Many parents, teens, and kids get excited about getting new items for their house. Whether it is, for parents some new furniture or for teens some new clothes and for kids maybe a new toy. When shopping at stores, most people will look up at the different aisle and see “girls toys” or “boys building blocks.” This blog post is about how a store, that we all love, decided to break down gender norms and get rid of the naming of certain aisle such as “boys and girls stuff” and create a neutral gender place. This store is Target. Target is popular amongst many individuals, and them breaking down gender norms is allowing others to see that we are moving into a new era of acceptance.
New and Improved Target:
Target is one of my favorite stores to go to whenever I need something. When I saw the news about Target eliminating gender specific titles on their aisle I was even more pleased with shopping at Target. Target also released a new line of bedding called Pillowfort. According to Sarah Epstein, a writer from TODAY, stated “Target made parents and customers happy when the store made its toy section gender-neutral in an effort to make the franchise more ‘gender inclusive.’ Now Target is taking its mission one step further.” The next step would be, as I said before, Pillowfort. This is a bedding line that launched February 21 and will have more pieces that are gender- neutral. There will of course be some pinks and blues, but the main focus is to provide more of a variety of options for kids. Kids will be able to choose their bedding and not understand the difference between having a pink bedspread or a blue one.
An example of Target’s new bedspreads called Pillowfort
This is an important step for Target because Target is breaking down the gender norms of girls always having to choose pink and boys always having to choose blue. With this line a girl could choose a bedspread that has a spaceship on it or a boy could choose a bedspread that has butterflies on it and no one will question whether that is for a boy or girl. Phil Wahba, a writer for Fortune, stated that the Pillowfort collections “prints and patterns are more open-ended: trees, arrows, astronauts, and bicycles. Products featuring images that are more traditionally gender- specific, such as basketballs, hearts, and alligators will have neutral colors such as white, black, and yellow.” Changing the way that Target sells their bedding and other toys will continue to help society break down gender-roles.
Another example of Target’s Pillowfort
Although, some individuals do not like that Target is doing this, the idea of a binary gender norm is fading. Society is moving past gender norms and accepting that it is okay for a boy to have a pink bedspread or a bedspread with light colors. According to WGN, Julie Guggemos, Target’s Vice President of design, said that Target is hoping to expand and create elimination of its gender-norms offerings. Julie Guggemos stated, “It was an aisle of pink, fairy princesses, ponies and flowers,” Guggemos said. “And for the boys it was rockets and dinosaurs. Well, you know what? Girls like rockets and basketball. And boys like ponies.” She also said, “Who are we to say what a child’s individual expression is? We really wanted to develop a collection that would be universal.” These are examples of how society is changing within the department stores. Having gender-neutral bedspreads creates a break in gender norms in our society today. When thinking about the good that Target is bringing to society by not having gender specific toys and other items it makes me want to continue to shop at this store. I know of young kids who would love to have a bedspread that is not considered “masculine” and have a bedspread with lighter colors, but they are afraid of what others might think. By Target creating this line they eliminate gender norms. Target is also giving children the option to be whoever he or she wants to be, regardless of his or her gender norm. These young kids are demanding something different and they do not want to fall into traditional binary gender norms of girls always having pink or boys always having blue. This allows kids to get something that they want and will be happy with. Before we know it the younger generations may not even know what a gender-norm is.
Target and our Gendered Lives:
When relating this topic back to our class, Gender in Communication, I think of chapter seven of Julia T Wood’s textbook “Gendered Lives” (2010). Wood discusses what it’s like to grow up masculine and feminine. Growing up, men under traditional gender roles are not supposed to act feminine, but they are supposed to be successful, be aggressive, be sexual, and be self-reliant. When growing up feminine women are supposed to be worried about their appearance, be sensitive and caring, do not have negative treatment towards others, and be a superwoman. Julia T. Wood suggests that these are the ways in which society wants men and women to act. Men are viewed in society to act strong and brave. They are to be the breadwinners for the family and are the ones that love being sexual. Whereas women are viewed in society as always having to be put together and be sensitive towards others. Women are also looked at having an easier life because we get our drinks paid for at bars, we get our meals paid for when going on dates, and being able to get out of tickets. Although in reality women are more prone to sexual assault, having job discrimination, and live in poverty. Even though these aspects of gender-norms do not seem like they would relate to the subject of Target changing their bedding style, it in fact has a big impact on this topic.
If young kids today are brought up not being taught “masculine and feminine” then these gender norms will diminish. A boy having a bedspread with light colors and different animals doesn’t mean the boy isn’t masculine, it just means that the young boy is interested in those types of things. If a young girl has a bedspread with an astronaut on it, that doesn’t mean that the girl isn’t feminine maybe she wants to just have a fun and unique design on her sheets. Our society today stressing the importance of imagination, but when it comes to a boy having an imagination of “girly things,” most people begin to question his masculinity, and if a girl is being creative when playing with different toys such as trucks or guns then her femininity is questioned. When I was younger I remember that I loved playing with toy cars. My childhood best friend and I would always play with these toy cars and I never thought anything was wrong by doing this. Although looking back I can now see that even at that young age I was breaking gender norms by being a girl and playing with toy cars.
Target is beginning to helping eliminate gender norms by creating gender-neutral bedspreads and removing labels off their aisle such as “boys bicycles.” By Target being the one of the first well-known companies to eliminate gender specific bedspreads and toys it is allowing other stores to follow. This has helped myself have more respect for Target that the CEO’s are seeing that even though the store is not gender specific the sales are not being affected. Target is still allowing young boys and girls have an imagination, but they are allowing them to do it without have a label of “girl or boy.” It is important for myself and others to be aware that Target is pushing these boundaries because this is what our society needs to do; we need to step away from always being so worried about gender and let people live their lives the way they want them to be lived.