'Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself. You bring to a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world. You bring your history and you read it in your own terms.'- Angela Carter

Sunday, 10 November 2013

A 'Kinder Surprise' For All: Gendered Toys And Its Issues For Society

"Kinder Surprise is at the centre of a gender stereotyping row after announcing that it will be selling limited edition pink and blue eggs in the UK.
The pink eggs will contain dolls, while the blue eggs will contain toy cars. Ferrero, the Italian company which produces the chocolate eggs, said the first batch will hit shelves next month. 
The firm says the products are not intended to reinforce gender stereotypes, and would merely allow parents to choose the most relevant product for their child. But anti-sexism campaigners described the move as a step backwards." (Bignell, The Independent, 2013)

Image from Independent
I recently stumbled across this when the author Kim Curran tweeted her disgust at it. I have to say I completely agree with her tweet. How on earth can Kinder state that they are not intending to reinforce gender stereotypes whilst colour coding their packaging plus limiting what toy a child could play with when purchasing said egg? It's fair to argue that if the little boy for instance, wanted to play with a pony, why wouldn't he purchase a pink egg? It wouldn't happen. The little boy would feel as if he was going against what it is to be male through purchasing such things. He would most likely be ridiculed for having a 'pink toy' to play with my friends. This, to me, shows how dangerous this gender reinforcement is. It restricts the freedom of choice: people are not comfortable in stepping away from this patriarchal and rigidly structured 'norm'.
I am absolutely astounded that this kind of marketing still happens. It isn't just with Kinder - they are just the most recent (that I am aware of). Barbie is pink, Action Man is military therefore defining what it is that children 'should' and 'should not' be playing with. It baffles me that people can't see how wrong it is to bring people down to their gender. Personalities, hobbies, friendships - they appear to mean nothing within a restrictive society when it comes down to the choices that people make. Women playing rugby - must be A) 'a lesbian' or B) 'butch'. A man that wants a career in hairdressing/ beauty - must be A) 'gay' or B) 'overly feminine'. It is ridiculous. I do not understand how this is still happening, what with the positive battles in the UK and US for same sex marriage and the rights that women have fought for and received. How have we come so far yet still remain so far behind? This packaging is a step backwards in this battle for equality. Both little girls and boys are going to be restricted by this, as are parents in their buying. What was wrong with the plain white packaging? Thank god they are limited edition.

Judith Butler argues that gender is performative, that is, gender is not what defines you. Your gender is in the actions that you take every day: "Gender is a choice, or that gender is a role, or that gender is a construction that one puts on, as one puts on clothes in the morning, that there is a 'one' who is prior to this gender, a one who goes to the wardrobe of gender and decides with deliberation which gender it will be today.” (Butler, 2006) Taking this into account, can't we all see that gender stereotypes need to stop? Why can't people feel comfortable in being themselves - because society doesn't let them. With so much stigma associated with anyone that steps outside of what's to be considered 'the norm' - the mistreatment of transsexuals/ cross-dressers is still horrendous - it's no surprise that those in favour of gender equality are so disgusted and gob smacked by such campaigns that seek to reinforce these gender stereotypes. It opens so many questions and secludes certain members of society. For instance, where do intersex fit into this? What about transsexuals? 
It's no wonder that people feel repressed by society. There's no freedom to explore who you are and to feel comfortable that you will be accepted or even left to enjoy your life without the abuse that comes with straying from the 'norm'. In a world where everything is gendered - even food (from Kinder to Diet Coke and Coke Zero) - it's difficult to express yourself as who you are, to break the norms. It's something that we should fight for. I look forward to the day where blog posts/ rants such as these no longer exist. It's things like this that show that feminism is still needed. This desire for equality between the sexes. This advertising is equally as repressive for males as it is females. If you child wants to play with a car or a pony, why can't they? Why should people feel restricted by something as trivial as colour? Frustrated is not the word. 


3 comments:

  1. Erm, really?! What the hell? I can't believe this! How is this still around, even these days? I cannot even fathom this since my parents never minded what I played with, but to think people that care about this have such influence is terrifying!
    Like you said, good thing it's limited edition. And I thought US are morons because Kinder eggs are not allowed there. I mean, having an egg in the house can truly be damaging so good thing they all have guns, too. But this takes the medal, I think. Wow.

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  2. Eff this crap. Now that really makes me angry! How can they not see how wrong this is?? I always hated the "pink is for girls" and "blue is for boys". I grew up with two brothers so I played with little soldiers, trains, trucks and so on and I really liked it. And my boyfriend was telling me one time how he wanted to play with dolls but his parents didn't let him. I fear this will happen with these eggs too. I hate these stereotypes!

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  3. So we have the blue kinder surprise marvel and the pink kinder surprise disney princess, we bought a box of these for our daughter so she could have one or two occasionally when she was good.

    We have not influenced her at all in her freedom to choose between the two and she has settled on one of each everytime now, and is equally as interested in both toys.

    I don't think kids have an issue with this, or that being surrounded by pink makes you more girlie or surrounded by blue more boyish, freedom of choice is the key...

    We have even done some videos of her opening them on youtube!

    kinder surprise marvel and disney

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