In the past two articles, I have written about Target and it’s a move towards gender equity by moving away from promoting rigid gender roles in the children’s sections of their stores. I have previously covered a basic overview of the decision by the chain department-store, and secondly, I discussed reactions to the decision on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
To current opponents of Target’s decision to remove gendered signage directing boys to one toy aisle and girls to another toy aisle, it’s an outrage. Unthinkable! Basically, what assholes, catering to the PC crowd–they’re sure not shopping there anymore; they’re taking their money to WalMart!
There’s more to this than gender. Yes, it’s mostly about gender–fully about gender, perhaps, but there’s no reason not to mention to opponents of the decision who are refusing to think critically another aspect that will come as a result of the decision to remove signage marketed by gender, and the pink and blue paper previously used as backing for shelves in children’s departments. That reason is the organization.
Target has not made a toy free-for-all section; it’s not all toys strewn about calling for parents to dig ceaselessly through piles of toys to find the toy their child wants. As much as opponents seem to want that to be the case, and as much as opponents speak about the move as if it was the case. Because, of course, that is another reason to be angry about it that they can play off as a more objective, less moralistically-based, criticism. Fortunately, that’s not the case.
Toys will be grouped in categories by product type. Not strewn about the aisles in a black hole of genderless chaos. Figures will be grouped with other figures. Yeah, that means Barbie and GI Joe, Elsa and Indiana Jones, will be in the same aisle. Is that really a hugely gender-centric problem? Doesn’t that have the potential to making shopping for children a tiny bit easier? Playsets will be grouped with other playsets. Yes, this means dollhouses and play-pretend carpenters benches, Easy Bake ovens and Doctor Dreadful kits, will be in the same aisle. Is that really a huge gender-centric problem either? There are a hundred million playsets of two hundred million varieties out there, would it not be a teeny bit more convenient to be in the same section than having to pace up and down all the boys toys aisles, all the girls toys aisles, and back again trying to find the right one for your kiddo or niece or nephew or your friend’s or co-worker’s child? They’d all be right there. I don’t know about these vehement opponents, but I’ve gone shopping or children and thus I’m aware that kids aren’t always the easiest shop for.
Hell, I love Nerf guns (and so do my cats). And Nerf swords. And Nerf bow and arrows. Nerf bow and arrows are limited to the product line “Nerf Rebelle,” which, going from the name, I assume you’d assume can be found (only) in the “girls” aisle. Nerf thought that young ladies wouldn’t want to play with a Nerf gun, so they needed to gender their bow and arrow set–the suffix “belle” in “Rebelle” to make sure that everyone knew it is for girls. (That is, as opposed to “rebel,” which is an entirely neutral adjective–Princess Leia Organa, anyone? She didn’t lead the Rebelle alliance because she was a Princess before her planet was so rudely blown up by Grand Moff Tarkin.) Must I weave in and out of endless swaths of pink and blue paper to find darts? After all, the pink ones do fit in the Nerf Strongarm gun and Zombiestrike revolver, and the yellow/purple ones with the suction cups (work best in the six-shooters) and the blue/orange ones without the suction cups (work best in the Strongarm), are often sold out–like, you know, stores often do; Target isn’t suddenly a magical exception of endless Nerf darts because it’s taken down gender signs. Wandering up and down gendered aisles to find the pink darts because the others are sold out is just annoying; I just want to go grab darts and come back home to play NerfPocalypse (yes, with those cats I mentioned), but instead it adds on an extra ten to fifteen minutes in the store.
Like playset aisles, and figure aisles, Nerf stuff will be located with Nerf stuff, and I’ll no longer have to go try to find a pink-handled foam sword in the annals of gendered aisles when the green/blue/red/black/orange-handled foam sword is sold out in the “boys” aisle, where the majority of Nerf swords are located (aside from those labeled in the Rebelle product line).
(But wait! How am I supposed to facilitate a proper NerfPocalypse if Raizo is a boy cat and Calliope is a girl cat, and my partner is a cis man, and I’m GenderQueer, and my friend playing is trans feminine? Gasp! Perhaps those opponents are only something, this just got convoluted! If only they had kept those aisles organized by gender instead of product type, then it would be way easier.)
The point is, just because this has been a move on Target’s part to help eliminate the traditional gender roles forced upon children starting at such a young age, that’s not the only possible benefit of shopping within Target’s newly organized system that arose as a side-effect from the move towards the real benefit.