Appropriate Play Experiences

Hasbro emailed me back. So underwhelming.

As a family organization we are committed to finding exciting and appropriate play experiences for boys and girls of all ages

I’m curious what an “appropriate” play experience is. Does Elliot riding his pink bike and carrying a purse count? Does Audrey wiping her penis with toilet paper count?

The gender specific toys help to build confidence and create wonderful bonding experiences amongst both parents of same sex children and amongst the children who they relate with most.

So daddies that don’t relate well with their daughters are out of luck? And if a mom isn’t a fan of trucks and other toys built for boyhood, and relates most with her daughter, she too won’t benefit from Hasbro toys?

Specifically on Tonka, there are essentially two reasons why we choose to market Tonka to boys. In all of our research, the overwhelming majority of Tonka interest is with little boys. Further, we have scores of research that tell us about the psychological differences between boys and girls and how they play. In fact, there is some recent research that explains how this can actually be traced back to the actual biology and chemistry in the brain. This research proves to us that while there will be girls who defy these studies, the marketing is best targeted to boys and moms of little boys.

At least they’ve done their research, I guess. And I get the point that they need to market what’s going to sell. But does it have to be so blatant?

I don’t know if I would have noticed this if I was a mother to only boys. In fact, I guess I wouldn’t. I do recall getting my knickers in a knot last winter while looking through the rec center catalog for classes for Elliot. I was looking at the gymnastics classes and found a cheerleading class. Because I always wanted to be a cheerleader am a consumer of information I read the entire class description. It was for GIRLS interested in cheer. I fired off an email to the head of the program. She wrote me back and was surprised that the description said that, she hadn’t written it or ever read it. She made it clear that boys were also welcome. Elliot was and is too young for that class. But cheerleading is a sport I can get behind when he’s in high school. And, because I’m not as enlightened as I wish – I’ll probably be mortified when Audrey wants to cheer.

My life? Full of contradictions. Mostly of my own making.

2 smart people left their mark:

  1. Scylla, 4. October 2007, 9:38

    I often feel like screaming at advertising campaigns that reinforce our societal mores regarding the roles men and women are supposed to play.

    It is so frustrating to see our boys and girls consigned to typical roles from such a young age.

    Happily, Marlena really likes trucks and bulldozers, and I hope Oliver will like dolls and dress up.

  2. Friday Focaccia at Triple Venti (Pingback), 27. October 2007, 20:58

    [...] That being said, I have been caught somewhere between amused and shocked at the some of the complaining about things like a Tonka Truck ad, because it is targeted towards boys (also another one can be found here), and the horror shown towards the Hasbro’s Rose Petal Cottage, which has {gasp} Rose Petals on it, and is marketed to girls. Horkin Ramblings says it quite nicely when she asks Aren’t There More Important Things To Complain About. She even picked out the most amazing comment, which lamented that this toy was, “polishing the glass ceiling instead of breaking it.”  Seriously? [...]