14 votes

California to enforce 'gender neutral' toy aisles in large stores

22 comments

  1. fredo
    Link
    While there may be downsides, honestly I can't think of any downside relevant enough to negate the potential benefits of something like that. Kids are not nearly as gendered as we think they are....

    While there may be downsides, honestly I can't think of any downside relevant enough to negate the potential benefits of something like that. Kids are not nearly as gendered as we think they are. They're just catching on to our expectations.

    14 votes
  2. fredo
    Link
    Extremely relevant to avoid pointless debate:

    Extremely relevant to avoid pointless debate:

    The new law, signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on Saturday, does not ban boys and girls sections in shops.

    But large stores must have also have a separate, gender-neutral section.

    14 votes
  3. [16]
    mtset
    Link

    Democrat Assemblyman Evan Low, one of the law's co-authors, has previously said the bill was inspired by his staff member's eight-year-old daughter, who asked her mother why she had to go to the boys section to find a certain toy.

    "The segregation of toys by a social construct of what is appropriate for which gender is the antithesis of modern thinking," said Mr Low in a statement.

    He said that categorising toys by gender had "led to the proliferation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics-geared toys" in boys sections, while those for girls were directed towards pursuits like "caring for a baby, fashion, and domestic life."

    10 votes
    1. [15]
      babypuncher
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I appreciate the sentiment, but exerting this level of control over private entities seems like it could backfire. This is the kind of change that will happen naturally in stores over the next...

      I appreciate the sentiment, but exerting this level of control over private entities seems like it could backfire. This is the kind of change that will happen naturally in stores over the next decade or so as public sentiment on gender continues to shift, without this kind of forceful and inevitably controversial intervention.

      I would much rather California liberals spend political capital on left-wing ideas that will have a more positive and lasting impact on people's lives, like healthcare access and fair labor laws. These are things that require legislative action, and will not come about naturally through societal change.

      12 votes
      1. [12]
        fredo
        Link Parent
        On the one hand I get what you're saying. On the other, waiting for society to change "organically" is often a bad deal. You may die waiting. Besides, I'm pretty sure stores are very regulated...

        On the one hand I get what you're saying. On the other, waiting for society to change "organically" is often a bad deal. You may die waiting.

        Besides, I'm pretty sure stores are very regulated already! There are even rules for how you should build your own freaking house. Why not that?

        15 votes
        1. [11]
          babypuncher
          Link Parent
          Houses and toys really aren't the same wheelhouse. Poor regulations on how houses were sold lead to the 2008 financial crisis. I think this kind of social change happens fairly rapidly, especially...

          Houses and toys really aren't the same wheelhouse. Poor regulations on how houses were sold lead to the 2008 financial crisis.

          I think this kind of social change happens fairly rapidly, especially these days. 20 years ago, gay marriage was still a pipe dream and nobody was talking about trans rights at all. This is a culture war that is being won handsomely by the younger generations.

          Codifying something like this in law, especially right now, costs a lot of political capital for relatively little gain. The law seems tailor-made to rile up conservatives and upset moderates who are still unsure about this whole non-binary gender thing, even though I do not believe that is its intent. Spending that capital on laws like this makes it more difficult to muster the political will to improve healthcare access or pass labor laws.

          6 votes
          1. [5]
            Seven
            Link Parent
            Just to this point, I think we should not cater to the opinions of bigots when the rights of minority groups are concerned.

            The law seems tailor-made to rile up conservatives and upset moderates who are still unsure about this whole non-binary gender thing

            Just to this point, I think we should not cater to the opinions of bigots when the rights of minority groups are concerned.

            11 votes
            1. [4]
              babypuncher
              Link Parent
              I agree, I'm just pointing out that controversy, even undeserved, incurs political penalty. The cost in political capitol for passing a law has little relation to its real world outcomes. I'm just...

              I agree, I'm just pointing out that controversy, even undeserved, incurs political penalty. The cost in political capitol for passing a law has little relation to its real world outcomes. I'm just a little frustrated that we pick a potentially expensive fight over something I think most shop owners in CA are already doing, when we could be spending that same capital on long-standing left wing wishlist items like healthcare.

              I guess we'll see how this plays out. Maybe it won't be a big deal. Living in Utah has made me very cynical about how people react to seemingly minor things California does.

              10 votes
              1. [2]
                NaraVara
                Link Parent
                I would argue "ungendering" stuff aimed at kids is actually a conservative, even maybe a reactionary position. Historically and cross-culturally it's pretty atypical to gender code stuff for kids...

                I would argue "ungendering" stuff aimed at kids is actually a conservative, even maybe a reactionary position. Historically and cross-culturally it's pretty atypical to gender code stuff for kids so young. In the past you used to just put everyone in the same frock. Here's baby Ernest Hemmingway.

                Gendering toys and clothes was an ingenious marketing ploy to make people buy more baby stuff instead of accepting hand-me-downs. I say we reject modernity and embrace tradition. Which is really a tongue-in-cheek way of me saying it's all in the messaging.

                6 votes
                1. babypuncher
                  Link Parent
                  I think these are some really good points

                  I think these are some really good points

              2. bkimmel
                Link Parent
                You're absolutely right. This is one of those things that "confirms the worst" things that conservatives tell their moderate friends California liberals want to do to control their lives. It's...

                You're absolutely right. This is one of those things that "confirms the worst" things that conservatives tell their moderate friends California liberals want to do to control their lives. It's hard to tell these people "no, no, no,... Actually we want you to have fair pay and health care" when this stuff comes across the wire. No one but the most coasty liberals thinks the government should tell people how to sell toys. Sorry, I know that's a tough pill to swallow, but it's really not that unreasonable. The right way to push this change (if you don't want to wait for society) is to organize consumers to shop at places that offer this. This misbegotten legislation is absolutely going to end up in Republican mailers and TV ads and it is a beautiful gift to them.

                3 votes
          2. spit-evil-olive-tips
            Link Parent
            current composition of the CA state legislature is 31 Democrats and 9 Republicans in the state Senate; 60 Democrats, 19 Republicans, and 1 Independent in the Assembly. votes on this bill were 29...

            costs a lot of political capital

            current composition of the CA state legislature is 31 Democrats and 9 Republicans in the state Senate; 60 Democrats, 19 Republicans, and 1 Independent in the Assembly.

            votes on this bill were 29 yes / 9 no / 2 not present in the Senate; 49 yes / 16 no / 14 not present in the Assembly.

            I think the amount of real-world political capital this cost was negligible.

            sure, it's fodder for the right-wing outrage machine, but if it wasn't this law, they'd find something else to feed the machine.

            The law seems tailor-made to rile up conservatives and upset moderates

            I think we should charitably assume that wasn't the goal of the law, even if it may be one of the side effects.

            Democrat Assemblyman Evan Low, one of the law's co-authors, has previously said the bill was inspired by his staff member's eight-year-old daughter, who asked her mother why she had to go to the boys section to find a certain toy.

            there's a lot of talk about the importance of STEM education for children. isn't it in the state's interest to say "you can't put toys with a STEM focus in a 'boys' section because we want as many kids as possible exposed to that sort of toy"?

            particularly when there's a documented history of exactly that happening?

            IET analysis of leading search engines and toy retailers’ websites found that of the Stem toys on offer, 31% were listed for boys compared with just 11% for girls.

            10 votes
          3. [3]
            mtset
            Link Parent
            Gender neutral != non-binary. That's not really what this is about. I think there are a lot of older feminists who will be super supportive of this, as reducing gender segregation of clothes and...

            Codifying something like this in law, especially right now, costs a lot of political capital for relatively little gain. The law seems tailor-made to rile up conservatives and upset moderates who are still unsure about this whole non-binary gender thing, even though I do not believe that is its intent.

            Gender neutral != non-binary. That's not really what this is about. I think there are a lot of older feminists who will be super supportive of this, as reducing gender segregation of clothes and toys, and by extension jobs and social positions, has been a major part of the feminist project for like six decades. This strikes me as a savvy political move, really, which will restore some support from moderate Dems in the state.

            7 votes
            1. [2]
              babypuncher
              Link Parent
              I may have misspoke, and I appologize. When I said "non-binary gender", I was referring to the fact that gender is not a binary construct, not specifically to people who identify as non-binary.

              I may have misspoke, and I appologize. When I said "non-binary gender", I was referring to the fact that gender is not a binary construct, not specifically to people who identify as non-binary.

              1 vote
              1. mtset
                Link Parent
                Ah, I see. I also don't really see how this is tackling that - they're not adding more genders, they're discarding gender entirely in certain situations. Like I said, a very classic feminist position.

                Ah, I see. I also don't really see how this is tackling that - they're not adding more genders, they're discarding gender entirely in certain situations. Like I said, a very classic feminist position.

                3 votes
          4. teaearlgraycold
            Link Parent
            Does it? I see this as a low-cost, moderate-gain effort.

            costs a lot of political capital for relatively little gain

            Does it? I see this as a low-cost, moderate-gain effort.

            6 votes
      2. [2]
        mtset
        Link Parent
        Yes, I agree with this. I think this will be very popular with both Zillennials and some old-school feminists but will likely not make a huge difference to most children.

        Yes, I agree with this. I think this will be very popular with both Zillennials and some old-school feminists but will likely not make a huge difference to most children.

        2 votes
        1. fredo
          Link Parent
          I don't think anyone expect this to save the world, but change doesn't happen over night. I choose to restrain my cynicism on that one. At the very least this opens a good precedent for further...

          I don't think anyone expect this to save the world, but change doesn't happen over night. I choose to restrain my cynicism on that one.

          At the very least this opens a good precedent for further legislative acts.

          6 votes
  4. patience_limited
    Link
    Can someone please ensure Amazon's algorithms get the memo about this? I shop locally in-person as much as possible, but not everyone has the luxury of avoiding online vendors. Shop online for a...

    Can someone please ensure Amazon's algorithms get the memo about this? I shop locally in-person as much as possible, but not everyone has the luxury of avoiding online vendors.

    Shop online for a stereotypically male- or female-gendered toy, and most sites will deluge you with suggestions for more of the same, only even pinker/frillier (feminine) or with more metal/lights/wires (masculine). Gifts for kids take patient adjustment of search terms if you want to exit this not-very-gentle nudging.

    5 votes
  5. [3]
    krg
    Link
    My concern is that I don't think I've ever done toy shopping at a major retailer that had defined gendered sections. Now, there are clearly toys that are gendered and they group 'em together.....

    My concern is that I don't think I've ever done toy shopping at a major retailer that had defined gendered sections. Now, there are clearly toys that are gendered and they group 'em together.. it's just that I don't think I've ever seen signage labeled "Boy Section" or "Girl Section" (though I may just have glossed over any such signage if it exists (I don't buy many children's toys these days...). Based on the text of the bill, even if that signage did exist... couldn't the retailers just take it down and declare the entire toy section gender-neutral? Or... will they get fined if they have too many Barbies/GI Joes in a single aisle, or something?

    Anyhow, I'm all for the spirit of the bill... just seems like a weird one when it comes to enforcement. Especially when the fine is a paltry $250 for a first time offense.

    1 vote
    1. [2]
      hamstergeddon
      Link Parent
      Mostly thinking of my local Walmart here, but i've spent some time in the toy section to grab Lego sets for myself. There may not be signage, but there is definitely an incredibly pink aisle full...

      Mostly thinking of my local Walmart here, but i've spent some time in the toy section to grab Lego sets for myself. There may not be signage, but there is definitely an incredibly pink aisle full of dolls and other stereotypical toys for girls and a more varied aisle full of action figures and other stereotypical toys for boys.

      Then there's a third aisle that's mostly Lego and other building-block stuff with a mix of "boy/girl themed sets, although those sets are usually grouped separate from each other, which is probably not the end of the world.

      7 votes
      1. krg
        Link Parent
        Right, and I noted that. But... without explicit signage from the retailer telling us how the retailer views how those toys ought to be segregated... isn't the segregation.. (queue "message"...

        Right, and I noted that. But... without explicit signage from the retailer telling us how the retailer views how those toys ought to be segregated... isn't the segregation.. (queue "message" voice) in our MINDS??

        So, then... (for example) do we deem any toy with a sufficient amount of purple/pink and glitter as a "girl" toy and any toy with a sufficient amount of, uh... muscles and guns?.. a "boy" toy? And if too many of those toys are grouped together, do they create de facto girl/boy sections regardless of the existence of signage? And, if that's the case... would something be deemed "gender neutral" only if it doesn't have pink+glitter and muscles+guns (or if it has an equal amount of pink+glitter/muscles+guns)?

        Ultimately, then, I suppose this legislation calls into question our own internal biases? Say I had a child that identified as a boy.. why the hell shouldn't he be able to want pink glittery stuff to his heart's content?? Which, is what I figure the spirit of this bill is (and I'm all for). But, if it wasn't already labeled as such before... he'd now be faced with the understanding that he'd find this pink+glittery stuff in the "girls" section, which also seems against the spirit of the bill, as the kid (and/or parent) now has to think about traditional gender roles and.. .well .. damn, I don't know where I'm going with this beyond the fact that I guess I think having to define which toys qualify as boy/girl/gender-neutral almost goes in the direction of reinforcing gender roles/stereotypes? That is, we now got three buckets labeled "boy", "girl", and "gender-neutral" and some human (probably?) is handed a toy and has to decide where to goes by running that toy through their internal biases to determine what category it belongs to and, well, then the reinforcement of gender-specific/non-specific toys becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, almost? Or, maybe I'm just overthinking this...

        I mean, obviously these underlying issues are larger than toys.. but I suppose this bill goes a way to starting some dialogue. I'm certainly curious how to the enforcement of this bill will play out.

        6 votes