Usually I stay away from posting pieces that are heavily political on my blog because it seems to be a major way for drama to seek people out. But this is one of those arguments that has left me scratching my head, and because of it, I need to address it. So… here goes. Please remember that you may encounter opinions different than those you hold near and dear, both in this post and in the comments. Let’s keep it civil, okay? Thanks!
Target made a huge announcement. They’re moving towards a gender neutral aisle scheme in three major sections of the store, thanks to a mom’s tweet last year asking why there were different sections for “building toys” and “girls’ building toys.” That’s right– no section for “boys’ building toys,” but the assumption that girls need their own section of building toys. The ensuing backlash on social media led to this big decision by Target: no more gender roles pushed in the Toy, Kids’ Bedding, or Kids’ Books sections of the store.
That means that soon, there will be no sign splashed across bedding for “boys’ bedding” or “girls’ bedding,” no sign saying “boys’ books” or “girls’ books.” It will be “children’s books” featuring Dork Diaries and Diary of a Wimpy Kid in the same section, for any boy or girl to pick up either– or possibly both– books.
Now, as a mom who shops both sides of the aisle with my son, tossing both LEGO City and LEGO Friends sets into our cart, and as a mom who bought her son an Our Generation doll today because he insisted he’d make a great Doll Dad (while simultaneously reminding him that his limit was spent on the doll and no, he could not have the cool new blue Nerf gun he saw), I’m happy to see Target ridding itself of the blue and pink color schemes and the signage saying “this is for boys.”
But a lot of people disagree. Many are boycotting Target because they feel this leads down the path of little boys growing up to become Caitlyn Jenner. While I disagree at the notion of that slippery slope– playing with dolls is more likely to make my son a good father than a woman in the future– I don’t understand the outrage.
To illustrate the frustration, I’ll quote someone, who I’ll leave anonymous, that left a comment on Buzzfeed’s report on the “controversy.”
Stupidest thing I ever saw! Boys are boys and girls are girls, I’m not saying boys can’t wear pink but girls are born to be future mamas so They play with dolls and boys are meant to be the provider so they play with action/building toys. [sic]
Here’s the deal. If girls are future moms, and many of them will be, what does that make boys? Future dads. Dads who need to learn to nurture now, and perhaps that’s by brushing a doll’s hair or changing a pretend diaper.
What about the girl who doesn’t get married straight out of school? Who rents an apartment with gal pals while waiting to meet “the One” if that’s what’s going to happen to her? If she’s never been allowed to use dramatic play to explore construction, will she feel confident enough to assemble her new furniture by herself? And if she’s never been allowed in a “provider” role, how will she explore the future career she wants to have– even if she does later choose to leave that career to be a mom, what’s to help her as a high school job? A post-college path? Not every woman will get married right out of school, and even if she does, what’s wrong with her having options?
Women can be providers. Men can be nurturing parents. The roles are not gender exclusive. I think many of us can agree there.
But what still floors me are the number of people boycotting Target, not because Barbies may soon be sold right next to GI Joe, but because it might make shopping more confusing and disorganized.
I’m here to calm those fears. It’s actually likely going to make shopping easier.
Gone are the days of walking to the girl aisle to find the super-awesome Nerf Rebelle toys (a line of Nerf guns and bows that come in stunning pink and purple color schemes) and then hunting down blue and orange Nerf products in the “boy aisles.” Instead, you’ll go to the Nerf aisle and take your pick between blue and pink, or, if you’re anything like my family, a little bit of both.
You’ll no longer walk down an aisle of LEGO City, LEGO Minecraft, LEGO Ninjago, and all of the other LEGO products “for boys” and then search a few aisles over for the “girl-acceptable” LEGO Friends sets. Now, it will be LEGOs. LEGO shopping malls and veterinary hospitals and jungle rescue sets, side-by-side with police helicopters and Creepers and double-decker couches.
When searching for bedding, your Jurassic World loving daughter won’t be wondering why she has to go to the “boy aisle” to find bedding decked with dinosaurs and your Frozen-obsessed son won’t have to wonder why an Elsa blanket is in a “girl aisle.” There will be bedding. Children’s bedding in plenty of bright colors and brands and ideas, likely sorted just like adult bedding is– by type and brand.
We don’t designate “Men’s Bedding” and “Women’s Bedding.” It’s just… bedding. And I’ve never walked into Target’s book section to find Dean Koontz and Chuck Palahniuk restricted to “Books for Men” while Jodi Picoult and Diane Chamberlain are on a shelf of “Books for Women.” Nope. They’re “Bestsellers.” And soon, there will be “Children’s Bestsellers.”
Shopping is about to become a lot easier, because now shopping for interest instead of gender will mean that you can easily pick out a toy and not ask a Target team member, “Hey, where can I find Nerf stuff?” and them ask “For boys or for girls?” Now, they’ll direct you to the Nerf aisle, and you can have your pick.
And that is a very, very good thing.