|Gender neutrality, and the hand-wringing it, um, engenders
||[Jun. 11th, 2015|10:53 am]
letter from a little girl (and undoubtedly a lot of other complaints, but this is the one that gets the credit) who thought that she couldn't have the Darth Vader costume because it was labeled "for boys," Disney had stopped labeling its toys and costumes as "for boys" or "for girls" and is now labeling them "for kids." Many people are applauding this as a boon for gender neutrality.*Thanks to a |
Some on the right, however, see it as runaway political correctness and think it's stupid that parents can't just explain to their kids that just because something is labeled for one gender doesn't mean that they can't have it, too.
Some of these are the same people who, when told that just because Christmas is treated mostly as a secular holiday doesn't mean they can't explain to their kids that it's about Jesus, flip their shit and scream about the War on Christmas.
Look, I am of the opinion that political correctness can sometimes get out of hand, and that people are often way too sensitive about the weirdest crap. But considering what an uphill battle women still face in the marketplace, thinking that it's okay to tell girls that they just have to live with being marginalized from childhood is problematic.
In an era when we're supposed to be getting past these sorts of issues, the pinkening of girl's toys puts a lie to that claim. Toys are big business, and toy stores steer their pint-sized clientele to segregated aisles, marked by color. Not only do girls get dolls and appliances and makeup and fluffy stuffed animals, they don't even get a chance to compare trucks and lightsabers side by side with those toys and make a decision about which they want. Not unless they are willing to buck the stereotyping and march into those blue aisles.
This is not something immaterial. Study after study reveals ongoing teacher bias that discourages girls from pursuing math and science. Women still earn less than men and do the bulk of the unpaid labor. If life is a footrace, then girls start their race several yards further back on the field and have a lot more hurdles along their track than boys.
"For kids" may seem like a small thing, maybe even a silly thing. But it's one less hurdle, one less time that girls have to be told that they aren't actually included and must buck expectations in order to get what they want. Bucking the system is exhausting, and we all have only so much energy for it.
*And it's good for the boys who want that princess dress and can no longer be put off by parents pointing to the "for girls" label.)