Unnecessarily Gendered Gifts Need to Stop

Halloween is over, and so now is the time most of us start to plan the gifts we will give to our loved ones for Christmas, and indeed what gifts we would like to receive ourselves. The department stores suddenly change from bikinis and sunglasses to woolly hats and mittens, every surface is adorned with tinsel and dancing Santa's, the store catalogues are given a Christmassy revamp and dispatched to households nationwide to boost the festive spirit before winter has even fully kicked in. 

The problem is, some of these catalogues will stock seemingly unisex products as 'male' or 'female' gifts, such as DIY tool kits have the same function universally and almost always look the same across all manufacturers, except they're only marketed as a gift for girls once they've been decorated pink, or floral, or sparkly, or all of the above. Though this is a step forward from the days of blocking young girls and women from the labor industry altogether, evidently it is still important to mark out the different products that 'belong' to boys and girls, and this involves dipping into age-old stereotypes.

Other gifts that are unnecessarily gendered include all things barbecues (an exclusively male interest in the eyes of stockists), kitchen/home/garden ware (items like mirrors and mugs tend to be marketed to women; is this because we are stereotyped as more house proud?), technology (usually filed under 'Gifts for Men/Boys') and alcohol (whiskey is a MAN'S drink!!). And don't forget the classic Yorkie chocolate bar, which famously brandished the slogan "It's Not for Girls" - at one time, a special edition bar was released for girls, of course, wrapped in pink instead of the usual dark blue - until it was dropped 2011 in favour of plain packaging. The days of 'blue for boys' and 'pink for girls' are not over, this very unsubtle marketing technique is still very much alive.

What is the purpose of doing this? It conveys the message that, because they're not sold as general unisex products, gifts like the aforementioned are unsuitable for girls and women to possess or use; in the eyes of manufacturers/marketers/advertisers, they're strictly for the men who know how to work them. Women are interested in making things look twee with fairy lights and men after a more hardcore lifestyle filled with hot chilli sauce hampers, apparently. We (hopefully) know this to be false, and there is a growing societal frustration at the poor state of the advertising world, but gendering gifts creates barriers to deter women from showing an interest in these products and the industries they belong to. Selling products as 'Gifts for Men/Women' rather than simply 'Gifts' doesn't consider diverse tastes, or tastes shared by both genders, and instead anchors the out of date concepts of gender characteristics and the materialism that primes them.
Gifts lists on I Want One of Those.

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