i work at a children’s consignment store. we sell used children’s clothes, toys and equipment. we also carry a few product lines that we order new from dealers or manufacturers or whatevers.
like robeez shoes.
about half of the robeez shoes we sell are mainly pink, white and purple. these shoes feature tiaras, unicorns and flowers. the other half-ish is mainly blue, green and brown. these shoes feature grumpy bears, dogs and cars. the catalogue labels these shoes “girls” or “boys” and all these shoes sell veryvery well.
a water strider-sized number of the robeez shoes we sell are white, yellow, tan and grey. these shoes feature sheep and weather symbols. the catalogue labels these shoes “neutral”.
let me tell you something that may not surprise you at all; the “neutral” shoes don’t really sell. seriously. nobody buys them. it’s not that they aren’t colorful and imaginative; they’re awesome.
people often point out the “neutral” shoes and ask me if they’re for boys or for girls. i’ve noticed that if a parent with, say, a little boy, asks me if the “neutral” shoes are for boys or for girls, and i confess that the catalogue says they’re for everybody, the parent will look uncomfortable and will end up settling for something blue with cars on it.
sometimes, people even ask me if the shoes labeled “boys” are for girls— thinking, i suppose, that girls are allowed to wear green shoes with cute frogs on them. if i say that the shoes are labelled “boys” in the catalogue, they’ll buy something safe and pink for their little girl.
this is so ridiculous that i don’t even know where to start. in fact, a discussion of the reasons why i think this is uncool is probably enough material for an entire post. basically, though, i think kids should arrive at their own gender expression (and their own gender!) without being bullied.
i can’t exactly be the gender anarchist! (with the snazzy theme song and the horde of rainbow sidekicks) while i’m at work. i could get fired. also, if i go around telling people how to raise their kids, some tired-looking mom is gonna go all kung-fu on my ass and maim me terribly.
so what’s a genderpunk to do?! i’ll tell you what i’ve learned.
if somebody comes in looking for shoes for, say, a boy, i can just tell them that all our shoes are for boys. then that person will just buy whatever shoes seem the most fantastic to them. zounds!
this round goes to… the gender anarchist! huzzah!