Blurring the Lines of Gender

Because we have been told that trucks are boy toys, and Barbie dolls made for girls, there is a stigma when those lines are blurred. The reactions toward gender bending is also specific to the gender itself. When a boy becomes engaged in more girl oriented activities, he receives more criticism than when a girl explores the realm of being a tomboy. This is typically caused by the assumption that boys will only grow increasingly feminine whereas girls will eventually fall out of the masculine phase and return to her submissive and passive state. (Freeman).

The effect of the select appreciation toward a female character typically occurs when the character exhibits pronounced masculine and adventurous activities. (Calvert). However, studies within the realm of advertisement and children can disagree with this masculine appreciation model. In one study, author Tessa Livingstone argues “the changes that have taken place in traditional gender rules and that children are changing these rules due to the influence of mass media.” (Livingstone). Perhaps this is a true statement, but the actual advertisements seem reluctant to push their products into the undefined gender audience.

In one study, researchers examine the statistics of boys who are interested in cooking toys. However, certain toy brands remain determined to advertise strictly to a girl audience. (Newman). Therefore, even if society itself is willing to venture into the gender bending toy isle, advertisement companies hold true to the pink and blue. Perhaps this reluctance is creating the overall stand still in accompanying the ready acceptance of blurring the gender definitions. Another study supports this overwhelming standstill. It was found that boys are encouraged by their parents to pursue math and science more than their sisters. Boys then tend to receive toys that are geared toward the math and science categories to further that encouragement. (Cavanagh). Because of the advertisement’s agenda to push these gender stereotypes, parents become influenced to buy their children the appropriate gender-defined toy. (Jones). Parents become consumed with these gender stereotypes, pushing their children in the direction of the appropriate societal definition of their gender. Overall, the advertisement companies reluctance to change into an era of gender neutral and parental influence of gender-defined only fuels the now very clear perpetual cycle of gender stereotypes within the child audience.

Work Cited:

Freeman, Nancy. "Preschoolers’ Perceptions of Gender Appropriate Toys and their Parents’ Beliefs About Genderized Behaviors: Miscommunication, Mixed Messages, or Hidden Truths?." Early Childhood Education Journal. 34.5 (2007): 357-66. Print.

Calvert, Sandra. "Gender Stereotyping in Children's Reports About Educational and Informational Television Programs.." Media Psychology. 5.2 (2003): 139-162. Print.

Livingstone, Tessa. "The new gender divide.." Times Educational Supplement. 4787 (2008): 31-31. Print.

Newman, Andrew Adam. "Half Baked." Brandweek. 51.11 (2010): 8-10. Print.

Cavanagh, Sean. " When It Comes to Math and Science, Mom and Dad Count.." Education Week. 27.9 (2007): 1-1. Print.

Jones, Marian. "Toy Story.." Psychology Today. 29.6 12. Print.