Sexist Lands End Ads?
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Thread: Sexist Lands End Ads?

  1. #1
    Posting Addict Alissa_Sal's Avatar
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    Default Sexist Lands End Ads?

    http://www.blogher.com/math-hard-lands-end-new-mattel
    Twenty years after Mattel debuted the ill-fated Teen Talk Barbie, Lands' End continues to tell girls that math is hard... for girls.


    Teen Talk Barbie, you may recall, is the talking Barbie who said, among other things, "Math class is tough!" Backlash led Mattel to essentially recall the dolls a mere four months after they hit the market.


    In 2011, J.C. Penney came out with a shirt that said, "I'm too pretty to do homework, so my brother has to do it for me."


    That same year, Forever 21 came out with a shirt that said, "Allergic to Algebra" (which they purportedly pulled from their site after Gawker ran a piece on it).


    Why is this a problem?
    From the AAUW Dialog blog of the American Association of University Women, an organization devoted to advancing "equity for woman and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research":
    As AAUW?s research report Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics discusses, when men and women were told that men were better at a fictitious skill, women assessed their abilities at that skill lower than men did. In other words, the more we tell girls that they are bad at something, the more they believe it. That is why products like these shirts are so dangerous for girls? self-esteem and well-being.

    So why is Lands' End perpetuating the message to girls that math is hard?
    In their latest Lands' End Kids catalog -- the back-to-school catalog -- there's a line of backpacks and messenger bags called FeatherLights. Like all kid stuff in this country, they're divided into boys' gear and girls' gear. The page of boys' FeatherLights bags has the headline: "super light, super hero tough." The headline on the girls' FeatherLights page? "light as a feather, tough as long division."

    "Tough as long division?"

    Though I did well in high school honors algebra and aced an accelerated calculus class in college, math has never been my strongest subject. I certainly don't think it's because I am female. I have women friends who are engineers and absolute math whizzes. I also have male friends who are beautifully poetic and great with cooking and houseplants but terrible when it comes to numbers.


    But message such as these from Lands' End, Mattel, and other companies certainly don't help us get away from the stereotypes.


    So why not send these "Allergic to Algebra" and "tough as long division" messages to both boys and girls? Or, you know, if you're going to make things pink to market them to girls, why not produce blue shirts for boys, with slogans such as "English Class is for Sissies" and "I don't need to be smart; I'm good at sports" or "Future Frat Boy"? Would those be acceptable?


    Or -- better yet -- why not let go of these stereotypes entirely?


    At least with Land's End the message is in the catalog, not on the products themselves, but still... it's like they're sending the message to parents. That's almost more insidious. I'm sure it was total oversight on the part of the copy team, instead of a deliberate message such as Mattel and the others were sending, but still.


    I know I'm not alone in expecting better from Lands' End. How did such a headline get through their marketing team without a single person saying, "Hey, why are we saying "tough as long division" for the girls' backpacks?
    So what do we think? Harmful and pervasive sexism, or lighten up, it's a cute ad?
    -Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)

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  2. #2
    Mega Poster mom3girls's Avatar
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    I think the ad is cute, the colors of the items in the picture are feminine but the item itself comes in all colors.
    Lisa
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    It actually does sound sexist to me. Not enough that I'm holding signs or writing the Land's End people or boycotting them, but I think it's obnoxious. There are female superheroes too....I hate that kind of stuff.
    Laurie, mom to:
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    Posting Addict mom2robbie's Avatar
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    This makes me mad! I have a degree in math and constantly hear other women comment on how women are not supposed to know math because it is too hard for us Without math you lose so many options in life and yet we are teaching girls that math and the sciences are "tough", hard, for the boys, etc. So not true.

    We need to stop this sexism now.
    Margaret (44)
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    Posting Addict KimPossible's Avatar
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    I've never liked Land's End graphic Tee's because they have always played terribly into traditional stereo types of girls vs. boys, and honestly when it comes to tradition, i find what they label "girls interests and likes" to be overall very empty, pointless, narrow or just not very inspiring while the boys stuff was always cool and fun and things i would want my kids to actually be interested in.

    I've been a fan of lands end on facebook for a while now because i like a lot of their other products and they would put out samples of their t's to their facebook fans and ask for opinions. Inevitably there was *always* a subset of customers who would complain about this very fact...but lands end never seemed to value that opinion.

    I've seen boys stuff that emphasized camping, lots of physical activities, technology, international cities. The girls stuff was always things like fluffy white seals, cupcakes, puppies, butterflies, ponies and rainbows. When they did emphasize physical activity it was always things like horseback riding and figure skating. Great activities, sure but seriously, I think its time to broaden the horizons for girls t-shirts.

    I'm not overly fond of the slogan. I think it could be worse though. I probably wouldn't have though so much of it if there was both a boys and girls version. Then i would think that someone just thought that elementary school kids often find long division to be complicated or 'tough'.

    I probably will never buy a girls graphic t from lands end though, i just hate them.

    Oops, I just re-read the article. I read it earlier in the day and while it said backpacks and adverts, in my head over the course of the evening i kept thinking 'graphic ts" probably because that it typically the problem *I* have with lands end. Looking at the article again, and seeing the actual images for the first time, it just seems like a different expression of the same type of thing.
    Last edited by KimPossible; 07-22-2012 at 10:54 PM.

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    Posting Addict Alissa_Sal's Avatar
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    I think if it were just an isolated incident, like if no other clothing manufacturerers had made sexist girl clothes/accessories and gotten called on it, and if there weren't tons of studies about the effect of this very attitude on girls, I could believe that they were just coming up with some pithy slogans for each page and just happened to put the "long division" one on the girl page. But given how sort of...aware....of this issue that everyone has become, I actually find it kind of maddening that Lands End would continue to play into that stereotype. Like really, Lands End? You're like the last people in the US that haven't heard the bruhaha about sexist messages pointed towards girls? Or maybe you just think that your customers are?
    -Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)

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    Posting Addict mom2robbie's Avatar
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    When I was at uni my one psychology professor went on about math being hard (saying it was hard for everyone) my one friend and I called him on it in front of 800 other students. He apologized for using the stereotype of math being hard.
    Margaret (44)
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    Yeah math is harder for me than other subjects but I don't think that is because I'm a girl. My husband sucks at math too

    If they had put that for both sexes I would think it was fine. For just girls....No.

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    I am just of the attitude if you don't like something, don't buy it. If enough people don't like it and don't buy it and that starts hurting the pockets designers, manufacturers, and retailers then they'll go on to something else.
    Aisha

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    Posting Addict KimPossible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by myyams View Post
    I am just of the attitude if you don't like something, don't buy it. If enough people don't like it and don't buy it and that starts hurting the pockets designers, manufacturers, and retailers then they'll go on to something else.
    Yes, of course. I dont think anyone here is saying "I don't like the products....oh geez but i can't help myself i'm just going to buy one!" We are discussing our reasons for feeling the way we do here...thats what the debate is about.

    But on that note, i think its more difficult when it comes to an advertisement. The product itself isn't nec. sexist, its just this one page ad that is. Lands End makes good backpacks, and they also often have good deals going on so i can see people not wanting to just refuse to by the backpack because of a slogan that someone put on the catalog page.

    I think its highly constructive actually for the media and consumers to bring that to the company's attention via letter, news article, whatever...instead of just refusing to buy the product associated with it.

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