A UK toy store has eliminated its girls' and boys' toys sections, instead grouping toys by category. A blogger has claimed this decision as a victory, but the store says it's just responding to customer confusion.
According to the Mirror, the toy store Hamleys has replaced its pink and blue signs with red and white ones, and changed its organization to group toys by "interest and type" rather than by the gender that's supposed to play with them. Blogger Laura Nelson writes that the change is a response to her campaign — she says she contacted Hamleys PR office as well as its parent company, expressing "my concern that the layout of the toyshop restricts children's and parents' choices and contributes to our society's inequality." Now, she says, "the campaign worked!" She concludes,
Congratulations everyone! We still have work to do on the nature of the toys themselves, and the gender stereotyping of their marketing [...] but we have come to a milestone. Great work!
The store, however, says Nelson's efforts weren't behind the changes. A spokesman tells the Mirror,
While we welcome comments from all customers and interested parties on improving Hamleys, in this case we regret that the changes to our signage were not due to any campaign. We are in the process of detailed planning for a complete refit of our store on Regent Street. As part of this planning, it was made clear to us from consultants and customer surveys that our store directional signage was confusing. As a result we commenced changing all our signage in October of this year in order to improve customer flow.
I'm inclined to believe them, if only because businesses are more likely to change due to customer demand than to ideological appeals. Whatever the cause, the changes seem smart, and helpful to parents and kids who might want to choose toys based on what they do rather than who they're allegedly for. However, not everyone agrees. Toby Young writes on his Telegraph blog,
[N]ature will always trump nurture and any attempt to re-educate children so they grow up to be model citizens in some socialist utopia is bound to fail. [...] Henceforth, dads looking for Scalextric and mums searching for My Little Pony will just have to wander aimlessly around the shop's five floors until they stumble across them. Most, I imagine, will give up and go home.
Yes, with the demise of gender labeling, the only solution for parents will be to stop buying toys altogether. It will be completely impossible to, say, seek out the My Little Pony section of the store for their My Little Pony needs. And what if, transfixed with confusion and terror, a parent accidentally purchases a dinosaur for his or her little girl? Clearly this socialist assault on her natural, inborn desires for a pink plastic horse with a graphic on its butt will forever warp her sense of self. Someone must stand up for the children of Britain before it's too late!