Many marketing efforts perpetuate the gender stereotypes that are steeped in our culture. Two examples at attempts to maintain these stereotypes through advertising are the Bic Critsal For Her and the Easy Bake Oven. These two conceivably innocuous items triggered a flood of articles, petitions, and videos, denouncing their perceived underlying messages.
The first controversy that erupted surrounded the Bic Cristal For Her pen. This pen was created and packaged specifically for women to use. Several groups lashed out at Bic, calling their attempt to target women with “lady pens” sexist and demeaning. Its detractors felt the campaign was degrading and fed into stereotypes by highlighting the thin design and the use of pastel colors. The negative press was overwhelming, although the pens have remained on the market.
Consumers also targeted those responsible for marketing the Easy Bake Oven by sending a petition asking its parent company Hasbro to make the ovens in colors other than pink and purple. Thousands of individuals signed the petition asking for alternative oven colors after a teenage girl from New Jersey was angered that her younger brother would have no other option but to use an oven in the colors that are considered stereotypically female. It was argued that the colors supported the stereotypical view that only young girls would want to bake. The signers of the petition felt that young boys who might want to use the toy would be more likely to practice their baking skills if the color of the oven was gender neutral.
Consider these two stories and think about your own reactions to the responses to the advertising and merchandising of these items.
To prepare: View the assigned resources and reflect on your experience with gender.
By Day 7
Submit a 2- to 4- page paper, in which you:
- Identify specific messages about gender presented in the mass media.
- Discuss messages about gender you have received from your family or cultural group.
- Analyze how these messages have influenced your experience with gender.
- Explain how you might address issues related to sexism in the mass media and diverse cultural beliefs about gender and gender roles in your social work practice.
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