Sunday, May 23, 2010

Since When Do the Products We Wipe Our Bums with Need to Be Segregated by Gender?

Being the budget-conscious parents of twins that we are, we decided to try Target brand baby wipes for a change. We have tried the cheaper Walmart brand (papery-feeling and the wipes don't connect and pull the next wipe through the wipe box's slot like they should) but decided to also give the Target brand a try.

Here is what we found in the baby wipe aisle today. A blue box of wipes, a pink box of wipes, and a purple box of wipes. The blue box of course featured a baby boy and the pink box featured a baby girl. Blatant gender stereotyping. Upon further inspection, it appears that the wipes are virtually the SAME wipes, just packaged differently based on gender.
I have included for you a table that catalogs the details of the wipes by gender-marketed box:

Blue Box of Baby WipesPink Box of Baby Wipes
704 wipesXX
HypoallergenicXX
real-cloth wipesXX
alcohol freeXX
natural aloe and Vitamin EXX
cushiony texture for superior cleaningXX
ScentedX
"cushy tushy"X
"dainty wipes"X
boy baby on the boxX
girl baby on the box holding a flowerX

So, essentially, the two boxes of wipes are exactly the same except for the scent. However, Target has chosen to enhance this difference by including gender stereotypes like color, phrasing (apparently boys cannot be dainty) and object placement (the "girly" flower). And how about that lack of scent for the boys? I guess boys don't need to smell nice.

Perhaps I harbor a mild bias because my children are boys. What most concerns me is what all children will take away from this. Boys are rough and tumble; girls are dainty. Boys like blue and not pink; girls like pink and would never wear blue. Girls like flowers; boys do not. Beyond what kids will see, what characteristics will the adults in their lives put upon them simply because their world is stereotyped from day one?

I hope you take note of gender stereotypes in your world and do what you can to challenge them.

P.S. - If you are curious about the purple box of wipes, it's the same as the unscented boy box only labelled "sensitive," "majorly mild," and "ideal for newborns." And I would argue that purple is not a known gender neutral color. I would guess that most people associate purple with girls and thus, thanks again to Target, might now associate sensitivity and mild tempers only with girls.

4 comments:

Rebecca said...

Not even close to parenthood and this is very intriguing! Thanks!

- Rebecca A.

onhilstreet.com said...

I love you activist mom.

Kelly said...

Wow, I'm glad to sit next to such a thoughtful mama every day!

Abby's favorite color is blue, which just kills me that she chose the ONE color that's not "supposed to" be a girly color. And I totally didn't brainwash her, I promise!

What I find even more hilarious/ridiculous/upsetting is that scented stuff on girl parts is generally not a good idea especially on babies because it can easily irritate...things. But you've shown an example of how from day ONE and then later with feminine "hygiene" products, we inadvertently teach girls that they are not "clean" there and that they need artificial scents to cover it up.

Terra, Bea's mom said...

I totally agree with you about the unfair genderization of products for kids. Seriously--pink legos? And what an awful pink it is among so many great ones! It seems that now all the "neutral" colors, you know, like red, green, and blue, are now considered "boy" colors. Unfair, especially because my daughter's favorite colors are black and red, she's a Darth Vader fan, and doesn't like frill.

Shouldn't our kids face FEWER gender stereotypes than us?

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