Since when did girls stop wanting to be heroes?

13 Apr

I saw these word clouds on yesterday.  Can you tell a distinct difference between the left and right sides?  Each side represents the most commonly used words toy advertisers use when targeting girls and boys.  The boys’ toys that were looked at were Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Kung Zhu, Nerf, Transformers, Beyblades, and Bakugan. There were 658 words from 27 commercials. The girls’ toys were Zhu Zhu Pets, Zhu Zhu Babies, Bratz Dolls, Barbie, Moxie Girls, Easy Bake Ovens, Monster High Dolls, My Little Pony, Littlest Pet Shop, Polly Pocket, and FURREAL Friends with 432 words from 32 commercials

The stark contrast in the clouds isn’t surprising at all.  Although I am interested in why “power” and “hero” didn’t make it on the girls’ cloud and why “love” and “friendship” didn’t make it on the boys’ cloud.    I feel that those words are and should be pretty gender neutral.  The fact that “power” isn’t anywhere on the girls’ list is slightly infuriating.  With the times changing and everything slowly becoming more equal shouldn’t advertisers take that into consideration when appealing to both genders?  I’m sure little girls would love to be heroes, so why isn’t that word seen in both clouds?  It’s so important to teach kids the meaning of equality and the obvious difference in the verbiage used in advertising is clearly not working in our favor.  Gender roles are established at such a young age when girls are playing with Easy Bake Ovens and boys are playing with their fire trucks that the longer these stereotypes are perpetuated the harder they are to break.  I’m not saying children don’t eventually grow out of the strictly pink and blue world, but it would be beneficial for everyone if the differences never started.

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6 Responses to “Since when did girls stop wanting to be heroes?”

  1. marriagecoach1 April 13, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    There are just natural sex role differences between men and women. They have done studies where they tried to give girls fire trucks and the boys dolls but it failed miserably.

    There is a book that I can recommend to you entitled: Stuck, 12 Steps Up The Career Ladder written by a woman teaching women to embrace their inner courage and power.

    Blessings on you and yours

    • kelleyzwong April 13, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

      I don’t think it’s going to be easy to balance out gender roles. It doesn’t surprise me that the studies you’re referring to aren’t successful. It maybe because what the kids see on tv is that girls play with a specifice type of toys and the boys play with another specific type and the influence carried over. However, I think the balance needs to start somewhere. It wouldn’t hurt if it started with the advertising.

      • marriagecoach1 April 13, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

        Like it or not we are all hard wired with specific gender roles. Now I have no problem with girls aspiring to heroics and exercising their courage. That is why I recommended the book to you by Sandra Walston. She takes your view and exposes women to it and encourages them to reach beyond their comfort levels and not accept the status quo. You really should read it, I think that you would find Ms Walston a kindred spirit.

        Blessings on you and yours
        John Wilder

  2. John April 13, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    While I agree we fall into some generalized desires as gender I also know that marketers have for years forced the either or on boys and girls. There is no reason a girl can’t be inspired to be heroic or brave. Heck have you ever seen an angry mama grizzly? I sure have. Have you ever witnessed a woman who has someone she loves treated poorly? Think of Ruby Bridges or all the mothers who have fought for their children to have a decent place in the world be it regarding disabilities or race. Fierceness is knit into their being just as much as tenderness is in a good father’s love for his kids. Ok. I’m turning this into a post… That is all I have to say.

    • kelleyzwong April 13, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

      It’s terrible that even now there is such a distinction among girls and boys. Just looking at commercials or simply walking down a toy aisle the evidence is there. Girls are brought up on Barbie’s and Easy Bake Ovens while boys are have their fire trucks and police cars. And sure, LEGOs tries to be fair but even they have a distinction between girl LEGOs and boy LEGOs.

      It’s so important for young kids to know that everyone possesses the same skills and has the ability to accomplish the same things. And with all the TV they watch, advertisers should take all of it into consideration.

      • john April 13, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

        Now I have to say that we offered our daughter all those things (legos, trucks, anything) and she does choose cute mice, hearts and pink all on her own. She has barely seen any advertisement. So there is something deep in the feminine heart that cries out for those things. We just can’t squelch the dynamics and complexity of them.

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