Monday, 11 May 2015

Amazon Scraps Gendered Categories For Toys

From now on, customers will no longer be able to shop for toys by separating them into those recommended 'for girls' and those 'for boys' - Amazon has officially gone gender-neutral and while I think it's a pretty sensible amendment, a few raging users of the internet did not appear to receive the news so well. 
let toys be toys

After word broke out about the change in the filter tool, many users were quick to complain that this update 'only adds to the difficulty of finding toys to buy online', with one even gasping in horror with a sudden realisation - 'You mean I now have to scroll through all the GIRLS toys?!' Well, I'd just like to question what is actually meant when people say a 'girl' or 'boy' toy, because quite frankly it is beyond me...

The suggestion that you can generalise the interests of children with nothing but the knowledge of the gender they were born with is absolutely nonsensical in my eyes. Can any parent honestly say that their daughter likes playing solely with dolls/cooking/drawing or that their son solely with cars/lego/superheroes (or vice-versa)? Children are unique human beings who have the ability to find joy from a range of different skills and activities, which often have zero relation to their gender, and I believe they should be given the choice to play with whatever appeals to them. To make assumptions such as 'girls like pink' or 'boys like blue' is highly insulting of a child's level of competence and does nothing but deprive them of widening their hobbies and skill-set. 

Of course, no parent is obliged to provide their children with every single type of toy there is but saying that it's difficult to find one just doesn't make sense. If you are picking a toy to give to your child purely because of the gender associated with it then I'm afraid I have to seriously question not only your parenting skills, but your ability to comprehend that the likes of a human being have far more depth to them than the simple distinction between XX and XY chromosomes. Amazon still give you the option to filter by a range of categories including age, brands, characters and genre - which is really how a parent decides what type of toy their child would like. If you know your child likes Avengers or Barbie or Peppa Pig then you can simply click and Amazon will show you all the toys featuring those characters. Whether your child enjoys arts & crafts or building & construction, Amazon gives you those options (and loads more) so that you can cater for those interests. 

Sounds pretty easy to me. So where does gender come into it? I'm afraid my answer will have to be that it doesn't. The assumption that girls and boys have inherently different interests is largely outdated and is thankfully being replaced with common-sense. If you're interested in finding out more about the increasing rise in retail outlets turning gender-netural, I'd recommend having a read of the Twitter account 'Let Toys Be Toys'.

Despite me thinking this update isn't such a bad thing, I do have to bring up the issue of whether it really is anything more than a hollow gesture to mollify angry left-wingers. Does simply deleting gendered listings really solve anything? Sexism still exists and nothing will change until the opinions of society and those raising children do. However, I do think it is a step in the right direction and a tiny jump into a more progressive world where gender is viewed as less of a strict binary opposition which has a direct effect on characteristics.

What do you think of Amazon's decision to go gender-neutral?

1 comment:

  1. You nailed this one right on the head! Love how eloquently you went about this post and I completely agree with you. It breaks my heart to see the boy I babysit reject the fairy wands he once loved, touting, "that's a girl's toy."


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