Monday, August 17, 2015

The Lesson from Target's Toy Kerfuffle

Yesterday, as we started our final descent into Boston's Logan Airport, Dovid asked me about the loud sound we had just heard, and I explained it was our landing gear being deployed. He asked why they came down when they did and I further explained that the pilot controls the landing, so he gets to decide when the landing gear should be lowered. From next to me, I hear Chana remark, "or her." It took a moment for my brain to process what she had just said. Right On Sister! Indeed, the pilot could be a woman, so she may get to make this call.

It was with this gender comment still fresh on my mind that I read the weekly newsletter from Silver Beacon Marketing. Apparently while I was playing Uncle last week, the Internet was imploding over an incident involving Target and an Internet Troll. To recap: Target removed the gender labels on some toys; people complained; someone signed up a fake account that looked like a real Target account and provided witty responses to these complaints. For example:

Let's take a moment to talk about these angry shoppers. They're up in arms that Target has given into the Progressive / LGBT Agenda, and they aren't going to take it. I have no idea why Target made the decision they did. But for the sake of argument, let's assume their analysis is right. Let's continue to follow their argument.

By protesting this move from Target, are they not implying that the gender labels are helpful to them. That is, how would they know to buy the pink crossbow for their daughter, and the flaming one for their son? As a parent, they need Target to hold their hand and help them choose which toys are appropriate for their child.

Or, let's take this from another angle: imagine that the government *mandated* that manufacturers label their toys for specific genders. My guess is that the same population that is now boycotting Target would be even more infuriated by this move. I can hear their cries now: how dare the government tell me how to parent my child?! If my daughter wants to buy the bad ass looking crossbow instead of that stupid girly one, then she should have nothing standing in her way!

My guess, is that this anger is really directed at that parent who's walking through the store with their little boy when he asks to buy a Frozen Dress. And rather than the parent saying no, he/she makes that life altering mistake of buying their precious little boy his first gown. But don't they see, this is exactly the parental control that they keep in such high esteem. And do they really think that this parent made this decision because Target didn't label the toy properly?

Ultimately, what fires me up about this issue isn't the issue itself. When we have kids in the house, we're absolutely sensitive about the toys that we buy them. If you want to tell your son he can't buy a Barbie, and your daughter she can't have power tools, then be my guest. I may not agree with that choice, but I'll gladly defend it. In the end, I want the same control.

No, what irks me is when people choose labels over analysis. We all do it. This time, the group in question may be conservatives, but next time, it may be a Tea Party idea and a bunch of liberals going nuts. In short: think, people. Do it for the children.


  1. I was a child when action figures first started becoming popular. I loved them, but I remember being made fun of for playing with dolls. You know what? I didn't care then and I don't care now. (Except maybe to feel a little bit sorry for people who have so little in their own lives that they have to worry to that extent what I do with mine.)

  2. Well said TechNeilogy.