So as I see it there are a lot of problems with this ad. Firstly the entire line is called the “Nerf Rebelle” as if to say a girl liking to play with nerf guns must be a rebel and therefore different that most girls. Perhaps it is trying to play into the trend of films which have female archers as stars many of whom are rebels in their story lines. That presents issues, is the only way a female can take part in the action genre from behind a bow out of the front lines of combat? How many male protagonists in similar stories are using a bow? Most are using swords. So we see that while nerf is trying to appeal to the trend in film for the female protagonist which I do think is good, they undercut themselves with the names of their weapons. The heartbreaker bow? I don’t feel like I need to go into why that is sexist. The pink crush is nearly the same as the heartbreaker bow in its sexual underpinnings. Then there is guardian crossbow which I actually think is pretty cool. Although there is no aggressively named weapon to counter it and thus show that women do not just have to be defenders and guardians but can go kick ass themselves, the guardian crossbow seems like the only one which isn’t outright offensive. That is except for the fact that all three are white and pink. Perhaps the most confusing thing about Nerf is that its website has a tab for gender under its product list. The tab has two options, boys and both. That is astounding to me. From Hasbro’s main website (they own nerf) you cannot even directly link to the Rebelle section of their website. All this is worry some. Clearly nerf recognizes that it has to include girls in its branding but they have done so in a way that continues to reinforce stereotypes and make girls inferior to the boys they usually sell to.
This reminds me of the music videos which we watched in class in the way that it attempts to address an issue and empower women but also reinforces some stereotypes. So the big question is how do we empower women without also increasing some of these stereotypes. When can we get some big awesome toy guns for some girls to use instead of the heartbreaker bow, because the biggest heartbreak is that nerf had a chance to call these something else. Or is this the start of a wave of positive things target towards girls? I don’t know.