Blue for boys, pink for girls. We see it with gender reveals, clothing, toys, decor, etc. From a very young age, children are conditioned to believe that certain items and activities are only meant for the opposite sex. While we may gain a better understanding that these things aren’t true when we enter adulthood, the media continues to influence us in that way.
It is often easier for our brains to categorize things, which is why we’ve done exactly that with male and female. We now know that sex and gender are not mutually exclusive, and that gender isn’t simply male and female. While studies have proven this and some have accepted it, the media hasn’t exactly done so.
Children are influenced greatly by the television they watch, which includes the commercials they see. Kitchen sets, dolls, and anything with glitter is marketed towards girls, while things like trucks, sports, and superheroes are geared towards boys. We’ve assigned toys a certain gender, but by doing so it really only limits the market.
This is problematic because it also reinforces the false ideas in mainstream television that there are certain professions for men and for women. While TV has become more progressive, characters are still shown in traditional gender roles. Young girls still believe their end goal is to become a mother and have a family, while boys are taught to become CEOs. The way to challenge and break down these ideas first starts with changing the framework in the media.
This includes our advertising, and it’s not just the way we market toys. It’s the way we’ve traditionally marketed cleaning and laundry towards females. It’s the way we target grills and lawnmowers towards men. Even if the majority of the product’s demographic is one or the other, it won’t change until we challenge it to.