Below is a copy of an email I've just sent to the CEO of Morrisons, a Mr Dalton Philips, regarding a display I saw instore yesterday. Yes, yesterday - not 30 years ago as the sexist stereotyping suggests.
I noticed in my local store that above the toy aisle were the signs ‘Boys’ toys’ and ‘Girls’ toys’ (helpfully blue for boys, pink for girls, just in case anyone was in any doubt!), with the toys separated according to whomever is in charge of this sort of thing’s pre-conceived ideas of what girls and boys play with.
I’m really disappointed that in this day and age this sort of thing is still happening. These aren’t old signs – the entire store has just been revamped – so someone, somewhere in your company has clearly decided that this is appropriate.Gender stereotyping through toys is highly influential and persuasive. It invades children’s and parent’s choices, their actions and their expectations. It’s indicative of the (thankfully slowly changing) world around them where boys dressed in blue do Boy Things, while pink-clad princesses pursue Girl Pursuits. I’m sure that you wouldn’t claim only women care and nurture children, for example, yet all of your dolls were in the ‘Girl’ section; utterly reinforcing regressive stereotypes and damaging growing children’s sense of individuality by lumping them in groups based solely on gender.
There have been many recent campaigns against this sort of sexist stereotyping, which you may or may not be aware of:
- Dr Laura Nelson led a winning campaign against Hamleys for gender segregating toy signage within its stores: http://delilah-mj.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/campaign-success-hamleys-toyshop-scraps.html
- Swedish schoolchildren reported Toys’R’Us for outdated gender roles in their merchandising, resulting in a public reprimand for the companyhttp://www.thelocal.se/22504/20091006
You can see that corporations are taking this seriously and are slowly making the necessary changes needed. Please make Morrisons one of the progressive companies by stopping your stores’ reliance on this outdated and harmful method of visual merchandising which introduce, promote and reinforce sexism. Until such time as you do, I won’t be spending money on toys in any of your stores or affiliates. I’m sure one person’s boycott won’t even register on your radar but my conscience will be clear that I’m not supporting this behaviour. I do hope that the decision-makers at Morrisons choose not to continue propagating these destructive stereotypes.
- Pinkstinks (www.pinkstinks.co.uk) launched a campaign against the Early Learning Centre for gender stereotyping in stores which has led to some positive changes occurring.
I would appreciate your feedback on this matter.
In hindsight I wish I'd signed off 'love from a little boy who likes to breastfeed his dolly and whose favourite colour is purple, and a little girl who likes to wear blue pyjamas'. C'est la vie.
With thanks to various online peeps who gave me advice and support when drafting the letter, and to Dr Laura Nelson for blazing the trail with Hamleys.