Store Decides To Integrate Boys' And Girls' Toys; Apocalypse Ensues

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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.

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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.

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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!

Hamleys Toy Store Removes "Sexist" Signs After Gender Stereotype Criticism [Mirror]
Hamleys Sexism: There's No Point Pretending Kids Are 'Gender Neutral' [Telegraph]

DISCUSSION

By
DonnaNobleIsMyHero

Two stories:

My BIL works in an electronics store and he overheard this gem:

Little girl: Daddy, I want this helicopter? Can I have a helicopter?

Asshole father: You don't want a helicopter. That's a boy's toy.

*facepalm*

I'm browsing the toy section at Zellers (kind of like the Canadian version of K-Mart), trying to pick out a gift for MiniDork on behalf of her grandparents. I make it a point to browse the "boy" toys from time to time because she digs all sorts of things, not just dolls. So imagine how I felt that ALL. THE. SCIENCE. TOYS. were in the boy section (even the pink microscope). Why is science a boy thing?! WHY? - This phenomena is not restricted to Zellers of course.

But at least Toys R Us (at least, my local one), while having boy and girl sections, has a gender neutral section in which all the science and educational toys are kept. But still...gendered toys piss me off. My little girl plays with dinosaurs, cars, trucks, trains, etc. (as did I when I was a wee one). And you can bet your life, if I had a son, he'd have dolls and ponies and any "girl" toy there is if he had any interest in it. It's a personal belief of mine that every kid should have a baby doll at some point, and a non-baby doll too.