys him, (and hear how often my daughter curses that doggone puppy), but right now -- yea, I'm angry.

Please -- stop making pink toys that don't need to be pink!

Kids are kids and they don't need pink and blue marketing. Your toys are good toys and they don't need pink and blue marketing to entice us to buy them.

Do they?

BlogHer Community Manager
Life. Flow. Fluctuate.

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