Hasbro toys got an appeal from a very unlikely source this week. Thirteen-year-old Mckenna Pope has asked Hasbro to please stop airing sexist commercials for their Easy Bake Oven. She said her little brother loves to cook and was hoping to get an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas but decided, after seeing the commercials, that the toy is something only girls play with.
Pope decided to make the video appeal directly to Hasbro and also put together an online petition. The purpose of her effort is to get Hasbro to start including boys in their advertisements so that her brother will think it is ok to ask for the toy.
Pope said in her video:
“[B]oys are not featured in packaging or promotional materials for Easy Bake Ovens — this toy my brother’s always dreamed about. And the oven comes in gender-specific hues: purple and pink.
“I feel that this sends a clear message: women cook, men work. [...]
“I want my brother to know that it’s not ‘wrong’ for him to want to be a chef, that it’s okay to go against what society believes to be appropriate. There are, as a matter of fact, a multitude of very talented and successful male culinary geniuses, i.e. Emeril, Gordon Ramsey, etc. Unfortunately, Hasbro has made going against the societal norm that girls are the ones in the kitchen even more difficult.”
Sociologists are saying that it is impressive that Pope came to these conclusions at such a young age. More and more studies are finding that societal reinforcement of traditional gender roles have made children doubt their own natural abilities. The strongest evidence is young girl’s lack of confidence in math and science, which seem to be correlated to enforcement of gender stereotypes.
Harvard President Larry Summers was forced to resign at one point over a comment he made that women’s low participation in math and sciences is related to genetic differences and not to societal pressure.
Pope’s petition has already gotten 18,000 signatures before any media attention was devoted to it.
Watch Mckenna Pope’s video appeal to Hasbro here: