Despite feminists' criticisms of “girl games'” gender essentialism in the 1990s, many contemporary manufacturers of children's goods are still relying on traditional gender norms to reach female youth. In an effort to better understand this phenomenon, this article focuses on a more recent slate of girl-oriented consumer electronics: mediamaking gear for girls. Like the “pink software” of the girl games era, much of this “pink technology” relies on design strategies grounded in stereotypes of girls, girlhood, and girls' culture in order to attract female youth to historically male-dominated activities. This study explores the design and marketing of Daisy Rock Girl Guitars and Mattel's Barbie Wireless Video Camcorder, two early examples of this unique category of consumer electronics. Since men have historically dominated both filmmaking and electric guitar playing, these two products offer rich sites for exploring the particular challenges designers and marketers face in attracting female youth to media production. Grounding this study is Ellen van Oost's theory of “gender scripts,” the discourses of gender that designers encode into consumer goods based on their assumptions about those products' primary users. Michel Foucault's theories of governmentality and disciplinary technologies are also employed to understand how the micropolitics of gendered product design connect with the macropolitics of social control. Building on feminist technology research, this study hopes to inspire further discussion about gender and technology among media and cultural studies scholars.
Mary Celeste Kearney; Pink Technology: Mediamaking Gear for Girls. Camera Obscura 1 September 2010; 25 (2 (74)): 1–39. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-2010-001
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