Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Thanks, gender politics! I've always wanted to trash a Wal-mart.

(Sofia with my Minecraft torch, waiting for the bus)

Two things about me

1) I hate Wal-mart.
2) I hate the idea that toys need to be gender-oriented.

You know: the idea that boys can't play with dolls and girls can't play with tools. Or, even worse, that it's okay for girls to play with tools, because, hey, girls can be anything (!), but that boys can't play with dolls, because, why would you want to do "girl stuff?"

It's wrong to say that kids can't play how they want to play. Outside of the sexual politics that we should leave completely out of the lives of children, it's also a major problem for both boys and girls. The boy problems are more than I wanna get into here. The girl problems are easier to talk about.

The simpler problem on the girl side of things is that when you call toys "boy/girl toys," you're saying that girls have certain roles especially for them, and that if they step outside of that, they are behaving like boys.

This is how you get income inequality, people. When you start at the moment they are born teaching children that certain roles are for boys, it is a logical conclusion to pay women less than men for the same job. Because you've taught that women do man things are outside of their lane, and it then follows that they women won't be as good as men at man things, and therefore it's okay to pay them less.

That's wrong.

The more difficult problem on the girls side of the toy problem is that even if you are proud of yourself for saying, "Hey, you can be a construction worker or a soldier or anything you want to, because you're just as good as boys," you're being hypocritical and completely contradicting yourself if you also say, "Tommy, I don't want you playing with that doll/kitchen/pink thing."

Because then you're saying that homemaking is only for girls. What you're saying is that of course everyone wants to do boy stuff, and should be able to do boy stuff, because BOY STUFF IS AWESOME. But girl stuff is lesser than. Girl stuff is weaker. Girl stuff is easier. Girl stuff is inferior.

I made the mistake of going into a Wal-mart yesterday. I was in a rush and it was the only option in the area for the three things I need to do. One of those things I needed to do was buy a cheap gift for Sofia. I thought of some little Minecraft action figures that don’t cost much and that she always asks for when we see them. SHE IS ALL ABOUT MINECRAFT. So is her cousin Kate, who is nine. So are millions of kids right now. I couldn’t find the toys, so I asked a Wal-mart employee. A woman. A woman who is statistically unlikely to make as much as her male counterparts, even in somewhere as awful as Wal-mart, where you would expect that every employee is treated equally horribly.

“They’re in the next aisle over. With the boy toys.”

As if Sofia and Kate are somehow outside of their roles as girls in wanting to build stuff. As if they’re not girls because they like a video game.

I’ve always wanted to trash a Wal-mart out of anger. This was a great chance. But I needed to go to work.