Boys Play With Dolls; Girls Play With Trucks – It’s All Good At Target As Gender Signs Come Down

It’s common knowledge what happens if you let boys play with dolls. Their testicles shrivel and they “turn” gay. And conversely, letting girls play with action figures and race car sets “causes” their fallopian tubes to twist into pretzels and they “become” lesbians. However, you would think that in the year 2015, these antiquated notions would have gone the way of the dinosaur. Sadly, that is not the case. There are still those who believe pink is for girls, blue is for boys, girls can only play with dolls and sing Disney princess songs, and boys can only play with guns and action figures.

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Fortunately, the good folks at Target decided to take a step in the right direction. In a move sure to make the religious right change their shopping habits, Target announced Friday that it would begin to remove gender labeling in specific areas of its stores. The company stated that the move was based on customer feedback and comments. Specifically, Ohio Target shopper Abi Bechtel tweeted an aisle sign from her local Target which showed both ‘building sets’ and ‘girls’ building sets’ in the toy department.

While this is a great step in the right direction, Target is pushing the proverbial boulder up the Madison Avenue mountain of gender-biased television and print advertising flooding the market. Children can’t watch a movie or television show without being inundated with such messages (subliminal and not-so-subliminal).  Girls items involve fashion, cleaning and cooking; Boys items speak of strength, leadership, skill and success. These messages are internalized, influencing choices children make regarding education and roles they play in their adult lives.

We can only hope that more retailers will jump on the bandwagon, and let our children make their own choices. And for those knuckle-draggers who insist that their children conform to narrow-minded and ill-informed gender stereotypes, there’s always the local Wal-Mart and Toys R Us.

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