Nerf Rebelle: Brilliant or Sexist?By: Toni Matthews-El - December 8, 2013
One of the hot toys for the 2013 Christmas season is the Nerf Rebelle series of weapon-like toys. They’ve been made available by Hasbro with little girls exclusively in mind. How do we know they’re for little girls? Well, there’s a lot of pink and purple. In American society, it’s still common to “color code” toys so that parents won’t be confused regarding which items are for little boys and which items are for little girls. This is a marketing policy that started long before anyone ever heard of Nerf products.
Still, it’s a bit disconcerting to some that this is happening in 2013. Especially when we all know the source material was anything but polite and pink: The Hunger Games and one Katniss Everdeen. The character was a rough and tumble young woman because she had to be. Because in her world, there was no room for being delicate. Strength, determination and the ability to hunt for food meant survival. There is nothing pretty or pink about survival. So why couldn’t Nerf market their products to little girls as is, with this life lesson in mind?
Well, perhaps they will. They’ve just got to get their foot in the door first. Remember, we’re in uncharted territory right now when it comes to these kinds of toys and girls as an overt market. Nerf should be applauded for seeing a demand and rising to the occasion. After all, we’ve had a number of women in badass roles. Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in Terminator 2 comes to mind. These are roles that didn’t see a toy company roll out a product aimed at girls based on these strong characters. Pink or not. Usually toy weapons are sold to boys so they can pretend to be cops, cowboys, etc. Nobody was giving toy weapons of any kind to little girls since the idea was that these things didn’t or shouldn’t appeal to little girls. But somebody out there made a connection. And if this toy does well, who’s to say that changes won’t be made in the future? It’s about supply and demand and public, meaning kids, feedback.
If a little girl is sitting there watching Katniss on her television and deciding she wants to be Katniss, it could be she wants a toy to help her pretend and doesn’t care what color it is. The fact that little girls are asking for these toys and they’re such a hot Christmas item seems to suggest just that.
For those modern moms wanting to buy such a toy but are hung up on the color scheme, there’s always the non-feminine version. If your little girl wants to train in her own imaginary version of the Hunger Games, it’s doubtful she’ll notice.
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