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Gender Bendery

This Is What A Gender Neutral Toy Store Looks Like (Thanks Harrods)

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(via Smart Planet, Dezeen, photos by Ed Reeve)

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  • Not A Gamer

    That other London establishment Hamleys needs to sit up and take notice!

  • Natasha Dythia

    I want to go shopping there! I love the big Fraggle that they had.

  • Shinobi

    I was reading some article about this lately talking about how consumers are having a hard time with gender neutral toy stores. (I think Hamley’s did this last year but quickly changed their format back because people were constantly asking for the boys/girls toys.)

    There is a whole component to this “boy toys” “girl toys” thing that is even harder to combat than merchandising. 

    People buying toys for these kids often have no idea what kinds of things those kids are interested in.  They are busy adults who just want to grab a toy, and the boy/girl toys make it easy for them to grab something that the kid is probably socially conditioned to at least not hate.   They don’t know if a kid likes barbie, or cars, or whatever, they just need to pick up some kind of junk for their kid’s classmate’s party.

    This might work at Harrods, but I doubt it will be coming to a Target near you any time soon.  People want things to be easy more than they want things to be good.

  • The Tank

    Sorry, but I won’t buy my son Hello Kitty however “gender neutral” she might be.

  • Sara Sakana

    EVERY toy store needs to sit up and take notice. I can’t believe we can put robots on Mars but we can’t get it through our heads that there is no such thing as a “girl’s toy” or a “boy’s toy.”

  • Sara Sakana

    Congratulations, you are part of the problem.

  • Anonymous

    Hello Kitty is a she?
    I thought “it” was just a disturbingly mouthless feline

  • Sara Sakana

    People buying toys for these kids often have no idea what kinds of things those kids are interested in.”

    Maybe they could try… I don’t know, asking the kid’s parents? And in the case of a class party with random distribution of gifts, maybe they could try not assuming all girls will “at least not hate” Barbies and all boys will “at least not hate” cars and shoot for the middle of the artificial toy-gender spectrum instead of the ends? Or better yet, if this is your kid’s class party, maybe consider asking the teacher to not divide up gifts by gender?

  • Vanna

    Wow, you must be such a great parent since you limit the things in this world that your child can love and enjoy!

  • Smoke Tetsu

    That store is very cute. For a second I was thinking it would be rather boring and generic in the stuff it carries but judging from the pics where I could actually see stuff it looks like I was wrong. In a way it kind of reminds me of those indie toy stores that carry designer vinyl, plush, etc.

    Also one thing my parents did growing up that I’m thankful for is allow me to be into whatever I wanted to be into. I was into both “boys” and “girls” stuff growing up. I would have transformers, thundercats, etc but also have Care Bears, Popples, etc. too. for example.

  • Joanna

    I really wish parents didn’t buy into the gender segregation thing.  It upset me that I had to explain to my 3 year old cousin that it was ok for her older brother to where pink sunglasses.

  • Genevieve Schiller

    How gender neutral can it be when there’s an entirely pink display, with a girl mannequin in a tutu, and a display with a boy mannequin and things like race cars, Lego and dinosaurs?

  • EW

    Out of interest, what do you think might happen if you did?

  • Carrie

    As far as I can see, those mannequins have no features, they’re generic shapes of children so I wouldn’t suggest either of them are boys or girls. They are just mannequins wearing clothes that fit in the theme of each display.

    The clothing they’re wearing is positioned where it is for merchandising reasons but there’s nothing to suggest a wee boy shouldn’t want a tutu and a bow in his hair or that a wee girl shouldn’t want the racing suit.
    I’d say the mannequins are gender neutral too.

  • Carrie

    To be fair, this might just be because The Tank hates Hello Kitty and not for any gender reasons… If he (I’m presuming ‘he’, which given the context may be ironic!) had a daughter, he also may not buy Hello Kitty for her. I know plenty of people who cannot bear the sight of Hello Kitty!

    That was what I took from the comment, anyway but I may be too generous in my giving the benefit of the doubt.

    Care to elaborate, The Tank?

  • Carrie

    I was thinking the same thing! My favourite Fraggle AND I want a flamingo. I’m not even sure if they’re for sale or just display but I still want one.

  • Sara Sakana

    There’s also the thing where unlike most toy stores, the tutu and racecar driver mannequin’d displays are right next to each other and not marked “GIRL TOYS HERE” and “BOY TOYS HERE.” Your friendly neighborhood Toys R Us would have them in separate aisles, sometimes on opposite ends of the store–and in some cases, labeled “Girls’ toys” and “Boys’ action toys.”

    “Gender-neutral” doesn’t mean they don’t sell Barbies and race cars. It just means they don’t buy into the bullshit idea that one is for girls and one is for boys. 

  • stevi ferg

    When I was growing up in the 80s, Hello Kitty wore red or blue overalls and had a red bow on one ear, and so was only vaguely feminine. These days, Hello Kitty seems to wear exclusively pink, and mostly dresses along with a bow or flower making it seem more girly.

  • Sarah

    Even if you son asks for some Hello Kitty things? Why not?

  • Anonymous

    This store looks amazing (but it is Harrods, so I would expect nothing less.) I think it’s awesome that it’s all jumbled together to create a neutral environment to flow through…alas, we must remember that children are only as free as their parents allow.

  • Anonymous

    Hello Kitty has many friends who wear blue/green/yellow…if it’s the color and the “female-ness” that you’re referring too.

  • Sarah

    The gender neutral book section made me really happy. Books are for everyone!

  • Anonymous

    Some people are paranoid about what might influence their children, but the way I look at it those kids going to need something to talk to their therapists about when they grow up or they’re just wasting money. Jean Sheppard even wrote a book out of that pink bunny suit he got as a present.

  • mr10inches

    Just look at the candy store Its a kids dream come true. And they forgot to put a Video Games Department

  • Natasha Dythia

    LOL yes ALLLLL! :)

  • Shinobi

    I agree but I just think that’s probably not realistic.  I don’t have kids, but when I WAS a kid I was always at somebody’s birthday party, especially when I was very young.  25 kids in a class, assuming you get invited to everybody’s thing at chuck-e-cheese that’s 25 times you have to find out what kinds of made-in-china crap this kid wants.  (That is if you remember far enough in advance and aren’t picking up a gift on the way to the party which I think I saw 10 people doing this Saturday at target.)

    I’m not saying people should take an age/gender short cut, I’m saying they probably will unless they are really committed to not doing it.  (In which case they would probably get them something gender neutral no matter how the store was organized.  I know I would. )

  • adnydam

    I’m just so delighted that they’re at least trying!  It may not be perfect, and it may not be able to change the attitudes of sexist parents, but bless them for every step they take in the right direction.  I can’t stand the whole “boy toy/girl toy.”  I have twins, a boy and a girl, and while they are each their own person with their own personality, I guarantee that throughout their lives there have always been far more things they enjoy in common than things that they divvy up purely based on their sex.

  • Katharine Tapley

    I went to London about 10 years ago and I spent a long time, just wandering around Harrods’ toy department, just grinning like a moron. It was awesome.

  • Carmen Sandiego

     LOL, I remember Popples. :D  My sisters and I had some Barbies (which always went to war and then were buried in the back yard), but we also had engineering and mechanical Lego sets.  I love that we didn’t just get traditional options.

  • Melissa Francis

    This idea is awsome. Let kids like whatever they want, without placing our steroetypes on them.

  • Anonymous

     It is a problem.

    I know when I went to sell some party favours that were tanks, planes etc. I did feel the need to put the keyword “boys”.

    That’s how people are searching. It made me wince a little, but it’s what people want.

  • theperfectnose

    Wow most of the articles linked in your ‘you might also like’ section are the most hideous of tabloid pap. Why would you think I’d like that? What happened to being all feminist and geeky?  I’ve un-liked you guys on Facebook for the same reason. And un-followed on Twitter.

  • Erin Kizorek

    It seems like all the toys are in the same “area” and they aren’t completely separated by being on different sides of the stores, but looking at the picture with the race car in it, it seems like it is still gendered. And very much so, by the look of it. The “pink” girly stuff isn’t mixed in with the “manly” racing. All of the other pictures shown appear to have toys that appeal to both boys and girls (little animals), therefore there’s no need to make a difference in those. But the toys that really matter are still in non gender neutral areas. So, by a “non-gendered” toy store, I’m assuming the author meant that boy and girl toys are now only separated by 5 feet instead of a whole store. 

  • Sara Sakana

    Unrealistic? Um, no. It really isn’t.

    “What does s/he like?”It’s a four-word question. It takes about two seconds to say out loud. And it’s absolutely realistic to ask it when your kid has been invited to a birthday party for another kid and is expected to bring a gift–you’re probably speaking to the parent of the birthday kid, how hard is it to drop that question into the conversation?

    “It’s too hard, weh” is not an excuse for being inconsiderate. 

  • Rizz Rustbolt

    But what about the Gender Obverse kids?

  • Annika Raaen

    Oooh yeah, i was like you, totally into everything.My parents, while not completely disallowing me to have “boys stuff,” didn’t like spending as much money on Transformers as they did on My Little Ponies, even though I was into both with the same amount of fervor.

    What the 6 year old me still resents the most is not getting the Star Wars stuff I desperately wanted. I would have gladly given up my Barbies for Star Wars figs and vehicles and play sets. Oh! And especially the plushy Ewoks. LOL

  • Alex T

    They have a GIANT Mickey. I need to go there.

  • Tessa Cavagnero

    Oh my goodness I want to live there.

  • Smoke Tetsu

    Yeah, and actually I didn’t get most of the stuff I wanted as a child but that didn’t stop me from being interested in and wanting it! Also I tended to always get the smaller stuff from a few things I was into. I actually didn’t get much star wars stuff either. Don’t know what happened there.. 

    I think the thing is my parents used to say no more often than yes whenever I would ask them for something. It was like a knee jerk response for them. “Mom.. can I?” “NO!”

    I think they tried to make up for it later in life with me and I ended up making up for it myself as well. ;)

  • Amber Stone

     The ones that are usually questionable are ads. You have to look underneath them. If they say “paid advertisement” then you’re getting off the site.

  • Herman Cillo

    Why? You’re still going to have parents and children running
    specifically for certain toys, and being gender neutral only serves to
    muddy the waters a bit.

    The boys are going to run for cars and such, and girls are going to run
    towards dolls and such as well. Parents and adults, as mentioned by
    other posters, are still going to look for boys and girls toys by gender
    and that is because:

    Boys and girls, as well as men and women ARE DIFFERENT FROM EACH OTHER, both physically and mentally.

    This “gender neutral” hooey is just trying to ignore/deny that. Men and
    women don’t have different roles because society and culture says so,
    society and culture have different gender roles because MEN AND WOMEN

  • Anonymous

    ahahahahah do you even have children, they play with whatever they want.

  • Anonymous

     he must be very gender neutral because you just referred to him as a she

  • Anonymous

     although I do see barbies convertible with the racing car toys!

  • jenna mcna

    it’s not as clear cut as that. For instance, pink has not always been culturally associated with girls, and was once considered an appropriate colour for boys.
    Fashions change, what is considered masculine and feminine change – for example, whether being feminine means being slim and wearing make up, or as in the Victorian times, having a slender waist and plump arms. Culture changes, and what it means to be a man or woman is different from age to age and country to country. 

  • Ashe

    Now THIS is a step in the right direction. 

    And. Um. I really want to go. I mean, REALLY want to go. This is the cutest, most quaint toy store I think I’ve ever seen. The darling architecture, shelving, layout, even the floor paneling, augh! 

  • Ashe

    You put it best. This doesn’t fix the problem, it’s just a step towards fixing the problem. This is going up against decades and decades of gender stereotyping, so it’ll take time. 

  • Eve-Marie Hughes

    Agreed.  Also, it would be so simple for the parents hosting the party to add “Snidely likes stuffies, dinosaurs and cooking” or “Penelope likes science, stuffies and soccer”.  One sentence – problem solved.  Especially if the parent of the invitee sits down with her child and says “ok, Snidely has invited you to a party and his Mom says he likes ___.  What do you think we should get him?”  Again, one sentence, this time with the advantage of involving your child in the decision about a gift.  Yeah, it’s a little more work than just stopping in at a store and asking for a boy or girl gift, but it’s a bit of work that can make the difference between convenience and good parenting. 

  • Laura

    I want to live in this toy store.

  • Anonymous

    Super neat! I really want to go!

  • theperfectnose

    I don’t see paid advertisement above the ‘true rape’ and ‘questionable nudity’ links and I don’t want to contribute ‘hits’ to a website that makes money off that sort of content. XS 

  • Cole

    Or what people think they’re supposed to want.

  • Cole

    Hell, I want to go

  • Paris Powers

    You obviously don’t have kids, and your obviously don’t understand the idea of conditioning. You should probably think before you write ignorant words. 

    And, FYI: I’m a woman. I loved Hot Wheels as a child and to this day, Star Wars is my favorite franchise. But oh, BOYS AND GIRLS ARE DIFFERENT, I forgot. I’ll just forget I like Star Wars, football, and “guy” things and stick to my lady gender roles and waste my life as a stay at home parent who wears only pink. 

  • Anonymous

    Ignoring all the glaring inaccuracies in your post, because others have answered them below, I’m just going to focus on your ‘the girls will run to the ‘girls’ stuff and the boys will run to the ‘boys’ stuff.

    Well, you’re wrong and I’m guessing you don’t have children of your own. There are a lot of little girls that love pink and dolls and will seek them out, but there are also a lot of girls that like cars and robots. Sometimes girls that like dolls also like robots. Visa versa with boys. Some boys like dolls, some boys like pink and some boys love transformers and cars.

    The point of a gender neutral toy store isn’t to deny little girls who love pink their dolls and sparkles, or two deny boys who like robots and cars their actions figures. The point is to stop saying ‘this is the BOYS section and this is the GIRLS section’.
    All toys are included in the shop and the children can choose for themselves what they would like to play with without ever saying ‘this is a girl’s only toy, or this is a boy’s only toy’.

    Ps: If you ever do have children, I sincerely hope you let them decide what they enjoy and don’t force your socially conditioned narrow-mindedness onto them.Heaven forbid you have a boy that loves to play with Barbies or a girl that can’t get enough of Transformers otherwise…

  • Anonymous

    I don’t see the problem with a little grouping. That’s just good sales displaying. Children that like the pink toys or racing toys will head there and probably spend more money. It also makes things easier to find. 

    The point is that the groupings are in small sections and the rounded shelving helps to add to that open and mixed feeling of the store. There’s no gender specific signage and the surrounding areas are gender neutral. So the boys are free to head for the Hello Kitty shelves if they wish and the girls are free to head for the cars if they wish.

    It might be worthwhile for you to note that it’s you that’s adding the ‘boys toys/girls toys’ labels to the pink toys and the racing toys, not the store.

  • Gabriel Field

    So, this is a good thing? Why? Unless you want to have a child who is more ambiguous about their own gender identity, this is not needed or posiitive.

  • Taiba Khan

    I’m a women. As a kid, I absolutely HATED getting pink things. I also started hating items associated with barbie. I wanted guns and toys that my boy cousins got. So, even better, ask the kid what she likes.

  • Harper Grey

    Because it breaks the idea that Barbies are exclusively for girls & Hot Wheels are exclusively for boys? Letting a boy play with dolls or a girl play with toy guns is not going to make them ambiguous about their own gender identity. Besides, gender interests are not quite as they’re portrayed in 1950s television. Some feminine girls like to play with GI Joe action figures, and some boyish boys want to play with a toy kitchen set. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    Unless you honestly think that kids should only be allowed to play with toys exclusively labelled for their gender so as to reinforce gender stereotypes, I fail to see how you could think Harrod’s initiative is not positive. And if that IS how you think, then you should probably catch up to the rest of us in the current century.

  • JW

    Ah, they do not say that anymore, you are correct. Thanks for pointing that out!

    BUT the ones that stay on-site do say “(The Mary Sue)” under them. And they are generally the first line of “suggested reading” links, the second being off-site links, probably paid placement or from an affiliated site owned by the same company.

    So, basically do what I was doing by instinct: ignore the bottom line of links and only click on the interesting ones that say they’re from the same site. :)

  • Chanel Diaz

    I wish ALL Toy Stores were like this. :D

  • Anonymous

    The homosexual lobby and the progressive. pro “fairness” lobby are hard at work.

    Social engeneering at its finest.