Rethinking Schools.org has this story about a class of fourth graders who made a difference.
Pink, pink, pink! Everything for girls in this catalog is pink," exclaimed Kate, one of my fourth graders, as she walked into the classroom one morning, angrily waving the latest "Pottery Barn Kids" catalog in the air.
"I HATE the color pink. This catalog is reinforcing too many stereotypes, Ms. Cooley, and we need to do something about it!"
The class decided to go on a letter writing campaign, so all students to the time to write a personal letter about the Pottery Barn Kids catalog and sent it to the Pottery Barn.
Dear Pottery Barn Kids,
I do not like the way you put together your catalogs because it reinforces too many stereotypes about boys and girls. For instance, in a picture of the boys' room, there are only two books and the rest of the stuff are trophies. This shows boys and girls who look at your catalog that boys should be good at sports and girls should be very smart. I am a boy and I love to read.
When the 2003 Pottery Barn Kids catalog arrived, there were some clear changes visible. On the cover was a boy sitting at his desk doing his homework. Inside was picture of a boy talking on the phone, an activity typically reserved for females in the world of stereotypical imagery, and he was looking at a Power Puff magazine, usually targeted to girls. When the teacher asked one of her former students what she thought about the changes, she replied: "Well, the catalog sort of improved the boys, but not really the girls. They still have a lot of changes to make."
Fourth graders 1 - highly paid marketing execs and catalog designers - 0.