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Segregation cultivation

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Many objects are designed to be perceived as clearly male or female (think of Gilette and Venus razors for example), whereas more essential ones (kitchen appliances, electronic media, tables and beds) are made „unisex“. But when we look at the same essential objects made for children: suddenly it’s all either pink or blue!

Why this sudden change in attitude?
Why – in a world supposedly freed from gender oppression – are boys and girls being subconciously made to feel so different from one another by media and toy companies?

Is it because this makes it easier for companies to supply new products, because they don‘t have to create innovative design and can just stick to typical army- and flower-pattern? Useful as it may be to manufacturers, I doubt it‘s good for children‘s self-image and leads to much teasing in schools that could be avoided by parents paying more attention to a less stereotyped environment for their children.
Would a little girl‘s gender identity be damaged if she used a neutral or (heaven forbid) blue notebook instead of a pink one?

P.S.: a bit of ha ha

3 Responses to “Segregation cultivation”

  1. Arthur Perdijk Says:

    Interesting thoughts on gender, is this a subject for your postings or a more general interest?
    On the other hand, it doesn’t seem like this way of thinking is just imposed by manufacturers, it is also one of the most basic distinctions between people. Is there a culture without gender distinction?

  2. Jane Mumford Says:

    I’m always a bit concerned about the exploitation of children and how they’re shaped by their surroundings, but it’s also a bit of the topic for my postings so far that made me choose this.

    I agree that there’s hardly any cultures without gender distinction, (I was going to say that tribal children all play with the same kind of things, but I just remembered that girls then go on to learn from their mothers about female occupations, and boys learn from their fathers. So there again the very clear distinction emerges). But as I see it, now we’re in the position where both genders could technically do whatever they want… maybe it’s because the slogan of western civilization is always about equality and same chances for everyone, that it makes me wonder why we still apply stereotypes to children. As if -in our ideal fantasy world- genders were still predictable and simply categorizable.
    Do you have any guesses as to why children are still being fitted into niches? I’m sure there are many reasons.

  3. Arthur Perdijk Says:

    I guess children are still fit into niches because there is still no definite gender equality. It is still not possible for women to be a CEO without serious extra effort. For a man you can’t become a housedaddy without some raised eyebrows. Maybe there is also still a social function in gender distinction, that it makes specialisation easier, or conditions people for certain kinds of work.

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