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The debate on gender equality is continuing to heat up and Target is doing their part to add to the conversation.

The retail giant recently announced plans begin removing gender-based labeling from several sections in their stores including bedding, toys and entertainment. The change will mainly affect children visiting the store but will no doubt end up impacting adult shoppers as well. According to a statement from Target, the decision to do away with gender-based labeling is in response to suggestions and consumer feedback.

As with most stores, Target says that the practice of using signs and labels to clearly identify each section in the store was done to make the shopping experience easier for customers. However, they say that they now realize gender-specific labeling is not necessary in many cases. Check out the statement in full below.

“As guests have pointed out, in some departments like toys, home or entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary. We heard you, and we agree. Right now, our teams are working across the store to identify areas where we can phase out gender-based signage to help strike a better balance.”

While this announcement from Target is certainly a win for gender equality, it is also possible that shoppers will find shopping more difficult without the labeling when they “need” it most. For example, it’s not uncommon to go into a store in search of a specific item(s) and customers will now need to get into the practice of depending solely on their own knowledge of the item to find its’ location.

It’s also worth noting that this development  comes on heels of the same-sex marriage legalization and in the midst of the transgender discussion beginning to heat up, so it’s difficult to tell whether the motive behind changes like these are really in support of women/girls being treated equally to men/boys, or whether the driving force behind it all is indirectly advocating for the LGBT community. Moreover, are the fights for these two causes (gender equality and LGBT rights) and communities equally important?

What are your thoughts on all of this, Clutchettes

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  • Me

    this makes sense. & walmart should follow suit. for instance, the exercise equipment… they put all the play-play “women’s” equipment in one area all dolled out in pinks & flowers, but the stuff i actually need (filtered water bottles, dumbbells heavier than 5 lbs, exercise gloves, etc) are in the men’s section. so it makes me feel like they’re silently calling me names by separating them. the toy section is another one when i’m shopping for the kids in my family, the vitamin section, & sometimes even the hygiene section is split up for no reason like having to go to a completely separat aisle for feminine was even though i pick up body wash and face wash in the same section… my lady part is still a part of my body, so why do i have to shop for it in secret?

    • Great point. Men and women should have equal access to a diverse amount of exercise equipment.

    • Trueblue

      I agree with most of what you said, but I don’t know about the feminine care products. I like to shop for those items in a separate aisle.

    • Me

      for me it’s inconvenient. i like to just get in & get out, but if i go to a store across town & don’t know the layout, i sometimes end up in a life size where’s waldo trying to find feminine care products. it gets really irritating when it’s easier to find adult diapers than a bottle of summer’s eve or a box of tampons (which has happened to me more than once).

    • Ang

      Stores don’t want you to get in and out. That’s the real reason they split products up in different aisles. If you have to walk around the store to look for things you are more likely to see something that’s not on your list and buy it. Their job is to get you to purchase as much as possible not to make your life easier.

    • Trueblue

      I plan on pretty much doing away with buying fem. products (or anything else I use regularly like dish soap) in person. I have been buying them online. Unless I run out, I probably won’t need to go to the store for them.

    • Me

      I’m an online shopper too. Between shopping while black, price gouging, and the time it takes to walk those confusing mega aisles, it’s just so much more pleasant to click and have things shipped.

    • Ang

      Exercise equipment and femine products are the two areas i like being separated. When I’m looking for pretty water bottles (yes, I do like the bottles with nice designs and flowers), a yoga mat, or the latest fitness DVD for women I like being able to find all that in one spot without looking through the products geared towards men. There’s so many products I think it makes sense for them to group them in a way that the majority of customers would anyway. Im assuming most men aren’t buying the pink gloves and prurple weights no matter the size. Of course, it may be inconvenient for some but it does make sense overall. I don’t think it’s an attempt to send a negative message to anyone. Most men and women are interested in different things majority of the times. I also like being able to buy my femine products separately, especially since they do take up both sides of an aislse anyway. You have to walk around so much of the store to find what you want anyway I guess they have to do something to make it a little easier.

    • Me

      the thing is women aren’t the only ones who use yoga mats. i don’t even do yoga, but i do use mats in my home to do push ups and to prevent the free weights from damaging my floors. & i know way more men (bm at that) who do yoga than women. wouldn’t they need yoga mats too? having a certain design/pattern on a product should be enough to distinguish male vs female oriented. if it’s fitness, it’s fitness. take what you need & ignore what you don’t, but what point is there in separating things by colors? there’s not a single piece of equipment in my home that’s pink, purple, pastel, or covered in flowers. the reason is 1. i’m not into that frilly stuff, & 2. buying “male” oriented colored items doesn’t intimidate me so i don’t shop by color, i shop by function/need.

      i wonder if they did a study on shopping patterns if they would find that they actually deter necessary purchases by designating things as “for men” & “for women”. i do most of my fitness shopping either in the men’s sections or at stand alone sporting goods stores like dick’s. i could only imagine what i’m missing in the women’s section b/c i often find the things that are catered to us are either terrible quality or insulting to our abilities. for instance weights usually only go up to a certain size in the women’s section, which means they either expect women to plateau in their strength training or not commit to a long term fitness routine. they don’t sell barbell plates at all there, which means they don’t expect women to do any real chest, shoulder, or back strengthening beyond working w/their body weight as resistence (you can only do so many squats w/o weights before your body becomes conditioned to the low resistence). the women’s gloves only come in one size fits all even though i have a larger than avg bone structure so my hands are actually a men’s medium/large, which means they think that all slender women are built the same (the same thing goes for any helmets/hats that you would buy from the women’s section — i wear a men’s xl in hats, but the women’s section leaves me no options for helmets, so no bike riding for me based on the women’s section). other athletic supports like back braces, knee braces, etc only exist in the men’s section, etc, etc, etc. if i was stuck w/shopping in the “women’s” section for my fitness needs, i would’ve given up on exercise a long time ago, but at the same time, a lot of my equipment is black, red, or blue b/c that seems to be the only colors men can see. i think keeping them separate encourages women to not be as committed & it encourages companies to be lazy about their marketing. i’d rather have a masculine workout room than a feminine closet full of stuff i don’t use, but there’s no reason i couldn’t have a feminine workout room full of real equipment if they made real equipment “for women”.
      sorry for the rant. the fitness section is one of my sore spots when it comes to shopping. it gets under my skin how prissy the marketing is w/no thought to actual functionality sometimes. i don’t care how pretty something is if it won’t help me get the shape i want.

    • Ang

      I get where you’re coming from. But, the goal of the manufacturers and stores is to make as much money as possible so they cater to the majority. of course that means the minority will be frustrated at times but we are all the minority in some area. You said it yourself, you hands are larger than “average.” Anyone who deviates from what’s average is going to have a hard time finding products. My feet are wider than average for women so I have a hard time finding shoes. But most women look at me like I’m crazy when I say can’t fit most shoes in the stores since my dress size is fairly average. I know that I’m usually limited in the brands I can buy. I don’t think manufacturers are telling me there’s something wrong with me. I don’t expect them to do anything that doesn’t generate revenue for them because that’s their job. My business goes to companies that cater to me, much like you go speciality fitness stores rather than the stores that sell everything under the kitchen sink like target. Now if Dick’s had the same marketing strategy as target and Walmart that would be a fail on their part.

    • Me

      your feet may be wider than average, but they don’t put your shoes in some wide foot section of the store separate from all the other shoes. the most they do is put an extra label on the box so you know if the shoe is made for you or not. i shouldn’t have to go to a special section for my hands & headgear b/c i don’t fall in the middle of society. or worse go to a separate section b/c i workout with a vagina instead of a penis. working out is a universal activity. a 10 lb dumbbell weighs exactly the same if it’s pink, black, or polka dotted. having multiple sections that carry the same products in different colors is ridiculous & serves no purpose.

    • Ang

      In my experience the different sections are a few feet apart down the same aisle or one aisle over (two tops). I guess I don’t see why its a big deal. Considering how many times I’ve bought products I didn’t intend to just because it was next to something else I wanted it makes sense to my that stores would do this. It works for the majority. If you are the type who want polka dotted hand weight your more likely to buy several polka dotted items if they are all together than you would if they were mixed with all the weights in an “weights aisle.” But even when I buy the frilly stuff I still circle the entire fitness area and I’ve bought pletntly of things that aren’t in the women’s section. I haven’t noticed any difference in quality. I often buy the same products as my brother. The only difference is his is black and mine is pink because that’s what I prefer. I enjoy working out hard and I enjoy pretty things. *shrugs*. But as a woman who is into fitness, I dont think the average woman wants barbel plates and larger weights. That doesnt mean we arent committed to long term fitness or limiting ourselves based on the fitness industry’s expectations. I think it comes down to averages. But, I get it. I wouldn’t be opposed to stores grouping certain things together. I just don’t know how feasible it is in all cases.

    • Me

      you may not use barbell plates, but lots of women do, including myself. i use a barbell for squats, i use different size weights for different arm exercises, i use resistence cords, & i have an over the door pull up bar. not a single one of those things were bought in a women’s section over the yrs.
      also, your experience might depend on the store you shop at. for instance at my target, the men’s sporting aisle is in the far back left corner of the store next to camping & outdoor stuff. the women’s exercise stuff is several aisles away towards the middle of the store b/t the toys & the stationary/gift wrapping. what sense does that make? the walmart near me is no better. men’s sporting goods is in the center far back b/t automotive and electronics & they have TONS of awesome stuff there like exercise bikes, kettle bells, etc. women’s is in the front near the $1 trinkets & seasonal decorations. it’s absolutely ridiculous. they treat women’s fitness like an after thought. but the fact is the women’s section never has everything i would need, so i have to go to both sections if i want **some** cute things to go w/the functional things. that or i have to just stick w/all the black, chrome, & blue stuff i find in the men’s section just to simplify my shopping experience.

    • Ang

      “you may not use barbell plates, but lots of women do, including myself. ”
      I know that. But “lots” isn’t the majority. My point is that stores will always cater to the majority because its what’s in their best interest. It may not be right, but I can’t blame them. You can’t please everyone.

      All the targets and walmarts in my area have an aisle with some things separeted by color for gender/preference, 1-2 aisles next to it with other fitness products that are for everyone (pedometers, heart rate monitors, etc), and a separate section across from it with bikes, treadmills and other equipment. The “equipment” is for everyone (don’t know what else it would be). All three of those sections are in the back of the store next to camping gear because they aren’t going to put equipment near the front. People likley buy fitness gear, camping supplies and printers from target a lot less than clothes, makeup, diapers and the stuff at the front of the store. Maybe you and the women you know with this frustration should complain to your local store. This woman got target to change their policy from a tweet. Who knows how they will respond to letters to the manager from their regular customers (especially if their set up is different from other stores).

    • Me

      maybe i should complain to them. for me i just don’t see the point in separating them. not just outta convenience but just logic. like when i go to the grocery store, i expect all the dairy products to be in the same section b/c they’re all dairy, but every once in a while i run into a store that puts the organic milk at the very end of the organic snacks & cereals aisle, which makes no sense b/c everything else i need is at the complete opposite end of the store in the refrigerated section. they could just as easily put all the organic milk on one shelf in the dairy fridge, but no, they treat it like it’s some other type of food group altogether.
      maybe my issue is more along the lines of basic organization skills. micro-categories unnerve me. so i don’t think i appreciate gender based sections b/c they’re just categories within categories of larger needs that are actually gender neutral, and wouldn’t change their function if they were separated by gender. it’s like sending your kids to school with a separate pencil box for every pencil in their backpacks. they’re all pencils. who needs the extra clutter by separating them all?

  • Me

    oh & for the record, i don’t see gender equality as the same as lgbt. for instance, it seems like gay dudes have been sprinting towards the civil rights finish line, meanwhile, lesbians still get stereotyped as play things for men’s arousal, “experimenters”, etc. whenever someone on tv talks about their gay bff, it’s usually always a gay dude infiltrating women’s spaces, but never the other way around. & unless a lesbian is butch, nobody takes her seriously anymore than they do a straight woman. i would hate for women’s issues to be seen as just an extension of lgbt issues, b/c it’s not. at the most it might be cross sectional for some women who happen to be gay, but if companies only start responding to gender bias b/c of the gay marriage thing, they would basically be saying they can only take us seriously when some guy is suffering with us.

  • LogicalLeopard

    Toys are one thing. Kids play with different kinds of toys, that aren’t always gender specific. A girl can play with trucks, and if a boy wants a Ken doll, who cares? Toys should really be labeled by type (Trucks, Action Figures, Dolls, Disney, etc) rather than gender. Bedding? *shrugs* That might be the same thing. If you had one big kids section, I can’t imagine you’d have to separate them much for people to be able to find what they’re looking for.
    But if this progresses to clothes, well, people will stop shopping there. I want to go in and find some pants for my boy, or a dress for my girl, and the big sign that says “Boys” or “Girls” points you in the right direction without having to walk all over the store.

    • I agree with you, especially on the clothing part. I go shopping at Target for things like uniform shirts and pants. Well the girls has this rounded collar and the boys triangular, would be such a hassel if I get the girls rounded shirt by mistake and have to return it. Just leave the Boys and Girls clothes alone. I want to walk into a boy section and get the right clothes and if I want to buy a gift for someone that’s having a girl I want to be able to buy her the right items like girl pants. If it’s something like Hello Kitty or Transformers ok I can tell the difference but when it’s something minor that I may miss I hate to have to return it because I bought the wrong shirt, heck even the girls pants are more bell bottom style than the boys, I need to know the difference before I buy them. I don’t have time to look for some Target associate to tell me if this shirt or pants were made for girls or boys.

      Toys, don’t care.

      Entertainment, don’t care.

      Clothing, I CARE.

    • LogicalLeopard

      Exactly! Clothing for boys and girls are cut differently, designed differently, and sized differently. Although, like I said, Target hasn’t gone that far as to change the signs on clothes yet, if they do, they’ll just confuse everyone and people will stop going. People need to find things that fit, and are suited for them. A girl is physically able to play with a GI Joe. A girl may not be physically able to fit into a pair of boy pants if she has curves emerging.

    • Excellent points Brother.

      Target made a voluntary decision. Once, folks look at the specifics of the policy, the decision made by Target is not as extreme as some made it out to be. Customers will ultimately make the decision to go there or not. My belief is that some toys and entertainment items obviously should be labeled based upon gender. Many boys and girls would love to have an I Pod, a yo yo, or various childhood toys. I have no problem with that (or eliminating gender based labeling on such items). I do disagree with eliminating gender based labeling of clothing. Dividing clothing based upon gender causes the customers to get items more easily and in a more organized fashion. I believe that eliminating labeling clothes based on gender goes too far and is a wrong action. Target did this to both reflect the signs of the time and to go out and follow feedback from their customers. So, like in many things in life, balance is a great solution.

    • AngryBlackMan

      No. Toys should be gender specific because children do not know the real difference in genders. That Ken doll looks like a fag, I wouldn’t want my son playing with it.

    • LogicalLeopard

      I’d ask what one looks like, but I don’t think there’s a point. If you don’t want your son playing with certain toys, you don’t need a gender specific sign to point you in the right direction. I’m pretty sure you can figure out the difference between a Ken doll and a GI Joe, and you don’t need a huge sign that says “Boys” or “Girls” to tell the difference.

  • AngryBlackMan

    The problem with this article is that it doesn’t really address the true problem in retail. Its a sick and twisted industry that needs to be shut down. And this move by target is to attract more freakish fags to buy their shyt that they mark up 200% that was made by a fuckin 12 year old in some 3rd world country for 1 dollar a day. Damn I wish people would wake the fuck up…….