September 2, 2015

Purist Ramblings: Revenge of the Boy/Girl Toy Discussion!

It's likely old news by now.  I know I've touched on it slightly before, knowing the can of worms a discussion of this sort could unleashed, but it seems like everyone has made their opinions known.  Crazy Uncle SpiderEarth hasn't really spit his venom about it, and this topic really needs a take-no-prisoners approach to it already.

The catalyst to this hot topic was the news that big box store Target would be removing the gender signs and tags to some, most, if not all of their departments in their stores.  If you could imagine it, this would leave areas in the store to just Kitchen, Electronics, Outdoor, Clothes, and Toys.  Wow, what an insane world.

If you couldn't sense the dripping sarcasm in that, well, strap yourself in.  We're flying down Sarcasm Street, one-hundred and fifty miles per hour, and smashing head-first into the Learning Tree.  Why so crazy, you ask?  Isn't there a better way to make a point?  Yes, but I'm crazy because someone has to be.

Those for these changes and those against those changes have riled each other up to a point that I'm sure no logic can be found, but that's not the point.  There is some merit for those who take neutral or passive approaches, allowing stores to operate how they please or customers to shop in whatever isles they want.  However, not every choice in life can be handled in a "well, we agree to disagree" approach.  I mean, as brutally extreme as basic human rights and common decency, I can't simply suggest "if you don't share my thoughts about shipping old people to the moon, then we simply agree to disagree".  I can't say "if you don't like dog fighting, just look away".  Some extreme examples are points where, no, neutrality doesn't work.

When thinking about how to open this can of worms, I wonder if this discussion warrants the delicate tools anymore.  Do people really listen to those who wait their turn and use manners?  Most of the time, it takes something pretty horrible for people to actually start paying attention to the facts of a conversation.  It takes the sky falling for people to stop thinking of how it only effects themselves.  So, in honor of those who can't be bothered, I open this can of worms by smashing it on the floor.

People say it's stupid and a wasted effort for Target, or any other store to take down gender-specific signage, for any number of reasons.  Sometimes it falls into tradition, as if store signage was some sort of keystone to modern civilization, and other times people rattle off that it's pointless when the world is full of starving kids and homeless cats.  Listen, it's about perspective, and Target's perspective is their store.  If you feel, firstly, connected to how a store looks or laid out in a traditionally way, as if to equate it to how a Thanksgiving Dinner may look, you have to take a look in the mirror.  To the other point, Target, as well as other companies, likely have charity projects in place to battle whatever ridiculous 'do this instead' mad-lib you manifested for your case.  There are frankly a ton of reasons people wish Target kept their boy toy isle blue and their girl toy pink, and there isn't a single, logical, decent one around - even from those within the toy making world.

I always like to give examples in ironic extremes.  I find, no matter the discussion, you'll find logic in any gauge, whether that be in a passive neutral stance or a loud extreme.  I often say to those who stand for tradition, really just for tradition sake, "What's wrong with throwing virgins into volcanoes?  If it was good for our ancestors, then it's good for us!"  People then say, "Shut up, SpiderEarth, you're insane!" and they would be right, but that's the point.  This logical fallacy of keeping tradition for the sake of tradition is stupid, or at the very least, how I feel about it.

Just as our ancestors wondered, maybe sacrificing people is a dumb idea, we too have to evaluate and reevaluate our steps through history.  I feel it's our duty to question what we do, whether it does our civilization any benefit or harm.  Does it enlighten us?  Does it hinder us?  I feel as a modern society, it's our responsibility to look at our time on this planet like that.  We should look at ourselves in the whole and not the individual.

The can of worms are crawling everywhere, and I haven't even made a single point.  I know, I know, but I warned you.  This is a crazy, complex, topic, one I fear a lot of people don't particularly grasp, but if you made it this far, I'm sure you don't mind.

Let me speak of a different ridiculous extreme, but something closer to Target.  Why aren't their divisions in the Garden or Outdoor sections?  I mean, let's be honest and put on our smarty hats, only girls plant flowers and boys hunt and fish.  Even if there are studies done and numerical evidence shown that, yes indeed, the orange vests in the hunting isle are generally sold to men, the isle doesn't have a giant 'Men Only' sign.  Is it because such a giant margin of men shop that area than women that putting the sign up is redundant?  If that's the case, then it gets a bit more complicated with the Garden section.  Men certainly will plant vegetables and trees.  Maybe not those sissy flowers, with their bright colors and fragile bodies, but maybe a nice hops garden over some fencing maybe.  If this can be said, then why can we not divide the kingdom of plant life into specific gender stereotypes and sign those sections accordingly?  Because that's the dumbest idea you've ever heard, you say?  Okay, glad you said that, let's transition to the toy isle.

From the avenues that I listen to, a lot is being said about removing the blue boy signage and the pink girl signage, but really a lot of it can be referred to points above.  For similar reasons having pumpkin seeds in a blue isle just for one gender is as stupid as having the lilacs in a different, the same can be said about plastic dolls and play sets.  Keep in mind, I didn't say action figure or princess dress-up kit, and I won't.  I've left it just as plastic dolls and play sets intentionally, because if you don't know what different plastic toys appeal to you, by standing in front of them and looking at them, you have bigger issues that need help than a pink or blue sign to let you know you're standing in a place designed for you to like.  Walk around, see what this particular purveyor of goods has for sale.  I'll be honest and stop you before you begin - most of what you'll find won't likely appeal to your wallet until you find that right thing for the right price, but a lot of people enjoy to wander around, hunt about, and look all the same.  I suppose that's part of the fun to it.  So, look, wander around.  Go down this isle and down that isle.  See the toys that look like people and the toys that look like vehicles.  See the toys that look like monsters and aliens from out of space.  If any of them appealed to you, and you have the money to spend, by all means take it to the counter and make your purchase.

It's really not that hard, and really no harder than shopping in any other isle.  You'll find this style of shopping through most of Target outside the clothes and toys.  You'll go through the dry foods and never once will you stop and look around, surrounded by chocolate, wondering if you are in the female comfort food isle and if other men are pointing and laughing at you.

The fact of the matter remains, the stupid act of taking down gender specific signage is stupid, only because it was stupid to put up the stupid signs in the first place.  We can make a judgement call on every other isle, whether it be eggplant seeds or fishing gear or towels or millions of other products, but somehow when it comes to lumps of assembled plastic, we pause and second guess ourselves.  Was it such a confusing and taxing chore for parents to shop for their daughters in four or five toy isles, so they picketed until it was reduced to a single pink one?  Were toy distributors kept up all hours of the night, worried over their poor sales, because the toy stores they kept their products had them displayed as a whole and not divided?  I have a hard time believing any of these scenarios hold much water.  Much like throwing virgins into volcanoes, it was a habit, and a dumb one, to solve a problem we had no other better solution.  I feel we have better options now.

We live in a time in history of utmost transparency, one never before seen.  We live in a time so radically different, yet similar to the past.  Times before us would not be prepared to live in our modern age, yet sometimes we wish it would at least try.  We live in a time of wireless networking, social media, and anonymous virtual interaction.  We are all connected, creatively and consciously, but nothing compared to the marvels in store in the future.  We can only assume what the future holds, yet we likely have no way to fathom how vast of a difference it'll be.  New challenges will present themselves, and solutions will be created, only using our time as mere reference.  They will likely not do as we do now.

One of the many challenges our modern age as acquired through our connectivity is how different we all are.  We are vastly more unique than we have ever considered.  Simply one label of interest isn't enough to categorize anything, and things once thought as clear as day, like gender and sexual-orientation, has stepped out to reveal it's far more akin to a set of paint than a set of chess.  As we've grown more connected to each other, we've understood each other more.  Ethnicity has their subcategories, just as faiths, and/or most casual hobbies.  Just as a silly stupid example,  Keshi Drop is a blog about one particular subcategory of toy, or at least it was before this post.  Although we can all agree it's just a blog about toys, or a human being that likes super heroes, or a machine that makes a peace of a musical instrument, we wouldn't be even begin touching the surface by leaving it there.  There is more to say, more to understand, and it's not always they way we think.  Habits change, because they are sometimes place-holders for a time ignorant to what we understand know.  We are always learning and growing,the more we stay connected and understand each other.

It merely says more not having these signs up, than having the suggestion there at all.  If we have the freedom to shop where we want, blue or pink, what good does it provide?  If it's a matter of convenience or ease to those who don't understand what appeals to them or confused by their choices, I feel they have the most to benefit and learn.  People don't need the justification to know what they like is what people expected they'd like.  People just need things they like regardless.

So, we stand at the edge, doing something clearly stupid, and ask "why are we doing this again?"


  1. This blog post is highly amusing; I love it!

    1. Glad you digged it! So when are we getting the fabled second article from Mebbles?