Quick Hit: McKenna Pope’s crusade for gender neutral advertising of Easy Bake Ovens

13 -year-old McKenna Pope is seeking to break the gender paradigm in advertising, starting a petition to get Hasbro, the maker of the Easy Bake Oven to redesign its product packaging and advertising to include boys. Sparked by her little brother’s love to “cook,” Pope responded to her brother’s questioning why the commercial only features girls playing with the oven.

In Pope’s video appeal to support her petition to Hasbro, she asks: “Is this really the message we want to send to our youth? I thought as a society, that we have moved far past that. But no, we continue to force the stereotype that men don’t cook, they work.”

Pope’s petition has over just under 24,000 supporters.

If men can grow up to become chefs, why is that we still have a culture that holds fixed gender roles in games children play? In Pope’s estimation, we are a lot more enlightened, evolved actually, than Hasbro believes.  Top Toy  has already blazed the trail for Hasbro to follow. This is the most wonderful time of the year to break these stereotypes.


SYREETA MCFADDEN is a Brooklyn based writer, photographer and adjunct professor of English. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Guardian, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Religion Dispatches and Storyscape Journal. She is the managing editor of the online literary magazine, Union Station, and a co-curator of Poets in Unexpected Places. You can follow her on Twitter @reetamac.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/melissam/ Melissa

    Somewhere nearby, Leslie Knope is shedding a tear of joy.

  • http://feministing.com/members/dania/ Dania Tolentino

    I can’t begin to express how exciting it was reading this. Almost tears of joy knowing that our youth acknowledges and is taking action in trying to break gender roles in advertisement.
    It not only gives me hope that children are aware of the gender stereotypes they are placed in but they are questioning it and going against the norms of what it means to be a boy or girl. This 13 year old is an idealization of what I wish I had been in my earlier years, being able to something that seems so difficult but is obviously a major problem in our society demonstrates what our upcoming generations will be fighting for and achieving.
    From what I’ve learned though out of my college courses in Women’s and Gender Studies, is that peers are usually the ones influencing other peers on the kind of behaviors they are supposed to express based on their gender. Peers are one of the main agents of socialization; they are the “gender police,” manipulating others on the kind of toys they should and shouldn’t play, or even the colors they are supposed to like.
    Stereotypes in advertisement only influence these ideas to a greater extent. There are studies on how “the more mainstream media girls consume the more importance they place in being pretty and sexy.” These are not the type of messages we are supposed to give our future generations.
    Toys like Hansbro Easy Bake Oven influences a process in which children learn role requirements to a particular social status prior to actually acquiring that status, but when only girls appear on the packaging box the toy comes in or only show little girls in chimerical playing the product, because apparently girls only like cooking/backing; it sends that exact message. Including the colors these toys come in suggest that girls like pink soft colors. The color pink used to be a boy color, but this shows how colors have been socially constructed to fit a specific gender.
    Like McKenna has said, society continues to enforce these “stereotypes that men don’t cook, they work,” although I agree, youth like her taking stands like this instead of being absorbed by them gives me hope for our future media messages.