Combating Sexism One Baby Shower Card at a Time

Everyone else has already done it, so I suppose it’s time for me to weigh in on the Great Target Gendered Labeling Debate of 2015.

I have no problems with pink and blue versions of different toys.  I don’t think that liking pink and sparkles and Barbies is a sign that your daughter will not grow into a strong, independent woman. Hell, I loved my Barbies and My Little Ponies when I was little and today “girls’ nights” with my friends typically consist of discussions of politics, feminism, science, and books (that and booze, obviously).

What I do have a problem with is labeling things as gender specific when the only possibly gendered aspect is the color.

For example, cards (also Building Sets vs Girl Building Sets, but this is really about my breakdown in the card aisle)

I was at Target looking for a birthday card and baby shower card. For the record, I hate shopping for baby shower (and wedding) cards.  They’re usually ungodly sappy or cutesy which I just cannot get behind. As I was prowling the cards looking for something not absolutely nauseating (and not $10+ because come on Papyrus, your stuff is gorgeous, but let’s be real, it’s a card, it will probably get thrown out in under a week) I started noticing the labeling. There were “Boy Birthday” cards that appeared to be labeled as such purely because they were blue.

Sorry, that’s not a “Boy Birthday” card, that’s just a birthday card.  I can understand labeling the cards “boy” or “girl” if the writing in the card in gender specific, but not just because the card itself has flowers or dinosaurs on it. People are generally smart enough to pick out a color/pattern suitable for whatever their kid likes (and maybe their daughter/niece/whoever happens to like dinosaurs, or maybe their son/nephew/whoever happens to like pink).

I also have a beef with unequal equivalent merchandising. This example has been making the rounds and it’s unfortunate for a number of reason.  1) You want your preschooler dating?  Creepy much? and 2) Why can’t a girl be a future super hero? It’s not like there have never been female super heroes (Storm, Wonder Woman, Black Widow… there was even a female Robin). I’m not even terribly bothered if the girl “equivalent” is just a pink version of the same thing.  It’s mildly eye-roll worthy,  but I get that a lot of little girls really do like pink and if your little girl doesn’t, well then get her the non-pink “boy” version.  Is she happy? good.  Are you happy? good.  Does anyone else’s opinion remotely matter here? no.

The shower card I ended up with was this cute little onesie-with-a-cape cutout saying “super cute.” Since the proud parents-to-be are having a Wonder Woman themed nursery* and had a super hero themed shower invite it seemed perfect. The problem? The inside was all “congrats on your new baby boy” and there was no “super cute” girl’s card.

So I bought the damn card.  For a baby girl shower because fuck that, girls can be super heroes too!

Luckily Photoshop (or really any text editing program + a printer) is a great tool for subversion.


Seriously, would it have been so terribly difficult to make the inside text gender neutral?** Not that I think every single product needs to be gender neutral, but text inside the vast majority of cards? Easy-peasy. And since most cards suck anyway you’re not even really losing anything (plus cards are sort of designed to be written in so if you keep the printed text simple the buyer can customize, and gender-ify, all they want).

And in closing, a comic on sexism, since this goes far beyond gendered marketing, and the issues don’t only affect women.


*Which I think is both awesome and badass

**And I’m totally counting “hero” as gender-neutral and not worrying about “heroine” because that’s just splitting hairs at this point. Just like actor vs actress or painter vs…. oh wait. Matt did suggest the title of accountrix to one of my (female) CPA friends and I do actually think that one’s a winner.

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