The Sears Wishbook; a gender critique

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In my last blog I critiqued the Kmart toy catalog based upon its depiction of gender toy preferences.  I looked at the number of actual girls and boys depicted and with which toys.

In this posting, I look at the toy section in the Sears Wish Book.  Kmart is Sears’s sister company and I found their catalog to be overwhelmingly male.  What about the Wishbook; well it was even more male oriented than the Kmart book.  There were 15 boys and 3 girls depicted.  That 5 to 1 ration beats Kmart’s 2 to 1 ratio by a mile.

There were depictions children associated with 9 vehicles on which you ride.  All those children depicted were boys.  In fact, of the 3 girls depicted, 1 was with a kitchen set, 1 was in a play house and 1 was on a slide. 

Why are the Kmart and Sears’s books so overwhelmingly male?  Well, I don’t know.  My guess, however,  is that, at least in part, both companies are adhering to the old notion that a boy will not play with a girl’s toy while a girl will play with a boy’s toy.  Okay, but 15 to 3 is a huge ratio.  Mightn’t a girl thumbing through the Wish Book not get the subliminal if not liminal message that it is not meant for them?  Is Sears going to lose some girl’s business because of that?  Is a girl going to want to go somewhere other than Sears?

What do you think?  More importantly what does Sears think?  It would be interesting to hear from the individual at Sears who makes the choices as to whom is depicted.  I think we would all benefit by better understanding why the selections were made.  So Sears, can we hear from you?

4 thoughts

  1. I don’t care. The fact that people are pointing out all this stuff is sexist. Just enjoy a stupid book and shop for your family. Who cares What the media says and does. It’s media it’s all about attention. No matter how much you complain they won’t care. So stop caring about it. I’ll always shop the catalogs because quite frankly I don’t care how many boys there are to girls. It says nothing just advertising toys and clothing and other wonderful things for your friends and family to enjoy. I do care about specializing and sexism but seriously people you gotta bitch about a simple book too? Just stop.

  2. I think I will NOT shop at these stores anymore until they “queen” up their acts.
    I have actually been very aware of this stuff since the ’70’s when I became a feminist. I watched so many friends who backslid after they had children. I think some, sadly most, people have a hard time reinventing themselves.
    I gave my 3 year old great niece some blocks (beautifully colored to “feminize” them – CitiBlocks) and she told me that girls don’t play with blocks. I suggested she could make doll furniture with them. Anything to learn spatial reasoning, the foundation for Math. She liked that!
    I’m going to ask her next time I see her if she got that idea from looking at Toy Catalogs or did someone else give her that idea? And did they get that idea from the media? (of course, duh!)
    Keep shining your light on these issues! Thanks!

  3. Thank you for pointing out this gender division in the Sears toy catalog. Unfortunately, this same boy/girl stereotype can be found in almost all toy stores. It seems like a backward move – back to the 1950’s.

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