Sunday, 16 December 2012

Boys and Girls Toys

I have three loud, excitable and incredibly wonderful nieces and nephews to buy gifts for. So recently I've stumbled into the unfamiliar territory of the toy section armed with a vague idea of what the parents have bought and what they like. The first thing noticed is how divided a lot of it is divided according to gender and traditional ideas of gender roles. For girls it's all pink and other pastel colours, and for boys its so many shades of blue. Sometimes it is a case of same toy, different colour, other times it actively promotes gender stereotypes. Try finding a toy vacuum that isn't bright pink.

A Swedish toy retailer gained attention for publishing a "gender-neutral" catalogue, including a boy in a Spiderman costume pushing a toy buggy. Thinking to my own childhood I eschewed the many attempts to play with Action Man-type boys toys in favour of my sisters toys which I borrowed in the same way I "borrowed" their dresses. Children don't know about the gender rules or what they should or should not play with until it gets socialised into them later they will take what they enjoy playing with use imagination and be loud, excitable and incredibly wonderful.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Christmas Ads

Ah December, early nights, seasonal songs in the shops and the incessant blast of Christmas ads. There is nothing more likely to suck the seasonal spirit out of me than doing Christmas shopping it doesn't stop the marketing industry from trying to persuade me to visit a store.

Following the success of John Lewis' ad campaigns there does seem to be more "emotion" centric campaigns. ASDA are the the latest to try this route, ditching their long-standing "hey we're cheaper" campaign for a little movie featuring a mother figure organising Christmas.

Except it's horribly ill conceived and patronizing to both sexes even in a world of sexist advertising. While their previous campaigns were hardly inspiring or right on, they clearly conveyed the message, were probably cheaper and didn't smell of someone trying to ape a campaign that revived a lot of buzz. 

If I stumble into the nearby ASDA I can see males manage to push a trolley, I can also guess some will happily wrap presents and so on while their partner rests or watches the football where the fan is portrayed as a mindless "passionate" male lad to be sold gassy larger, takeaway pizza and cars.