GRSJ 300 Gender stereotyping cultural jam Yuhan Hu
Original ad from:
The original poster is a child clothing advertisement from Gap UK website in 2016, the famous global clothing brand which is also very popular in Canada. It refers to a girl model wearing clothing with a big pink logo and silver cat ear as a social butterfly, and refers to the boy model wearing an Einstein T-shirt as a scholar. However, there is a spelling error on the word Einstein, which was wrongly spelled as “Einstien”. The spelling error shows the lack of quality control at Gap, as well as is disrespectful of the physics genius. This ad is described as the “sexist marketing to children (Mailonline, 2016)”. From my point of view, the poster implies gendered stereotyping and gender inequality in four ways as described below.
- Male gaze
The future job title for each child implies the discrimination against females. The boy’s title is a scholar, but the girl is a “social butterfly”. Specifically, the girl is wearing a silver color cat ear on top of the head. The title is full of male gaze, and disrespectfully portrays the female as an object for male viewing pleasure. It implies a male can grow up to be an academic scholar and have a respected professional career, but a female is supposed to be beautiful, to spend their time chatting with others on the playground and to not worry about having their own career when they grow up.
- Colour stereotype of genders
The colour of each child’s outfit demonstrates gender stereotype, implying that girls are supposed to wear pink and yellow, and boys are supposed to wear black and blue. The color stereotyping of genders has negative effects because it reinforces to boys and girls what they can or cannot do, which may negatively affect their career choice development, self-respect, and relationship quality (Grove, 2019). Specifically, the children are being taught to follow gender roles which research has shown to impose “extreme sanctions and pressures to conform” (Grinberg, 2018).
- Gender role
The ad shows a stereotype of gender role. The ad assumes the male will grow up and do well academically, qualifying him for highly professional career choices. The same ad assumes all females aspire to be objectified as social butterflies. Indeed, putting rigid gender expectations on children from an early age could enforce gender norms for children, and it could lead to long term psychological and mental health damage (Grinberg, 2018). Besides, a research result from a Public Health department indicated that, at the age about 5 or 6, girls started believeing boys are naturally smarter than girls (Grinberg, 2018). This ad simply reinforces the gender stereotype that “boys are smarter”.
- Negative social influence on the audience
The target customer segment of this gender-based marketing ad is children and their parents. It could have a negative influence on the audience of the ad, especially impressionable children. In Dailymail UK, it shows a mother comment this ad as “seriously? My 7 years old daughter determined to be a scientist, what kind of message is this (Mailonline, 2016 ).” If the 7 years old child saw the ad online, they could understand it in a wrong way. A child could decode the ad as a boy will be successful when they grow up, but a girl just needs to be a beautiful social butterfly. The research result also proved that negative social impact of the child will lead to self-objectification (Grinberg, 2018). Young children may possibly come to mistakenly believe females have less value and less importance than males.
My revised version
For the new poster, I made 4 changes below. All the design changes were done using Photo-shop software. First, I changed the future job title for each child on the poster. The boy’s title changes from “the little scholar” to “future politician”. The girl’s title changed from “the social butterfly” to “future boss girl”. Next I replaced the descriptive phrases under each child with new concepts, and adding a section called “their dream” for each child. For the boy, I changed the sentence “your future starts here” into “My dream: promote gender equality and be an amazing father who helps out around the house”. For the girl, I adjusted her phrase from “logo sweaters are the talk of the playground” to “logo sweaters are the talk of the office”. Also, “my dream” section is added for the girl, stating “My dream: Leading a team. Promote gender equality”. Then I added background colour behind each child, using pink for the boy and blue for the girl. A poem was also amended to the center of the ad, “Boys can be pink, girls can be blue, sugar is sweet, I hope so are you”. This poem was inspired by the traditional England poem “Roses are red, Violets are blue, Sugar is sweet, and so are you.” Finally, a hashtag “#gender stereotype suck” was added at the lower part of the ad. It is a popular hashtag on Instagram.
The new poster perfectly provides solutions for the four stereotypes and gender discrimination I mentioned above.
- Male gaze
The new job title for each child implies the idea of gender equality as well as feminism. In the work place, a girl can be a boss who leads her team, but a girl can also join the political realm and fight for gender equality. Conversely, a boy could be a caregiver for children and do some housework, instead of being a bread winner working outside the home. All the genders have the right to choose their ideal lifestyle and occupation.
- Color stereotype of genders
The background colour of each child breaks the stereotype of girl’s pink and boy’s blue. Instead, a girl can wear blue, and a boy can wear pink. By avoiding the gender stereotype of colour preference, children will be less stuck on gendered expectations regarding which activities one can or cannot do. Anti-gender stereotyping have positive social influence, which includes increasing the social acceptance of gender equality, and encouraging females to seek professional careers, and make life decisions by themselves without considering their gender attributes (Eisend, 2019).
- Gender role
The added part for boy’s and girl’s “dream” express the idea of anti-gender roles because it implies both males and females can pursue gender equality, and all gender can choose to pursue a professional career or contribute to family by being a caregiver. Such open-minded values should be reinforced in children. The new poster could educate children that future roles should not be socially defined as typical for one gender but not the other. Also, an individual should not be shut out of taking on such traditionally “gendered” roles to fear over being rejected (Grinberg, 2018).
- Negative social influence on the audience
The poem is to express my wish that people can be sweet and nice, to support gender identity. Also my wish is that people do not hurt children who identity as a different gender. Through the hashtag “#gender stereotype suck”, I wish people can passing this positive value over the Internet in order to educate more people about how wrong gender stereotyping and rigid society-driven gender roles need to be replaced with more open-mindedness towards individuals who think outside-the-box and do not conform to society’s expectations.
Eisend, M. (2019, April 1). Gender Roles. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00913367.2019.1566103?journalCode=ujoa20.
Grinberg, E. (2018, October 3). This is what happens when gender roles are forced on kids. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2017/09/20/health/geas-gender-stereotypes-study/index.html.
Grove, N. (2019, April 29). 6 In 10 Parents Have Had Enough Of ‘Pink For Girls, Blue For Boys’ Gender Stereotypes. Retrieved from https://consent.yahoo.com/collectConsent?sessionId=2_cc-session_79af9270-460d-431c-8cc0-e800c9124900&lang=en-gb&inline=false.
Mailonline, E. H. F. (2016, August 1). Gap Kids ‘sexist’ ad calling boys ‘scholars’ and girls ‘social butterflies’. Retrieved October 9, 2019, from https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3718308/How-seriously-think-OK-Gap-Kids-provokes-fury-sexist-ad-calling-little-boys-scholars-girls-social-butterflies-spells-Einstein-s-wrong.html.