21 thoughts on “Gendered crayons?

  1. Nothing’s wrong with the normal crayon boxes as such. But the sex-stereotyped play preferences of children are very persistent, and I suspect that this manufacturer has simply figured out that by also offering crayon boxes that play to those preferences, it ends up with higher crayon sales overall. In other words, dollars and cents.

  2. That is a really good question, tatygirl90!

    In addition to feeling like they have to shove people into gender-boxes, it’s almost as if the creators of these products feel that the use of the traditional crayon boxes, which aren’t targeted for a specific type of play, might require too much thinking or creativity.

    So in order to protect our kids, we have to focus their interests onto trucks and princesses — otherwise, they might sprain their imagination or something!

  3. Funnily enough, today Amazon.com’s main page is running a feature on funniest reviewer comments, and one of the showcased products is Bic for Her!

  4. You’d need to buy both boxes in order to deal with the different colours humans come in – no pink or beige in the truck one and no brown in the princess one. Also, any child who wanted to draw First Great Western trains (someone’s got to like them) would be out of luck with the truck box. A princess with a truck, however, sounds like the start of a great story.

  5. I might be missing something, but I don’t see how these are gendered. Might not girls want the truck collection and boys the princess collection? There’s no suggestion otherwise. They’re just themed.

  6. Anonymous #10 makes a valid point. These are technically just themed, albeit that the themes play to recognized sex-differentiated play preferences and I have little doubt that the manufacturer has determined that this benefits sales. Judging from the website of Melissa & Doug – the company that makes both crayon sets – they appear to market all their toys by theme and by age, and not overtly along sex lines.

  7. Wait, you think that ‘Princess Collection’ is not itself a suggestion that those colors are for girls? I think you must be joking. ‘Princess’ is itself a gendered word — one of the extremely rare *technically* gendered nouns in English!

  8. Context makes a huge difference. In the Anglo-American context (and surely many others) we applaud the families who are daring/forward thinking enough to let their children choose for themselves between pink and blue, princess or knight, etc. And the boy who goes to school in princess clothing may be given a very, very hard time by everyone, including the principal/head. These themes have a place in the culture; few think to challenge them and those that do may be running quite a risk.

    Gendered products both exploit and reinforce the gender assignments/regulations children are usually made to learn.

  9. People keep calling them “gendered”, but I still can’t see how these are, unless you are thinking that only girls can or should want to be princesses. I agree that it would be bad if the truck crayon set said “For boys!” or the princess set said “For girls!”, but that’s not the case. One is a set revolving around darker, more saturated colors and trucks, the other around lighter, more pastel colors and princesses.

  10. Anonymous@15, I’m surprised you can’t see how the word ‘princess’ is gendered feminine. But perhaps you are not from a culture in which trucks and the color blue are associated with boys, and princesses and the color pink are associated with girls.

    I am, and so I can very easily see how these toys are gendered. Which they are.

  11. Trucks, in our culture, are gendered in the sense of feminist theory, which I would not presume to adumbrate here. (Now *that* would be mansplaining par excellence!)

    But ‘princess’ is gendered in a linguistic sense. A princess is by definition female, and only feminine pronouns can refer back to it (well, when they are third person singular, anyway). Boys cannot be princesses, unless they can be girls (which again is a question above my pay grade) or women. Whether they can or not, this shows (as if it needed showing!) that ‘princess’ is gendered.

    Since I assume literally everyone who speaks English knows this, I wonder what point Anonymous is trying to make. I don’t get it.

  12. My point is just that you are assuming trucks are for boys and princesses are for girls, which is a gendered assumption. I would hope that if you had a boy who wanted the princess crayons, you wouldn’t tell him, “those are for girls,” and if you had a girl who wanted the truck crayons, you wouldn’t tell her, “those are for boys.”

  13. Right, I never would.
    But, they would know anyway, because they live in this world. That’s gender for you.

    I’m just not comfortable giving this explanation — I feel like a first-year undergrad doing a proof in front of a class of math grad students. So I will bow out now.

  14. Anonymous, this is false: “My point is just that you are assuming trucks are for boys and princesses are for girls.”

    As I said, the gendered associations are cultural and historical. Therefore, I’m not “assuming” it. I am inferring from the immense evidence.

  15. I meant “assuming” in the sense of “using as a premise in an argument that doesn’t follow from other premises”. But fine, use “inferring”. The fact remains that you think trucks are for boys and princesses are for girls. That’s a problem.

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