November 24, 2010

Toy Ads and Learning Gender

Originally posted at Feminist Frequency. Cross-posted with permission. Created for Bitch Magazine’s Mad World Virtual Symposium.

I recently watched afternoon cartoons on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network and I was shocked to find a flood of highly gendered toy commercials. These ads not only market toys to children but it also promotes and encourages gender specific values that are very limiting to boys and girls in different ways.  The values and skills promoted in these commercials can play a critical role in the socalization of youth and their development of emotional expression, conflict resolution, the confidence to pursue various careers and the ability to maintain healthy relationships as adults.

Related Links and Articles:

** This video is available to be translated into other languages by volunteers like you.  Please visit the subtitling page on Universal Subtitles and click TRANSLATE to get started.

NOTE from Melanie Klein on additional articles related to gender socialization in childhood:


  1. I’ve seen some pretty disgusting commercials targeted at children. There is one targeted at girls that I find rather disturbing (considering the girls seem to be wearing pageant quality make-up)because is marginalizes girls into growing into egocentric, self-absorbed brats. Whatever happened to becoming doctors and lawyers? Not many people actually learn about media literacy and it is something that is highly-needed in this society. This is great information.

    Comment by ElizabethP — December 1, 2010 @ 6:24 pm

  2. This is disgusting. I recently entered a Toys’R’Us to purchase a gift for my toddler niece and was so shocked by the blatant gender socialization that I left the store empty handed… I couldn’t bear to be in there for another minute. The store was divided into the “boys” and “girls” sections, which were decorated accordingly: the “boys” section was blue and black and full of all things monster trucks, wrestlers, and toy guns. The “girls” section was a pink, glittery nightmare filled with toy ovens, baby dolls, and mini strollers. No wonder women feel the pressure to become a mother. We’ve been brainwashed to do so since infancy.

    Comment by Jennifer Edgerton — December 8, 2010 @ 10:42 pm

  3. I don’t mean to be confrontational or anything, but, from an impartial perspective, I just don’t see this as sexist. I think that advertisers are not trying to keep women down and men repressed emotionally. They are simply catering to the viewer’s tastes. Most (not all) boys at that age are more interested in fighting and building than they are in cooking and taking care of babies, and at the same time, most girls of that age prefer to have toys that make them pretty, let them act like a mother or increase their popularity. That is it. Boys and girls are fundamentalism different mentally, and the advertisers are playing into that.

    Comment by Adrienne — November 1, 2011 @ 2:05 pm

  4. Appreciate you sharing, great article post. Want more.

    Comment by Cassie Dee — February 19, 2012 @ 1:16 am

  5. Teach Media Literacy Using Toy Ads

    Comment by Frank Baker — November 12, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

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