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Ovation: Mckenna Pope Takes On Hasbro Because Her Brother Wants To Bake.

12/06/2012

MCKENNA-POPE-570For generations, little girls were taught that they’re not supposed to play with trucks or get dirty and little boys were taught to hate the color blue, get dirty, and never ever play with dolls.  Unlike most, the toy industry has a history of gender-specific marketing   Toys have been specifically designed, manufactured and marketed for target audiences of “girl” or “boy”.  It didn’t matter what a child enjoyed, found interesting or requested, if they didn’t have the right chromosomes a child wasn’t allowed to play with the “wrong” toys.

Kids today are fighting back.  They know what they enjoy and they’re fighting for the opportunity to escape gender-assigned playthings.  Not unlike little Riley of New York who just last year appeared in a viral video asking that toy makers “don’t trick the girls into buying the pink stuff”, eighth grader Mckenna Pope is a vocal opponent of gender-specific advertising in the toy department.  Pope has a very specific goal.  In support of her little brother, the Garfield, New Jersey girl has started a petition to encourage Hasbro to feature boys in the packaging of its Easy Bake Oven.  She writes …

My little brother has always loved cooking. Being in the kitchen is his favorite out of school activity, and he yearns to have the opportunity to cook on his own, or at least with limited help.

Imagine my surprise when I walked into his room to find him “cooking” tortillas by placing them on top of his lamp’s light bulb! Obviously, this is not a very safe way for him to be a chef, so when he asked Santa for his very own Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven, produced by the Hasbro company, for me to help him be the cook he’s always wanted to be, my parents and I were immediately convinced it was the truly perfect present.

However, we soon found it quite appalling that boys are not featured in packaging or promotional materials for Easy Bake Ovens — this toy my brother’s always dreamed about. And the oven comes in gender-specific hues: purple and pink.

I feel that this sends a clear message: women cook, men work.

I have always been adamantly against anything that promotes specific roles in society for men and women, and having grown up with toys produced by the Hasbro corporation, it truly saddens me that such a successful business would resort to conforming to society’s views on what boys do and what girls do.

I want my brother to know that it’s not “wrong” for him to want to be a chef, that it’s okay to go against what society believes to be appropriate. There are, as a matter of fact, a multitude of very talented and successful male culinary geniuses, i.e. Emeril, Gordon Ramsey, etc. Unfortunately, Hasbro has made going against the societal norm that girls are the ones in the kitchen even more difficult.

Great letter, Mckenna!  I’ve always thought it best to let children play with the toys that most stimulate their imaginations.  I grew up in a family that taught the children, boys and girls, to crochet and chop wood.  We had puppets and Hot Wheels, erector sets and chemistry sets, baseball bats and batons to twirl, ropes for jumping and/or making lassos.

Playing with toys is supposed to be fun.  I agree with Mckenna when she says in her video, “I thought that as a society we had far moved past that” and I support her efforts to bring about changing attitudes at Hasbro.  And I, certainly, hope that Santa brings her brother an Easy Bake Oven this Christmas.

UPDATE 12/18/12 – Hasbro Hears McKenna Pope! Unisex Easy-Bake Oven On The Way!

UPDATE 01/05/13 – A message from McKenna Pope …

“When I realized that Easy Bake Ovens only came in pink and purple and showed just girls cooking on the packaging, I started a petition on Change.org, asking them to make one in gender-neutral colors.

After more than 44,000 people like you signed, Hasbro noticed, and asked me to meet with them at their headquarters. When my family and I got there, they showed us the new Easy Bake Oven they’re going to make in silver and black!

My petition was so popular, I was getting calls from national reporters at CNN and Good Morning America. It even got attention from some of the country’s top chefs who voiced their support in a YouTube video!

Thank you so much for supporting my campaign —  with a black and silver Easy Bake Oven, Hasbro is saying that cooking is for everyone, not just girls. I can’t wait to share this gift with my little brother Gavyn.

If I can make a difference in the world, so can you. “

McKenna Pope
13 years old
Garfield, New Jersey

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7 Comments
  1. Boys don’t cook? What does Emeril think of that? And the other 20 gazillion wonderful male cooks in the world? Stupid policy.

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  2. Smart kid. It’s kids like her that make the future seem bright,

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  3. Great post and a great sister. Bobby Flay noted in an article I saw this morning that he had an Easy Bake Oven when he was little. That furthered his interest in being a chef. On a related topic, I flew to Rochester recently and the pilot and co-pilot were women and the attendants were men. We have to stop pigeonholing people and let them have access to opportunity matching their passions. On this subject, I hope Hasbro or someone else picks up the ball and runs with it. Thanks for sharing, BTG

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    • It seems to me that women are quicker to be welcomed into traditionally male roles than men are into those historically associated with females. But I think the men are catching up! The numbers of stay-at-home Dads are growing and we’re even seeing men audition for spots on NFL cheer leading squads!

      Glad you enjoyed this post and hope you’ll share it!

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  4. Anonymous permalink

    Corporations like Hasbro are designed to do one thing-sell stuff to make money. You can be certain that they don’t care who buys it. You can also be certain that much time, effort and expense goes into researching who will buy and how to get them to buy. You can’t ignore the natural fact that most boys and girls innately gravitate toward certain things, so that’s how they market it. Sure there are exceptions, and that’s fine. Again, they’re happy to sell to anyone, but they base their marketing on the”odds”. It is silly to imagine that a company like this would intentionally want to exclude any potential buyer at the risk of losing sales. The marketing is guided buy the buyer.

    Like

  5. hmmmm permalink

    Corporations like Hasbro are designed to do one thing-sell stuff to make money. You can be certain that they don’t care who buys it. You can also be certain that much time, effort and expense goes into researching who will buy and how to get them to buy. You can’t ignore the natural fact that most boys and girls innately gravitate toward certain things, so that’s how they market it. Sure there are exceptions, and that’s fine. Again, they’re happy to sell to anyone, but they base their marketing on the”odds”. It is silly to imagine that a company like this would intentionally want to exclude any potential buyer at the risk of losing sales. The marketing is guided buy the buyer.

    Like

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