As a favorite toy of both boys and girls, teddy bears seem fairly gender-neutral, but that isn't the case at the Vermont Teddy Bear company. While most bears "for him" are professionals, those "for her" are "Bear-Foot and Pregnant."
Interestingly, a lot of the bears on the company's website seem to be aimed at adults (there is a separate tag "for kids," with only 19 options). Here are some of the 51 bears listed on the page for men:
The "distinguished" salt and pepper bear:
A racecar driver:
Desert camouflage bear:
Um…the Red Hot Redneck, whose tattoo gives him "authenticity":
Business Man bear (also listed as Accountant and Lawyer):
Now let's look at the bears for women. Beach Babe:
The Do It All bear. I initially thought it was a non-gendered bear, but the description refers to "she," she's wearing yoga pants, and the item in her hand is "Mama Bear to Do List":
They do have a Business Woman bear, described as a "furry sophisticate" (we didn't get any info on how sophisticated the Business Man bear is):
Nurse (there is no doctor bear in the "for her" section):
The Bear-Foot and Pregnant bear:
Of the 51 bears for men and 50 for women, here are some patterns in the themes:
Occupations/jobs: m = 10 w = 4
Family/housework: m = 2 (including a groom) w = 10
Sexy/romantic: m = 10 w = 6
Sports: m = 4 w = 2
Non-sport leisure activities: m = 5 w = 8 (including yoga)
Shopping/fashion/superstar: m = 0 w = 4
Fitness/beauty: m = 0 w = 3
Other sex presented as romantic interest: m = 0 w = 2
Military: m = 3 w = 0
Other: m = 15 w = 12
We also see gender differences within those categories; for instance, men and women are shown doing different sports and having different jobs (with only one overlap, the businessman and businesswoman, but otherwise pretty gendered occupations). And only men are interested in "computer geek" bears. The kids' bears section shows a similar pattern.
Just another little example of how gendering permeates our culture, with gendered products both resulting from larger cultural assumptions about gender and reinforcing them in a recurring feedback loop.
As for the fact that most of the company's bears seem targeted at adults, I don't know what to make of that. I just don't get it. My sister gave me a teddy bear a few years back for Christmas and I was entirely confounded, though no more so than when my mom gave me a set of romance novels set among the Amish.
Republished with permission.
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