January 21, 2015

My Reaction to the Star Wars: Episode VII Boy-Targeted Merchandising Plan

I am a fan of Star Wars. To the point of being obsessive. I purchase toys, clothing, props, housewares - a variety of goods featuring Star Wars logos, characters, everything. Despite that, it feels like I'm not wanted by marketing because I'm a girl. We're often excluded and ignored, and I'm so weary of gender based marketing that I could punch things. I recently discussed the lack of Hera and to some degree Sabine in Star Wars Rebels merchandise, noticed that neither Black Widow or Scarlet Witch are part of this group of The Avengers: Age of Ultron toys from Hasbro, and today? Well, female fandom got another kick to the gut courtesy of a Star Wars: Episode VII merchandising plan.

Jedi News grabbed a picture of the plan at the UK Toy Fair. Please click to enlarge to see all the details.

This is the plan for The Force Awakens merchandise being sold in the UK. Aside from the part where they misspell Carrie Fisher's last name, let's focus on the merchandise target:

Priority: Boys 5-12
Secondary: Parents/Gift Givers

That sound you hear? Me weeping tears of rage and frustration. I know it only mentions the primary and secondary target demographics and not all of the marketing targets, but why is it "boys" and not "kids?" Why must this gender based crap continue? It hurts to be excluded entirely. Women could fall into the secondary categories so at least there's that... I guess?

And it does have an effect. If it stings for me as an adult who understands the context and shitty yet inexcusable business reasons surrounding this, think about how it would make a young girl feel. To give an example of how it goes both ways, a friend said her boys were both excited to see Strange Magic until they heard George Lucas say it was for girls. Then they weren't interested. Thanks for reinforcing gender stereotypes, all of society! This is why we can't have nice things.

Because this issue has hit me so hard recently, I don't have any more words at the moment. I don't have the answer. For goodness sake, I was outside in the snow this morning dressed as a Sith - what do I have to do to prove I am a fan worthy of being marketed to? Argh. So, my reaction in gifs.

When I first saw the merchandising plan:

source: moviegifss
A few minutes later:

source: CafeMom
Then anger:

source: HarryPotter.cc

And then back to:

source: Reddit
And finally:

source: Reaction Gifs


  1. Gender-targeting sucks. In any domain. It just sucks.

    A few weeks ago I applied for a job at a soon-to-open soccer-wear shop. I haven't had an answer yet, so I suppose they are not interested in me. And I know it can be because they've already found someone else, or because my profile wasn't what they were looking for, or because my cover letter wasn't convincing enough… but I'll always wonder if it's not because I'm a girl. You know, for all they know, I could be a "fake sports fan girl" and not a girl who happens to really love soccer (Among other things).

  2. You're absolutely right - it's a bigger issue than just toys. I'm sorry the soccer shop hasn't replied to you. That's frustrating!

  3. Is the problem the stores, the toy/clothing companies, or the copyright holders? A lot of blame seems to be placed on the latter, but it really should go on the companies that are producing the merchandise. It's pretty clear that Hasbro has no idea what's going on in the marketplace. Ahsoka Tano figures were nearly impossible to find when The Clone Wars premiered, and that was the only year that the first wave of figures included a female character. Numerous Mace Windu and Plo Koon figures warmed the pegs keeping the later waves which included Ahsoka from ever reaching the shelves. I have never seen the last two Ahsoka figures in public; the only ones I have ever seen are the ones I bought on eBay. It's worse if you want an Ahsoka Tano lightsaber; Hasbro never made one. Maybe the solution is to find companies that want to market female characters and help them get a license to make products. It will be interesting to see how long it takes Hot Toys to make more 1/6th scale figures of female characters than the FIVE that Sideshow has made..

    1. I think both the licensees and licensors contribute to the problem.

  4. The most frustrating thing for me is that it's like they don't even realise what they're doing!

  5. I almost exploded during a recent trip to Disney when I discovered the Leia Padme play set included no blasters but pictures of Han and Anakin WTF.


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