Given the functions of this play-set and the crowd to whom this company is advertising, Hasbro is asserting that there are certain roles in a home that fall into the feminine domain because – from birth – girls naturally gravitate to them.
What quickly becomes apparent is the total lack of boys in this advertisement. The singers are girls and the main subjects are girls. Therefore, within seconds, Hasbro establishes that this product (a home that can be furnished with an oven, a washer, a baby crib, and a pink chair) is only for girls.
Using the jingle and the subjects in the commercial, Hasbro advertises that girls derive tremendous pleasure from serving others. The jingle sings: “taking care of my home is a dream, dream, dream!” and “come be my guest.” As is evident from the subjects’ incessant smiles, the girls are excited to bake muffins, do laundry, entertain guests, and take care of kids. Essentially, Hasbro believes that the ideal play space for a little girl is one that requires no physical exertion and no critical/analytical thinking, enabling them to be the smiley, caring, docile creatures they naturally are.
“Playtime” is a time when kids can use their imaginations to be anything that they want to be. However, Hasbro contaminates this time of limitless possibility by projecting everything from what young girls should enjoy doing (baking, cleaning, etc.) to what colors they should find the most attractive (pink, purple, and light yellow). Lorber says “Once a child’s gender is evident, others treat those in one gender differently from those in the other, and the children respond to the different treatment by feeling different and behaving differently.” When young girls see this, they are being told what it means to belong to their gender, how they should act, and from what sources they should derive pleasure. Servitude already has a connotation of inferiority, which is why I believe that this ad plays directly into Beauvoir’s male/female dynamic, in which women are reduced to “others,” or the “lesser.” As the ad makes perfectly clear, this play-set – and thus, the idea of servitude as a means of fulfillment and pleasure – is not intended for boys. It directly follows, therefore, that if boys are not the ones who are serving, they are the ones being served.
“The Social Construction of Gender.” Lorber. 1990. October 14, 2012
“Introduction to the Second Sex.” Beauvoir. 1949. October 14, 2012