Well, it’s happened. Hasbro, after criticism, is going gender neutral on it’s Easy Bake Oven. As a guy who likes to cook, let me say “bravo”, and may I suggest a line of gender-neutral kid’s cookbooks and cooking utensils. No I’m serious, have you seen how kids are eating?
It appears there’s awareness of gender issues and toy sales, even if attempts are a bit offbeat. Of course geeks like us know that there’s plenty of cases of gender-bent preferences.
- Hasbro, of course, has My Little Pony, which makes the easy-bake over issue look like nothing. If they released a Pinkie Pie Microwave, grown men would buy it.
- There’s “The Transformers,” whose fandom taught me that if your last name is “Prime” there’s no small amount of women who, when younger, thought you were the sexiest thing on two legs or four wheels. Peter Cullen, and that large cast of Rodimi, do you know what you did?
- Huge amounts of anime targeted at men with casts of buff guys punching stuff and bonding attract huge female audiences because it’s buff guys punching stuff and bonding. Yaoi is a kind of cultural alkaheist.
Nothing here really surprises us. The issues of gender-target expectations being off doesn’t surprise us.
Yet, we’re seeing surprise. We’re even seeing bizarre conspiracy theories.
This is one of those moments I like to use to illustrate the fact that we, the professional geeks, do see the world differently. We’re down in the cultural trenches as it were. We’ve seen the Yu Yu Hakkusho fan art. We know Bronies.
But we’re not like everyone else. We’ve got a different perspective. So where we shrug, other people see a newly colored oven and freak out, or wonder why that “Naruto Thing” as so many female followers*.
It’s important to remember this for a number of reasons:
- It keeps us from being numb to real progress. I think this Hasbro thing is great, though my cooking bias clearly shows.**
- It helps us make progress. If you’re a geek in sales, marketing, product, etc. you can help break gender stereotypes by using your geek knowledge to point out cases like those above.
- It helps us remember differences among people. You can get so far into fandoms and geekery you forget the different perspectives out there.
So I celebrate the oven – and I use it as a reminder of cultural differences and how we see things differently.
Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach. He blogs on careers at http://www.fantopro.com/, nerd and geek culture at http://www.nerdcaliber.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at https://www.stevensavage.com/.
* Considering how the series go on, my answer is “Inertia.”
** Wait until I talk about “Toriko”.