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Combating Misogyny in the Toy Aisle


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I'd love to enlist FJ in convincing more retailers to quit being sexist dicks this holiday season.
Even if it's tilting at windmills--I do that a lot :P

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backstory:
So, my daughter's birthday is at the end of summer, and good squirt guns for battles was one of her requests.  As a compulsive over-researcher (I have at least 2 hours into my ballot thus far. ) I figured out what exactly we needed to get the best bang (squirt?) for our buck and, figured out what websites carried them.  I stumbled onto them at Kohl's, where they were on sale (yay!) and I could do that site-to-store thing (yay!) and it was perfect.
And then I saw that there was a button for 'filter'.  To do things like sort by price.  I clicked it and saw that one of the options was 'gender' and selected 'girls'.  And EVERY SINGLE EFFING SUPERSOAKER DISAPPEARED.
I went further down the rabbit hole and found out that apparently all the NERF brand toys (which incl. supersoakers) are apparently 98% for boys, according to Kohls.

So.  I wrote Kohls (and hasbro, who owns nerf, who owns supersoaker) a tweet.  And an email.  and when I hadn't heard back in 48 hours, a letter (which, from long experience, I sent to 3 different departments at the company).
And I paid 30% more to buy from a less sexist retailer.

And I eventually got a email back from kohls which was (paraphrased, obviously) "we're sorry you feel that way.  we're not trying to be sexist, it's just that our customers prefer this sexism".  WHich did not help me feel more forgiving.  SO I tweeted to them a LOT.  and assured the person who write to me (wasn't a low level flunkey, promise), that I'd email her weekly examples of blatant sexism on their website  (which I mostly have) and if they were going to insist on the inherent sexism of splitting toys by gender, putting ALL the active toys (and several of the STEAM toys on the boys side was REALLY bad optics.

And I talked to Hasbro.  WHo initially said "we're committed to diversity in our supply chain--see, we don't label ANY of our toys 'girls' or 'boys'"--which is true, and bully for them, but since a huge percentage of their product is sold by RETAILERS, not them, I asked what they were going to do about sexism from retailers--which, part of their supply chain, no?  They hedged (and continue to hedge) on that question, but I did have quite a conversation (and, full disclosure, they also sent my kid like $100 worth of Nerf/supersoaker stuff.  The Mr. says I should complain to companies we like more often).  ANd....*magic wand noises here* AMAZINGLY, without contacting me (and without even another blowoff email from the person at Kohls I"m in contact with)....Kohl's has changed how SUpersoakers are cataloged, and now they're under girls AND boys.

I sent thankyou emails all around.
AND, if Kohls had responded BEFORE I had to go through all of this, I"d probably be done.  But, I have headway, why the hell should I stop there?


TL/DR:
Kohl's and some other retailers are really shitty and sexist about how they sell toys.  I hate the pink and blue asile shit, but I REALLY hate when I select 'girls' and watch the STEAM toys and the supersoakers disappear, and then I hit 'boys' and I watch the Hermonie action figure and the play food disappear.
I won 1 small battle re: supersoakers @ Kohls.  Lets stick it to the man.

I've been tweeting @toyaislesexism (https://twitter.com/toyaislesexism/status/1054483262691860480)
And I'm all about backup.  If you see it, screenshot/take a picture.  tweet it to me.  I'll try to amplify.
(I"m not especially good at this, I'd love to be the next #lettoysbetoys but, they're better at this than I am.  But I'm trying. Open to feedback.  I do also have tumblr and instagram) w/ it

It's that time of year, when the toy retail giants get REALLY obnoxious.  I think we can change that.

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@dawbs I applaud you for your efforts. I have 3 sons and hate when toys are presented as “boy” or “girl” toys. When I am asked at McDonald’s if our happy Meal is for a boy or a girl, I always respond

I'd love to enlist FJ in convincing more retailers to quit being sexist dicks this holiday season. Even if it's tilting at windmills--I do that a lot TL/DR: Kohl's and some other retail

Apparently, what you meant was "I take it personally when I inject my personal views into a tangentially related topic and people don't agree with me, word for word." You're seriously projecting here.

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Briefly

One of my early memories is my mom telling me very clearly that I should never think I couldn't do something just because I happened to be a girl, that girls could do anything they wanted to.  And she repeated that as I grew up.  And I thanked her for that after I grew up.  It's also something I tried really hard to teach my daughter, although I do admit that I screwed up on that when we flirted with fundamentalism for the short time we did.  She and I have discussed that many times and we are pretty much past that.

When she was probably 8 or so years old, we were in Sears and she wanted some dinosaur toys.  As we were paying for them, the female clerk asked her if they were a gift for her brother.  I did not even have to say a word, although I did tell the clerk that there was NO SUCH THING as boy toys or girl toys, because my daughter spoke up.  In my head, I was thinking Thanks Mom!

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Alice in Fundieland

@dawbs I applaud you for your efforts. I have 3 sons and hate when toys are presented as “boy” or “girl” toys. When I am asked at McDonald’s if our happy Meal is for a boy or a girl, I always respond with the specific name of the toy my child wants. Sometimes my son wants a Hello Kitty toy and who are they to tell him it’s only for girls?

This is something that has angered me for years and I’ve tried reaching out to companies when I see things like you’ve described, although I must admit I’ve never been as persistent as you in my attempts. I love that you got results!

 I’m including a few pictures of things I’ve seen over the years. This one annoys me because it seems to suggest that girls will only want to play songs written and performed by women and/or that boys won’t want to play those songs.

Spoiler

4CF9D09C-FD34-4327-921E-5592A8EAA69D.thumb.jpeg.a59ec9fe5ca2d9cef07f4247ed531a0e.jpeg

I think this is presented in a much more positive way. 

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Then there are these two baby toys that I saw about 7 years ago. They still make me angry. 

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Finally, I leave you with this flow chart that I present to anyone who tells me my sons shouldn’t have dolls.

Spoiler

022B1271-0DCC-4476-94C6-D356141045D2.png.1416c12bc85751ba783f1518687fd173.png

 

Edited by Alice in Fundieland
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Terrie

My brother and SiL got their son a shirt that reads "Kindergarten Stud" and, oh man, I had to bite my tongue. HARD. I've made baby blankets for all three of the kids, and always been careful to give them neutral colors. (The closest is white, blue and yellow -- we're of Swedish heritage). The kids all get books for Chrsitmas and I do admit to picking books to try and combat that kind of nonsense.

Small amount of progress. I recently did a volunteer actitivty where I got to show kids a pig's heart. Very cool. One girl came back three times, she was so fascinated. And only one mom made a comment that made me wince. ("You should touch it. Boys like that kind of stuff.") The rest were equally enoucrageing to all their kids. And it was about 50/50 between the girls and boys who went "Nope. Nope, nope, nope. Not touching that."

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RidiculousFundies

I hate the boy/girl stereotypes too. Now that we have a daughter, I am determined to teach her the same way @Brieflys mom taught her- she can do anything in the freaking world because she is awesome and no man will put her down. My son plays rugby but has a Barbie because it's just a damn toy that he wanted when a girl in his class had one.

I'm struggling with this at the moment, since my father came to live with us. Bit of backstory: my husband works in another country so I have been alone 2 months at a time for close to 5 years. My dad retired and lives with us now, in a garden flat. I can do everything in my house, I do all my own yard work, I care for all the pets including chickens. My dad has made comments like Wow I didn't know you can use a pressure washer. Major eye rolling. 

My MIL told me I need to let him do a lot, because basically it's important for his ego as a man. Excuse me, what the F about my feeling of worth as a woman? Why should that take a backseat to a man's ego? I get he needs to feel helpful, but talk about patriarchy. 

 

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Briefly
2 hours ago, RidiculousFundies said:

I hate the boy/girl stereotypes too. Now that we have a daughter, I am determined to teach her the same way @Brieflys mom taught her- she can do anything in the freaking world because she is awesome and no man will put her down. My son plays rugby but has a Barbie because it's just a damn toy that he wanted when a girl in his class had one.

I'm struggling with this at the moment, since my father came to live with us. Bit of backstory: my husband works in another country so I have been alone 2 months at a time for close to 5 years. My dad retired and lives with us now, in a garden flat. I can do everything in my house, I do all my own yard work, I care for all the pets including chickens. My dad has made comments like Wow I didn't know you can use a pressure washer. Major eye rolling. 

My MIL told me I need to let him do a lot, because basically it's important for his ego as a man. Excuse me, what the F about my feeling of worth as a woman? Why should that take a backseat to a man's ego? I get he needs to feel helpful, but talk about patriarchy.

 

Not knowing your dad, is it possible that maybe your dad just wants to feel useful?  Like maybe you could just find him something to do to keep occupied which might also keep him out of your way.  However, your MIL seems to be missing the point!

I'm glad you are teaching your daughter that she is capable.  When ever we had a project, our daughter was usually in the middle of it.  She commented not too long back that even though she griped at the time, she is actually glad that she learned as much as she did.  She doesn't think that any of her friends would be able to put up a fence or many of the other jobs she can do.  I'm so glad my mother was so forward thinking about teaching us.

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3splenty

I've always been a tomboy.  Yeah, I went through an "everything pink" phase as a kid, but I spent a lot of time with Dad in his mechanic shop.  In driver's ed, I was the first one done when we had to change a tire (and the cleanest--thanks, Dad!).  I can do most of my own vehicle maintenance.  

I can pull off being a girly girl, but...if it involves missing sleep, it's probably not happening.  

I've told my kids that just because they're girls doesn't mean that they only have certain options.  Wanna be a farmer?  Go for it!  An engineer?  Why not?  I told them that all that matters is they're doing what they want to, gender be damnef.

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RidiculousFundies
13 hours ago, Briefly said:

Not knowing your dad, is it possible that maybe your dad just wants to feel useful?  Like maybe you could just find him something to do to keep occupied which might also keep him out of your way.  However, your MIL seems to be missing the point!

 

He has a huge thriving veggie garden and my husband gives his small tasks to do, like he helped paint the front of the house etc, and he is out a lot because he is very involved in his church. But he takes it a step too far and undermines me by doing things I do and enjoy when I'm out. Aaarrggh it's just an adjustment having a parent live with you as an adult. We don't regret it and are happy that we can support him in his retirement, but I'm also only 28 and he turning 70 so the huge generation gap could be a root of some of it too. 

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Glasgowghirl

When buying for my nieces and nephews, I try to avoid everything being too boy/girl orientated. My brother has bought his daughters cars, a garage and train sets because they like them. Oldest niece loves princesses and unicorn too, depends on which mood she is in.

While I liked playing with dolls and Barbie's, I also played with a lot of my brother's old toy's. My parents didn't care, as long a we were happy 

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Vivi_music

I hate that everything is gendered as well. I find it a pain when you buy toys.

But at one point, when kids want to chose, it is harder to resist. My brother and SIL tried to be very not gender-oriented when their daughter was born but once the little girl was able to express her own preferences and decide how to dress or the toys she liked: she went through a HUGE girly phase. She played Mommie with dolls, she only wanted to wear ruffly skirts and dresses. (I thought the irony was a bit funny.) For a while that was her phase. Now she is 6 and is into super heros and Pokémons, but also crafts and nail polish.

I think the most important thing is to give the kid's choice. That way they are thought from a young age that they can play with anything. My other brother is much more conservative in the way he is raising his boys and I feel like they are deprived of tons of fun stuff because it is ''labelled'' feminine.

Edited by Vivi_music
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Terrie

There are people who claim you are trying to "force" kids to like things they don't, because THEY liked pink and dolls and you're saying they did childhood "wrong." Which is obviously bullshit. First, I suspect if we went back in time most of those "super-girly" women would find there were plenty of non-gendered toys they played with just fine, and honestly, my big worry is when kids reject something as "for girls" or "for boys." 

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mango_fandango

When I was about seven, I was mentioned in a news article (not a major story or anything) about how expensive the back-to-school period can be. In it, there was a small anecdote about how I used to have a Thomas the Tank Engime lunchbox, but apparently other kids said it was a “boy’s” box and so my mum got me a Barbie lunchbox instead. I have absolutely no memory of this incident, and I’ve never been much of a tomboy nor a super-duper girly girl. Just neutral. I did do ballet (stereotype her obviously) for a few years, but I was never really into it (as in OMG obsessed with all the pink and sparkles) and stopped after about four years. 

I went to an all-girls’ school and they were, and still are, very big on the “girls can do anything” stance. 

 

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thoughtful

There are some major eye-rolls in this video - products for kids, but also adults, that are gendered for no reason whatsoever:

 

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WhatWouldJohnCrichtonDo?
2 hours ago, thoughtful said:

There are some major eye-rolls in this video - products for kids, but also adults, that are gendered for no reason whatsoever:

 

I don't know which is sadder about this video--that there's enough unnecessarily gendered crap out there to make a 10 minute video, or that it includes things like these:

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Spoiler

Screenshot_20181119-004230.thumb.jpg.b46ad31bb505c38e4459894c2b94d935.jpg

😞

Edited by WhatWouldJohnCrichtonDo?
had to fix emoji because phones are weird
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Terrie

"I hate my thighs" on a baby onsie? WTF?!?! Remember, rich old white men want you to hate your body so they can exploit you for your money. Loving your body is a radical political move.

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TSOWOATNK

Maybe I'm just old (I'm 40), but I like the boy/girl filters. I use them to divide the wall of pink from the wall of sports crap. My eldest is 17, and she preferred "boy" toys, so I often shopped in the boy section. I don't want to be doing a present search by age, and find a bunch of crap I know my kid won't be interested in to wade thru in order to get to what they do want. If I want to get soccer gear for my son who wants masculine colors, being able to filter out the girl's sizing/colors is helpful. If I want to get non-girly colors for my daughters, it is helpful to look under the boy filter too. I've used the girl filter to find a baby doll for my son that wanted a baby doll (it was this really cool doll that had a dinosaur pacifier). I also wear shoes from the little boys section of the shoe store. I'm a woman with tiny/wide feet, and little boy shoes fit me extremely well. 

I've never for one moment ever thought that those categories are meant to be strictly adhered to. Up to a certain age, I prefer to look at boy clothing because designers make more practical/warm clothing for boys than girls. I don't fault the stores for putting them in the boy section, I appreciate knowing it will have actual functional pockets, and thicker fabric because it is a boy versus girl item of clothing. If I need a jock strap for my son, or a bra for my daughter I go to the corresponding section of the store. That isn't be exclusionary, it is having those items in an easy to find place. Unlike stores that put the crackers in the bread aisle, or the cookie aisle, or the snack aisle depending upon the individual whim of the store. 

I know that the point is supposed to be inclusivity. Unfortunately, inclusivity just makes wading thru the marketplace of thousands upon thousands of goods arduous. It isn't like going to the now-defunct Toys r Us and going to the girl versus boy aisle. Using those filters properly can take my search from thousands of options to hundreds of options, and I appreciate that ability to filter.

 

I mean really? You absolutely NEVER utilize gendered categories in your life to narrow your search?

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Terrie
20 hours ago, TSOWOATNK said:

I mean really? You absolutely NEVER utilize gendered categories in your life to narrow your search?

No, because there are a lot of stupid ass assumptions built into that filter. Sure, sometimes you want things that are of course going to be labeled one or the other, such as dolls or footballs, but usually what I want is art supplies or board games. Is chalk more masculine than water color paints? Is Sorry!  a boy thing or a girl thing? Why would I ever waste time trying to figure that out? 

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TSOWOATNK
3 hours ago, Terrie said:

No, because there are a lot of stupid ass assumptions built into that filter. Sure, sometimes you want things that are of course going to be labeled one or the other, such as dolls or footballs, but usually what I want is art supplies or board games. Is chalk more masculine than water color paints? Is Sorry!  a boy thing or a girl thing? Why would I ever waste time trying to figure that out? 

Why would you use any gendered filter at all to look for chalk or water-color paint? They are both crafting or art supplies, and readily found in either of those categories. I suppose if you were looking for a Disney Princess versus Monsters Inc set, maybe you would look in gendered sections. Yet, why would you a gender filter rather than search for a specifically Disney Princess versus Monsters Inc set if that is what you want? 

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Terrie
5 minutes ago, TSOWOATNK said:

Why would you use any gendered filter at all to look for chalk or water-color paint?

I wouldn't. Hence my response to your question, affirming I have never used a gender filter.

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TSOWOATNK
On 12/13/2018 at 11:18 AM, Terrie said:

I wouldn't. Hence my response to your question, affirming I have never used a gender filter.

Never.used.any.gender.filter.ever?

 

I somehow doubt that. If I want underwear I look in the women's section, not the mens, because mens briefs aren't designed for the shape of women. If I want socks, I look in the women's or children's section rather than the mens because mens would be too large for my teeny-tiny feet. Everyone uses some variation of gender as a screening tool at some point because it is a valuable screening tool to use rather than wade thru thousands of options. At the very least you utilize those ways of screening when shopping in person; you don't walk into the men's section looking for a bra, you don't walk into the womens section looking for a jockstrap. 

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formergothardite
On 12/12/2018 at 1:51 PM, TSOWOATNK said:

If I want to get non-girly colors for my daughters, it is helpful to look under the boy filter too.

But why label it boys? Sure I've gotten things for my kids from the "boy" section, but those things aren't actually just for boys because a penis is not required to wear them. Stick all the kids clothes in a kid section and I could just as easily walk over to the rack of non-pink shirts and pick out that exact same shirt. Why should it be labeled "boys" and have to walk to another section? Absolutely no reason to not just label it children's clothing because both boys and girls might like them. 

On 12/12/2018 at 1:51 PM, TSOWOATNK said:

I've used the girl filter to find a baby doll for my son that wanted a baby doll (it was this really cool doll that had a dinosaur pacifier).

Again, no reason this can't just be labeled a toy and marketed to both boys and girls. No reason for it to be a "girl" toy. Just label it the toy section. No reason to have "girl" toys and "boy" toys. 

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TSOWOATNK

You label it for boys versus girls so that you don't end up having EVERYTHING show up when you filter. If you don't separate by color (which would be extremely difficult to do with toys, let alone clothes) you separate by gender. Why should you take off that label of boy/girl in the name on inclusivity when there are absolutely no rules which say that no one is allowed to step a nosehair over some invisible gender divide line? 

If anyone grew up thinking that boys are only allowed to shop in the boys section, and girls are only allowed to show in the girls section it is because someone told them that is the case. I certainly never grew up believing that, my kids certainly don't believe that. 

I doubt you think that Victoria's Secret should leave off any gendered marketing. I also doubt you expect that the local Target put the jock straps next to the bras in the store so that on the exact same rack you have to pass a Large Jock strap to get to your bra size. Categories help you to find things easily. Eliminating everything gendered would be a shopping disaster in the age of Amazon and internet sales where any given category could have 20k results unless you can divide those results somehow. It would be alienating to the customer base to spend 30-45 minutes searching thru results to find what you think will work because someone thinks having a gendered search function is misogynistic.

Do you have a big problem with the fact that Goldieblox was specifically marketed to girls, and that if you search for Girl+STEM that they show up in the feed? The very point of Goldieblox is for there to be a STEM product specifically for girls. That is a very *good* thing in my view. My sons have played with Goldieblox because I've never said that they are just for girls. My daughter thinks Darth Vader is the greatest thing since sliced bread, she doesn't think his action figure is only for boys because I've never said anything approaching that. 

If the Sacred Feminine is to survive and thrive, the Sacred Masculine must too. If you tear apart the foundation of men to build up women, both groups are sinking lower into the ground. Sexual equality does not mean everyone is the same. I can breastfeed better than my husband (because yes, it is certainly biologically possible for people born men to produce milk because they are indeed mammals). His physiology means it is easier for him to chop wood than I can because he has a greater upper body strength. We are equal; we are absolutely not the same.

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Terrie
7 hours ago, TSOWOATNK said:

I also doubt you expect that the local Target put the jock straps next to the bras in the store so that on the exact same rack you have to pass a Large Jock strap to get to your bra size. 

This topic about toys and gender. If you're giving your kid a jock strap or a bra to play with, you got issues. You threw clothing in to try and prove you're right about an unrelated item.

 

7 hours ago, TSOWOATNK said:

If the Sacred Feminine is to survive and thrive, the Sacred Masculine must too

😆😆😆😆😆😆😆 Wow, pretentious much?

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formergothardite
12 hours ago, TSOWOATNK said:

You label it for boys versus girls so that you don't end up having EVERYTHING show up when you filter. If you don't separate by color (which would be extremely difficult to do with toys, let alone clothes) you separate by gender.

Still not making sense. Labeling all the shirts kids shirts, if I go to the store I can shop in one section instead of having to go to from section to section. If I am shopping on line I can just put in size and scroll through shirts instead of going to two different sections to search because my kids might like "girl" shirts and "boy" shirts. 

We aren't talking about adult items. We are talking about items specifically for children that can and will be used by both genders. 

12 hours ago, TSOWOATNK said:

I certainly never grew up believing that, my kids certainly don't believe that. 

I didn't raise my kids that way either, but I remember the time my daughter came home crying because she wore a shirt to school that she loved, but it came from the boys section. Kids made fun of her. Labeling all the clothing children's clothing would take away the stigma that a girl is wearing something only for boys or a boy is wearing something only for girls.

12 hours ago, TSOWOATNK said:

Do you have a big problem with the fact that Goldieblox was specifically marketed to girls, and that if you search for Girl+STEM that they show up in the feed? The very point of Goldieblox is for there to be a STEM product specifically for girls.

Actually I do have a problem with them. Goldieblox pushed the false idea that girls play differently than boys. And that girls like pastel colors, something that isn't true. No reason to create "girl" STEM products. My daughter enjoyed the regular STEM products just fine. She didn't need some pink stuff that markets the idea that girls need different  STEM toys. 

Here is an article that explains a bit more about the problems with Goldiblox.

http://msmagazine.com/blog/2013/11/20/goldieblox-ad-perpetuates-the-fallacy-of-the-pink/

Quote

he GoldieBlox ad manipulates us with a feminist story, but it buys into the same old system. It’s a “girls’” toy, playing right along with the established dichotomy in the toy store. Sure, I can buy it for my sons if I like the toy, but the message of the commercial is that they’ll be playing with a girls’ toy.

What we need, rather than more gendering, are construction toys marketed to both sexes. The toys can be red, green and blue, and also pink, yellow and teal. As my middle son likes to say, “Colors are for everyone.”

Someday, I want to open my Facebook feed and find everyone excited about a commercial for an engineering toy that features girls and boys building together, without comment upon their gender. That would be truly revolutionary

 

12 hours ago, TSOWOATNK said:

If the Sacred Feminine is to survive and thrive, the Sacred Masculine must too.

I'm not sure I buy into the whole "sacred feminine" idea or that it even needs to survive and thrive. Men and women are different and many of the stereotypes are things society has pushed, not something that is innate to our biology. And again, we are talking about children's clothing and toys. That has nothing to do with breastfeeding or chopping wood. 

 

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      HerNameIsBuffy

      Middle aged woman with mommy issues...but missing her today.
      She got so much wrong with me, but she had the best intentions and tried so hard. 
      She got so much right, too.  I forget that sometimes.  Sometimes I remember and dismiss it out of spite.  
      “They did the best they could with the tools they had.”  I forgot where I first heard that but I’ve carried it with me like a mantra since my parents passed.   They truly did.  Whatever else was missing, whatever I needed that they couldn’t give, the love was always there.  

      Always. 
      That’s something.
      My confidence in my own abilities.  Faith in my own power.  My own strength.  They gave me that, too.
      That’s also something.  
      They’re why I’m messed up, but they’re also why I’m okay.  
       
      Shit’s complicated.
      She died before I figured out how smart she really was.  Sad thing is I don’t think ever figured that out for herself.  
      Ignore me - just crying in my car waiting to pick up my son.  

       
       
      · 0 replies
    • CuttySark

      CuttySark

      The nice thing about posting about Jewish history is how quickly it flushes out the antisemites. 😘
      · 1 reply
    • choralcrusader8613

      choralcrusader8613

      I've been feeling a shitload of this for a while now about various types of Christians tbh.

      · 0 replies
    • HerNameIsBuffy

      HerNameIsBuffy

      It's Friday so yay!  But sweet Jesus I need it to be the end of the day already.  Crappy week and I'm so ready for it to be over.

      · 0 replies
    • nst

      nst

      I got vaccinated yesterday. In the am I got the email and I was  vaccinated 
      · 0 replies
    • PsyD2013

      PsyD2013

      Exhausted. I need a weekend off the grid.
       
      · 0 replies
    • 47of74

      47of74

      This will make the internetz explode. 
      · 1 reply
    • indianabones

      indianabones

      Making my fifth offer on a house tomorrow! I've gotten pretty attached to this one, too... fingers crossed!
      · 1 reply
    • CyborgKin

      CyborgKin

      I was today years old when I realised Harpo is Oprah backwards.
      · 1 reply
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