Word Clouds Show Gender Bias in Toy Ads

Words in ads for girls' toys

Crystal Smith of The Achilles Effect blog looked at the words from TV commercials for toys and used Wordle to present the stark gender bias in toy advertising in graphic form.

I'm not surprised at the presence of "battle" or "heroes" in boys' toys, but am quite suprised to find that "fun" is missing
("fun" is there for the girls' though.)

Link - via Wonderland

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No, experiments do show toy preferences in children. But we should not be interpreting this like Social Darwinists. The genes lay the foundations for the neurochemistry which then feedsback on itself with new information that results in further adaptation. The typical feral child doesn't meet the criteria of any "typical" male or female, or human being for that matter. The degree of imprinting, role-modelling, and the effect of encouragement, far outweigh the influence of genetics on male and female behavior. This is proved by anthropological work, the most famous of which, although somewhat discredited is Margaret Mead's Sex and Temperment.


In brief, her comparative study revealed a full range of contrasting gender roles:

"Among the Arapesh, both men and women were peaceful in temperament and neither men nor women made war.

"Among the Mundugumor, the opposite was true: both men and women were warlike in temperament.

"And the Tchambuli were different from both. The men 'primped' and spent their time decorating themselves while the women worked and were the practical ones — the opposite of how it seemed in early 20th century America."
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I once saw a doco on kids with androgen insensitivity syndrome (aka genetic males with the outwards appearance of females) that discussed research that showed that kids with this condition despite being raised as girls preferred typical boy toys like trucks, even prior to diagnosis when everyone thought they were girls.

Perhaps gender-typing is not entirely responsible for the girl/boy divide in toy preference.
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There's nothing wrong with this.

What IS wrong and unacceptable is how the toylines of media properties (such as action cartoons) leave out the female characters, even if they are part of the main cast.
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I'm bugged by the fact that TV commercials showing presumably gender-neutral toys, such as Legos or other construction toys, show boys and not girls playing with them.
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Few of us have a problem with it because as grown adults who have already been subjected to these mentalities our whole life, we are generally accepting of violent imagery and/or the "princess" innocent victim type. But when you break them down rationally, neither mode of operation is really civil.

I got into the habit of catching myself whenever I had even the slightest violent impulse. It became most obvious to me in the way I would impulsively stamp out the lives of insects inside and outside my home. If a bug wandered past me, I was likely to kill it. As I tried to stop doing this, I realized just how ingrained the behavior was. Even as I intended to stop doing it consciously, unconsciously I was still doing it. It made me disgusted with myself and the whole damn society for accepting this sort of thing.

Can you believe it, now when I see someone stamp out a bug I feel compassion for the bug. I don't say anything to the person, because I know the behavior isn't conscious. But I think of it in these terms; when I stamped out bugs, I could identify a shot of power, a sense of control originating from the subconcsious. Not much, but a slight sense of being bigger or having power. And that right there, disturbed me enough to not want to do it anymore.
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