In 2014, Gamora was nowhere to be found as her fellow Guardians of the Galaxy were showcased in toy aisles. In 2015, Black Widow was treated as the “invisible woman” in Avengers toys, clothing and other merchandise. Earlier this year, Rey was left out of the newest version of Star Wars Monopoly. Now, in this latest installment of unnecessarily gendered kids’ items that arbitrarily eliminate a core female character, we give you… Where’s Skye?
So before we attempt to understand why she’s inexplicably missing from this “Toddler Boys’ Hat” sent to us by WYSK reader Brandy, let’s first explore who Skye is. She’s an integral member of “a pack of six heroic puppies” known as the PAW Patrol, a CG, action-adventure preschool series that runs on Nichelodeon’s nickjr.
A fearless and smart Cockapoo and the only female member of the pack, Skye “loves to fly in her helicopter or with the wings in her pup pack.” Led by a tech-savvy 10-year-old boy named Ryder, Skye and her fellow PAW Patrolees (Chase, Marshall, Rocky, Zuma, Rubble) work together on high-stakes rescue missions to protect their Adventure Bay community.
To recap, Skye is on equal paw-ing with the 5 other patrol pups, has super awesome skills and gear, and is on a show… FOR TODDLERS.
That said, what possible reason could there be to leave her off wearables that are designed “for boys'”? NONE! Secondly, and more importantly, what ridiculously gendered message is this delivering to impressionable preschoolers – boys and girls – who watch this show and love her? Maybe that girls and their contributions are not so important, after all.
So in the PAW Patrol hat department (across major retailers like Walmart, Target, Toys R Us, Amazon), you’ve got two options (the one in the lead or this one) that are both designated “Toddler Boys'”, and neither include Skye. But if a pint-sized fan wants the flying Cockapoo on a hat, there is one option… the “Girls'” option, which is, of course, pink (“girls’ tees” featuring Skye follow the same overtly gendered color-scheme, and tend to feature her alone without the rest of her pack).
In looking just at Target’s site, Skye is also missing from most of the “Boys'” PAW Patrol T-shirts (left), though there are three that include her (right).
However, her presence is met with mixed reviews, and one of the two below makes our heads (and hearts) hurt… A LOT. Can you guess which one?
From Target’s website in the customer review section of the “Toddler Boys’ Paw Patrol T-Shirt” featuring Skye (pictured on right):
- 14 days ago, customer smd2016 gave it 3 stars, stating, “A little girly looking. The shirt is fine quality-wise but when it arrived in person, Sky is much more prominent and she’s the first thing you see on the shirt. There’s too much pink for a boy’s shirt, I would not have purchased it if I saw it in person.”
- 4 days ago, customer jake, who gave the same tee 5 stars, had this to say, “I’m so glad there’s a boy’s paw patrol shirt that doesn’t leave Skye out!! Great tshirt- rugged, bright colors. etc. My son loves it. I’m happy because I searched for a while to find a PP tshirt that didn’t exclude the main female character. Far too many boy’s PP shirts don’t have Skye, which is a shame. I can’t believe the other review thought that have on character in pink made this too pink for a boy. If you want your son to learn how to treat girls and women with respect then excluding all females from things he loves is a really bad idea.”
There seems to be no end in sight to this nonsense, especially when segmenting toys and other merch creates two distinct profit pools for manufacturers. But when the gendered marketing/messaging infiltrates the toddler arena it gets particularly worrisome. That’s why we’re thankful for consumers like Jake who just get it.