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Mom calls out Target for gender bias, receives Twitter backlash

Social media continues to buzz over an Ohio mom who questioned a marketing decision on a recent trip to Target.

Is it really that horrible for someone to wonder if a company sends mixed messages when they address gender?

Apparently so.

Abi Bechtel is a self-proclaimed feminist, writer and graduate student who doesn’t seem to take herself too seriously. WTSP-10 News reports the mother of three boys wasn’t too happy with a local Target’s decision to differentiate between ordinary building sets and ones made for girls.

Her tweet has sparked both media coverage and pretty heavy criticism from some who believe she’s overreacting.

It’s practically expected for companies to display their merchandise by category. Can you imagine trying to shop in a store that threw everything together? Yeah, no thanks. Men, women and children typically have their own sections that make the art of “grab and go” a more manageable reality.

This is one of the reasons businesses will organize their stores in a manner that might rationalize gender labels to some. “We know families are tight on time and looking for inspiration,” Molly Snyder, a spokesperson for Target, told CNN. “Therefore, we continually explore how to organize our stores and website in ways that will be convenient, appealing and helpful to our guests.”

What’s interesting about this Target aisle isn’t the suggestion of items specifically for girls or boys, but the need to separate items for little girls from the general merchandise.

“Because it makes it seem like it’s so normal for building sets to be for boys, and oh, by the way, girls can build stuff too, we guess,” said Abi.

Who knew a simple comment like “don’t do this” would spark such outrage? Even if the practice of gender labeling doesn’t bother you, you have to admit separating just the girls sends a mixed message.

“It stood out to me as a good example of the way our culture tends to view boys and men as the default, normal option and girls and women as the specialized exception,” adds Bechtel.

You can showcase variety without adding labels that make assumed gender differences known. Sure, toy companies that manufacture baby dolls tend to cater to an audience of little girls, while action figures that convert into creatures might be popular among the boys. At the end of the day, we should let families choose items they think will entertain their child instead of trying to navigate them down a road of gender preference.

Is it really too much to ask to have a toy section that doesn’t always separate the boys from the girls?

More on gender

Amazon no longer sees gender when it comes to toys
Nonconforming gender play
Raising gender-neutral kids

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