Thansk to Meia G. for sending in these “tool set” ornaments for sale at Home Depot. Notice that they don’t just group these tools into ones associated with women (gardening) and men (building), they actually label them as women’s and men’s on the price sticker. This is a great example of how gender isn’t just something we encounter in objects because we know enough to read gender into them, it’s actually prescribed to us.
Christmas gift advertising tends to be highly gendered in part because buying gifts can be difficult and time-consuming. Gender helps us narrow down options or find something that seems suitable for someone we don’t know very well. Marketers exploit this imperative and its uncertainty for all its worth.
And perhaps all this was just an excuse to re-post Sarah Haskins on holiday jewelry advertising. You’re welcome.
I added the tools sets to our constantly expanding collection of pointlessly gendered products. It’s our most popular Pinterest board and we can see why! Recent additions include gendered pickles; “Junior Park Ranger” and “Park Princess” vests for sale at a Yellowstone gift shop; scissors, q-tips, and dryer sheets for men only; and globes and glue just for girls.Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.