Fox Therapist Pretty Sure Target’s Gender Neutral Toy Section Will Damage The Children
Recently, Target made headlines by vowing to use more gender neutral signage in their toy section. Meaning that instead of having a section labeled for boys and a section labeled for girls, all the toys will just be sold together as toys for all children.
Most rational thinking people would see this as a step forward, as there’s no logical reason why a girl can’t play with a dump truck or why a boy can’t play with a kitchen set. The days of “cooking and taking care of babies is for GIRLS ONLY” and “only BOYS like water guns and race cars” are long behind us. Toys are for play, they are for good times, not for gender socialization.
Yes. At one point they were. At one point, part of the reason for gendered toys was to ensure that children understood their gender roles and what would be expected of them later in life. That women were supposed to learn to cook and clean and take care of the family, and that boys were supposed to work and build and explore the world and to play at war so that when they grew up, that’s just what they’d do. That’s not the world we’re living in now, and if you raise a little boy who thinks he doesn’t have to cook or clean or help take care of the children, he is going to be pretty lonely and/or severely disappointed.
Tom Kersting of some A&E show that is not “Intervention,” called “Surviving Marriage,” is very, very concerned about the idea of not having clearly defined “boy toys” and “girl toys” and thinks Target’s plan is definitely a very bad thing. For the children. Because without things being clearly labeled “Building Sets” and “Girls’ Building Sets,” how will children know what gender they are? More importantly, how will little boys know they are the default gender?
“I think we’re going a little overboard with that. I understand there’s this whole gender neutral agenda going on. And I actually have clients of mine that are — don’t really know what gender they are. But–the question I have–I don’t want to confuse kids that are young when we take them to a toy store, having them question what their gender is. That’s the problem I have with that. I think Target, after reading their comments, a lot of people are not happy with it, and I saw people stating that they’re not going to shop there anymore. So, I think they might have stepped a little bit overboard.”
The other panelists disagreed, what with that being a pretty ridiculous statement and all. Kids like to play with all kinds of toys. My sister liked both trucks and dolls, I hated dolls (and still do, because they are terrifying) and tended to like board games and crafty things. We weren’t “confused” about anything at all — we knew what we liked. In fact, I would say putting gendered labels on things that have nothing to do with gender in the first place is probably more confusing than not doing so.
Also, even if somehow down the line there is a person who comes to Tom Kersting and says “I’m confused about my gender because the Target aisles did not drill it into me, and my parents ended up buying me Legos that were not pink and purple by some horrible accident,” is that really the end of the world?
I could go on about this bullshit forever, but instead, for the benefit of Tom Kersting and those who think like him, I will end this with a little bit of wisdom many of us learned as children in the ’70s and ’80s, from Marlo Thomas’s “Free To Be You And Me”: