9 thoughts on “Gendered word clouds

  1. Just a quick question what was the sample that you looked at to get these? What age range? I find it very depressing – says so much though.

  2. At first I felt a bit jealous for my 8-yr old self that the boys’ cloud got “battle” and “power.” But then I got excited when I saw girls got “magic.”
    (Then again, it’s prob more “believe in the magic of your dreams” and not “let’s use magic to create fireballs & conquer our enemies”)

    Also, weird that “snow” was so big on the girls’

  3. Perhaps sadder for boys then for girls, and perhaps not really that depressing at all. That is a fairly accurate assessment of what the “average” boy and girl like. Marketing companies respond to what already exists.

    I think its ok if girls like glitter and boys like fire, as long as no one is mean to the girl who likes fire and the boy who likes glitter.

  4. These clouds make a good contribution to what we already suspected. but the crucial question, as always, is: “Is marketing responding to inherent preferences? Or creating them?”

  5. jrep – depends what you mean by ‘inherent’ preferences. If you mean ‘innate’ preferences, i.e., preferences that children are born with as a result of being born with a particular set of sex characteristics, then there’s evidence to suggest marketing is not merely responding to innate preferences, because children don’t innately have the preferences that marketers attribute to them. If, on the other hand, you mean ‘preferences the children have prior to the marketing’, then I suspect it’s a bit of both. Marketing picks up, and reflects cultural norms already in play. But in so doing, it reinforces and perpetuates them.

  6. My daughter, seven years old, is really into boys’ stuff. She calls girls’ toys stupid, only wants to wear trousers, abhors wearing anything pink, etc. Also, she considers girls who do like princesses and ponies and fairies (i.e., most girls in her class) as silly.
    It seems to me that children are a lot more gender-conscious than adults (there is also some empirical studies backing this up: children are more gender-essentializing than adults are). When she was younger, my daughter was more eclectic, but now it seems that she feels forced to choose: it’s either boys’ stuff or girls’ stuff, but you can’t have both. Toys used to be less gendered than they are now. When I was a child and played with lego, lego was for both genders. Now, you have lego for girls and lego for boys.

  7. So, to continue my line of thought started above. I think there are some innate preferences. My daughter has always like rough-and-tumble games, fighting, etc., and this may have sparked an interest for war-related toys (tanks, soldiers,…). I think this preference is innate, since several people (her father, grandparents, and even teachers) unsuccessfully tried to change her mind. However, the market does create preferences by playing into children’s and adults’ essentializing tendencies, by making strictly gendered toys. The fact that toys seem to get more gendered over time support this idea.

  8. Agreed, Anon 12:28, it’s the amplification that seems so strict. I don’t wish to argue that there are no personalities, gender differences or variations in bodies. I wish to argue that the amplification of differences along such strictly gendered lines adds to the normative force of oppressive categories. So perhaps deep-seated preferences are somatic facts for small boys and girls, and the distribution of boys and girls along lines of preferences will be clumpy. But to amplify it in such an exaggerated and genderrific fashion effectively endorses the differences and enforces them. This isn’t just what many girls like, it’s what girls OUGHT to like. Battle-bots aren’t just what many boys like; they are FOR boys and girls are neither welcome to play nor invited to play. It is a shame that so early and often, children would be sent messages that they are not to feel at home in their own likes and enjoyments. But more pressingly to me, they are also sent the message that these are categories worth enforcing on/against others.

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