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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

One to Watch: The Easy Bake Oven

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One to Watch knows how fraught with danger writing about gender issues can be in a PC world. But we are going to go ahead and do it anyway. McKenna Pope, a 13-year-old New Jersey girl, is petitioning toy-maker Hasbro to stop marketing the Easy Bake Oven only to young girls.

She says she was inspired to action after watching her four-year-old brother try to cook on top of a light bulb in a lamp. She has collected 18,000 signatures on her petition at Change.org

We've got a problem with that. No, not with boys cooking. Nowadays, if men want to eat, they have to cook, and they've got to learn sometime. But we have a problem with the inherent sexism in this attempt to de-sex the Easy Bake Oven.

Who says pink and purple and other nice colours used on the Easy Bake Oven are girly colours? Why do girls get all the best colours? Maybe guys who want to cook also happen to like pink and purple.

And another thing... even if the girl's little brother had an Easy Bake Oven, he still might have tried to cook over a lamp bulb, because cooking that way is so much cooler and messier.

Nevertheless, if the Easy Bake Oven is going to be redesigned to appeal to boys, it's only fair the same be done for so-called boys' toys. Look at toy guns. They're all packaged in bright, aggressive colours and bold type. What self-respecting girl is going to want those? Why not repackage some of them in pastels?

Of course, if we are really serious about making things gender neutral, perhaps everything could be designed around shades of grey and brown. Well, maybe not grey. That colour has recently developed some connotations of its own.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 8, 2012 J12

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