A 13 year-old New Jersey girl, McKenna Pope, recently started a Change.org petition in order to appeal to Hasbro that their popular Easy Bake Oven toy should be more gender-neutral. Pope started the campaign because her little brother really wanted an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas, but not the purple colored oven that Hasbro currently makes, as it’s too girly. Pope’s heart was truly in the right place when she started this petition. I applaud any youngster who takes the time to actually take a stand for what they believe in, but the consumer pandemonium that has ensued due to this campaign is a bit wacky and ironically incredibly sexist, which obviously defeats the purpose of an anti-sexist campaign.
So far, Pope has gained more than 44,700 signatures for her online petition, along with the support of celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay – all of whom back Pope’s plea for a gender-neutral Easy Bake Oven in colors suitable for a boy or a girl who doesn’t like, “Girl colors.” Hasbro has met with Pope, telling her that a more boy-friendly Easy Bake Oven has been in the works for months, and starting in 2013, they’ll be selling an Easy-Bake Oven for boys in black and silver.
I agree with one part of this petition – the Easy Bake Oven ads and packaging really should be more gender-neutral. All of the recent Easy Bake packaging I’ve seen features girls only (as shown above) – which is too bad. As for the Easy Bake Oven color issue, I’m a bit discouraged by all the folks who signed this petition. The original petition notes that the oven is a, “Girls coloration of purple and pink [that] make it seem as though cooking is “girly”, which it is not by any means.” Many signers of the petition, along with folks around the web, have agreed with Pope, noting that Hasbro is terribly sexist for making their Easy Bake Oven in shades of purple – a color that apparently only girls are supposed to like. Following are some comments from around the web…
- “A good color is also white or grey. Cooking is not a gender-specific activity.“
- “Beige, black, white, green, yellow are all colors that both boys and girls would like.“
- “I have been looking for an easy bake oven that is not so “girly” for my 9 year old son who loves to cook. I would get him the one offered, however his big brothers would have a field day with a pink and purple oven!” NOTE: This parent should have a LONG talk with that older brother.
- “So sick of all the pink and “gender targeted” toys… wake up, Hasbro!“
- “Stop sending messages to young girls that set limits for years to come.“
- “Not every girl loves pink and purple!“
- “Boys can cook too!“
- “I agree primary colors should be used.“
- “My 4 year old son wants an easy bake oven for Christmas this year. Then my 8 year old brought to my attention that it only comes in pink. Add a blue/green option, or just make it red/yellow.“
- “Seeing a little girl decked out in pink and purple always perplexes me. Girls can’t necessarily be dissuaded from the Barbie Dreamhome Fantasy [but I wouldn’t wear] pink and purple as a kid. I mean, I wasn’t silly.”
- “Featuring only feminine colors tends to support this bias against males cooking. Besides, not all girls like the traditionally feminine colors anyways.“
- “I hated pink and didn’t like playing with Barbie when I was a kid” (from a female petition signer).
- “We avoid the toy aisle that’s all pink and purple and full of the girls’ toys!“
- And my personal favorite, “My son isn’t gay. He doesn’t want the purple kitchen.” (WOW.)
Tons and tons of other comments mimic the ones above. Person after person has called out Hasbro for being sexist while simultaneously calling pink and/or purple a “girl color” or have noted that they’d for sure buy this for their son, but not in such a “girly color.” Wow. Just wow. Irony at its best.
So, let me see if I have this situation straight.
- Hasbro is sexist – but people who think purple is a “girl color” are in no way sexist.
- Pink is a girl color.
- Purple is a girl color.
- Colors like pink and purple limit girls abilities.
- Blue, green, beige, white, black, red and yellow are “neutral colors” that every child on the planet likes.
- Boys can cook too – but they totally cannot cook with a purple oven because that is girly and/or “gay” (yes, a lot of people called purple “gay” in their comments.
- Feminist little girls (i.e. smarter, stronger and better than other girls) do not want pink or purple toys. They want “boy colored” toys. Girls who want pink toys are silly, limited and not very smart.
Seriously? Colors are not gender specific until comments and petitions like this make sure that colors are gender specific. One mom who signed this petition wrote, “My son has also been asking for an easy bake over….I would love to get one for him, but certainly NOT in pink or purple!” Why not? Why not get your child this toy and say, “It’s for boys or girls, it doesn’t matter so long as you have fun with it.” I know that some people are hailing this petition as a great feminist success story, but honestly, I can’t consider that this is positive progress when everyone freaks out because a little boy doesn’t want a “Girl colored toy” and then when the company offers a “Boy colored toy” everyone cheers, “WE WON!”
I remember wanting the Easy Bake Oven as a kid. Back then I believe the oven was a god-awful burnt orange and yellow color, so trust me, I wasn’t basing my choice on color. I just wanted to pretend to cook. Period. I’d guess that’s why most kids want an Easy Bake Oven. No matter if a toy oven is pink, black, blue or sparkly, the end result is the same – your child gets to pretend to cook and fun ensues. If you’re not happy with the idea of an Easy Bake Oven, go ahead and sign this petition. Make sure that all kids know that colors are indeed gender-specific. Tell your kids that pink and purple are girl colors and if they had any sense of self respect they’d shun those girly colors. By all means, let’s encourage toy companies to produce only black and white and beige toys (fun!).
Or you could be sensible. Tell your child that any toy in any color is perfectly fine, so long as they enjoy it. Better yet, why not just skip the plastic, toxic (likely made in China) nightmare that is an Easy Bake Oven and get your child a quality eco-friendly toy kitchen. Or you know, let them cook with you in the real kitchen in your real beige oven.