Family appalled Easy Bake Ovens marketed to girls

What have we become when someone believes that because their hyper-sensitivities are offended, a major corporation must change their marketing scheme as to not hurt their feelings?  From the Who Do You Think You Are? file comes a little boy who loves to cook.  It seems that, among other things, he wants an Easy Bake Oven to help him on the road to becoming a real chef.  So what’s the problem?  Apparently Easy Bake Ovens only come in “girl colors”, the nerve.  The boy’s sister has crafted a petition to the Oven’s maker, Hasbro, asking them to change their advertising for their Oven.  She would like it to include boys on the box as well as offering more gender neutral colors, not just the pink and purple in which it now comes.

(Change.org) — My little brother has always loved cooking. Being in the kitchen is his favorite out of school activity, and he yearns to have the opportunity to cook on his own, or at least with limited help.

Imagine my surprise when I walked into his room to find him “cooking” tortillas by placing them on top of his lamp’s light bulb! Obviously, this is not a very safe way for him to be a chef, so when he asked Santa for his very own Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven, produced by the Hasbro company, for me to help him be the cook he’s always wanted to be, my parents and I were immediately convinced it was the truly perfect present.

However, we soon found it quite appalling that boys are not featured in  packaging or promotional materials for Easy Bake Ovens — this toy my brother’s always dreamed about. And the oven comes in gender-specific hues: purple and pink.

I feel that this sends a clear message: women cook, men work.

I have always been adamantly against anything that promotes specific roles in society for men and women, and having grown up with toys produced by the Hasbro corporation, it truly saddens me that such a successful business would resort to conforming to society’s views on what boys do and what girls do.

I want my brother to know that it’s not “wrong” for him to want to be a chef, that it’s okay to go against what society believes to be appropriate. There are, as a matter of fact, a multitude of very talented and successful male culinary geniuses, i.e. Emeril, Gordon Ramsey, etc. Unfortunately, Hasbro has made going against the societal norm that girls are the ones in the kitchen even more difficult.

Please join me to ask Hasbro to feature males on the packaging and in promotional materials for the Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven, as well as offering the product in different, non gender specific colors, i.e. primary colors. Please, sign this petition, help me in creating gender equality, and help the children of today become what they’re destined to be tomorrow. [emphasis in original]

A quick recap with what is wrong here:

  1. The family finds it appalling that boys are not included in the marketing, and the colors are too gender specific
  2. The family believes the message to be taken is “women cook, men work”
  3. The family believes the use of girls in its marketing promotes gender roles
  4. The lack of boys in the marketing lead this boy to believe it’s wrong for him to be a chef

1. This is our first clue that the parents of these children are raising them to feel victimized.  If the children are appalled, then it is because their parents have allowed them to feel appalled.  The feelings have been fostered and condoned.  These feelings of exclusion should have been quickly met with a rational explanation that the children on the box have nothing to do with you.  The colors are “girl” colors because for every 1 boy who wants an Easy Bake Oven, there are 200,000 girls who also want one.  I am reminded of the time I didn’t like the color of the ceiling fan vent cover in my bathroom.  I solved the problem by purchasing, then using a can of spray paint.

2. If this is the message you get from this, then that’s your problem.  That is not the intended message.  Hasbro puts girls on the packaging because this is who this toy is bought for the other 99.999% of the time.  The parents are obviously feminists or feminism sympathizers.  Children don’t naturally find hidden messages like the one suggested.  Both my daughters had Easy Bake Ovens and never once did they ask me if it meant that when they grow up that they have to be lowly housewives slaving over a hot stove while their husband does a real job.

3. Promoting gender roles?  How about Hasbro wants to make as much money on their product as they can.  They do this by gearing their marketing to the demographic most likely to want their product: young girls.  Despite what many who are offended by the idea that some toys are for girls and some for boys think, that is the reality.  What they are suggesting is that there are no emotional or psychological difference between the sexes, and this is simply not true.  Hasbro is not trying their hand at social engineering, they are selling toys.

4. The marketing scheme makes no judgement about who can or should be a chef.  This fact is further recognized by the boy’s own sister when she rattles off a list of famous successful men who are chefs.  Television and movies present men cooking all the time.  What about happy little girls playing with a toy oven suggests that it’s wrong for a boy to want to cook?  Nothing… until a parent suggests to their child that they should feel this way.

Easy Bake OvenI realize this is just a young girl looking out for her little brother.  But this is not the way to go about it.  His parents shouldn’t be filling this kid’s head with ideas about Hasbro pushing gender roles and suggesting they believe boys shouldn’t cook.  They should instead explain that even though the Easy Bake Oven is a toy that mostly girls like, it’s perfectly fine for him to want to cook, and it is fine for him to use the oven.  If I was this parent, I’d paint the oven for my son and turn it into a “boy’s” oven.

When you condition children to be offended by trivialities like this, they will find offense everywhere they look.  It won’t matter that Hasbro or anyone else didn’t do anything wrong, they will have been raised with the belief that if they feel bad, it’s someone else’s fault and that someone else needs to do something about it.

Hasbro’s main goal is to sell as many Easy Bake Ovens as possible.  They aren’t making judgments on boys who like to cook, but they aren’t about to alienate the 99.999% of their target customer by changing the color to something less “girly” to accommodate the over-sensitivities of a handful of customers.

Comments

  1. That’s weird. I thought easy bake ovens were being marketed to long-haired, giggly boys.

  2. …purple is gender-specific? I always thought of purple as rather the neutral between pink and blue.

    • CM

      I think I can see where they’re coming from with purple being a girl color. It might not be obvious to adults like us, but to kids its a girls color. I think Kunoichi hit it on the head though.

      Kunoichi

      I think you’re right, if this little boy shows the passion his sister claims in the petition, then why not really foster that passion by letting him cook and bake on a smaller scale with parental supervision on the real stove. Not only would that probably make the kid really happy and excited, it would give him the experience required to be a great chef that much earlier in like, like hockey players who begin skating as soon as they can walk.

  3. I have mixed feelings about this situation. On the one hand, once I had children of my own, I discovered that the most ridiculous things aimed at children were severely gendered. A tool set is a tool set. Why should there be a “regular” tool set, and a pink one for girls? It’s right up there with those gendered Bic pens that were rightfully lambasted, because apparently women everywhere were suffering due to the lack of pink Bic pens. There is a legitimate complaint about unnecessary gendering of objects, actions and colours, and I did actually try to raise my own daughters in a “gender neutral” way (though not at all in the way current “gender neutral” is being viewed now). My girls were girls. Their gender was not defined by what kind of clothes they wore or the toys they played with. I find it increasingly ridiculous over the years, where gender in people is now viewed as a scale, but things are immutably gendered, and a child’s gender becomes determined by the things they like, rather then their physical bodies.

    This is where I see the problem above. Here, a boy is considered unable to use an Easy Bake Oven because of the “girl” colours. Ludicrous! It’s a friggin’ toy. If they were really serious about this boy wanting to cook himself, why are they bothering with a toy at all? Why not allow him to do real cooking with real tools and a real oven? Yes, it might mean a parent or big sister will have to pay closer attention to supervising him (heaven forbid!), but it would likely be far more beneficial for him then the toy.

  4. Some people just want to be perpetual victims. And you’ll never change them.

    I’ll bet this family is okay with the whole LGBT alphabet soup because no one should have a gender.

  5. This whole thing is nuts. “However, we soon found it quite apalling”… Really? Only AFTER the little brother asks for an EBO? Where have they been for the last 30 or 40 years? EBO’s are and have been marketed as girl toys.

    They need to teach their boy to adapt. I used to play with my sister’s Barbie! She made a great giant for my Star Wars guys to attack!

    “Are you going to let a girl color get in the way of your dreams?” is what they should be asking. I have a feeling that if Wolfgang Puck found that all cooking devices were labeled: ALL USERS OF THIS DEVICE ARE GIRLY GIRLS! HA HA!, he’d put on his man apron and easy bake the crap out of some dang good food, and then kill a lion with nothing more than a paring knife and a plan! You know, because he’s a MAN. A man who loves to cook! (I think we can all agree that lion killing is man work. I mean, am I right or am I right?)

    Speaking of man work, piloting and space travel: THAT’S FOR DUDES! Right? Perhaps, this kid NEEDS to be a little MORE girly, like Aerhart and Ride and just get over the stereotype!

    COOK, LITTLE GUY! Cook using AN oven; ANY oven. Rock out with your Wok out and say, “I am CHEF! Hear me ROAR!”.

    One thing I’ve learned about chefs (M or F), the first requirement is this: Don’t be a wimp!

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