Girls, Boys, Kids, and Toys: A Reflection


Last week, Target made a chain-wide decision, all based on one woman’s Tweet that happened to go viral. The woman captured an image of the toy aisle in Target, which depicted signage showing “Boys’ Toys,” and “Girls’ Toys.” She said something akin to, “Really, Target? This is 2015.”

Now, in response, Target has pulled the terms “boys” and “girls” from their signs, and replaced it with a new sign, one that simply states “Kids’ Toys.”

In response, people created Team Edward, and Team Jacob, and began pitting vampires to the wolves. There’s been the group that vehemently agreed with the new change, and the group that garnered hatred against Target. Since I spent the week laid up, coddling my gimp knee, I read through much of the commentary–all of it hilarious, might I add. When I read, “My shadow will no longer darken the doors of Target” I guffawed. As I scrolled down, I came across, “If you need a sign that denotes boys from girls, you have bigger problems in life, and you need to die.”

I literally laughed out loud at the assumption that death needed to come to those with a differing opinion.

Everyone had their panties in a twist, shoved so far up their behinds they couldn’t see this Target announcement for what it was: ludicrous. As a nation, we’ve become an offendable society–to the point where a little boy can hug a little girl, and a mother shrieks sexual assault.

Really? These battles we’ve fought aren’t even battles–they’re nothings. Which has been my stance on this Target issue. It’s a nonissue. I didn’t care last week, I don’t care this week. I won’t care next week, next month, or next year. Boys, girls, kids, aliens, one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eaters. It’s a sign, people. It’s a damn sign. Have we truly been offended by inanimate objects?

The way opinions have always worked has been that one person holds an opinion, and another person holds a second opinion. If the two opinions clash, well, they show mutual respect–unless someone is of the opinion to kill someone. If the two opinions are alike, harmony, butterflies, lollipops. But to automatically expect acquiescence without thought? My word. Why have we stopped accepting that no two people have the same opinion? Why have we stopped valuing individual thought in lieu of mass acceptance?

Oy with the poodles, already!

Actually, truth be told, I’ve stirred the pot. I have. I weighed in today, as grumpy as my knee has made me, and decided to have a little fun. Because, well, why not? If people have to be offended these days, why not make it blog-worthy material? Hey, I could sit and write yet another blog about Tiny’s growth spurts, and my damn knee, or I could weigh in on something relevant to the monthly parental topic du jour.

So I went onto Target’s Facebook page–laughing like a hyena, mind you–and posted pure satire. To me, it was a pointed exaggeration of this last week’s insanity. I didn’t know if anyone would bite, but I sent a message to my sister exclaiming, “I just wrote this to Target’s FB page! HAHAHA!”

I have a twisted sense of humor, yes. Not to mention, overly opinionated, all of the time. I mean, I could try to be less controversial, but what’s the point? I’m a writer; it’s what we do. And again, who wanted me to write another blog about growth spurts? Anyone?

So, I sat back, and waited. I expected the responses to be much worse than they were. I mean, no one even threatened to kill me. Sheesh. But, I was called plenty of names, of which I’m immune.

What I learned from my little post was that satire is a dying art. I thought people would get the satire, but they’re all too busy being offended. In the words of Larry the Cucumber: No es triste?

Here’s what I wrote:

As the mother of a boy, I was fence sitting on this gender neutrality movement, mostly because boys receive more inequalities and negative commentary in their growing years than girls. I know, because I am constantly getting “girls can do anything boys can do!” shoved down my throat, for merely mentioning my child loves drop-kicking dinosaurs while dressed up as Batman.

I realized this Target push for what it was: a feminist movement. Girls can do, be, and have everything, and any toy, but little boys can’t. Little boys will continue to be stigmatized for liking the color purple, wanting nail polish, or even owning a baby doll. How’s that for gender equality?

That said, last night I went to search “boy shower curtains” and laughed at the assumption that I had perpetuated a newly constructed, completely asinine, social stigma. Still, it left me with a foreseeable dilemma: will we be able to classify toys based on gender, on-line?

See, while I will now be forced to walk an extra mile in the store, I don’t really care to wade through the thousands of glitter infested, pink-infused, fairy dust to find Indominus Rex, Iron Man, or Star Wars Legos on-line. I want to be able to search by age and gender classification, or at least by relevance to the item I want to find. I want precision in my on-line shopping.

This taking down of signs seems like a great concept when you don’t sit and deliberate the added time involved with searching for specific items. What will Target do, or what ideas will be promoted, to make searches easy for on-line perusal?

Who took this post seriously? Everyone, apparently. I freaking complained about the efficacy of on-line shopping, people. That was my stance. Not the signage of the store, but on-line shopping. One woman really got super-invested, and sent me links to various on-line shower curtains. I almost cried I was laughing so hard. And then I told her it was satire, and she never responded.

Go figure.

Now, for anyone who has read my material in the past, you’ll know I garnered my remark from these posts: With Age Comes Gender Recognition, Tiny Humans, Gender Roles, My Superhero Wears Nail Polish, Gender Roles Have Opened, But Only For Girls, and I Am A Woman, Not A Feminist Mantra. Therefore, as has been well documented, I don’t care about gender roles, or gender neutrality, as long as we’re all honest with each other about what it really means. As a physically strong, mentally adept, power-tool wielding, pink wearing, brainteaser loving, web designing, writing, baking idiot savant, disabled woman, I’ve followed the feminist movement for years. And then I saw it for what it really was, became a mother to a boy, and viewed it through a new set of eyes.

Which is why I have this to say about Target’s boy and girl signs: the premise behind the signs has been based on a fallacy.

There, I said it. Those signs never meant that only girls could have the toys from the “girl” aisle, and only boys could have the toys from the “boy” aisle. For someone to believe that only one gender could buy those toys, they would have to be small minded. Though, if you’ve ever walked down the fairy dust aisle of glitter and sparkles, the sign pretty much reads, “No Boys Allowed.”

What those signs, which denoted “boys’ toys” and “girls’ toys,” meant was that–in general terms–boys migrate toward the creepier, louder, more robust toys, while females migrate toward the softer, gentler, prettier toys. There have been studies, compounded with studies, compounded upon studies, that have proven this to be true. The most introspective study, done with male and female monkeys, which was repeated by Psychology Today: Why Do Boys and Girls Prefer Different Toys? This study demonstrated that male monkeys, when given “boy” and “girl” toys, showed marked interest in the male-dominated toys, while female monkeys showed marked interest in the female-dominated toys.

The same study has been proven in infants. This study cites that study, which I haven’t found since my college years, but also gives more insight as to innate gender preferences, especially with boys: Girl Toys, Boy Toys, and Parenting.

Science hasn’t understood the role genetics play in vetted toy interests, but it is a genetic predisposition, not a societal pressure. Therefore, while we’re in the process of finding another nonissue to become offended by, it would behoove us to remember that, whereas I don’t care about gender neutrality, neither do children, or monkeys.

No comments posted on August 15, 2015 in Opinions, Parenting

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