Friday, August 5, 2011

Swiffer the women's dream cleaner

In our society just as much as we dirty and mess things up we have to clean it up just as much, so cleaning products are in high demand. Connecting cleaning with the idea of making things quicker and efficient, Procter and Gamble created a line of cleaning products back in 1999 called Swiffer. Swiffer has varies of products that are very useful in the household and that all come at a affordable price, but that catch is that must continue to purchase replacement refills and pads over the life of the product. I would say that Swiffer products are a great creation and it allows one to replace the traditional broom and mop; however, the products is heavily gendered based to women throughout its marketing.
As you are watching TV have you actually watched and paid attention to one of the Swiffer commercials that are shown quite a lot. Well I have, and I realized that all of their commercials have the same format where a woman is using one of the Swiffer products, and the commercial constantly tries to compare the Swiffer products to a old mop or broom. In these commercials the announcer would always say“Once you switch, you’ll never go back." In Sut Jhally’s article Image-Based Culture she states” Many commercial messages use images and representations of men and women as central components of their strategy to both get attention and persuade” (Jhally,253). The representation of women in Swiffer’s commercials is very vital component on how they are marketing their products to women. These commercials rarely have men in them and if they do the only purpose of the man would be to a spectator to the women using the Swiffer product to clean the house.

“Swiffer gives cleaning a whole new meaning”, that is one Swiffer’s present day slogans that is often written on their products and said during their commercials. Giving the stereotype that women are the ones that do all the cleaning throughout the household, Swiffer not only markets its product to women they even create them for women. Swiffer products are these lightweight yellow or light green tools that are marketed to make cleaning better. In a article called Cosmetic: A Clinque Case Study , it  states “ An important factor in the different presentations of products for men and women is colour, a distinction by which gender stereotypes are reinforced” (Kirkham and Weller, 269). Though Swiffer products are not pink and purple, all of the products are light colors which mean they are represented more for women. Combining the light colors of the products and the female dominated commercials of Swiffer products is goes to show that Swiffer is heavily marketed to women and only women.

Jhally, Sut. "Image-Based Culture: Advertising & Popular Culture." Gender Race and Class in Media. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2003. 249-57. Print.

Kirkham, Pat, and Alex Weller. "Cosmetics: A Clinique Case Study." Print. Rpt. in Gender, Race, and Class In Media. Ed. Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2003. 255. Print.

Photograph. Swiffer Product. Web. 5 August 2011.

Photograph. Swiffer Product. Web. 5 August 2011.

Photograph. Swiffer Product. Web. 5 August 2011.

Photograph. Swiffer Product. Web. 5 August 2011.

Photograph. Swiffer Product. Web. 5 August 2011.

Photograph. Swiffer Product. Web. 5 August 2011.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sports and Toy Gun's Influence on young boys


This weekend is my younger cousin, Mike’s birthday and I thought it would be nice to surprise him with a gift so I started to look online for some toys for an eight year old boy. I figured searching online for toys for mike wouldn’t be that difficult because Mike is a typical little boy, he is into sports, cars, video games and toy guns. The first site I visited was and I immediately noticed that you could search for toys according to age groups, and more importantly, toys were divided into gendered categories: “boys” and “girls”. makes shopping for toys relatively easy; however, the toys that are most frequently marketed are sports equipment and toy guns. Combining the marketing and how toys are gendered for young boys, they both create a strong influence of masculinity on the boys buying these toys and introduce them to our strongly gendered society at a very young age.

Gender roles refer to the set of social and behavioral norms that are considered to be socially appropriate for individuals of a specific gender.  Gender roles have been applied to mostly every aspect of our culture and sadly it’s even being represented in children’s toys.  Regarding toys, young boys in normal societies are suppose to be playing with toys like race cars, toy guns, sports related toys, and etc. On the other hand girls usually have kitchen sets and Barbie dolls, however when either the boy or girl branch away from their social norm of toys it is often considered inappropriate based on the gendered society we live in.
Scrolling down Toys ‘R’ Us list of recommended toys for a eight year old boy I realized that almost half on the toys they had for sell was from Nerf. For those of you that don’t know, Nerf is a toy brand created by Parker Brothers, and their toys consist of foam-based weapons and foam balls such as footballs and basketballs. Based on the gendered roles in our society, you won’t see many girls running around with Nerf guns or throwing around Nerf footballs, the entire company is geared towards selling to boys. Wanting to know more about how Nerf toys are marketed, I went to their company’s website and the first thing that pops up is a short video of about 5 young boys have a mini battle with the Nerf guns. Adding the tons of pictures of young boys with these guns on their website, it wouldn’t be hard matter fact it’s quite effortless for Nerf to persuade young boys into wanting their products. So at a young age boys are introduced to our gendered society by companies like Nerf because of the way they market their products.

    Companies like Nerf who are producing these toys based on gender should take full blame for how they are influencing young children into the highly powerful gendered society. According to Newman, “a toy manufacturer's catalog or web site reveals that toys and games remain solidly segregated along gender lines. Decades of research indicate that ‘girls' toys’ still revolve around theme of domesticity, fashion, and motherhood and ‘boys’ toys’ emphasize action and adventure” (Newman 112).  This statement from Newman relates directly with what I was saying about how Nerf is geared towards making toys mainly for boys that revolve around their foam guns and action. Nerf’s website/catalog contained many pictures of young little boys advertising their products making their product a typical “boy” toy. Also I found that in the 11th Annual Toy of the Year Awards, which is held at the American International Toy Fair in New York City, one of Nerf’s products was awarded “Boy Toy of the Year”. This award given to Nerf’s strongly shows how toys are strictly gendered from the manufacturer to the people selling the toys in the store.

    Not only do today’s toys for young boys introduce them to our gendered society at a young age, it also strongly influences their masculinity. Even at the age of eight, like my younger cousin Mike, boys are starting conform to gender constraints imposed by society while simultaneously building their masculinity. I believe the toys that are out there for young boys have a big impact on these little boys are forming their masculinity. Likewise, toys such as guns, sports balls, and video games are society’s way of instilling masculine characteristics into young males. Society and its gender roles have a detrimental effect on the outlook of children and how they view themselves and their peers. Males are expected to be tough, strong, superior and powerful, and they start to fit into these character troupes even at a young age with playing with toys like Nerf toy guns.

    To talk more about how masculinity is developed by young boy’s toys, I want to compare it to the use of sports and how boys are very likely to be involved in sports at a young age. The two go hand and hand, young boys a expected to be tough by usually playing a sport like football, or baseball and also have toys such as Nerf guns and footballs that they would play with on a daily basis. Messner states “A boy, for instance, may have amazingly dexterous inborn hand-eye coordination, but this does not predispose him to a career of hitting baseballs any more than it predisposes him to life as a brain surgeon” (Messner, 123). Messner is basally trying to say that for a young boy born with natural good hand-eye coordination, is more likely to use it on hitting baseballs than using the skills as a brain surgeon because the boy will be introduced to sports and at a very young age. Boys will be introduced to things like sports and toy guns because some parents think that these things will help turn their boys into men one day, and based on the gendered society we live in these parents are right and probably don’t know any better.

    In conclusion by the end of my shopping I decided to get Mike a Nerf toy gun anyway because I figured he is already old enough to know what he wants and that he has been already introduced to our gendered society anyway. A kid being introduced to our society at a young age is just a social norm now and probably buying Mike something out of his preference just to stereotypes and norms would have spoiled his birthday. So even though I realize toys are may or may not be having a negative influence on kids today because of how they are so gendered, I guess I’m still going along with what is socially accepted in our society.
Works Cited

Messner, Michael A. "Boyhood, Organized Sports, and the Construction of Masculinities." Gender Socialization. Print.

Newman, David M. "Chapter Four Learning Difference Families, Schools, and Socialization." Identities and Inequalities: Exploring the Intersections of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2006. Print.

Photograph. NERF N SPORTS WEATHER BLITZ Pro All-Conditions Football. Web. 29 July 2011.

Photograph. NERF N-STRIKE BARRICADE RV-10. Web. 29 July 2011.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Difference of Gender roles in My Wife and Kids

In today’s society popular culture is now mainly incorporated with what we as people like to watch, listen to, and surf on the internet. TV shows has became a major part of popular culture predominantly because it’s a good source of entertainment. Being that so many people watch TV, television producers are given lots of power and have a big influence on people’s lives. TV producers decide what to put on TV, how they want to put, and when they want to show it, leaving them with a broad verizon on how to entertain their audience. Along with millions of other people I’m too a big fan of television and one of my favorite shows growing up was My Wife and Kids because of its humor and how I can relate to their family by also being African American. Although this show is very funny, it also shows a strong difference of gender roles between the husband and wife; also Mr. Kyle uses his male dominance to help define what it means to be a woman along with degrading his wife especially in this one particular episode.
The show is based on Michael Kyle, who is a loving husband and father. Michael sometimes can be seen as a modern day patriarch that uses a blend of humor on how he runs his household. Michael is married to Janet Kyle and they have been together for 17 years which has lead to the production of three children; the oldest Michael Jr., then Claire and the youngest Kady. The show is focused on the marriage between Mr. and Mrs. Kyle and how Michael Kyle uses his distinct parenting style to raise the children. Even though the show is mainly about what I just stated there are many underlying messages that one can depict from the show such as how Michael has majority of the power because of his gender and the often degrading of Janet “Jay” Kyle.
When I found out that we had to analyze a TV show and one particular episode, I immediately thought about My Wife and Kids and this episode from season 2 called “Thru Thick and Thin”. I thought this episode would be perfect example how television always have an underlying message behind the production and that if you sit down and analyze you can figure it out. Just from the title one would think the episode would be either about how there is some type of struggle or something about “thick” and “thin”. The episode is about Jay’s return to the family because she was away taking care of her injured mom, but more importantly this episode was more focused on how she gained weight while she was away. The whole episode was more focused on how Jay was now “fat” according to her husband Michael standards and not that she was finally home from being away for a while. During most of the episode Michael kept commenting on her weight even though he did so in a joking manner, he made it clear that he didn’t like that fact that she was now fat.
The problem is that even with the joking Michael is using his masculinity and power to somewhat degrade Jay about her weight. In America and shown in this episode, it’s expected that women to be more on the thinner side and that when they are fat it is automatically a problem. In our society today there is a big gender difference when it comes to appearance. In the media women are meant to be beautiful and when they are not they are quickly talked about by other women and men. But on the other hand in the media men don’t really have to worry about their appearance it mostly how much money they have in their pocket. In Jennifer Pozner’s piece “The Unreal World” she briefly touches on how women are represented in media and how it differs from men. Her explanations are about reality TV, but they connect to My Wife and Kids because both the producers from reality TV shows and other TV shows all have the same concept on how they want to display women on their shows. Pozner talks about the difference when she states “Where women are valued as “perfect 10’s” simply for being pretty, passive and intellectually, unthreatening, reality TV tells us that all men need is wealth” (pg.98) Pozner’s idea relates to the episode of My Wife and Kids that I talked about because in the episode Michael is so focused on his wife’s weight and how he can get her to get on a diet. Every other second in the episode there was a joke about Jay’s weight or fat jokes and Michael made it very know he couldn’t accept the fact that she was fact because he thought it made her less beautiful.
The way Jay’s weight is magnified and talked about in the episode of My Wife and Kids is directed resulting from the producers ideas about women; it’s also important that the producer is male. In the entertainment business just like most other aspects of our society males have majority of the power which allow them to dictate most things. This idea relates to James Lull’s definition of Hegemony where he states “Hegemony is the power or dominance that one social group holds over others” (61). Hegemony clearly exists in My Wife and Kids because of the dominance the male producers have over the female characters in the show like Jay. Lull also said that “hegemony is more than social power itself; it is a method for gaining and maintaining power” (61).  Males will always maintain they power if they continue to show or make episodes of TV shows like the one of My Wife and Kids, where Jay is subtly being degraded to millions of viewers about her weight and appearance.

Lull, James. "Hegemony." Gender, Race, and Class in Media: a Text-reader. By Gail Dines and Jean McMahon. Humez. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage, 2003. Print.

Pozner, Jennifer L. "The Unreal World." Learning Gender. By Amy Kesselman, Lily D. McNair,     and Nancy Schniedewind. 4th ed. McGraw-Hill, 2006. 96-99. Print.