Access: Slate; YouTube
Summary: This new commercial from the GoldieBlox toy company has been enthusiastically shared among feminists and those who are generally frustrated by the dearth of creative toys for girls. The ad features three bored little girls watching a generic television ad of other girls dressed in princess costumes. The three girls throw on a record of a reworked Beastie Boys tune, they grab their tools, and in the next shot, we see that they have constructed an elaborate Rube Goldberg apparatus. Swinging levers beget cascading dominoes and rolling bowling balls, until at last a makeshift hammer swings toward the television and appears to change the channel. The ad is in keeping with GoldieBlox's overall mission, which is to "show the world that girls deserve more choices than dolls and princesses [and that] femininity is strong and girls will build the future." The company's concern is well placed too. In the United States, between 2000 and 2009, the percentage of women in the field of engineering has been in decline, and currently, only about 18% of all engineering degree holders are women (According to GoldieBlox, only 11% of total engineers worldwide are women). Obviously the commercial seeks to sell toys, but it might work well as a means to draw attention to this gendered imbalance in the field of engineering (i.e., occupational sex segregation), and how this imbalance is connected to the different ways boys and girls are socialized. But one can take the analysis even further. Notice that even in this fairly progressive ad, gender proves itself as a resilient basis upon which to socialize boys and girls differently. For all GoldieBlox's talk on their website about "disrupting the pink aisle," it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the company's marketing approach actually reinforces the gender binary just as well as any other company's. GoldieBlox might be disrupting pink as an innately feminine color, but it leaves unscathed the core idea that girls and women are somehow fundamentally different than boys and men.
Submitted By: Lester Andrist