Teenager Challenges Gender Stereotypes, and Wins!

Thirteen-year-old McKenna Pope recently took on the toy company Hasbro, when she realized that the company’s Easy-Bake Oven wasn’t marketed or designed in a gender-neutral manner. Pope and her parents wanted to buy one of the toy ovens for her four-year-old brother, but found that the toy was only available in purple or pink, and that only images of girls were used in the marketing and promotional materials.

So Pope started a petition asking Hasbro to make a gender-neutral stove that could be marketed to both girls and boys. Over 45,000 people signed the petition, and Hasbro recently announced that a gender-neutral stove will be available next year. We think it is wonderful that a teen girl has the willpower and determination to petition for such a huge change. We also like how she is supporting her younger brother’s interests, and that such a young girl reacted to the fact that boys and girls are presumed to like and want opposite things.

On the other hand, it is also sad that young children are so aware of what is supposedly the “right” way to behave for someone of their gender. Children and teenagers are bombarded with messages on how and how not to act, as well as what activities are deemed appropriate for them. It is not always easy to ignore those messages, as the consequences can easily escalate into ridicule, teasing, and bullying.

Photo of toy stove shared by Flickr user Rosa Pomar under a creative commons license.