Traditional Gender Norms in the CAYC Logo
An organization’s logo is a powerful visual communicator of beliefs and values. CAYC has been in existence for almost half a century and its logo, created around 1974, clearly tells the story of that generation.
Although we are not a part of these conversations, one might suspect that the two children – one boy and one girl – represent happy childhoods, traditional families and perhaps, the advancements of gender equality in the 1970s. However, in current times, the logo – in its simplistic gender design – is problematic and upholds a repressive gender binary. The “boy” figure is first noticed by our Western eye as he is positioned on the left, consistent with how Western texts are read and written. He is taller than the “girl” figure, reinforcing the hegemonic masculinity construct of male as strong and dominant. The “girl” figure has long hair and is wearing a dress. These attributes, coupled with the “girl’s” smaller stature, reinforce Western’s idealized femininity of beauty, passivity, weakness and an expected deference to masculinity. In these ways the logo reinforces the cultural construction of binary opposites and of sexism, while ignoring current understandings of gender as a predominantly social construct, as an expression, and as being fluid. In addition, the figures’ triangular bodies morph into each other, giving the illusion that the “boy” and “girl” are holding hand, reinforcing heterosexuality as a cultural expectation of masculinity and femininity, as well as the accompanying persuasive heteronormativity in our society.
Gender and sexuality based on binary and outdated expectations of masculinity and femininity are entrenched and upheld by images such as the CAYC logo, delimiting and devaluing other ways of being.
What other stories do you see being told in the CAYC logo or in other logos that depict children in our society?
What narratives do they uphold?
About the authors
Nicole Trottier is an early years teacher in the Seven Oaks School Division in Winnipeg. She is also a student at the University of Manitoba, working on her Master’s of Education degree. Her thesis will explore disrupting children’s normative constructions of gender and heterosexuality in early years classrooms through children’s literature.
Melanie Janzen is former early years teacher and an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the University of Manitoba. Her research explores the inter-related workings of power and discourses as they relate to the construction of identities and the marginalization of children.
CAYC- May 2021