A while back, Target caused quite the uproar when they decided to remove genders from the toy section. At the time, I didn’t think much of the decision despite the rampant disagreements that I saw on Facebook with this decision. But in the months that followed, I became keenly aware of the differences in marketing and strategy as it pertains girls versus boys and just how much companies think about who they market to and why. Consider the recent Star Wars uproar with Rey’s exclusion from toys and available merchandise to purchase.
Disney has worked to fix this and the option to buy any number of bright pink and purple Rey paraphernalia can be found firmly planted in the “boy’s” section of the Disney Store. A pair of moms have even gone so far as to create a line of science and stem-themed clothing for their daughters because they were unhappy with the options available.
But as a mom of boys, what do we do with sons who also like princesses? Where are the “masculine” versions of my boys’ favorite movies, such as Tangled and Frozen, nestled between the princess dresses, tiaras, and skirts?
As women, we have spent years (and still are) working hard to build equality and find our place in this “man-made” world. But sometimes when I hear people talk about girls having an interest in all things “boy,” she is seen as powerful, strong, making her own way, and ready to attack the world. She’s the Queen of all Trades and breaks gender barriers with something as simple as rocking a Rey shirt and a light saber.
But when a boy likes a unicorns, rainbows, and all things pink and purple? We aren’t sure what to do with him. He’s seen as “feminine,” a wimp, a wuss. As someone who is unsure of himself or who “wants to be a girl.” Our culture seems to have built this lie that boys who like girl things should be ashamed. When, especially as children, these interests are usually nothing more than their favorites at the time.
We bought our boys purple and pink gym shoes. Not to make a political statement or because it is against ‘the norm,’ but because that is what they like, what they chose, and what they love to run around in. I would do the same for a daughter and just as ferociously.
My hope is to build them up so much that when the world says no, they still have the courage to say yes.
What do you think about the way things are currently marketed? Do you find this goes both ways?