Alli, YetAnotherGirl, Molly W., and Laurence D. all sent in links (via The Mary Sue and Feminist Law Professors) to a post at The Achilles Effect on gendered language in children’s toy commercials. Crystal Smith created word clouds based on 658 words in 27 TV commercials generally aimed at boys (products included “Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Kung Zhu, Nerf, Transformers, Beyblades, and Bakugan”) and 432 words from 32 TV commercials generally aimed at girls (products: “Zhu Zhu Pets, Zhu Zhu Babies, Bratz Dolls, Barbie, Moxie Girls, Easy Bake Ovens, Monster High Dolls, My Little Pony, Littlest Pet Shop, Polly Pocket, and FURREAL Friends”).

This clearly isn’t a random sample of all toy commercials on all TV channels to all age groups; as Smith points out, it ignores toy companies that can’t afford TV ads, and it’s not a huge sample. However, given that these are popular toys that were being marketed during shows (such as cartoons) that are aimed at children, the word clouds provide a basic overview of gendered language in toy ads.

The word cloud for the boys’ list shows the emphasis on action and violence, with others depicted as opponents, a nemesis, or enemies:

For girls, the words are much more about appearance/fashion, relationships (friends, friendship, etc.), and playing mommy:

You can see larger versions at Wordle (girls and boys) and Smith says she has a reference list of all the commercials she a reference list of all the commercials available, which I requested. I’ll update the post with the list when I get it.

UPDATE: In response to my email, Crystal Smith cautioned, “This is a very small sample of brands that tend to appear frequently during kids’ cartoon blocks on TV. They are highly gendered toys, which explains the incredible contrast between the two lists.” She sent along the references; the girls’ list is available here, the boys’ list here.

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