Gender Stereotypes from Around the World

Another good one from a PSY 13 student:

This buzzfeed list illustrates perfect examples of gender stereotyped products sold around the world. It immediately made me think of the boy vs. girl quilts that Professor Sommers showed us in class. Brace yourselves everyone, they just get worse and worse.

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17 Responses to Gender Stereotypes from Around the World

  1. Ki Jung Lee says:

    These gender stereotyped products are much more prevalent in everyday life than I noticed. Although blatant sexism has decreased, this kind of stereotype is increasing and force people to fit into specific categorization. When an individual is surrounded by stereotyped products, itself functions as priming tool that causes people to undergo stereotype threat. People fear that they would affirm to existing stereotypes and would act strangely (or underperform) to escape from the discomfort. Individuals should not be restricted by their sexes and should not put in their efforts to fit into the “standards” that other people have established. A normative social influence is very salient and this kind of situation would promote greater conflict between in-group and out-group. I would like these manufactures and advertisements to be more responsible for their actions in creating and enhancing stereotypes and they should foster their movement toward diminishing gender stereotypes.

    • I totally agree here. To add on, I’ve noticed that there are lots of cases where blue is a boy’s favourite colour and pink is a girl’s favourite colour. That might be due to the mere exposure effect, where these kids are mainly given objects of their respective colour, thus they would see it more and come to enjoy it, or it could just be a coincidence. However, I don’t think it’s a good idea to antagonize boys because they might truly like the colour blue or girls for pink. It becomes an interesting discussion on whether or not childrens’ favourite colours can be considered fake or invalidated because some social psychology indicates that they mave have been “manipulated” to think that way.

      • jstone08 says:

        I agree with both of you thoroughly. Not only do I believe that separating toys and products by gender has negeative effects for girls, I think that there are parasitic systemic attacks on the idea of masculinity. Take for example the sunscreen product. Why on earth does the gender of sunscreen matter. Does it really change consumer behavior. Here is an anecdote for you, my friends and I went to the beach this summer and being the son of a dermatologist, I was well equipped with bottles of sun screen. I offered it to my friends as well, only a few accepted. I said, guys you really should wear some, no one is impervious to skin cancer. I was met with replies saying that wearing sunscreen was a b*tch move. I did not take offense to it, I am used to those reactions. But why is sunscreen somehow emasculating?

  2. I have been thinking alot about this concept of not gendering one’s child, while they are young. Vice (sure they may not be the best news source) has made some interesting short documentaries about the concept of gendering children and people. In one, they talk to kids who define themselves as having no gender. watch it and see for yourself! definitely interesting and worth thinking about

  3. tkolbj01 says:

    As a girl who grew up playing with Tonka trucks and Lego Dacta mixed with Barbies and GI Joes I have always been frustrated by this girl/boy toy thing. Unless it’s anatomically related, I never understood the reason to label it. Everyone knows gender norms, so does putting boys on the blue tool box help people figure out which one is the “safe boy gift”? It just seems redundant. For me, it escalated to the point of reactance, in a MickeyD’s drive through if they asked girl or boys toy I’d always say boys because I hated that they were limiting me however if they just told me what the toys were I would choose based on preference.

    Interestingly, although these gendered statements didn’t work on my parents they were very successful on other peoples parents when giving gifts. The majority of childhood birthday presents from others were Barbies or animal dolls or pink and if they weren’t they came with a gift receipt and apology from the giver if it wasn’t what I wanted. Am I just underestimating how hard it is to find a toy a 3-year-old would like? Does saying “HI THIS IS FOR GIRLS” actually make peoples lives easier?

  4. Some of the products in this article are not as ridiculous as they seem. Banana Boat Sunblock for men is specifically designed for men. It has a specific fragrance and is designed to reduce your body odor. I think it’s fair to give people a warning because it has a “manly” smell to it. Moreover, the Body Glide product for men has a different list of ingredients than Body Glide product does for women. The SunRidge Farm snack mixes also serve different purposes and do not contain the same ingredients for both genders.

    So there are products out there that are purposefully labeled differently for men and women, however I do get the point.

    I am just playing devil’s advocate. My sister is the youngest with two older brothers. Growing up, she played with Bionicles, dinosaurs, army men, you name it. She played tackle football, boys hockey, and little league baseball. She was respected by so many, but mocked and teased by a few; she is a savage and never let it bother her, but it bothered me.

    I think the blue versus pink thing is for people who want to play it safe; and companies sure do make it easy for parents to play it safe. I don’t think parents see it as limiting their children; parents want to do the right thing for their kids, and I bet you 100% of parents having their first child have no idea what the hell they are doing. Companies and manufacturers can almost dictate in a sense what the parents are going to buy their children early on.

  5. I think the biggest problems with the products that Buzzfeed collected is not the colour discrepancy but is more along the lines that they are trying to shape a child’s personality and ideas, such as the content of “The Big Book of Boy Stuff” and “The Big Book of Girl Stuff.” My aunt once bought my sister a book similar to “The Big Book of Girl Stuff” and when I flipped through it, the messages conveyed through the book were not super plausible. Almost none of the scenarios actually applied to my sister. Instead, they were mainly topics that only occur in TV shows or movies that we see or ideas that just cause more problems for society, such as the topic “How to Keep a Secret from Your Best Friend.”

    I think that the first product, the “Woman in Charge” earbuds were an attempt to rectify and improve the social images of young girls but it ultimately backfired. The advertisement panel’s sub-par image grouping and graphic design portray the idea of a “woman in charge” as more of a joke or gimmick in order to sell a product and not reality.

  6. Holden says:

    A lot of people just feel comfortable knowing that someone took the time to create a unique product for them, that may accompany a certain physiological difference. I find it comforting to know that all men are using the same product I’m about to buy because that may mean it works for people just like me.

  7. Lucy B. Ren says:

    I think that a lot of these products are a gimmick meant to help sell more products and do not have harmful intentions. However, I think it’s important that these manufacturing companies realize the weight of their actions by creating things like this. By continuing to perpetuate gender stereotypes like this, society is enforcing very outdated ideas such as gendered colors. It’s interesting because blatant sexism has definitely decreased over the years, and most people are cautious about saying things that could be construed as sexist. However, gender stereotypes are still very present in our society and these products are only enforcing these stereotypes.

    • I totally agree that these products are much more gimmicky and used as tools to help sell to their targeted audience. I also agree that the manufacturing companies that are creating these gendered products probably do not realize the effect they are having on continuing to perpetuate gender stereotypes. However, if they did realize how much they were reinforcing these stereotypes I doubt they would want to change anything. The stronger the societal gender role, the more effective their gimmicky gendered marketing is. Their only incentive is to make money, and the easiest way to do that is to continue the cycle reinforcing the gender norms.

      • dboorg01 says:

        Completely agree with both of you! I often feel like gendering products is a corporation’s way of making some extra money off of their products. Take razors for example, women’s razors are made in “feminine colors” and usually of less quality than men’s razors yet cost more. Companies thus are making a huge profit off of merely changing the color of their product and perpetuating gender stereotypes.

  8. I would like to point out that before WW2 it was actually pink for boys, as a strong vibrant color, and blue for girls, a gentle sweet color. It was only after the holocaust that the switch began due to hitler using pink triangles to label homosexuals the color began to take the effeminate traits we see associated with today. It just goes to show, again, how arbitrary these things are and how as a species we have decided these things and are not based on fact in the slightest. The colors selection for genders is a great analogy for other stereotypes and expectations commonly associated with gender.
    Similarly I would also like to point out that while, this is no doubt a ploy by marketing teams to sell the same product in different packagings trying to target the different genders there is also a discrepancy in price. The “pink tax” is a very real phenomenon where female items cost more than their male counterparts. You can even see this in the buzzfeed article in #9 where the same company is marketing body glide for the sexes. The female one is marked $9.99 while the male one is marked as $7.99. While there are physiological differences between the sexes I doubt its such a big difference as $2.00 and I sure when looking at the labels its the same chemical makeup.

    • You are right about the chemical makeup of #9 on the buzzed article. If you look in the bottom left hand corner you can see that the female version has almost double content inside the packaging. The products look the same size but the males is 12g while the women contains 22g. I could very well be wrong here. I googled the two products and they sell for the same price at Target.

      Really interesting point about colors and WWII, I had no idea.

  9. In the lecture this week, I think it was implied that these stereotypes are perpetuated unwittingly, and a lot of the times that’s probably true. But when you see a list like this, with mass-produced items that likely had some thought put into them, it makes me feel as though a lot of these things are set up to get us to buy more, and at a higher price. “Female” hygiene products tend to cost more than their male-marketed equivalents, notably razors, hair products, etc. These differences may seem small, but with repeated purchases over the course of a lifetime, they add up. They may add up particularly quickly with more expensive items; the quilt from the lecture wasn’t mass-produced (I think?), so there likely wasn’t some corporate agenda behind it. But when you put purse instead of plane for the P-square on the girls’ blanket, you send the subtle message that a purse is necessary to be a proper woman. Handbags are expensive – the lower-end ones at Macy’s start at $200. Coach handbags start at $500. That’s a lot of money, but it’s still easy to market them at that price when some women implicitly believe that an expensive designer handbag equals femininity. Meanwhile, all the boys that received the other blanket are training to become pilots (P is for plane). Clearly, these gender roles have massive profit potential, but also massive potential economic costs.

  10. Gendered products are clearly all around us, so much so that we miss most of them unless we are especially looking out for them. We are like fish in water when it comes to the gendering of products for the most part. As the buzzfeed list shows us, every product gets gendered from snacks to pickles to hangers. While this certainly has a strong effect on creating and strengthening gender stereotypes and categorization, that is not the intent of the marketers who design these products. While I do not know for sure as I have not spoke with one, I doubt there intent is to strengthen gender norms, but simply to sell their product. The only reason that gendering products exists is because it is an effective tool for selling their product. We as consumers like belonging to our groups, we buy products marketed to our groups, and the cycle continues.

  11. dboorg01 says:

    Reading this buzzfeed list was definitely unsettling and it’s insane really how prevalent gender roles are, even in our liberal “non-sexist” bubbles. Corporations also stand to profit from a lot of these products, splitting the same thing into categories and increasing the price basically gives them free money. However, I don’t understand why they don’t try to profit more by being less sexist. I know that sounds confusing, but take tampon/pad commercials. Even though these are specifically produces for the female sex, the ads are made for the male gaze. Cue imagery of an ethereal woman skipping through the grass wearing all white. But, what if the PR people making these products actually catered to how women feel and want? I feel an ad for tampons that focused more on how much it sucks and how their product will help women specifically would work way better than all the white floaty imagery they put out. I mean, if you’re going to try so hard to gender products you might as well do it in a less sexist way.

    Also, something funny in the news recently was this pool float shaped like a pad that could have been avoided by having literally at least one woman look at it. (process loss in all men PR groups???)

  12. It’s very interesting to see how much toys have become gendered in the past 50 years. If we look at how barbies have evolved, we can see that the early versions had much less pink in them (and not to mention very different body shapes). However, I feel that toys have always been gendered, as my grandfather played with wooden toy rifles and my grandmother with handmade dolls, and this can also be seen as simply the by product of today’s mass marketing that strives to utilise more gender-defining characteristics to build customer base. At the end of the day, a doll producer is going to focus on their main customers: girls. Whether this is right or wrong I cannot say, but some toys in the list are indeed cringeworthy. Number 11 (the baby jumper) was very scary at first, considering the enourmous body image issues a lot of girls struggle with due to today’s societal expectations, but then I realised toddlers can’t read… Might it have been a humorous gag gift for parents? We will never know, I guess.

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