Misrepresentation of Gender Roles in Media: Easy Bake for Boys

As the holiday season has trickled by, the flood of advertisements masked with a splash of eye-catching silvers, golds and a surplus of sparkles has fooled many in the consumption of what-they-must-buy rather than what-they-should-avoid once again. This population includes individuals with their eyes glued to back-to-back holiday-themed movies, and bottoms wrapped by the warmth of the big comfy couch. The outcome of such magic is an endless mass of people that file in and out of local shopping malls, which for people like myself can be a total nightmare. I believe that we as consumers have witnessed the chaos of the holiday magic to varying extents. However do not get me wrong because I am all for the season of giving as a wonderful time for the initiation of kind acts and reflection. It gives us the opportunity to reflect individually, or with the company of our loved ones about our yearly actions and in-actions. However I have always found that the season of giving has increased the vulnerability of consumers to the predation of mass-marketed companies. Specifically I have witnessed the global expansion of mass media targeted towards the youngest consumers: children and youth.

To this day, the role of mass media in the misrepresentation of gender roles continues to manipulate the interest of children and youth. The segmentation of gender roles are prominent in television advertisements, such the industry in the distinguishment of what-boys-supposedly-love in comparison to the interests of girls. This is witnessed in advertisements created by companies such as Mattel and Hasbro, as linked below.

Mattel: Barbie Glam Vacation House – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V60GVk0-WH8

Hasbro: Target Nerf Gun – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0l5uxE4oMI

The continual role of mass media in distinguishing gender roles must be challenged. The detrimental impact of these binaries is reflected in the power imbalance in a dominantly heteronormative society. In a society driven by the emergence of social media, we are inclined to witness the good and the bad. Recently, a powerful media message was released which highlighted the pitfall of Hasbro, a multinational toy company, in the perpetuation of sexism. In a petition on Causes.com created by a young girl named McKenna, she highlights the harmful consequences of gender-specific advertising, such as for the Easy-Bake Oven that her little brother idolizes. McKenna is disappointed by Hasbro’s packaging and advertisements for the Easy-Bake Oven, which is marketed exclusively to girls and, as a result, reinforces old, harmful stereotypes that relate girls to cooking and housework. The impact of Hasbro’s marketing schemes discourages boys such as McKenna’s little brother in the acceptance of his interests of cooking in society.

Link to McKenna’s petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/hasbro-feature-boys-in-the-packaging-of-the-easy-bake-oven

After an astounding response with over 45,000 signatures on McKenna’s campaign, Hasbro invited her to their headquarters where they announced plans for creating a gender neutral silver and black Easy Bake Oven, that will aim to encourage both boys and girls. Often times, we underestimate the power and capabilities of children and youth to voice their opinion. McKenna reveals the power of publicizing her opinion through the use of media, which evidently challenges the dominant misrepresentation of gender roles in media.