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Posts tagged “controversy

Gendered Toys and the Target Tantrum

I’m probably going to regret posting this. Even so, here it is: I don’t understand the current hoopla surrounding Target stores.

Target recently announced that they’re going to stop gender-labeling certain departments of their stores—specifically Toys, Home and Entertainment. Instead of specifying which toys or bedding options are aimed at girls or boys, they’ll live in generic toy and bedding sections. Despite Target’s assurance that they’re not changing clothing departments, there is alarm and panic in some circles.

Why does it matter what I think? Well, for starters, this is something to which I’ve given a lot of thought over the years, not just as a knee-jerk reaction to the corporate announcement. Moreover, I’m seemingly in the minority on this when it comes to my demographic: the aforementioned “some circles.” I’m an unapologetic evangelical Christian and a conservative. I may lean a bit more towards the moderate end of the spectrum in some regards but I still identify as part of the political right. Assuming Trump isn’t the nominee—and there’s not a better 3rd-party candidate—I’ll likely default to voting Republican in the next presidential election.

While I’m sure there are other arguments to justify the Target outrage, these are the two I’ve heard most vehemently:
1. Franklin Graham (who I largely respect), among others, alleges that Target’s decision discredits God’s creation of two distinct genders, male and female.
2. Target’s move is said to be a slippery slope towards making everything (including clothing) gender-neutral, empowering an increasingly liberal world.

To the first, I genuinely fail to understand the direct correlation. Yes, I believe that God did create male and female for one another physically and emotionally. Beyond just the complementing anatomy, I believe He endowed each sex with certain qualities and characteristics. However, the fundamentals of said qualities and characteristics are obviously not distributed identically from person to person, regardless of their sex. It is those subtleties and differences that make each of us the “fearfully and wonderfully made” individuals who were knit together in our mothers’ wombs. [Or perhaps you believe that our lives are dictated by genetic coincidence, and that’s your prerogative.]

Which brings me to the decades I’ve had to consider this whole thing. I’m a girl, and I’ve got the plumbing, hormones and 32 years of living it to back me up. But I’m not exactly a girly-girl, and I never have been. I played with Barbie dolls, tinkered with fashion and swooned over boy bands, yet from my very earliest memories I know that I loved Superman, Ghosbusters and Star Wars. Those weren’t exactly marketed for girls in the ’80s…nor are they today.

There are girls who enjoy superheroes and trains and dinosaurs. For that matter, there are boys who like to play with stuffed animals and dolls rather than action figures and toy weapons. That doesn’t mean they will grow up to be transgendered or unable to fill traditional societal roles. And regardless of what they grow up to be, we as Christians are called to love. Period. You don’t have to agree with his or her lifestyle, but you must love him or her as a fellow human being created in God’s own image. I digress.

As an adult, it’s easy to justify buying toys or sheets from whichever store section you please. As a child, though, it can feel like running the gauntlet just to get a glimpse of your favorite characters on store shelves. No matter how much parents embrace and encourage a child’s enthusiasm, it can feel like you’ve crossed some invisible line that makes you inherently weird because you’re a little girl in the boys’ section (or vice versa). Even if you’re too young to read, you can see the signage that makes it impossibly clear that you’re out of your proverbial lane.

Now I’m not advocating we petition Star Wars to incorporate pink into their packaging (please, don’t use pink!) or demand that Barbie streamline to androgyny. They don’t even have to live side by side on the shelves—that wouldn’t make much sense from a merchandising standpoint anyway. But why as an overarching categorization do we have to label them ‘Boy Toys’ and ‘Girl Toys’?

There are plenty of stores that don’t differentiate, Kohl’s among them. They have a toy section. Plain and simple, TOYS. Know what else they have? Housewares and bedding that aren’t blatantly separated based on which sex “should” like the designs. I’ve not heard any complaints about/threats to boycott Kohl’s nor TJ Maxx/Marshalls, which merchandises in the same way. So why the outrage over Target; is the problem that they were overt in informing us about the changes? We petition for transparency then protest when we get it.

To the second point, it’s true that small moves and counter-moves can eventually culminate in big shifts. And maybe the end-game for places like Target is to ultimately shift culture in favor of more European, post-Christian norms and mores. I’m not one of their executives, but this feels like a somewhat paltry move if that’s the goal. More likely, I suspect they just see dollar signs and ebb with the tide of money.

I do think Christians people in general need to be cognizant of what’s going on with society. And, by all means, talk with your wallet and support the companies that you feel best represent your values.

For me personally, I see a lot of the other things happening in our world today that cause more distress than signage in a toy section or home goods. I sincerely don’t understand how this is the best battle to wage…let alone the right hill to die on.


“Way Out of Line”

Our society claims to crave authenticity. We plead with others—especially men—to share their raw emotions, to tell us what they’re feeling. We say we want people to be real…like, really real…

Unless it’s after an emotionally charged football game.

You’ve probably heard something about Sunday night’s NFC Championship game between the Seattle Seahawks* and the San Francisco 49ers. The game was everything one could wish for in a playoff battle of longstanding rivals; it was exciting, it was nerve-wracking, it was a good ol’ American football gridiron epic.

Seattle held a slim lead for the last several minutes of the game, but SF threatened to score for the upset. On what would be the last critical drive, SF quarterback Colin Kaepernick (I didn’t even have to look up how to spell that!) set his sights on the end zone and launched a pass that was tipped and recovered by Seattle. It was this play that ultimately sent the Seahawks packing for the ‘big game.’

Now imagine you’re the guy who was primarily responsible for setting up that game-clinching interception, one Mr. Richard Sherman. You’re nothing short of stoked. This was the biggest game of your career to this point, and that was a hugely pivotal moment. Pure adrenaline and primal passion are running high after four solid quarters of action and anxiety. Oh, and your triumph unfurled in the midst of a face-off against an opposing wide receiver with whom you have negative history (Michael Crabtree). Odds are you, like Sherman, would be ready to celebrate and express all of those pent-up emotions.

Before leaving the field, Sherman taunted his aforementioned opponent and gestured at the quarterback—not spiking the ball, not the traffic finger, not a slicing action across the neck, not pretending to fire a weapon but hands-around-the-neck implying “dude, you choked!” Crabtree shoved in retaliation, the penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct was assessed and that was that.

Until the infamous Erin Andrews interview just moments later. If you missed it or care to watch again, it’s here.

Was it borderline (or more) idiotic? Sure. A little (or more) tasteless? Yup. Do I condone it? Nah. Is Sherman, in fact, the best cornerback in the league? Probably not, but I don’t know.
What I do know is this whole kerfuffle has been overblown to ridiculous proportions.

I’m a day late and a dollar short writing about this, but I’ve grown tired of debating it on Facebook so I’m turning here instead. A few thoughts from yours truly, a girl who’s trying to look at it a bit more objectively…

This is the NFL. All of these men have trained to be highly competitive players; they cannot and will not foster much of a career without an ample dose of self-confidence to back their skills.

In subsequent interviews, including those with the Fox panel only minutes after his initial outburst, Sherman demonstrated a marked shift in poise. He was still excited and self-assured, but the vitriolic demeanor had subsided. Either he heeded advice to reel it in or he simply cooled from the proverbial heat of the moment.

“The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect blah blah blah”…we hear this legalese time and time again. And yet in this instance, people feel entitled to disregard common sense and attribute a lack of “class” to the entire Seahawks organization based solely on Sherman’s rant.
This is what bothers me most about the situation: It took the whole team to win the game, but many in the general public are discrediting that same team because of one player’s comments. Were we all judged based on brusque behavior by a colleague or other acquaintance, we’d all be a sorry lot indeed. And that’s not even accounting for the fact that every one of us has, at one point or another, said incendiary things…but we gloss over it because there’s not a microphone shoved in our face or a national audience.

I’ve been told that he needs to be held accountable, because he’s not being a good role model for the kids who were watching the game. “That kind of unsportsmanlike conduct should not be tolerated by any organization,” said one Facebook post. “He chose that profession, he needs to be responsible with it,” another agreed. Sherman belittled his opponent, but he didn’t curse or threaten violence. He had a platform to express his feelings, and he took full advantage of it. He was impassioned but not overtly hostile. Should he be fined or benched for this? Hardly.

Another post I saw said, “We wouldn’t want teachers behaving like that.” I fail to see how this is the least bit relevant. Last I checked, Richard Sherman is not a teacher. Moreover, I’m sure you can find numerous classrooms across the country on any given day where some misbehaving kids have pushed their teacher to his/her wit’s end and prompted him/her to voice angry comments towards the class. From what I hear, it sounds like it happens an awful lot with parents, too. And what of athletic coaches who routinely emote with ‘strongly worded’ delivery? Frankly, if this is what you’re worried about your child seeing on television and emulating, you probably need to be more in tune with what your child is watching; I’d bet my bottom dollar they observe far worse language and disrespect on a daily basis.

What happened after Sunday night’s NFC Championship game is a commentary on our culture of hypocrisy. That this incident overshadows the rest of what was a remarkably good game for both teams is utterly inconceivable to me. If you’re unhappy that the Seahawks won, or you prefer to cheer for the Broncos for whatever reason, that’s a-okay. Just don’t blame it on Richard Sherman. Unwise and in need of a muzzle he may be, but “way out of line” he was not.

*DISCLAIMER: The Chiefs are my home team, but the Seahawks are my home-away-from-home team. 12th dogShadow agrees.