Target, and Lauredhel’s Toy-Catalogue Annex of the Bechdel Test

I finally got around to reading the bumper Target Toy Sale catalogue.

And it’s just as pinkly sickening as you’d expect.

I suppose this toy was inevitable after Dora’s Princess Makeover: the pink Dora Vanity set, by Fisher Price.

“CRIMP, CURL, AND STYLE! Be your own special hair stylist! Interact with Dora as you crimp, style, and curl her hair. Create a new look for Dora with over 10 styling accessories. She even magically recognises the styling tool that you use and has over 100 interactive phrases and songs.”

Have you noticed that no one calls her “Dora the Explorer” anymore?

targettoys 2

Then there’s the Rose Petal Cottage, by Playskool.

“Give your little girl a place of her own with these fabric covered playhouses.”

It comes with optional add-on accessories! A washer or sink, a nursery set with rocking cradle and change table. Or choose the completely pink cottage with oven and chimney. Get those domestic slaves rehearsing early.

targettoys 3

Ah, but there’s a token boy in the not-completely-pink toy kitchen! You have to give half a point for that, right? Not so much. The boy and girl in the toy kitchen reside under a shiny lolly-pink banner trumpeting “GIRLS’ TOYS”!

targettoys 4

I searched through the headings looking for something for girls that wasn’t pinkified and domestified. I spotted a castle in the “girls” section! Neat, I thought! Will it have siege engines and dragons and such?

… sadly, no. There’s a pinkified castle ghetto now, too. It’s a dollhouse rebadged as a “castle”. By Baby Born. With a sleeping pink baby in it. Kinda like Sleeping Beauty.

And it comes with a bed, wardrobe, table, tea set, and vanity, all for the special introductory offer of $249.

targettoys 1

The “Girls Toys” section also included Hannah Montana and High School Musical merchandise. Oh, and a pony.


Feel free to flick through to the “Boys’ Toys”. A Batman Mega-Cape, Transformers, a Tribot robot, K’Nex construction toys, and a toy microscope, all under a blue banner.

I can’t be the only one to notice that the “Outdoor Toys” have a blue banner, too; there’s a boy on a scooter, another boy on a scooter, a ?boy on a low-riding trike, a boy on a trailbike – and two girls on the pink scooter page, along with a boy on a blue scooter. There are both girls and boys on the playground equipment, but the trampoline has a boy. Under “Games”, there are two boys playing pool. Not one Outdoor-Toys page or Games page has a girl or girls on it with no boys present.

So I guess this one fails Lauredhel’s Toy-catalogue Annex of the Bechdel test[1], no?

1. One or more girls, playing;

2. with no boys around; and

3. with something that is not related to domestic work, mothering, being sexy, or ponies.


Can you find a catalogue that passes? For extra points, find a page that fulfils all of the above, and isn’t primarily pink or that new girly-aqua that people use for teh chick stuff when they’re shying away from pink[2].

[1] Also known as the “Bechdel-Wallace test” (or sometimes the “Mo Movie Measure”). To pass:

“One, a movie must have more than one woman in it, who, two, talk to each other, about, three, something besides a man.”

2. Cf: the glittery Daring Book For Girls.

Categories: education, fun & hobbies, gender & feminism

Tags: , , , ,

19 replies

  1. to be honest i don’t have much to say to this depressing post (the optional accessory of a washing machine in the ‘Rose Petal Cottage’ makes me want to cry), so i thought i would just point you to this recent kmart catalogue featured in Photoshop Disasters that i quite enjoyed.

  2. You know what the really sad thing is, lyndal? When I read “toys for children slashed” in that link, my first thought was “Thomas the Tank Engine/Bob the Builder”. 😛
    Seriously though, I can see now why it was always my parents’ (particularly my mother’s) preference to give us lego wherever possible. I mean, I had dolls and teasets, etc, but also lots of toys geared towards building things, including technic lego and tonka trucks.

  3. PhotoshopDisasters are always on-topic, Lyndal.

  4. This is just… ugh. I don’t suppose there’s any point complaining to Target about it, it’s more the fact that toy manufacturers make everything domestic pink, so coding it as for girls’ use only.
    Perhaps a letter to Mattel…

  5. Correct on all points but the blame should be spread a little wider. Have you seen the ads during cartoon shows on TV? Shamelessly sexist.
    It makes little sense to blame the manufacturer or retailers only for this as parents are more than willing to pay for it. Unfortunately the vast majority of the blame goes to the backward thinking mothers who buy for their kids newer versions of what their mums bought for them. I distinctly remember getting a plastic lawnmower and a racing car the same year my twin sister received a Doll with variable hairstyles and a ‘play’ kitchen, it seemed weird then, and that was ’69, it seems absurd today.
    Excellent blog btw.

  6. EvilGod – yes, we spread the blame plenty wide here. We certainly don’t focus it on “mothers”, though. I suggest reading this blog a bit more widely before trying that on again.
    Alternatively, you and your ableist, classist, eugenicist asshat self can fuck right off.

  7. If that’s your opinion of people who agree with your article and like your blog I’d hate to see how you speak to those who aren’t so agreeable. “Ableist, classist and eugenicist” You got all that from my comment? Wow! Not bad considering nothing touching on any of those three subjects was mentioned.
    I refuse to lower myself to name calling.

  8. Not from the text of your comment, no. You placed a link to your blog, so you brought all that baggage with you. All your comment revealed was your sexism and corporate apologism.

  9. That baby in the roof thing seems fairly nightmarish to me. Like life at the castle goes on fairly normally, until one day someone discovers the horrifying secret of the giant pink baby in the attic.

  10. Karrigan, do you mean like this one?

  11. Like life at the castle goes on fairly normally, until one day someone discovers the horrifying secret of the giant pink baby in the attic.

    So I wasn’t the only one!

  12. We get catalogues from a rather expensive toy shop that specialises in educational toys – their range of products are fantastic and beautifully made and designed and I regularly shop from them.. but do you think their toy catalogue was any different to Target’s? Nup. Boys toys and girls toys all labeled as such on the pages, lots of pink stuff for girls and lots of variety and outdoor stuff for boys. Sooooooooo irritating.

  13. Lego catalogues, in the UK at least, meet all your requirements, especially the schools ones.

  14. richaldis: That’s cool about the Lego catalogues.
    I’ve also noted that the Lego characters, while they could be read as default-male (they’re straight-up-and-down, which no doubt makes them easier to manufacture and fit into the various widgets), aren’t particularly male-marked.
    My son still reads them as male (personal identification?) so I make a point of using female pronouns for the knights and astronauts and aliens 90% of the time, as a balancing act.

  15. This stuck with me, and though most toy catalogues around here are as gender divided as can be, I did a double take before Christmas when I saw this image in an ad in the papers. (Blogpost about it.)

  16. Mirthful, that is WAY cool!


  1. Corporate Babysitter » Blog Archive » Sitter’s Checklist: Sounds Like Something I’d Say Edition
  2. Bratz versus ‘My Scene’ « The Radical Radish
  3. What with a toddler in the house
%d bloggers like this: