Wendi Kent is tired of seeing kids fall prey to the gender stereotyping of the store toy aisle
. The mom of three from Madison, Wisconsin wants boys and girls to be able to shop for toys by interest - not by color. And she wants one store in particular to do something about it.
Kent recently started a petition on Change.org asking Target
to get rid of the blue and pink color-coding they use on the peg boards lining their toy aisles.
What difference does the color of the aisle make? Kent thinks it's a lot. From her petition:
All toys should be available for all children. A boy should not feel unwelcome or dissuaded to explore baking toys because they are in an aisle that has been predefined as being "for girls" by being smothered in hot pink. Our girls bypass the blue aisles only to find they have no Legos or construction vehicles. Instead, the wall is lined with cooking, cleaning, and baby doll toys in that order, contributing to the harmful gender stereotype that women are domestic creatures.
Kent told me that she decided to start this petition after witnessing way too many incidences of both children and adults, falling victim to this gender stereotype brainwashing
. She described one particular incident in which she saw a 7 or 8 year-old girl wearing a super ruffly dress with sparkles all over the front, asking her mom if there were pink microscopes. Her mom said no, and that the blue and black one she was holding (in the blue aisle) was the only kind. The girls response? "Never mind then."
"I was shocked," said Kent, "Crushed, really. Devastated for her and all other girls interested in STEM who are steered from it early on for whatever reasons. All I could think about was what if they had had a pink one? Then I thought, why does it even have to be pink? Would she even like pink if she wasn't "supposed" to? If she weren't being told to by everything around her that that is what defines her as a girl? Even if she genuinely likes pink, I couldn't believe that the color was more important than her interest in the subject."
Ideally, Kent would like to see Target and stores like it organize toys by interest, rather than by gender. You know, sports toys in one section, building blocks in another, and so on. So you can find toys without having to wonder whether or not they are 'blue' or 'pink.'
For starters, she would just like to see Target ditch the color-coding of these aisles. So boys could pick out a baking set and girls could pick out construction vehicle without feeling like they are in the 'wrong' aisle.
For more info, check out Kent's petition over at Change.org
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