Romantic Rinse Cycle

The all-consuming job search, coupled with adorable baby daughter, doesn't leave much time for blogging (or anything else, for that matter). But I did want to take a few minutes to explain how parenthood has alerted my wife and I to how gender identity is constructed through toys. Yes, that's right, toys.

Here we are, enjoying an episode of House (if memory serves), when a commercial for the PlaySkool Rose Petal Cottage comes on. Seems innocent enough at first--think detailed play house. Now imagine the look of horror that grows on my wife's face as the advertisement shows a happy little girl learning how to: cook, clean, arrange the furniture, and put laundry in the washing machine. That's the real clincher: just as the add says something like: "watch your little girl's imagination grow" it shows the little girl stuffing clothes into the Rose Petal Washer (sold separately, of course).


As ideologically disturbing as the ad was, I must admit some enjoyment at watching my wife's face turn from disinterest, to awe, to moral outrage (for those who don't know, my wife won't allow anything Disney in the house since in their moives women are allowed only two courses: death or finding a man). I think, as the years roll on, Christmas is going to be fun, if only because I can totally see my dad thinking this would be a great present...


mcsant said...

actually, it was The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown special....that makes it even worse...

Casey said...

Was Meg morally outraged at her own wedding, while she was (I'm guessing) dressed up like a fairy-princess? Or when she became a mom (how degrading!)?

Oh, the luxury of postmodern hypocricy--we are all in the hands of our gods!

Insignificant Wrangler said...

I would say our wedding ceremony was a lot more imaginative than loading a washing machine. There's nothing hypocritical about it.

Neither Meg or I are saying there's anything wrong in a woman (or man) wanting to look beautiful. We do believe it is a problem when the most powerful ideological force in America repeatedly frames that as the only thing a woman can do. Furthermore, I consider it especially problematic when a toy company advises parents to expand their children's imagination through use of a play dishwasher and washing machine.

Call classical, sophistic, modern, postmodern, or complex, its ole fashioned sexism. Let's use our imaginations and reshape some new gods (I think She would like that...)

Wishydig said...

I'm torn on this one.

Calm Michael: I see some value in encouraging a child to pretend to perform certain tasks that occur every day in every home. Whether it's playing with a fake kitchen or mowing a fake lawn. Children learn to knowingly separate reality from portayal--and to enjoy the difference. Or should I say the differend? This is the importance of play. And playing with a kitchen or a lawn mower is not too banal a game for a child. This is a child. Creating a new god will come later.

Angry Michael: All it takes is a picture of a boy doing the exact same thing to keep this from being sexist. I've been doing my own laundry since I was 12. I don't see it as a female task. I do the ironing in our house now because Buffy hates doing it and I'm better at it. Why wouldn't a company simply put a boy in there? Because they're counting on the public being sexist and they're encouraging that model for the sake of a predictable and easily manipulated market.

Insignificant Wrangler said...

calm wrangler:
nodding in agreement.

angry wrangler:
shaking fist in agreement.