The hidden danger of Mr Potato Head’s gender neutrality.

Mr Potato Head will now be known as Potato Head. The popular toy is no longer male according to Hasbro and the decision set social media alight as people reacted to the gender labelling of a plastic toy. People wanted to know why the decision was made, why it was made now, and the wider social implications of the decision.

At any time, did Hasbro consider the hidden danger of declaring Potato Head gender neutral; the danger that the decision trivialises the issue of gender neutrality in humans?

Potato Head is not a person. Potato Head is a plastic toy. It has no emotions, no intelligence, no feelings and no personality. It is not a sentient being. A toy cannot decide its own gender and a toy has never suffered the personal or public trauma of grappling with gender identity. A toy will never be teased. A toy has never been cast out or shunned by its peers, colleagues, friends or family.

A toy does not have to live in a body it despises due to societal, familial, cultural or religious pressure. A toy does not have to decide whether to identify as gender neutral, or to go further and undergo a physical transition from its gender of birth.

A toy is just pieces of moulded plastic.

The danger of declaring a plastic toy gender neutral is that people who label themselves gender neutral can now be compared to a plastic toy.

“So you’re gender neutral, just like Mr Potato Head,” others will say.

Furthermore, the toy will still exist as Mr Potato Head – just the branding on the box will change. What’s the point?

This further trivialises the issue of gender neutrality -as if Hasbro is saying,

“We will make a stand on a social issue, but not if it means we sell fewer toys…”

If toys become gender neutral, can other inanimate objects be declared gender neutral?

Let’s not beat around the bush, Hasbro made this decision with a purely commercial motivation and accompanied it with all the right corporate euphemisms. Hasbro claims the change aims to ‘promote gender equality and inclusion’, but clearly the move also posited Hasbro as a socially responsible company which is set to gain considerable PR benefit.

Potato Head is also an ageing ‘brand’. The Toy Story franchise is now old, and children have moved on to other toys and other cartoons. Declaring the toy gender neutral earns the company international publicity which is likely to increase sales.

Is this why Mrs Potato Head is still female?

Will Hasbro wait for her husband’s publicity to die down before declaring her neutrality?

Perhaps gender neutrality also allows Hasbro to sell more individual pieces, belonging to both genders, to stick onto the base shape of the Potato. This mix and match technique made Potato Head, and Mrs Potato Head, somewhat unique as a toy, but also created a marketing opportunity:

“Now that Potato Head is gender neutral,” Hasbro can say “you can add even more pieces to its ‘body’ – and you can buy them all right here…”

Is it only a matter of time before Woody, Buzz and the remaining Toy Story characters are declared gender neutral, and when this happens, how much damage will have been done to actual human beings who identify as gender neutral?

Image: http://www.theguardian.com

Peter Dutton declares themself gender neutral in time for Mardi Gras.

Peter Dutton has shocked voters and conservative colleagues with the news that they is gender neutral. Australia’s Minister for Home Affairs declared that their alter ego, Potato Head, has come out as gender neutral in the midst of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Mr Dutton will now be known as Dutton, or Potato Head, and has asked the media and party speechwriters to refer to them in gender neutral terms.

“I am declaring myself gender neutral,” announced Dutton at a press conference.

“Every year I feel like less of a man, especially after entering politics and overseeing the policies of Home Affairs. For that reason, myself and my alter ego, Potato Head, will now be known as gender neutral.”

“I have deliberated over this decision for a long time, but with Mardi Gras around the corner, and various political scandals involving my name, I decided it was a good idea to circulate this story in the media.”

It is not yet known whether Kirilly Dutton will retain her title of Mrs Potato Head, or also come out as gender neutral.

The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has also shocked Australians with his public support for Potato Head. He was expected to denounce the move on religious grounds, but said he consulted his wife Jenny before embracing the change.

“Now that Peter is no longer a man, they is better able to empathise with women, especially the four who have accused one of our party members of sexual assault just 50 metres from my office.”

Mardi Gras organisers rushed to congratulate Dutton and to invite participants to create a new ‘Potato Head’ float for the famous parade.

“We are overjoyed at the news that one of our most senior politicians has found the confidence and courage to declare themselves gender neutral. Being true to oneself and being proud of one’s identity are central to the founding philosophy of Mardi Gras, and we welcome Peter into our family. It would be wonderful to see Peter dancing on top of a float, beside a life-size model of the newly-outed Potato Head”

Mardi Gras organisers have extended an invitation to the minister to attend part of the weeks-long festival, including the street parade on the evening of Saturday, March 6.

“Obviously Dutton is a very busy person, but hopefully they can find time to party among friends. Maybe they could fly to Sydney for a day or two – we know they can affords the flights.”

Many Australians wondered how gender neutrality could be claimed at all by a creature that is not human, while cynics have pointed out that the decision was simply an attempt to revive interest in an increasingly unpopular, irrelevant and outdated character.

Dutton rejected those claims.

“That is an outrageous and offensive slander,” they replied.

“Myself and my party have a proven record of progressive social policies, especially in regards to gender and sexuality. One only needs to examine our response to the same-sex marriage debate and the treatment of women in parliament and society in general, to see that the LNP is and always has been a proud supporter of gender equality and inclusion.”

They then added,

“The LNP does not do cheap publicity stunts.”

Image: http://www.smh.com.au