December 1, 2015
This year’s No Gender Stereotypes December has launched, calling on consumers to ‘Give Gifts Not Stereotypes’ these holidays.
Campaigning for retailers to end the practice of using gendered marketing to sell toys to children, the Australian-based grass-roots campaign attracted overwhelming local and international support last year.
The campaign, run by advocacy group Play Unlimited, seeks to make consumers more aware about the impacts gendered marketing has on children. Co-Founder, Thea Hughes, says gendered marketing relies on old fashioned gender stereotypes to divide toys, categorising them as being ‘for boys’ or ‘for girls’.
This places limitations on every child’s ability to choose for themselves. By presenting a different range of toys to boys and girls, toy and colour choices are narrowed, opportunities for skills development are limited, and gendered marketing alters children’s perceptions about what’s possible – for themselves and for other people.
Play Unlimited co-founder Julie Huberman says she believes this year’s campaign will be better received locally than the mixed response it had last year.
“I think there’s been a lot of traction and discussion about the issue over the year – particularly in relation to the many changes we’ve seen from retailers, both here in Australia and overseas.
“With Target in the US announcing it’s intention to stop using gendered marketing, along with most major Australian retailers removing gender categories from their online stores and catalogues, attitudes are finally starting to change.”
The campaign gained international press coverage last year with the then Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, declaring “let boys be boys, let girls be girls.”
Federal MP Bob Katter also contributed stating “I think all the presents I have anything to do with – all the boys are getting guns and the girls are getting dolls.”
“Viva la difference,” Mr Katter said.
Fellow Play Unlimited co-founder Thea Hughes said initial reaction by the press and politicians last year was disappointing.
“It was very much a knee-jerk reaction from some quarters in Australia with many people misunderstanding our intentions. The issue then became clouded by tit-for-tat politics and wild tabloid headlines.” she said.
“Outside of Australia the support was overwhelmingly positive, with even Barack Obama joining in by raising the issue of gender stereotypes and toys during the annual Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots event in Washington DC.”
When it came time to sort the toys into “boy” boxes and “girl” boxes, President Obama went against the grain – placing traditionally-male toys in the girls’ boxes, telling the crowd, “I’m just trying to break down these gender stereotypes.”
“You know what? I just want to make sure some girls play some ball,” he said as he placed a basketball in the girls’ bin.
“Girls play t-ball too,” he continued as he placed a t-ball set in one of the boxes.
Ms Hughes says it’s great to have the support of Greens Senator Larissa Waters again this year, particularly in light of the recent inquiry she launched into the role of gender stereotypes in contributing to cultural conditions which support domestic violence.
“This year we’ve created a video wall, which along with our ‘Pledge wall’ gives everyone the opportunity to record a personal message sharing why they think it’s important to #GiveGiftsNotStereotypes,” she said.
You can check out the campaign at www.nogenderdecember.com.
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