Sunday, August 16, 2015

On Target's descision to stop gendering toys

This is a good thing. Obviously not everyone thinks so.

Most people over forty can remember when the toy isle wasn't so segregated by gender. Yes, dolls were, as always, marketed to girls, but there were no "girl legos," and games and puzzles (before those were things to download) were generally thought of as neutral or gender-free. As someone who doesn't have children, I don't have much of a dog in this fight. I'm not so old that I can't remember when I was one myself. Maybe my experience was a little odd (I collected baseball cards until I was seventeen -- probably unusual for any gender), but I don't remember thinking something was off limits simply because it was a "boy's toy." I had Matchbox cars and Barbies. (I did, however, wish Barbie came in more "flavors" other than blonde and blue-eyed; I did my share of Barbie modification. Also, all my Kens were gay. That probably says more about me than anything. Strangely enough, I didn't think to make my Barbies lesbians as did a handful of my friends.) I loved my Star Wars action figures -- though now I really wish I would have kept them in their original packaging. The only thing I wanted badly that I never got was a skateboard. I wanted one so much I fashioned one out of  Barbie corvette"skate" it down the hall in my apartment until I put a huge dent in the hood. Had I been a boy my parents wouldn't have bought me one either because of the safety concerns, even though I promised to wear a helmet. (Which in the 80s would have supremely dorky.)

What puzzles me is that these parents, the ones complaining that toys should be shelved along "proper" gender lines are about my age, and grew up with the same Lincoln Logs and Yatzee as I did. What changed?