Friday, April 3, 2009

It all starts at Toys R Us

The Husband and I were in our local Toys R Us about a week ago looking for kite string. Oh Joy.

I find shopping at Toys R Us to be a soul-crushing experience at the best of times. It's funny, I don't remember the store being so gendered when I was growing up. I remember the toys themselves being gendered--the picture on the front of the Battle Ship box showed the dad and the brother playing the game while mom and daughter were shown behind them in the kitchen washing dishes. But I remember Toys R Us having a "girl" section where all the Barbie and My Little Pony stuff lived, a "boy" section with the robots, cars, etc., and then all the games, sporting equipment and that kind of stuff had their own home.

Not anymore, at least not where I live. The games and sports equipment are all in the "boy" section. Except for these:

Yes, that really is a pink Monopoly game. They also have pink Scrabble and, my hand to God, a pink Ouija Board. All marketed on a pink, flowery endcap with signage about sleepover night fun.

Seeing these sent me over the edge and the Husband had to get me out of Toys R Us as quickly as was humanly possible. Pink Ouija Boards? Seriously? You know who uses Ouija Boards? Twelve-year-old girls at sleepovers. The same ones who freak themselves out trying to hypnotize each other and playing "Bloody Mary" and "Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board." I swear to whatever deity is out there listening that the day twelve-year-old girls need their Ouija Boards to be pink is the day the world comes to an end.

Is there really an epidemic of girls not playing board games because they're not feminine enough? If so, I don't suppose it could possibly have anything to do with the fact that in the store, the regular board games are now surrounded by toys that are heavily gendered "male". This is where it starts, people--the social conditioning that hurts us all and makes us all incomplete. It starts with playhouses that teach kids that vacuuming and washing dishes are fun, but are pointedly marketed only at little girls by nature of their lovely pink plasticy goodness. It starts with Scrabble being buried between GI Joe and the Transformers on the opposite side of the store from Barbie. It starts with our children's entertainment.

It starts with Toys R Us.

ETA: I realize the pink games have been out for a while. But seeing them all together on an end cap next to the Barbies when the regular versions were all the way across the store with the Tonka Trucks was a huge slap in the face.

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