My Pink Heaven
Ladies, I have the perfect gift for the young, unformed girl in your life: Hasbro’s Rose Petal Cottage. The Rose Petal Cottage is advertised as part of the “Dream Town collection,” although there’s no other part of this “town” for sale. There are no other homes, no post office or fire station—just a yawning abyss outside your flimsy fabric door. Welcome home! Don’t bother leaving!
The Rose Petal Cottage “help[s] little homemakers feel right at home,” according to Hasbro’s website. When it’s time for your little mama-in-training to bake her plastic muffins, she can enjoy an oven that really opens and buttons that really turn! Which is good, because nothing make a girl reach for Pretend-Mother’s Little Helper like a piece of crap toy stove that won’t even open, damn it. While her “muffins” are “baking” and she’s staring out the window pondering the soul-sucking monotony that is her daily existence, she can soothe her invisible fake-baby, just as she’s always dreamed! “I can wash the baby’s clothes!” chirps the unfortunate star of the Rose Petal Cottage’s “open house.” IT’S THE BEST I COULD HAVE HOPED FOR MYSELF!
Not queasy enough? Watch the “Dreamtown for Kids” video. Did the helium-voiced child voiceover artist just trill,”I love when my laundry gets so clean/taking care of my home is a dream, dream, dream!”? Why yes! Yes she did! There, there. Let it all out.
It’s not that there’s anything inherently wrong with children imagining homeowning (and, okay, homemaking.) If anything, its what this particular “home” lacks that shows its true intent. Is there a computer in there? A book? A phone? No, just the home-tending and baby-caring accoutrements that our mothers-in-training need to be exposed to. And the Rose Petal Cottage’s pink frills and flowery bits all but shriek NO BOYS ALLOWED. No home-making play for you, boys! Now go kill some insurgents and leave us in peace.
I wish this kind of product was the exception, but alas. Henry and I see more loathsome commercials these days then I care to think about. (I wish Henry had stuck to PBS, but at some point he discovered Nicktoons, and then it was all over.) Usually they glide right over him because they’re interrupting Jimmy Neutron and don’t deserve his consideration. But after watching this commercial, Henry made a disgusted noise, turned to me and said, “Girls’ things are stupid, right?”
The thing is, I know he likes to play with so-called “girls’ toys.” But if these kinds of products don’t guarantee that he’ll feel totally wrong about exploring his nurturing side, the commercials surely will.
By the way, Henry tuned out as I explained to him in great detail what I felt the difference was between what toy companies believe “girls’ things” are and what girls might actually want. He roused himself from his stupor to observe that “maybe I like some girls’ toys. Whatever.” Then I loudly decried marketing along gender lines and he went away to teach himself how to read. I think we both learned something, that day!