Amazon Lets Toys Be Toys By Eliminating ‘Boy’ And ‘Girl’ Categories

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462170281You know it’s going to be a good day when the first thing you hear is about a giant, soulless mega-corporation … that did the right thing. Retail colossus Amazon has dropped the ‘Boy’ versus ‘Girl’ level in its toy department navigation menu–one small step for birthday shopping, one giant leap for child-kind. (That’s a decent pun if you speak German, by the way. You’re welcome.) Well … maybe not quite that much of a giant leap, but it’s a start, at least.

According to BoingBoing, where you can see a before-and-after shot of the toy-shopping taxonomy, ‘Boy Toys’ and ‘Girl Toys’ pages do still exist. They’re just disconnected from the available sorting hierarchies of age group, type of toy, brand, and the rest. You can still get to these pages via a search engine angle of attack (“Amazon + tired, sexist stereotypes of what kinds of toys boys or girls are allowed to play with” should do the trick, I imagine), and they are unfortunately still available in the navigation bar at the top of the page as well:

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 5.40.18 PM(Amazon)

Go ahead and hop over to Amazon to click on those Boy/Girl links if you want to be really depressed, by the way. Boys: superheroes! Building! Cars! Science! Girls: dolls! Makeup! Jewelry! PINK!!!

What Amazon has started to hit upon here, and what I really wish they’d close the deal on, is the not-so-radical notion that what type of toys you like has nothing to do with what gender you happen to be. Superheroes are for girls, too (despite the worst marketing efforts to the contrary lately), and boys are allowed to like dolls, art, and the colors pink and purple. Kids should be able to like what they like, and if breaking toys free of a rigid gender dichotomy is what makes a recalcitrant relative willing to buy a boy a doll for Christmas, or to order a Lego set for a little girl, then let’s get that done.

Toy marketing today is more heavily gendered than it was when we were growing up, and it’s hard to say how much of that pendulum-swing is push-back against the prevailing forces of social justice. Thirty-five years ago, Lego was for little girls to build something creative and amazing; now it’s for them to get beauty tips. Barbie used to be a doctor and an astronaut, and now she’s a dunce of a software programmer. We can do better than this. We have done better than this. I’d like to think there’s nowhere to go but up, but history has proved that’s not the case.

So if you have time today, drop a note to Amazon thanking them for the change, and asking them to finish the job. Drop a note to the other toy retailers you frequent, and mention Amazon’s shake-up. Big change often starts small, and it would be a terrible shame to waste this forward momentum–but not as much of a shame as it is to divide up toys between one gender or another.

(Image: ConstantinosZ / iStock / Getty)