Thursday, October 04, 2007

The implications of Tonka

Even my Introduction to Women's Studies students know that the idea that boys like trucks and girls like dolls is a fallacy--because they have lived it. When they get to class they learn it's called social construction.

And yet Tonka has trotted out an ad campaign about how boys are just built differently and Tonka is there because they "understand the unique challenges of raising a boy." Yes, it's a challenge when say a boy wants to play with something other than trucks but is told by others--including Tonka--that he should want to play trucks. Because "boys--they're just built different and Tonka's got the blueprint."

I am shocked that Tonka is getting away with this. The ad, which you can see by clinking on the link above and finding the link for the video of the commercial, shows toys that teach boys to walk and learn shapes and generally be active.

So what does this have to do with sports? Well girls need to learn to be active just like boys, maybe even more so because activity supposedly is natural for boys and not for girls. So while boys are encouraged to do what they are "built" for, girls are encouraged--in subtle ways--to be careful, to limit their movements. The message that Tonka sends about the innate activity of boys has long-term implications for the sporting and physical lives of boys and girls. Skills are developed--not innate. Taking this belief of the natural that Tonka espouses for toddlers down the road a few years and we see it manifest in ideas that girls should not play rough or in rough sports or that their physical activities should somehow be modified to fit their "natural" abilities.

Tonka is owned by Hasbro. Email Hasbro using this form. (Check out the rest of the website including the list of resources for parents raising boys and you will definitely not want to hold back in this email.)


Diane said...

That is truly sickening, but of course they are getting away with it. Because advertising has turned back 360 degrees to what it was prior to the 70s. 30 years ago, that ad would have been pulled right away because of feminist protest.

The drivel on their website is right out of the so-called "faith-based" school curriculum material. That is sad enough, but even sadder is the fact that very few parents will recognize it as anything but "helpful" or "informative."

EBuz said...

Dear Hasbro,
Please modify your "boys are built differently" Tonka ad campaign. In this day and age it's pretty old fashioned to presume that girls are naturally disinclined toward physical toys like trucks. The reason why this appears to be the case is because and only because of ads like yours, which pressure girls and boys to conform to outdated gender stereotypes. Please stop doing this to our children.


Anonymous said...

I have been furious about this ad since the first time I saw it about a month ago. I finally googled it, trying to do something about it. I was glad to find this blog entry. It's good to know I'm not the only one noticing this GLARING mistake. Thank you!