Some parents are protesting the gender labels removal from Target

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Some parents are protesting the gender labels removal from Target
Image credit: Flickr (CC) / Mike Mozart

When Target announced it is removing gender labeling from its toy sections, most parents and organizations were quite happy. Now some are saying it’s bad.

“I don’t see what this does for kids having labels for boys and girls because to mix it all together is to deny that there’s differences between the sexes”, Andrea Tantaros says to Slate.

“I also think, and I think you’d agree with me that, boys and girls are different. And that there are naturally different interests”, Tammy Bruce said in another segment.

But this raises, the question: If boys and girls are so different from each other, wouldn’t these natural interests overpower the removal of toy labels? If you like toy trucks that would be more than enough to make you want to play with them, right? The label of the aisle on which they are sold, doesn’t matter.

Elizabeth Sweet from the New York Times notes that at the turn of the 20th Century there weren’t gender labels in toy ads. It was after World War II that the gender labeling of toys began. Until then “the separation” of toys for boys and for girls was “natural”. It just happened.

From 1975 until up to almost the 1990s there were no gender labels again. Hanna Rosin detailed in Slate in 2012 that studies that show gender differences in toy preference find that most popular toys, such as Lincoln Logs or stuffed animals, are gender-neutral.

So what changed? What is so scary or important to have a label saying “this toy is for girls”? Shouldn’t it be “this toys is for everyone who likes it”? Most people would agree that the older times were better and simpler, yet they seemigly don’t want to learn a thing or two from them.

Furthermore children above 6-7 years old, who can read, have already developed their preferences for toys. So having labels for them wouldn’t change their preferences. So the labels are only for the parents of really young children and babies who are still forming their toy preferenced. And if a parent needs a label to decide which toy to buy and haven’t noticed what types of toys their children prefer, then the problem is not rooted in the presence or absence of gender labels on the toys.