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To mark the end of Women’s History Month, we offer this compilation of our posts on women and history.



Fashion and Norms of Attractiveness:4



Marriage and Motherhood:6



Children and Toys:1

War and Military:


Color, Sound,and Language:

Just for Fun:

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.

Course Guide for
(last updated 03/2013)

Developed by Lisa Wade, PhD
Occidental College




Fashion and Norms of Attractiveness:



Marriage and Motherhood:



Children and Toys:

War and Military:


Color, Sound,and Language:

Just for Fun:

A new example prompts us to re-post this fun one from 2010.

We’ve posted in the past about the way in which “male” is often taken to be the default or neutral category, with “female” a notable, marked, non-default one. For instance, the Body Worlds exhibit, “regular” t-shirts are men’s, Best Buy assumes customers are male, stick figures on signs are generally male, and default avatars tend to be male.

We’ve collected several more examples of the tendency to present men as the norm, while women are a marked, non-default category. @LydNicholas tweeted us this example of a LEGO product advertised on their website.  Notice that the blue version is a LEGO Time-Teach Minifigure Watch and Clock, while the pink version specifies that it’s for girls:


Jessica J. noticed that Wal-Mart Target helpfully lets you know where to find both neutral, plain old deodorant and women’s deodorant:

Jane G. sent us this photo of t-ball sets, one for girls and the other with no sex specified:

Aline, in Brazil, found these two wall painting kits.  One is just a painting kit and the other is specifically “for women” (“para mulheres”).  The latter, she said, claims to be a special offer, but is actually about $2 U.S. dollars more.


Eric Stoller pointed out that ESPN differentiates between college basketball and “women’s” basketball:

Lindsay H. pointed out that when you go to the U.S. Post Office’s website to forward your mail, it offers you the chance to subscribe to magazines. Those aimed at women (Cosmopolitan, First for Women, etc.) are in the category “Women,” while equivalent magazines for men (Esquire, Maxim) are not in a category titled “Men” but, rather, “Lifestyle”:

And Jane V.S. noticed that REI has various types of marked, “non-standard” sleeping bags, including those for tall people and women:

Renée Y. sent along another example, bike helmets:

 Jessica B. spotted this pair of sibling outfits, coming in “Awesome Girl” and “Awesome Kid”:

E.W. searched Google for men’s specific road bikes and Google asked, “Don’t you mean women’s specific road bikes”?  Because there are road bikes for people and road bikes for women.

Ann C. sent a screenshot of bubblebox, a site for children’s games.  Notice that along the top there are seven options.  The last is “girls,” suggesting that all the rest are for boys.

So, there you have it.  In this world, all too often, there are people and there are women and girls.

Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.

YetAnotherGirl sent us a link to a post at Jezebel about a sign MarketFair Mall, in New Jersey, put up (and then took down after criticism and a petition) to apologize for any inconvenience some remodeling might cause:

The sign does a couple of things. It normalizes the idea that the type of verbal harassment women often face when in public (see my post from a couple of years ago for a personal example) is, in fact, the natural outcome of how women look. Rather than feeling harassed, women should interpret such comments as the compliments they really are. Yes, yes, we can shake our heads and act annoyed, but isn’t it ultimately nice to know we look good?

The sign also reinforces a certain view of working-class masculinity, one in which working-class men are crude and lacking in basic civility, unable or unwilling to control how they express themselves, a fact that everyone else may find a bit irritating but should ultimately shrug off with a bit of a smile.

This view of working-class masculinity is reinforced in a Dutch commercial sent in by Sarah van B. The commercial is for Gamma, a chain of hardware stores in the Netherlands. In it, boys build houses out of Legos, displaying various stereotypes of rough, brutish masculinity: lack of middle-class manners (burping, nose-picking), uncontrolled bodies (belly hanging out, visible butt crack), and group harassment of women:

Sarah translates the call to the woman as “Where are those pretty little legs going?”

Such depictions normalize the harassment of women while also associating it with a general lack of sophistication, something that only the lower classes would engage in. They encourage the audience to laugh at the men who do so, finding humor in their brutish antics, but also reinforce the idea that women should just expect this type of behavior from the type of men who do manual labor.

SocImages Updates:

The University of Cinncinati’s J.A. Carter has put together a fabulous resource: a Course Guide for Sociology of Sport classes.

Gwen has put together a new Pinterest page.  This is our 16th and it covers various attempts by marketers to Masculinize Femininized Products in order to sell them to men.

An article tracing the history and philosophy of SocImages is now in pre-publication.  Feel free to email for a copy if you’d like one.

In the News:

Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter and other books, offered a blush-inducing review of SocImages at her website.

Peg Streep discussed Lisa’s research on hook up culture in Psychology TodayFinding Anastasia Steele and Looking for Christian Grey.

Matt Cornell’s fantastic post on his “man-boobs” was featured, in French, at Rue89.

Our fabulous four-part series on LEGO’s history of marketing (and not marketing) to girls, by David Pickett, was featured at Boing BoingNeatorama, and HuffPo Parents.

Finally, this month we enjoyed being linked from sites the likes of CrackedKotakuUtne ReaderTVTropes, GoodGamasutra, AdWeek, and Business Insider.

Most Popular in May:

Social Media ‘n’ Stuff:

Finally, this is your monthly reminder that SocImages is on TwitterFacebookGoogle+, and Pinterest.  Lisa is on Facebook and most of the team is on Twitter: @lisadwade@gwensharpnv@familyunequal@carolineheldman@jaylivingston, and @wendyphd.

We’ve enjoyed documenting the recent trend of sexifying toys, including Dora the ExplorerStrawberry Shortcake, Holly HobbieLisa Frank, Trolls, Cabbage Patch KidsMy Little Pony, Rainbow Brite, and Candy Land, and Lego (you can see them all together on our Sexy Toy Make-Overs Pinterest board).

Let’s start with Barbie because given how she’s the quintessential sexy toy, I think it’s surprising that she’s been made over.  I found evidence for the Barbie make-over at Feminist Philosophers.  They put up the image below showing how Barbie’s torso was changed in the 2000s to one that was slimmer and with a more arched back:
Cynical Idealism posted about the Care Bear make-over.  The toys have been made both thinner, more flirty, and less androgynous.

Care Bears Then:
Care Bears Now:

I learned about the Polly Pocket make-over at Feminist Fatale.  Whereas in the 1980s, Polly Pocket looked kind of like an infant and came with various accessories, today’s Polly Pocket is decidedly more Barbie-like.

1980s Polly Pocket:

Today’s Polly Pocket:

(source: Mattel)

So, there you have it! Three more sexy toy make-overs.

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.

Los Angeles Meet Up:

Plan ahead! We’ve scheduled a SocImages Meet Up for March.  Please join us The Escondite (downtown L.A.) on Sunday, March 4th.  All ages.  Food and drink.  Great company guaranteed.

(P.S.: If you’re in Boston, I’ll be visiting Harvard and Boston University at the end of March. Will try to schedule a meet up then as well.)

SocImages News:

Amanda Jungels has put together a fantastic SocImages Course Guide for Sexuality and Society.  Check out all of our Course Guides here.

We’re having great fun with our Pinterest account; our collection of sexy toy makeovers showed up as a slideshow at the Huffington Post.  We’ve also added two new boards:

A super big “thank you” to Ron Anderson!  Dr. Anderson notified us that he nominated us for the ASA Section on Communication and Information Technologies Public Sociology Award.

We’re in Portuguese!  Thanks to Dr. Claudio Cordovil, some of our posts are appearing at the University of Brazil’s Conhecimento Prudente.

I think this is our first appearance as a source on Wikipedia… on the page about the online game, Evony… of all things.

Are you on Google Plus? So are we!

Authors and Contributors in the News:

Contributor Philip Cohen was discussed in an NPR story about using Google searches as data.

I was quoted in an NPR story about photographer Shelby Lee Adams’ portrayal of Appalachia and I enjoyed a few fun minutes on air with CKNW’s Bill Good talking about the recent trend of sexualizing toys for young girls.

Best of January

Our hard-working intern, Norma Morella, collected the stuff ya’ll liked best from this month.  Here’s what she found:

Social Media ‘n’ Stuff:

Finally, this is your monthly reminder that SocImages is on TwitterFacebook, Google+, and Pinterest.  Gwen and I and most of the team are also on twitter:

I’ve posted in the past about differences I’ve noticed in the language used in signs in the girls’ and boys’ clothing sections at Target, which seemed to reinforce the idea that boys are rough and rowdy while girls are sweet. Eric B. sent in another example that he recently saw in Target’s infants’ department. The store he went to had five aisles; each aisle had a set of large signs along the top. Three of the five were focused on boys, and they all emphasize activities:

So boys actively do things (they play, they learn to feed themselves, they discover) that merit adult attention and admiration. What about girls?

Oh, they sleep:

For other examples of how we reinforce the boys are active/girls are passive binary, see our posts on the binary in Lego City, in kids’ meal toys, and in magazines.