I’m gonna put this right out there: I don’t hate it.
Honestly, the just announced Nerf Rebelle line sounds pretty awesome. In an article on EW.com, we got news on the line and a look at the first item from it. That item?
A pink and black bow called “The Heartbreaker.”
Also gonna put this out there: I want one.
A bow is a great choice right now as it seems to be the cool current weapon for action heroines. Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games. Princess Merida of Brave. Kate Bishop of Hawkeye and Young Avengers.
But, almost immediately, there was an outcry from the internet about “Of COURSE your toy for girls is PINK!” And normally, I’d be among them and in this case I don’t think they’re entirely wrong.
But, see, my feelings here are complicated.
I like the idea behind the line. It’s not just the same Nerf Elite line with “girl” colors, though the Rebelle weapons will be just as powerful as the Elite toys. Instead, Nerf is making the Rebelle line’s size and general design easier for people with less upper body-strength to use WITHOUT sacrificing firing power. The line also has a social aspect that will encourage cooperative play.
And that’s awesome. I mean, this isn’t just “we gave Malibu Stacy a new hat.” This is actively attempting to make toys that are girl-friendly and encourage activity.
I can see why people are upset, though. I mean, yeah, while Nerf’s marketing research may have shown that the colors, designs and social aspect will appeal to girls, you don’t need to announce that or act as if these are specifically for girls. Because our system still tends to go straight for “if it’s for girls, it’s not for boys” and vice versa. Announcing a new line with x improvements and an extended selection of colors would probably have set off fewer alarms.
But while I understand that, I worry that the angered reactions reflect the continued problem of, intentionally or not, demonizing things seen as traditionally feminine. I hate the idea of “pink is just for girls” or “pink is bad for girls.” Some girls like pink things. Some girls don’t. Some boys like pink things. Some boys don’t. I don’t want to see their choices influenced by being told what their gender should or shouldn’t like, in either direction.
And let’s face it, those bow-wielding heroines I mentioned earlier? They all come from different backgrounds, have different tastes, have differing levels of “traditional femininity” and they are all awesome.
So, let the kids who want pink bows have their pink bows, hope that Nerf doesn’t make all of their Rebelle line pink (I’d love to see some purples and blues and other colors thrown in there) and add a Heartbreaker to my wish list. Because, like I said: I want one.
–Ashly danced ballet as a child and is currently one of the worst examples of ‘traditional’ femininity you’re likely to find. You can see her cuss like a sailor and talk about comics and pro-wrestling on Twitter at @newageamazon