Toys “R” Us in the United Kingdom will no longer be labeling toys as being for one gender or the other. Instead, the toys will be categorized by type and in-store images will show children of both genders playing with the same toys.
The changes were made because of the “Let Toys Be Toys” campaign which has been asking retailers “to stop limiting children’s imaginations and interests by promoting some toys as only suitable for girls, and others only for boys.”
Megan Perryman, a campaigner for the group, stated that “We’re delighted to be working so closely with a major toy retailer and believe that there is much common ground here. Even in 2013, boys and girls are still growing up being told that certain toys are ‘for’ them, while others are not. This is not only confusing but extremely limiting, as it strongly shapes their ideas about who they are and who they can go on to become. We look forward to seeing Toys “R” Us lead the way to a more inclusive future for boys and girls.”
This is not the first time that Toys “R” Us has done this. In 2012, their Swedish branch’s Christmas catalogue showed images which challenged the traditional gender roles. Given that this was in Sweden, this is not surprising.
Harrods made the changes last year, and Hamleys replaced their old pink and blue signs with red and white even before that.
In the US, A Might Girl, a site dedicated to collecting books, toys, movies and music which empowers girls, has started a petition to get Toys “R” Us to do the same thin in the US. The petition reads that “By following their examples, Toys “R” Us in the USA can send an important message to children, parents, and others that children’s interests should not be limited by their gender.”
While the traditional gender roles for women have been broken down rather a lot in the United States, the roles for men have remained largely intact with a great deal of derision still be heaped on men for showing emotions, being stay at home fathers, liking things other than sports, and so forth. Even at that, women are still attacked for daring to break the stereotypical gender roles often assigned to women by society.
This will make some of the market changes very difficult to implement.