Target to move away from gender-based signs

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Attention Target shoppers: Say goodbye to “girls’ building sets” and “boys’ bedding.”

The big box retailer announced Friday that it will start phasing out gender-based signage in some departments. The shift comes in response to customer feedback that distinguishing between products for girls and boys is unnecessary and maybe even harmful.

Parents and gender equality advocates welcomed the news as a significant step with potential to inspire other retailers.

“This change is a step towards removing gender limitations in childhood, but when one of the world’s largest retailers does this, the ripple effect will be significant,” author Melissa Atkins Wardy said in her blog, Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, which promotes gender-neutral toys, apparel and other products for children.

“This change will play a role in shifting the way kids see themselves as consumers and will help to shift the way adults see the role of gender in childhood,” said Wardy, author of “Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween.”

Historically, Target used signs to help customers find products faster, the company said in a statement on its website. In some cases it makes sense, like with apparel, where fit and sizing differences between the sexes come into play, the statement said.

“But shopping preferences and needs change and, as guests have pointed out, in some departments like toys, home or entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary,” the company said.

“We heard you, and we agree.”

The changes will come over the next few months, the company said. Signs in the kids’ bedding area will no longer feature suggestions for boys or girls. In the toys aisles, references to gender, including the use of pink, blue, yellow or green paper on the walls of shelves, also will be removed.

A small minority of commenters criticized Target in the online statement for giving into pressure to promote “politically correct fads” and “homogenize the genders.”

Far more people applauded the decision.

“Thank you! I’m so tired of my daughter trying to play with her best friend (a boy) and him not wanting to because whatever she has is a girl toy. Or not wanting to watch the show she suggested because it’s a girls’ show,” one commenter said. “Eliminating these gender typed divisions will help kids learn a toy is a toy, a show is a show, fun is fun.”

Ohio mother Abi Bechtel was one of many Target shoppers in recent months to publicly criticize the store for marketing products based on gender. A picture she tweeted in June was widely shared, sparking debate over who’s to blame for gendered toys — toymakers or consumers.

Bechtel applauded Target for listening to consumers who agreed that “color-coded” marketing is “regressive and harmful.”

“Kids pick up cues about what society thinks of gender from so many places, and I’m glad that the Target toy aisle is no longer going to be one of the places they’re bombarded with ideas about what’s appropriate for kids of any gender to play with,” she said Saturday.

“I’m really pleased that so many people saw the potential for chan

14 comments

    • KathleenSChilton

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  • Nancy

    I will not be shopping at Target anymore. I’m tired of catering to people who want everything to be neutral because someone doesn’t know what gender they want to be when they grow up.

    • CJ

      That’s not even what this is about for most people, although I fail to see how it hurts you in any way. The point about removing gender stereotypes from toys and toy aisles is that the divisions are sexist and disempowering. Girls are told that science, math, strength (ie superheroes), etc are not for them. Boys are told they should not concern themselves with family (dolls), basic life skills such as cooking (play food & kitchens), etc. It is harmful and limiting to children and frustrating to parents (and teachers, grandparents, nannies, etc) who want to raise them in a well-rounded way.

      • bb99

        Pandering to special interest groups is ridiculous…but Target wants their business too. Let me know how your gender neutral experiment works with your kids.

        • CJ

          Again, this has nothing to do with “special interest groups”. Toys and toy aisles have become increasingly gender stereotyped in the past 20 years or so. When I was a child in the 80s, there was some division, but not nearly so much as there is now. Hell, there were dolls specifically geared toward boys (My Buddy, anyone?) And LEGOs were for kids, not separated into “boy LEGOs” and “girl LEGOs”. My brothers and I played with stuffed animals along with Computron and circuit boards. My squirt guns were the same colors as my brothers’. Why do toy manufacturers and stores think a squirt gun has to be pink or be placed in a pink store aisle for a girl to want it? It’s insanity. And why are you threatened by allowing kids to choose what they like based on what they like, rather than marketing them into a corner?

    • Gary

      I so agree with you 100% for Gods Sake Can We Please Stop Changing And Catering To The Confused few? A boy is a boy and a girl is a girl what is so difficult to understand? Of you want to be confused so be it but don’t expect the rest of the world to follow suit. Target you are ridiculous. ……..

  • SteffiC

    First world problems.

    Maybe next they will remove the Women’s and Men’s and Boy’s and Girl’s clothing signs. After all, we don’t want to offend anyone. Let’s go ahead and make the bathrooms completely gender neutral: one big bathroom for everyone. I’m sorry: you didn’t want your 4 year old daughter trying to go into the restroom with a 50 year old man? What are you? Transphobic?
    Also lets not forget the Feminine Hygiene Products aisle. We don’t want to offend any transitioning men that wish they had lady equipment.
    I think they have a Men’s Shaving aisle, too.
    What am I missing here?

  • Lisa

    So, when you are the victim of a crime and the police ask you about the perpetrator, you can’t say what color they are or their gender, or any other characteristic that might be offensive to the perp. Or what about if your child is missing and they want his/her info for the Amber Alert. What sex is the child? Answer: None, What race is the child? Answer: None. I have a hard time believing Target is changing this because many people have asked for this change.

  • Gary

    We can no longer call it a Christmas party, we can no longer call it a Christmas parade , we can’t say one nation under God at a public School but heck let’s paint the white house in rainbow colors and call July GLBT Month that seems to be perfectly fine! But we have to fight to keep the cross on Mount Soledad to honor those who gave all for our country. Cmon man thud is getting ridiculous. ……..

  • Fox 5

    People don’t have enough neurons left to even know what sex they are. MSG, aspartame, pesticides, etc are leaving more and more people unable to perform basic functions.

  • pdace1

    This is what people are worried about? are you kidding me?
    Just because a dependapotamus has nothing to do, target makes moves? First, target does not offer military discounts and now they want to remove barriers for genders? if they really want to make a statement, they should have a unisex bathroom for everyone

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