As someone who doesn’t currently have kids, I rarely shop for kids’ toys or bedding at Target. However, as someone who wants to have kids someday, and someone who once was a kid, I’m really glad to hear Target is announcing plans to phase out gender-based signage.
There are two main arguments I can see against a move like this. The first, the argument that gender division in things like toys and bedding is more a product of nature than socialization, that dolls and princesses aren’t for boys and trucks and superheroes aren’t for girls and children will somehow have their psyches damaged if they play with the wrong gender’s toys, is an argument I don’t intend to dignify with more than one paragraph.
The second potential argument, which I see as a bit more reasonable, is the argument that a step like this isn’t necessary. That as it stands, there’s nothing but the attitude of the shopper keeping anyone from grabbing a toy from the “boy” aisle to give to a girl or vice versa, and that this is just another move by the PC police to keep us all wrapped in cotton wool so our delicate feelings don’t get hurt, or something to that effect.
Which…yeah, sure. Gender-based signage in a store is not some kind of impenetrable wall that can’t be crossed. I grew up in a household with one girl and one boy, and while my brother and I were often given gender-specific toys, there was nothing stopping us from playing with each other’s toys; we could, and did. And I would imagine there are also families with only girls or only boys who don’t let signage stop them from buying the toys their children want, whichever aisle they fall on.
But do you think that gender-based signage, packaging, and marketing doesn’t still have an impact on children? And while kids are capable of handling that impact–I did, other children do–is there any good reason not to remove that impact, if we can?
As I said, I played with a lot of “boy” toys growing up; nothing stopped me. But I was always aware that I was a girl playing with boy toys. That even though I was allowed to ply with them, they had been bought for and given to my brother. That on some level they weren’t for me in the same way they were for him.
It wasn’t anything I couldn’t deal with, but it was something I had to deal with. And if/when I have kids of my own, I don’t want them to experience that. Whatever their gender, whatever they’re into, I want them to just be kids playing with toys. And I’m in support of any act by a corporation that helps make that easier.