Stereotypes or Created Types?
I was intrigued when our son sent me a link to a graphic illustration of the most commonly used words in toy advertisements for boys and girls.
Scanning over the words, I see something very different than the original researcher did…
The words used in advertising toys for boys are things like battle, power, heroes, action, stealth, and mission, while the words used to advertise to girls are love, fun, friendship, magic, babies, mommy, hair, and style. So, do you think this is about “How Toy Ad Vocabulary Reinforces Gender Stereotypes?” We don’t think so. We think that advertisers use words that sell, and these words sell not because kids are forced into stereotypical gender roles, but because boys and girls are reflecting how they are made.
The boys’ words reflect dominion, conquering, competition, risk-taking or adventurousness, and accomplishing a mission. There’s nothing wrong with that. God made men to be protectors and providers.
The girls’ words are relationship-oriented, focusing on nurturing, friendship, and making yourself lovely. Nothing wrong with that as long as the adornment is not merely outward (and we do understand outward is what these ads are talking about). God made women to be the keepers of the home – think lighthouse keeper or keeper of the garden – who would creatively nurture their families and be the helpers of their husbands. Yes, boys can (and should) nurture and girls can (and should) conquer, but that’s not their main role. Surprisingly, these ads are fairly accurate in describing what men and women are like.
Now, the toys themselves, well that’s another story. Many, if not most of them advertised in the mass media are terribly problematic. Girl dolls that look like rebellious and immoral women. Boys encouraged to play the part of evil characters. We find it fascinating, though, that when advertisers want to motivate sales, they fall back on the created order.