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

Not sure how that shows a gender bias. It seems to show a gender bias in the person who made the cloud by separating the categories into "boy" and "girl" toys.
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Personally, as a 27/f, I like the top ad better. It seems more exciting to me. I'm not really into half the stuff in the lower ad...but I do love my battles!
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You know, this is cute and all, but something seems REALLY fishy here.

I can't find the word 'princess' anywhere in the girl's word cluster. I find it very hard to believe that wasn't even in the top 10.

And I would tend to believe that the princess fantasy does as much to some girl's sense of entitlement as the word battle does to some boy's level of violent behavior.
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It is not gender bias, simply because it is different. That tag presumes the boys toys are intrinsically more valuable.

From the word clouds, all being equal, were I shopping for my kids I would opt for the "girls" choice.
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Is it really that hard to believe that boys and girls are not equal in all ways? That men in general have something in their DNA that makes them more aggressive than girls, and that girls have something in their DNA that make them more compassionate than men.

Sure there's minorities in both genders that have the opposite traits, but for the most part this is reality.

Equal rights were cool and all to get everybody on par in the workplace and in society and all that. But there's just no denying that there is a difference between men and women when it comes to personality traits.
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There are initial differences observed at birth, but the brain is highly adaptive. Encouraging violence or an innocent victim mentality are both going to impact the kid.

Thanks for the info Alex, very interesting to my studies.
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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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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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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 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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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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