McKenna Pope, a 13-year-old girl from Garfield, Rhode Island is petitioning for a gender-neutral Easy-Bake Oven — a cause she was inspired to pursue when she sought to purchase one for her 4-year-old brother and realized the Hasbro product only came in purple and pink.
Chefs including Manuel Trevino of TV’s “Top Chef” and Michael Lomonaco of Porterhouse New York are featured in a YouTube video posted Tuesday applauding McKenna Pope’s online petition. (See below)
Thinking McKenna’s cause through for a second gives me pause. What are the implications of catering to 4-year-old boys in our efforts to fight gender stereotypes?
Chef Joshua Whigham of The Bazaar by Jose Andres voices his support in the video, and makes my whole argument for me. He pats little McKenna on the back in her fight against big, bad Hasbro and has some ideas for new Easy-Bake Oven color selections: steel, black, or “something really cool” – which sounds like a Derek Zoolander product pitch and is a much funnier read in his voice.
If Hasbro were to release a more masculine looking variation of their classic home cooking toy (such as my above concept art), they would be treating the symptom and not the problem. Young Gavyn Pope doesn’t avoid his sister’s Easy-Bake Oven because of some inherent evil of the color pink, he’s just been trained to associate pink with femininity as part of the larger societal prescription that divides labor, culture, and leisure along gender lines in the name of subjugating anyone who is not a white male.
Later in the video, Spencer Rubin of New York’s Melt Shop, makes a case for an “Easy-Bake for dudes” but also talks about the (presumably pink) EBO of his childhood that he loved to death. Did his pink toy turn him into a woman or stop him from making delicious sounding sandwiches like “The Dirty” with pepper jack and muenster with caramelized onions, pickled jalapeños, sliced tomato, and crunchy potato chips? It doesn’t appear so.
Because it’s 2012, McKenna and Gavyn’s campaign has its own hashtag: #EveryoneCanCook. While I agree with that basic principle (thank you Remy the rat), might I suggest a new one for the boys of America:
Is that 160 characters or less?