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Magnets to teach sexism to kids. What next?


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#1 Kylie Orr

Posted 04 October 2011 - 02:02 PM

In a post-feminist world, where the victories of the women’s movement have seen progress in equality for women in pay, opportunity and expectation; where a female Prime Minister stands before us and when we’ve finally achieved a federal government paid Maternity Leave scheme, it would be easy to believe the hard yards are behind us.

Au contraire!

Under the guise of “National Literacy Words” a UK company has released “Girls and Boys Talk Magnets”. No, they are not talking magnets - which would be vastly more intriguing - they are gender specific words which are “fun and encourage reading through play.” I had to check the calendar when I stumbled across these gems. It is 2011, right?

Take a look if you’re game.

www.fridgemagic.com

It stands to reason that boys would only need to learn words that enhance their masculinity like “mud” “dirt” “football” and “spiders”, with my personal favourite “money” which was blatantly absent from the girls list. Instead our little pink princesses can aspire to “sparkle” and “glitter” while “skipping” and chasing “bunnies” wearing “tiaras” and “diamonds” only to return home for the all-important tasks of “cooking” and applying “lipstick”.

“Love” was a particularly captivating omission in the boys set. We wouldn’t like them to experience the joy of love, the strong emotion that can often render one weak at the knees, for that may shrink their manhood.

Oh, how this magnet set has embodied everything I wish for my daughter and my sons. Heaven forfend my children would read the same words, extending their vocabulary beyond gender stereotypes.

I’ve thought of some alternatives of my own, which I think give them a much clearer view of this world of gender specific literacy, with plenty of ambitious options for them to aim.

For the Girls
-    glass ceiling
-    skanky ho
-    gold digger
-    homemaker
-    Size 8
-    anorexia
-    implant
-    bad driver

For the Boys
-    hoon
-    cry baby
-    superhero
-    chick magnet
-    biceps
-    Lamborghini (just because it is difficult to spell)
-    Stud
-    Pansy

To be honest, I’m fairly nonchalant about political correctness. I think we have paddled so far in the ocean of inoffensive that the sea has lost its waves. As a result, I’m pretty hard to offend.

I’m also not a ditsy, pink-loving, fairy-toting chick who is unable to recognise that boys and girls, men and women are different. Equity is about fairness and representation on equal standards, not about being the same.

But these magnets have me gobsmacked. Aside from the glaring and painful stereotyping, are we so shallow and limited in our vocabulary that of the sheer volume of amazing words available to us, this is the sum of what we can come up with for our children?

More concerning, have we learnt nothing from the masses of literature that illustrate the impact – both positive and negative - of language on growing brains?

I would rather infiltrate the minds of my young children with egalitarian gender roles, desires for learning and extending knowledge, for intelligence and a hunger for words.

Limiting choices through discrimination, portraying women as passive observers who use their feminine guiles to manipulate strong, adventuresome, admirable and intelligent men is, apart from so incredibly sexist, just plain boring.

Surely, in 2011, we’re past all this?

Kylie

#2 Delayfish

Posted 04 October 2011 - 03:00 PM

huh.gif OMG. I'm speechless.

I'm with you Kylie, I thought it was 2011  unsure.gif

#3 melajoe

Posted 04 October 2011 - 03:10 PM

I have to agree.  The first line on the "boys" list has some of DD1's favouite words.  Even if it is only because she watches too much Scooby Doo.

I do have to say, it was good to see that "chocolate" made both lists!  tthumbs.gif



#4 MidnightDad

Posted 04 October 2011 - 03:22 PM

I think they will get a  lot of sales, not real ones from parents of course, nothing that has  any cultural relevance any more... just for the outrage or interest  value. Like the golliwog dolls being removed from a Melbourne toy  shop when Oprah came to visit. While people may want to lament  'history' indefinitely it does not mean that society has not moved  on. Kick a horses skeleton but if that’s all it is then it ain’t  coming back to life, you just rattle its old bones. So, to answer  'What next?' There is no 'next'.... its dry old bones.



#5 heffalumpsnwoozles

Posted 04 October 2011 - 03:33 PM

Doh, "bubbles" is on the boy list. My girls are going to be devastated that they can't have bubbles at bath time any more.

#6 kpingitquiet

Posted 04 October 2011 - 03:54 PM

Sigh.

I was the manager of a children's book department and it fascinated (and depressed) me to no end to watch too many parents gear their boys toward simple, sport/car/robot related books even if they wanted to try something like Lemony Snicket or Eloise (for the younger set). Girls were pushed toward the lovey-dovey, BFF, fashion-themed books and also discouraged when showing an interest in the likes of Eragon thanks to it supposedly being "a boy book". Parents of either gender could frequently be heard saying things like "No, that's too big," "Not enough pictures," when kids, and I'm talking 4th grade plus, wanted to try a more difficult book.

Sigh again.

#7 4kidlets

Posted 05 October 2011 - 01:12 PM

I agree - very sexist.

However, have a look at next junk mail catalogue from Toyworld, Kmart, Target etc - the girls' and boys' toys are very clearly segregated along sexist lines.


Unfortuantely this type of gender separation in childrens toys, books etc is still all around us.

#8 Maniacal_laugh

Posted 05 October 2011 - 01:21 PM

QUOTE (4kidlets @ 05/10/2011, 11:12 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
However, have a look at next junk mail catalogue from Toyworld, Kmart, Target etc - the girls' and boys' toys are very clearly segregated along sexist lines.


Unfortuantely this type of gender separation in childrens toys, books etc is still all around us.


I've been meaning to share this on EB for a while (sorry if it's already been done)

These are Wordles (Word clouds) showing the most common words used in marketing boys' toys and girls' toys.

Boys:http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/3372921/Words_Used_to_Advertise_Boys%27_Toys

Girls:http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/3372936/Words_Used_in_Advertising_for_Girls%27_Toys

Original blog post: http://www.achilleseffect.com/2011/03/word...er-stereotypes/

Probably not a surprise, but interesting nonetheless

#9 Jenferal

Posted 05 October 2011 - 01:27 PM

I'm going to TRY to put my foot down this year(my daughter's second) and ask she not get any Disney Princess stuff, or Barbie or anything overtly"girly". Her cousin was given a blackboard one year...by blackboard I mean a stupid pinky purple thing you couldn't see the chalk on!
No thank you! I'd like her to grow up as long as possible without succumbing to the hideous girl culture I see around today.

#10 Alacritous~Andy

Posted 05 October 2011 - 01:45 PM

QUOTE (4kidlets @ 05/10/2011, 01:12 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I agree - very sexist.

However, have a look at next junk mail catalogue from Toyworld, Kmart, Target etc - the girls' and boys' toys are very clearly segregated along sexist lines.


Unfortuantely this type of gender separation in childrens toys, books etc is still all around us.


Yep. In newborn clothes, I was able to find a lot more gender-neutral clothing in greys, browns, reds, orange etc, but once you go from the "baby" section to the "boys" vs "girls" clothing, EVERYTHING becomes so stereotypical and gendered.

But even worse than the clothing is the toys.  Most children's products come in two options, one for the girls, and one for the boys.  I was recently trying to buy one of those foam foldout couches for DS.  Do you want the pink with flowers and butterflies, or the blue with cars and monsters?  There was nothing down the middle.  So you are forced to choose.  It is so annoying.

#11 peppersmum

Posted 05 October 2011 - 01:56 PM

QUOTE (Jenflea @ 05/10/2011, 02:27 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I'm going to TRY to put my foot down this year(my daughter's second) and ask she not get any Disney Princess stuff, or Barbie or anything overtly"girly". Her cousin was given a blackboard one year...by blackboard I mean a stupid pinky purple thing you couldn't see the chalk on!
No thank you! I'd like her to grow up as long as possible without succumbing to the hideous girl culture I see around today.


Fair enough if your DD doesn't like Barbie & princesses etc, my DD1 was like that, never was a pink girly fan. My DD2 is VERY different, from 18mths old she would choose to watch the barbie movies, loves pink and princesses etc (she also loves playing with her brothers nerf guns too  wink.gif ). I think parent's should follow their individual childrens likes and dislikes instead of worrying about gender bias. Would you demand your boys not be given toys that are typically marketed at boys too?


Yes Kylie I agree with you, very sad for 2011!!


#12 FeralBob!

Posted 05 October 2011 - 02:10 PM

QUOTE (Alacritous~Andy @ 05/10/2011, 02:45 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
But even worse than the clothing is the toys.  Most children's products come in two options, one for the girls, and one for the boys.  I was recently trying to buy one of those foam foldout couches for DS.  Do you want the pink with flowers and butterflies, or the blue with cars and monsters?  There was nothing down the middle.  So you are forced to choose.  It is so annoying.

I managed to get a sesame street one which had nice, bright, gender neutral colours on it. I was fecked if I was getting barbie.  mad.gif

But yes, that list is depressing. I love football. Passionately. Possibly more than DH does. I am teaching DD that football is definitely a "girl" thing, and that boys most certainly do wear pink, but geez, I get so sick of it!

#13 RealityBites

Posted 05 October 2011 - 02:15 PM

Disgusting.

I am also currently cringing at the nappy ad saying 'boys and girls are different' and then showing every gender stereotype in the book. Not cool *grrrr*

#14 Jenferal

Posted 05 October 2011 - 03:54 PM

I don't have boys, and as she's only 17 months old I think it'll be a while before she chooses too much of her own stuff.
And if SHE chooses it, fine,but not if it's thrust on her!
And if I had boys, I'd let them play with dolls, or do dance or whatever they wanted actually.

#15 Alacritous~Andy

Posted 05 October 2011 - 04:02 PM

I will admit, apart from the feminist in me, the scrooge in me likes to buy gender neutral things.  

While I only have DS at the moment, I hope to have more kids down the track, and I dread the inevitable, "I don't want that one, it's for boys" if I have a DD down the track.




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