Arts and Culture

Five toys for girls that need a gender makeover

Hasbro's Easy-Bake Ovens are getting a masculine makeover fifty years after the toy was introduced, thanks to a market-savvy thirteen-year-old girl in New Jersey who wanted to buy her little brother one as a gift -- and found only purple and pink ovens. Her campaign got a media-smooch after a handful of celeb chefs, including Bobby Flay, spoke up in favor of a more male-friendly model.

There are two significant lessons we can learn from the Easy-Bake situation: First, it's proof that Bobby Flay is capable of being useful/relevant even though it's not 2008 any more, and second, that it's time to update other traditionally girl-centric toys to reflect American society's changing views on stereotypical gender roles.

Here's our list of five little girl toys that need a gender makeover. It's shake & bake, and I helped! See also: -Strange Fruit: Peaches thinks stereotypes are the pits. -Dolls in thigh-highs and ponies with purses: MSNBC says toys are getting too sexy. And? -Tomboy sensitively explores a freedom from gender codes

5. Play Circle Marketplace shopping cart.

The description underneath this toy shopping cart is adorable: "Your little one will shop 'til she drops with this marketplace shopping cart. This adorable play set includes a purple shopping cart and a wide variety of play food. With 31 pieces, it is sure to keep your little shopper happily occupied for hours." What should keep the parents of these little shoppers occupied is the realization that by buying this toy for their female children, they are perpetuating the idea that it's a woman's job to shop for groceries.

Actual shopping carts are usually a gender-neutral, metallic silver color -- not p*ssy petal pink. Maybe toy manufacturers should just make silver/gray carts. Then parents can teach their children that men AND women can both buy the wrong zero-cal sodas, accidentally get the shitty razors, and grab the box of super-absorbent tampons instead of the super-mega-ultra absorbent ones.

4. Kidkraft Pink Retro Kitchen and Refrigerator Play Set. Comfortable middle-class parents can spend $149.99 to make damn sure their little girls know who belongs in the kitchen. This pastel pink kitchen playset comes with a pink oven, a pink stove, and a pink refrigerator/freezer stack; all it's missing is a set of pink shackles and chains to attach to the ankles of little girls on one end -- and to the pretty-in-pink oven on the other end. (Maybe the chains are sold separately?) Actual ovens are not usually pink -- matter of fact, most of them are gender-neutral colors like cream, taupe or avocado. And a little boy who doesn't get to pretend-cook with a more masculine kitchen setup will grow up to be grown-ass man who couldn't heat up a can of soup if there wasn't a woman there to show him how to use a f*cking can opener. 3. KidKraft Pastel Smoothie Set.

Taking the time and effort to eat healthy is clearly a woman's issue, at least according to this girly-pink smoothie blender playset. Apparently little boys don't have to worry about their weight or body types, ever. While women are expected to conform to a conventional, height-weight proportionate standard of beauty, men can stuff cheddar corn up their asses and mainline non-light beer until their gut-flaps hang over their pants like hairy, flesh-toned doilies. Would offering a blue blender set be weird? No weirder than sending the message that eating fruit is for girls.

2. Bratz Catz Chloe doll.

There is a high probability that in any toy store, you will find at least one suggestively-dressed female doll marketed to little girls. The chances of finding a similarly-attired male doll marketed to little boys is hovering down around "not at all." This doll doesn't look like a cat so much as a ho. Why isn't there a male counterpart doll sporting a tight, animal-print top and leggings, denim miniskirt, feather boa and slut boots? Because then the makers of Bratz dolls couldn't contribute to the skewed and vapid stereotype that all women are sexually available to men upon request.

1. Lego Friends Butterfly Beauty Shop.

So when the makers of Lego blocks finally get around to creating Legos that are geared toward girls, they decide to make sure they are being used to build really important things like salons. What could possibly be more important than teaching a little girl to grow up to be groomed and perfumed at all times so that she can attract a man? Or to get her manis and pedis with clockwork-precise timing in order to compete with other women to attract men? Lego should stick to making male-centric sets, because they are obviously so experienced at it that this "girl power" set is awash in male-accommodating, gender-normative stereotypes.

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Jenn Wohletz
Contact: Jenn Wohletz