Posted by: anniesheahulcher | March 19, 2015

Gendered Items

I knew all my time on Buzzfeed would eventually pay off. I found these articles a while back and have been saving them for this very special occasion. The reason these are really quite interesting is two fold –

1. I surely didn’t realize how gendered things were until taking this class. When I saw these articles, I couldn’t help but click on them and see what Buzzfeed had to offer me. I was honestly shocked with what I saw and couldn’t help but be frustrated by the fact that my favorite snack, goldfish, had to be gendered. It honestly all just seemed unnecessary and made me question what kinds of images we are putting out there for our youth and even just the general population about how separated men and women must be, so much that we can’t even eat the same food or drink the same tea.

2. Upon further investigation, I read the comments on these articles and a lot came to light that I hadn’t realized before. Some of these items that they put forth as being gendered are simply colored a certain way for decoration and the picture may not be telling the whole story. While some of them were valid, others were not nearly as much so. This served as an important reminder to me to always look at things with a critical eye.

And finally, in watching the video at the end of the second buzzfeed article I can’t help but ask the same questions. Why are girls expected to play with dolls and boys expected to play with trucks. Can’t all toys be for all children and all products be for all people? Do you think we will ever get to a place in society where this is possible? What are strides that we can make as students to make this happen? What are strides we can make as a society to make this happen? Is gendering items sometimes important – if so in what cases?


  1. Some of those pictures I wonder if they’re old, like from the 90’s or something. It definitely is a problem, especially that they gender it in the name of the item (Women’s tea I mean common). I can understand having different colors because I know I’d rather have a yellow hammer than a blue hammer but not when it’s paired with a gender. However on the other hand, it’s good advertising. I’m sure these businesses do their research to see what their audience will respond to, and tweek it if a part of their audience isn’t responding to the product. As you can see, I’m conflicted on this matter on whether it’s good or not. As for strides we can make as students, we just need to be aware and change the minds of the people we meet. Society won’t change unless we change it. Change only happens bit by bit. Honestly, we won’t even see change until we are older. We’re the generation that is going to change things and we’re not grown up yet so we haven’t seen a difference yet. Change will happen, we just have to be patient.

  2. These two articles were very eye-opening and frustrating to the point where it was almost comical. I think that when we are children we grow up with these gendered toys, however, I don’t think that is what makes the issue relevant. It is the fact that society continues to gender us as we grow into adults. I was the first child to want princess everything but that didn’t mean that I wanted pink and floral everything from tissues to earplugs when I was older. I agree with Sarah on the fact that businesses are most likely doing this to attempt to appeal to the market, however, the backlash they are getting from articles just like this one is showing that progress is being made. In regards to your questions, I definitely believe that society will eventually get to a place where these gendered stereotypes are less common but it will take time as well as more people like us being educated about the gendered products that are out there. I think that it is important as people in general to break these stereotypes when we can and to promote the degendering of these ideas by refusing to accept that they are okay. As for your last question, I do not believe that there is a necessity for certain items to be gendered. I think that products should be offered without the “for girls” or “for boys” sign on the package. This would allow anyone from children to adults to choose what they would like to use without the package labeling them and placing them into a certain stereotype.

  3. Much like Erica I had a little bit of a laugh at some of these gender specific products, as they were quite ridiculous. I largely think that the reason for “creating” or probably better termed labeling these products as products for women is as Sarah pointed out marketing. From such a young age we are trained by society to believe there is a vast difference between boys and girls, like a the saying boys are from Mars and girls are from Venus suggests we are different species. This idea that we are so dramatically different makes a feel the need to have products made for our own gender, or at least until there is a consciousness that sets in and rejects the different species idea. As stupid and comedic as these gendered products are I think they expose an issue in society that dramatically affects women’s ability to be seen as leaders or become leaders. The idea that women and men must have separate products and are dramatically different has the possibility, and I think it has, led to women being isolated into certain fields of work, and then also certain levels within those fields. If we as a society believe that women and men are so drastically different, which I do think there are certain subtler differences, then that lends itself to segregation into separate fields of work as we have seen earlier in the class. Unless we can work to break down the ideas that men and women are so different and start seeing less gendering, then these gendered fields will continue to occur. I do think that as our generation enters into parenthood and continues to grow older and develop into leaders of the world we will see a slight rollback of gendering things, but it will take more time and a continued push by future generations to remove the gendering that does occur now.

  4. To start I thought most of these were really funny, but there were also some that weren’t even necessary to include. After reading the comments, as Annie suggested, I was able to see that some of the products are just assumed to be for girls because they were pink and not because they said to be for a girl. Many people commented that by doing this that the stereotype is just being reinforced. I agree with this. When it comes to whether there will be a time when society does not gender toys and products, I think comes down to profit. Some of the products had been remade and designated “for girls” in order to draw new attention to an old product. I believe this will continue to happen as long as consumers reinforce the behaviors by buying the products. I am not suggesting that the products designated for women should not be bought, but I do think that if companies believe this is what people want, then that is what they will provide. A big selling point for products is the packaging. I did research my senior year in high school on whether the color of a package would influence children to pick a healthy snack, such as apples, over an unhealthy snack like chips. The bag colors were purple, blue, or red. The bags were cellophane, therefore they were light and the red looked slightly more like pink. One boy told me he did not want to pick that bag because it was pink. This would help to reinforce why suppliers would want to have gendered toys that appealed to what they thought each gender would want. I do think that if a new trend was to start making gender free toys and products, then people would be drawn to them because they were being advertised as something new. This may help make way for degendering what is sold.

  5. I got a kick out of the captions in the second article, especially “It goes without saying that the women’s hiking socks are just for pretend. Women can’t actually hike! Their periods would attract bears”. However, I completely understand why there are mens and women’s versions of socks. Lets be honest, I am a 5’2″ female with size 7 feet. If I tried wearing a gender neutral sock, there’s no way that the sock I would need would also fit a male with a size 10 foot, so I think that example was blown a bit out of proportion. The video at the end, however, was extremely insightful for such a young girl. I never even thought about gender expectations until last semester in my sociology class. As a child, however, I always wanted to be outside and playing in the dirt with monster trucks or hot wheelz cars. Every Christmas, family friends would buy my sister and I a new porcelain doll. And every year that doll never even left the box. Yes, sometimes I played with a baby doll, but the majority of the time I wanted nothing to do with the pink frilly things. Our family friends simply played into the gender expectations that girls play with dolls and should have dolls. I would be very interested to see which toys children picked out when everything was in a gender neutral color.

  6. Confession: I think that I am mostly okay with products like these being gender specific. I just think that it’s only a big deal if we make it a big deal. I remember being especially attracted to “girly” things when I was little. Take the globe for example. It’s pink. So what? My sister would have picked the brown one and not looked back, but I liked the “girly” one.
    If putting apples in a pretty princess bag will make young girls more likely to eat their fruit, then so be it!
    I am very against taking the gender out of everything and making everything gender neutral. I take pleasure in feminine things. Some of my best friends do not and would rather have a more “manly” looking product. That’s fine. And I can still proudly say that my favorite color is blue. If we take all the gender specifics out of advertising, everything will look the same, appealing to no one, and this assumes that every person is the same. Boys can buy the pink goldfish if they want too. This isn’t just a girl sided thing.
    I think that even these silly products allow for girls to express themselves creatively in a small way – if they choose to do so. Nobody is forcing them.

  7. I’m so glad someone mentioned Buzzfeed! I’ve come to overall appreciate Buzzfeed’s sarcasm and bringing to light these issues in a way that’s relatable for a larger range of audiences. Somewhat off topic, but Buzzfeed is under constant scrutiny on their youtube page with comments so angry for representing homosexual couples and the “Try Guys,” which are men who try unusual things that aren’t expected out of the ‘typical’ man. Buzzfeed isn’t perfect, but using it’s large audience of all ages and both genders to address the stereotypes and discrimination men and women face in a way that’s funny, yet relatable is allowing these conversations to occur if nothing else. Using the photographs of everyday products that we purchase and use to display how influences our society is influenced by these stereotypes without even realizing these small acts of gendering makes it all even more shocking and angering for me. From pens to food, we buy the color of packaging that’s more attractive to us. While many assume I love pink, I personally hate pink and always have. I’m pretty sure part of the reason I dislike this color is because people linked me as a ‘pink’ person and I wanted to just prove those people wrong for assuming, but either way I’ve tried to steer away from the color. Now seeing how many products use blue to attract males and pink to attract females is ridiculous. It’s fine to have different colors for packaging, but why not orange and red or even plain black and white packaging? By using these colors, society is further pushing this idea that boys like blue, truck toys, and video games, while girls like pink, barbies, and ballerinas. 5 years ago, I remember by sociology teacher mentioned this idea of a couple raising their boy to wear what colors he wanted and play with what toys he wanted by giving him options that are expected from both genders. At this time, the idea of no gendering was so foreign to me, and to be honest, I thought how bad I felt for that kid and the torment in school he may face. Now, I feel disappointed by my initial thoughts of pity for the little boy, when in reality, that family is a part of the movement to allow people to become who they want to be without gender stereotypes and pressure to be a certain person. Hopefully as time passes, more and more people will be more accepting to chose blue when she is suppose to pick pink and vice versa. It would be nice to see that change begin in brands’ marketing, but one can only wish.

  8. Before taking this class, I would sometimes notice the very obviously gendered products in stores, but now after this class, everything that is even remotely gendered sticks out to me like a sore thumb. The thing about the first article that stuck out the most to me was that the regular thermometer costed $5 and the pink (girl’s) thermometer costed $7.50. I see things like that all the time, and that’s what really bothers me. Why do women make 70 cents to every man’s dollar, and yet everything we buy costs so much more? As hopeless as society seems, I think that little girl in the video is a little reassuring. I think her parents managed to raise her in a way to recognize those imbalances, and I think that’s the only way that society will be changed. If we continue to raise our children in a way that they see how gendered society is, eventually society’s gendered view of products will shift. I think gendering is sometimes important in certain cases. Gender still needs to be acknowledged or else young children will be very confused, but it needs to be something that they choose and come to understand on their own. Also, at this point in time, society isn’t totally ready to accept people who don’t stick to their gender norms, and for one’s social reputation’s sake, we need to allow this to be a very gradual change on a large scale.

  9. I think the fact toys are gendered is a little bit ridiculous. They should make a wide array of dolls and cars and dinosaurs and whatever else a child wants to play with in every variety of colors and market them to children as a whole and not to specific genders of children. I think the same thing should be said about adult products. Both boys and girls have hair so why is there women’s shampoo scented like strawberries and men’s shampoo scented like “Timber” and “Lionpride”. Its absolutely ridiculous. If there is a difference in the shampoo market it based on how it affects the hair it is washing, not that it will be better simply because it is marketed to a gender. I The only time I believe a product should be marketed for a specific gender is if it is a product that is biologically or medically gendered. Such as a specific medicine for uterine health, or like Midol a medicine designed to treat the symptoms of a disorder only suffered by females. Then it makes sense because it wouldn’t be appropriate to market it to men. I do think we should be aware of our gender identity but I don’t think we should feel pressured to use a specific product specifically because it is pink and pink is a “woman’s color”. I really commend buzzfeed for identifying the ridiculousness of this phenomenon as well as Ellen DeGeneres who ruthlessly mocked bic pens for women (they were slightly smaller and were pink and purple).

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