Sunday, March 22, 2009

It's never too early to be sexist!

Unfortunately I could not embed the video in question, but you can view it here. I suspect most of you (hopefully) will have the same jaw-dropping reaction as me.

It is no secret that kids toys are highly gendered, and even shopping at a store illustrates how they're gendered: girls aisles are color-coded pink, and contain all the accoutrements of pseudo-child-rearing and homemaking, while boy aisles are blue, brown, or green (earthy colors) containing outdoorsy items, toys that are to take them out of the house and be active workers. What these gendered toys offer to children are roles which society thinks each gender should assume (and again, there's something inherently wrong with this gendering since it assumes that girls and boys fit into one of two roles, and also that there are only two genders).

There are several things wrong with this ad for Mattel's "Screature" dinosaur.

  1. Girls enjoy playing with dinosaurs too. But the active child, the one actually engaging in play with the toy is a little boy. When I was a kid, I had Barbies, and also a huge collection of plastic dinosaurs. I loved dinosaurs and animals. What this ad says to little girls is that they will get attacked by the toy, because only boys can play with it. True, the toy is strangely aggressive, but only a boy can tame it.
  2. There's a pervasive theme in this ad and others that little boys and girls don't play together. This ad, and others, seems to be saying that girls shouldn't be touching little boys' toys; in fact, they have no business being away from their little dollies. This also perpetuates the ongoing "sibling rivalry" where brothers and sisters irritate one another and fight to keep each other out of their respective rooms. Girls guard against boys with password protected journals; boys station robots by their doors. This may be shocking to a lot of douchebag ad agencies, but boys and girls can and have gotten along with one another. My little brother and I often played together--sometimes with my Barbies and dinosaurs, other days with his Hot Wheels cars, lots of times just outside (both being active).
  3. The worst most offensive part of this commercial is the girl getting squirted in the face. I don't think it's all that much of a stretch to read this as the coveted "money shot" (I will not be linking to this). The money shot is so pervasive in our culture that it has infiltrated commercials targeting children, and even t.v. shows that young people watch. I don't think it even occurred to the makers of this commercial to have a boy playing with the toy, and then have another boy get squirted for petting it in the "wrong spot." You'll notice that another boy gets squirted at later on, but not in the face. Not even close.
This sort of advertisement seeks to degrade women at a younger and younger age. I would like to ask this girl's parents why they allowed this, but I have a feeling I would just be more frustrated by the answer. This girl is probably no older than ten, and already she has been subjected to a form of degradation that has leaked from the porn-industry into the mainstream media. It is disturbing on many levels due to the girls young age and the connotations of liquid on a girl's face. Also kids watch it, and though some people will argue that kids are too young to know what a cum shot is, this message board could be shocking to you. Here's the conversation reproduced:
Re: The COCONUT scene with the PARENTS
by alexahhh (Mon Dec 15 2008 00:35:22)
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You're 12 years old and you know about cumshots?

Oy vey.

Re: The COCONUT scene with the PARENTS
by maomom (Mon Dec 15 2008 17:05:06)
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Long story...
We sometimes like to think this sort of thing is lost on children, but it isn't, which makes this sort of commercial even more repulsive since it's reinforcing sexism and the subjugation of women and girls as passive objects you can cum on.


Renee said...

Girl or boy I do not like this toy in the least little bit. At first I thought it was good because it was encouraging a boy to nurture but the over all aggressiveness out weighs any potential good.