So before I had a child that played with toys, I remember reading that Target decided stop separating toys by gender. I know a lot of people who thought this was terrible. I tend to think there are bigger things worth getting upset about, but to the extent that it was a sign of the general cultural attempt to redefine gender, I understood. I THOUGHT I agreed with them.
Until I went toy shopping.
Practically thinking, I think the Target set up is genius. When we were looking for a drum for Zoya at Target we had to look in once section. The instrument section. When you look for a drum in other stories the green and blue drums and in a different section from the pink and purple drums. It’s not a big deal, but I certainly preferred the Target setup. It made more sense.
And over Thanksgiving, Zoya spent two hours sitting on the floor by herself playing with her cousin’s train. So for my birthday, last week, daddy bought her a wooden train set of her own. I have no idea what she likes about it. I thought she must just like playing with it because it is wooden, but there is no doubt this weekend, she has played with/eaten the train more than the wooden blocks or any other toy.
And that got me thinking about gender and toys, and gender and other non-gender specific things. I remember thinking that I must not be all the way a girl, because I liked math and was logical. Thankfully, I was protected enough that the thought did not go much beyond that and though it caused some insecurity and hurt my self-image, it didn’t cause me to worry about anything more confusing.
But, it shouldn’t even have been a thought in my mind. Liking math, shouldn’t have been something that was “wrong” with me. There is nothing truly feminine about being bad at math or favoring logic over emotions. Statistical generalizations be d&mned, not liking things “most women” like, does not make a woman any less a woman.
And if I’d had those same worries in today’s culture, with all of the confusing and false messages that are sold by everything from Hollywood to the school system, I would probably have worried that there was more wrong about me than just liking math.
So all that being said, I’m really glad Target is removing gender separation from its toys. I hope everyone follows suit. If Zoya decides she does prefer balls and trains to dolls and dresses, those should just be what she likes and not something that causes her to question if she really is a girl. This is not because male and female are the same, but it is because toys, like interests and abilities, should not, and do not have anything to do with our gender.
It’s funny how once you have girls (or three) you become so much more aware of what people deem to be “girl things”. Though my girls have surprised me with their love of all things princess, their favorite toy has always been a big fire station with “guys” (one of Farrah’s first words), fire trucks, motorcycle, etc… They get just as excited about airplanes, helicopters and trains as the next boy might (though maybe he doesn’t care about mechanical things…?) I still was frustrated a few months ago when I was at Target looking for bedding and all the girl bedding was pink with horses and princesses and the boys had dinosaurs, cars, sports equipment. I hope they are changing that too.
I was at a baby shower recently for a friend of mine who is a pilot. She is having a girl and one of her friends gave her a book of “Things that Go!” which I thought was great. The friend said that gave it to her said her husband questioned the purchase and said it was a book for boys…..
After having three girls and hearing all the associated stereotypical comments (you’ll have a lot of drama, you’re going to be broke, I’m sorry) this is clearly one of my soap box issues. I’ll get down now 😛
I’m brand-new to this soap box, but I doubt this is the last time it comes up. Beside a pink drum, which we now know is available when she gets older, we are now looking for a pink airplane and helicopter. I know girls don’t have to like pink either, but until she expresses an opinion we are going with what matches her room.