In case you haven’t heard, there’s a petition going around to get Hasbro to make a gender-neutral Easy Bake Oven. A petition created by a 13-year-old girl, McKenna Pope, whose 4-year-old brother loves to cook and wanted his own toy oven for Christmas. McKenna’s argument to Hasbro is that the commercials for the Easy Bake Oven only show girls using it, and that the over comes in only “gender-specific hues: purple and pink.” My only argument with McKenna is that she’s accepting the societal premise that pink and purple are gender-specific. I reject that assertion. However, my sympathies are naturally with her and her brother, who aspires (for the moment) to be a chef. I have had the same problem in finding a toy stove for my daughters to play with. My oldest daughter, who is now 9, received a red toy oven when she was about 3 years old. I searched long and hard to find an oven that was not pink. Last year, for my 3-year-old, I replaced the oven with a whole mini-kitchen* from IKEA, which is completely gender-neutral – perhaps because it is a Swedish company.
Boys can do housework, too!
I have to say, my reaction to the pinkwashing of the toy aisle has pretty much been not to shop in the big box stores and to look for alternatives online and elsewhere. I just figured I didn’t have the time to fight the power and so I just wouldn’t endorse these stores with my money. But I give props to McKenna Pope, because without challenging the existing structure, it’s only going to continue. And I don’t think it’s healthy for any of us.
I raise my glass of low-sodium Lemon Italian Sparkling Mineral Water to you, McKenna. Rage on!
* This picture is part of the IKEA ad. Neither I nor my child is depicted in this picture.