Wednesday, 5 December 2012

This is how easy it is. No more excuses.

There have been some delighted reactions to the news that a particular toy company has released a catalogue which does not perpetuate the common gender divisions: girls learning how to be good mothers and home-makers, while boys get all the really cool stuff. There have also been the very predictable rumblings from people claiming this is all very unnecessary and PC and can't it just go away already so normal people don't have to wrap their heads around the disturbing notion that girls and boys may occasionally - of their own volition - play the same games with the same lumps of plastic.

Bloggers and websites such as Pink Stinks do a great job of showing just how widespread this ridiculous, arbitrary division of pretend items is, but pointing out examples of such an omnipresent problem can give the impression that the change being called for would involve a massive restructuring of whole industries. Some of the arguing I've done on forums recently has been against people who think that businesses need to follow these established marketing patterns, or risk losing customers by being too radical, too political, or just plain confusing. In fact, this stuff is really bloody easy, and happens all the time without exploding anyone's heads.

Here's one example that struck me a while ago, and I'm hoping you guys will suggest some more. In this advert for a building society, a man is greeted at the door by a boy and a girl. They both fly down the hallway with imaginary rocket packs. The little girl's rocket pack is the same size as the boy's and nothing about it is pink. It's just a little girl, playing at being in space. This ground-breaking destruction of the traditional, natural, universally-accepted-except-by-feminists gender roles in space - this utopian vision of sexless childhood - is entirely incidental to the product being sold. If the people doing marketing for a bank account can do this without fanfare, why can't the toy companies?

As a bonus, this is a cartoon in which a woman and a little girl get very excited about dinosaurs. It didn't strike me as at all unusual until I was writing this post.