In the late 1980’s McDonald’s introduced a new lineup of toys in their Happy Meal promotions, now offering exclusively Barbie and Hot Wheels as toy options. They were a huge hit, making Happy Meals more popular than ever. “Is this for a boy or girl?” was added to the list of questions you were asked when ordering. This was one of the beginnings of a new form of marketing that specifically gendered toys and stereotyped interests for each gender (Faust N. Pag.). Advertisements and marketing are not the only influences in perpetuating gender stereotypes. There are numerous influences on the youth of America that aid in the stereotyping of personalities and interests for boys and girls.
Today, most would call these actions conforming to the gender binary. The gender binary is a socially constructed system of traits that are specifically predetermined for each gender. Socially constructed simply means that over time, different stereotypes have become the norm based on roles that each gender filled. Genderspectrum.org, an organization set to breakdown gender stereotypes and educate about gender diversity gives this definition for the gender binary, “Western culture has come to view gender as a binary concept, with two rigidly fixed options: male or female. When a child is born, a quick glance between the legs determines the gender label that the child will carry for life. But even if gender is to be restricted to basic biology, a binary concept still fails to capture the rich variation observed (Understanding Gender N. Pag.).”
This could simply mean that boys will receive the Hot Wheels toy with their Happy Meal, and girls will receive the Barbie doll, just because that is what is expected. This is engrained in ...
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Laidlaw, Liz. "Gender Bender." Relational Child & Youth Care Practice 23.3 (2010): 14-15. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Feb. 2014.
Plant, E. Ashby, and Janet Shibley Hyde. "The Gender Stereotyping Of Emotions." Psychology Of Women Quarterly 24.1 (2000): 81. Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.
Faust, Aaron. "Happy Meals: Boy or Girl?" Women's Studies. Appalachian State University, 2003. Web. 26 Feb. 2014.
Francis, Becky. "Gender, Toys and Learning." Taylor and Francis. N.p., 09 June 2010. Web. 22 Feb. 2014.
"Understanding Gender." Understanding Gender. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.
Zhao, Emmeline. "Larry King Murder: Gay Teen's Death Illustrates Schools' Challenge."The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 24 Nov. 2011. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.
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