Mixing it up – toywise

The big news this week is that Harrods, the famed London department store, opened its first gender-neutral toy store, designed by Shed Design. “The London department store commissioned the multi-million pound Toy Kingdom to be grouped by theme rather than gender, with new zones including an enchanted forest, a miniature toy world, a circus big top and a sweet shop.” (The sweet shop, by the way, is like a grocery store of sugar – somewhat insane.)








I don’t like the term “gender-neutral,” personally, because it sounds as though it would be preferable not to have a gender. But it’s a fact that we struggle to find the vocabulary we need to describe the real gender landscape. What it seems to mean in this case is that Hello Kitty gets to rub shoulders with giant dinosaurs, which I think it pretty nice. Also that the color scheme is much more focused on being fun and bright than on being pink and blue. (I have to wonder, though, what do they do with ALL the pink toys usually hurled at girls? Not carry them? Mix them in?

The Huffington Post says the store may not quite be there yet – for one thing, the male toy store employees wear blue shirts and the female employees wear pink (what?). Also, if you go to Harrods’ web site, you have to select “boys” or “girls” before you can get to a toy selection. But hey, it’s nice just to see signs that say “Legos” and “dolls” instead of “boys” and “girls.”

I’ve said for years that I wish clothes retailers would make a basics section of the kids’ department that just said “jeans,” “shorts,” or “t-shirts.” My daughter doesn’t really like low-rise jeans cut so tight her “tummy hurts,” and my son would rather not have to poach the girls’ department to find a pink t-shirt or a butterfly. Maybe the time’s coming . . . and thanks to Harrods, maybe we’ll be seeing more Halloween costumes like this one (which once again, both my son and daughter would love):

This entry was posted in Clothing, Gender complexity, pink, Princesses, Shopping, Social construction, The boy box, The space between, Toys and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Mixing it up – toywise

  1. AR says:

    I find this whole topic fascinating! I think it’s awesome that parents (like yourself) are beginning to realize that not every child fits neatly into a little box. I am female and as a girl was slightly tomboyish. I liked sports, hated “girly” clothes, and preferred playing with boys. In the 80s and 90s, my tomboyish ways were considered cool and cute, not some big statement on who I was in terms of gender or sexuality. Had this been reversed (a boy who liked “girly” things), the response from society around me would have been quite different.

    I dated boys in my adolescence and early 20s, but soon realized that I liked women too. I have been with a woman for 8 years. Ironically, I have found that being with a woman has made me MORE feminine. My partner and I embrace both stereotypical “female” things, as well as things that are generally considered more “masculine.” We acknowledge that we have sexual attractions to both men and women, but prefer being in a long-term relationship with a woman. We recognize that gender and sexuality are complicated and not something that can be neatly labeled or categorized (like everyone wants to do).

    Over time, I have grown to hate gender and sexuality labels. Why can’t I enjoy something for the sake of simply enjoying it? Why does everything I do have to turn into a game of male/female or femme/butch? Why can’t things just be what they are, without the gender labels? Why can’t I be attracted to who I’m attracted to without it having to be a huge statement about my sexuality and political orientation?

    Thanks to parents like yourself, I believe that we are headed in a direction where labels will fall by the wayside, and where people will be accepted simply for who they are. Human existence is DIVERSE and it’s impossible to categorize everything that is out there. We are who we are. You are doing an amazing thing for your child, something that is giving your child the true chance to turn out to be a wonderful, well-adjusted, secure adult. Thank you!!

  2. Great little article! I enjoyed your site and applaud your efforts to bring a little sanity to a world in need.

  3. YveeB says:

    I know at least 20 kids who would LOVE that costume 🙂

  4. pangirlbrit says:

    I so far like all your blog posts that I have read. I read that article that quoted something from your blog…dang…it was long, but it was really good. It gave me a lot of insight to possible things that I may have to deal with in the future…when I do have a child of my own. I thank you!

  5. pink says:

    CNN article on the Harrod’s new toy shop strategy and children “playing across gender lines”

  6. BBP says:

    I am so with you on the clothes issue. It is nearly impossible to find a boys t-shirt that is not related to sports / superheros / pirates / rock’n’roll. Or one in a bright color.

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