So Target has decided to do away with gendered sections in the toy department and people think the world is about to end.
I find this amusing on so many levels. We fight for equality and then freak out when someone takes a step in that general direction.
Here’s why I think Target’s decision is not the beginning of the apocalypse. First of all, have you ever seen a preschool play room where the toys are setup on shelves and the kids can pick what they want to play with? They don’t put up signs in preschool that specify what gender you should be before choosing a toy. And if you watch kids in this type of setting, you will notice that they gravitate towards whatever toys interest them. It will not be uncommon to see a boy playing with a kitchen set yet pretending to cook or a girl building a roller coaster out of K’NEX. And if the kids are young enough, the peer pressure of what is “cool” and what they “should” play with isn’t leading them to choose toys based on what others think.
When I was growing up, you would find me in the “boys section” of the toy store, happily looking at the latest Transformers or LEGO sets. I had quite the collection of Stompers at one point as well. And as I got a little older, I got into computer programming by picking up electronics kits – also found in the “boy” aisle of my local K-Mart. I had no interest in the toys found in pink aisle whatsoever. My parents didn’t care. They didn’t try to steer me towards “girl” toys. They let me play with what interested me the most.
I had a great childhood because I was allowed to experience the things that fascinated me. And guess what? Today, I am a web developer and I’m also learning how to be a LEGO master model builder. All of those skills I learned from playing with those building toys and electronics sets from the “boys section” have provided me with the perfect skillset for my current occupation.
Here’s what I think is so silly about this whole debate. Why do we need to categorize toys into boys vs girls anyway? Why can’t we have a section called “building toys” and put ALL of the LEGO sets in the same location? Doesn’t that sound logical? Currently, at my local Target (which still has the gender labels up as of this past weekend) the Friends sets are 2 aisles away from all of the other LEGO sets. It’s just weird to me to group things that way.
I know this issue goes beyond toys and into bedding and other children’s products. Well guess what? We don’t have to gender comforters either. My favorite bedspread growing up was from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Did it make me less of a girl and more of a boy?
I just happened to be attracted to robots and outer space toys so I surrounded myself with those things. There was absolutely nothing wrong with that back in the 80’s and there’s nothing wrong with that now.
Kudos to Target for removing the unnecessary labels in the toy department. Apocalypse avoided for now.
If you have a compelling argument for why Target should KEEP the gender labels, I’m all ears. Drop your thoughts in the comments below and let’s discuss it.