‘Just let them play’

By: Steven Goodman – Opinions Editor

In a move that simultaneously annoyed, pleased, confused, angered and empowered several groups of people, Target announced it would remove all gender-identifying aspects of its toy, bedding, and other sections. Target will no longer have pink and yellow backgrounds for “girl” toys and, similarly, there will be no blue and green backgrounds to denote “boy” toys.

To reference the picture shared on Twitter that started it all: Target will no longer segregate “[boys’] building sets” and “girls’ building sets;” there will be one aisle labeled “building sets,” regardless of which gender the toy is, supposedly, geared toward.

Target, in its announcement, shows it has been paying attention to a world that recently began focusing on gender as an important issue on a larger scale. In the announcement, according to The Washington Post, Target wrote, “We know that shopping preferences and needs change.”

After all, who are we to say what type of toy a child should play with? Girls can play with princesses or superheroes or G.I. Joe. And boys can play with army figures or Barbie or dress-up/pretend play. There’s nothing inherently wrong with playing with the “opposite gender’s” toys.

It also limits a kid’s imagination to say, “You can only play with these toys.” The majority of Amazon’s girl section, which is called Dolls and Girls’ Toys, is made up of dolls. More than that, it’s made up of typically labeled feminine dolls: princesses and the like. In the same vein, the boys’ section, on Amazon and in other stores, is made up of what are seen as incredibly masculine toys: superheroes and the like.

With this, or any announcement, comes those who think it’s ridiculous. Fox News brought on psychotherapist Tom Kersting, who said Target’s move would make kids “question what their gender is.” He basically claimed that, by not clearly labeling toys, nobody will ever know what gender he or she is and will continually question it. As one of the commenters online pointed out, it must have been really confusing before toy stores existed because nobody could have possibly known what gender he or she was without being told.

As another commenter pointed out, sarcastically, letting kids play with toys that are, supposedly, not meant for their gender could lead to a generation of adult men who cook and clean and adult women who design skyscrapers or build space shuttles. As if that diversity would be such a terrible thing.

On “Fox & Friends,” the host spent time discussing how confusing a genderless toy section would be. Saying it would be difficult to find a toy for a little boy or girl if there are no gender labels and that it would result in “some unhappy boys and unhappy girls.” I mean, if you can’t walk down a toy aisle and know whether or not the child receiving it would like it, maybe you shouldn’t be buying him or her a gift. If it’s really that hard, just bring the kid with you and walk up and down the genderless aisles until he or she finds a toy they like.

A child will know whether or not they want a certain toy without being told it’s a toy for boys or girls. Why can’t we just let kids be kids and not worry about what they play with so much? Just let them play.

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