Marketing, Retail

“Sexist crap”: Target Australia slammed over kids toys promoting gender stereotypes

Dominic Powell /

Despite a checkered history of outrage over gender stereotype-enforcing children’s products, Australian discount department chain Target has been slammed again on social media over blue and pink “boy and girl’s” toys.

The toys in question are a pair of “My First Carry Along” plastic briefcases, one in pink and one in blue. The blue toy is offered as a “medical centre”, whereas the pink toy is a “beauty studio”.

Customers took to Twitter to call out the retail giant over stocking the toys, with the toys being called “an absolute crock” and “sexist crap”.

SmartCompany contacted Target Australia but did not receive a response prior to publication. However, the retailer responded to individual tweets from disgruntled customers, saying it was currently investigating the matter.

“Hi there, thanks for getting in touch! We want to encourage children to be whatever they aspire to be so are disappointed to hear this,” the company said in a tweet.

This is not the first time Target has been caught out for stocking products and promoting gender stereotypes in store, with the company coming under fire for stocking a girl’s ‘Batgirl’ t-shirt in late 2016.

However, shortly after discontinuing the shirt, the company received further backlash from customers who had promised the shirt to their children.

In the US, Target removed all gendered signage from its stores in 2015, saying it did not want customers to be “frustrated or limited” by how products are presented in-store.

However, previous backlash and discussion on the issue has not prevented the company striking the outrage chord again, which director at Good Things Marketing Helen Ahrens believes is “sadly” due to the sales supporting the products.

“When there’s a small amount of outrage but a large amount of profit, it gets tricky for companies and consumers,” Ahrens told SmartCompany.

“But this doesn’t mean Target shouldn’t do the right thing by working towards breaking down gender stereotypes. Don’t just pigeonhole people into boxes because it’s profitable.”

In a similar view, director at Marketing Angels Michelle Gamble told SmartCompany that categorising a target market in this way is how “99% of companies do it”, hence why these products keep being placed on shelves.

“Marketing and product development work that way — you put people in a certain box,” she says.

But Gamble says this doesn’t mean Target should continue to perpetuate these stereotypes and notes the company has done some good work in promoting diversity in its clothing catalogues.

“On a gender front they’re still putting people in boxes, so it’s an opportunity for Target to pave the way and embrace more diverse views,” she says.

“Equality is really high on the agenda right now, so the quicker a business embraces it, the more forward thinking and progressive they will appear.”

Ahrens agrees, saying with the current marriage equality postal survey underway, there’s never been a better time for businesses to take a stance on social issues such as gender equality.

“This year has been the year of taking a stance for commercial businesses, so in my mind, there’s no reason after this year why businesses can’t take a moral stance,” she says.

“A precedent has been set.”

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Dominic Powell

Dominic Powell is a journalist at StartupSmart and a tech and music geek. When he’s not writing, you can find him reading or browsing record shops.

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FROM AROUND THE WEB

  • wormseye

    Fake news. Nobody gives a rat’s rearend, actually.

  • Michael

    WTF indeed. Obviously the best way to get into the media when you have nothing worthwhile to contribute is to comment on worthless drivel.

  • Richard Rault

    It’s not good to be different anymore in case we offend someone who’s different. What a load of crap. Can you please write a story about puppy dogs and kittens?

  • Michael Ratner

    G-D help us. Don’t think we can count on that by the way.
    One minute we are confusing the hell out of our children with LGBT, then we are persecuting colours because Pink was always for girls and Blue for boys.
    These do-gooders have actually gone crazy. The headline says SEXIST CRAP…….
    Are you kidding me …. we are talking about toys here. Nearly time to remove the terms Little Boys and Little Girls from the vocabulary and label everything Kids Toys with a disclaimer that it becomes child cruelty to influence your own kids decisions.
    GET A FU#&ING LIFE.

    • Michael Ratner

      “Ahrens agrees, saying with the current marriage equality postal survey underway, there’s never been a better time for businesses to take a stance on social issues such as gender equality.”
      Gender Equality …. who cares. Anyone notice that males pee standing up. Let’s change it. There should be no difference.
      All new born’s should be made gender neutral. You know, knock off the fiddly bits.
      If Isis has their way both sexes should be walking around wearing bean bags. That’s gender neutral.
      Do I make a point ….. it’s laughable.

    • Michael Ratner

      “Ahrens agrees, saying with the current marriage equality postal survey underway, there’s never been a better time for businesses to take a stance on social issues such as gender equality.”
      Gender Equality …. who cares. Anyone notice that males pee standing up. Let’s change it. There should be no difference.
      All new born’s should be made gender neutral. You know, knock off the fiddly bits.
      If Isis has their way both sexes should be walking around wearing bean bags. That’s gender neutral.
      Do I make a point ….. it’s laughable.

  • Julie Quiney

    The sexist ones are the people who think a medical kit is a boy’s toy

  • Bruce Finch

    What if – like, blue & pink didn’t represent gender stereotypes but were just… colours? That, suredly, is a position we all agree we should arrive at
    What if pink just seemed a good colour to associate with beauty?
    And blue a colour to associate with doctors?
    No gender specificity required
    The ‘sexist crap’ comment suggests an inference that blue and pink hold established definitions in the eyes of the offended
    But, really, they’re just colours
    Yes, they have history – but, goodness – the world is full of countless instances where tiny indicators imply historical nasties – if we are ever going to move past them, we’ve got to… [insert intelligent response here]

  • Williamzo

    I am so outraged. If you are not as outraged as me you must be a bad person. I was actually hoping I could be a bit more outraged, but never mind – I still feel pretty good about how outraged I am.

  • Williamzo

    I am so outraged. If you are not as outraged as me you must be a bad person. I was actually hoping I could be a bit more outraged, but never mind – I still feel pretty good about how outraged I am.

  • helma Parkin

    What crap and this country is so sick. So pink is for a Girl and Blue for a Boy so PLEASE explain how they are going to deal with baby Items? If they want Gender Equility ….are boys going to dress like girls and girls dress like boys. There’s alway a few with problems.

  • Incubus

    The way this story was written its obvious low IQ morons write for a living too…. Author acts like TARGET are doing something disgustingly wrong…… YOU ARE A IDIOT!!!!!!!science proves there is NO gender equality, the internet has allowed the the voice of uneducated morons change how people do things. PLEASE JUST IGNORE THE IDIOTS. SELL WHAT YOU LIKE> PINK IF FOR GIRLS BLUE IS FOR ANYONE SIMPLE!!!!!!! stop trying to cause problems based on your mental illnesss because the rest of us are NORMAL and think there is NOTHING wrong with this. only those with mental illness will argue differently. men and women are exactly that. ffs lets just ignore science due to other peoples lack of intelligence. We raise girls to be girls and boys to be boys and if as a parent you do not and you are raising a boy to be a girl then you are a SICKO that has severe mental health issues and you should NOT BE ALLOWED TO HAVE CHILDERN!!!!!!!

  • Incubus

    The way this story was written its obvious low IQ morons write for a living too…. Author acts like TARGET are doing something disgustingly wrong…… YOU ARE A IDIOT!!!!!!!science proves there is NO gender equality, the internet has allowed the the voice of uneducated morons change how people do things. PLEASE JUST IGNORE THE IDIOTS. SELL WHAT YOU LIKE> PINK IF FOR GIRLS BLUE IS FOR ANYONE SIMPLE!!!!!!! stop trying to cause problems based on your mental illnesss because the rest of us are NORMAL and think there is NOTHING wrong with this. only those with mental illness will argue differently. men and women are exactly that. ffs lets just ignore science due to other peoples lack of intelligence. We raise girls to be girls and boys to be boys and if as a parent you do not and you are raising a boy to be a girl then you are a SICKO that has severe mental health issues and you should NOT BE ALLOWED TO HAVE CHILDERN!!!!!!!

  • Pete

    Target is OK, this story is ‘sexist crap’

  • Emily Watkins

    Oh god get a fucking life

  • Monster Mash

    Here is a shocking relevation if your kids like a certain toy, just buy that one! There is no force field or law saying you can’t buy a girl a truck or a boy a doll.

    Also I would say that the millions of dollars toy company’s put into marketing, they may understand what toys boys/girls want.

    Grow up!

  • Rohan Baker

    It’s a very sad state of affairs where a tweet of bile from a washed up irrelevant socialist justice warrior hack like Tracey Spicer, creates national outrage.

    We are approaching End of Days.

  • Hayley.Au

    I agree science has proven there is no gender equality, the fact that people keep trying is a good laugh. Seriously what next? First toy guns are too violent, then it turns out they create domestic violence offenders, if you let your little girl wear lipstick your sexualising them and now this crap. Seriously were the fuck do mothers find the time, out of all the problems in the world this is what you took the time to worry about?? So sick of winging do gooders and I’m sick of woman thinking there needs to be equality between themselves and men. I’m a mother myself to a 5 yr old boy, and I feel so sorry for him growing up in this world. To all the people who commented on this I want to say thank you. Because at least I now know there are some normal down to earth people in this world. Let the boys be boys and girls be girls. Stop forcing all these stereotypes down there throats. I like what old mate said, im Sick of woman demanding equality, let’s take away woman’s bathrooms how bout all us ladies piss in the troff with the men, or how bout we put men’s faces on all our make up products. It’s the same with domestic violence woman who swing like blokes cry and winged when they get hit like blokes, yet there is this massive out cry from woman who demand equality yet state that woman are not as strong as men therefore men shouldn’t hit woman. I’m not saying it’s right all I’m pointing to is the irony in everything that is said. It’s beyond being unconsciously biased. Who cares they are just colours the only reason it is an issue was because you were taught that it was an issue, break the cycle of passing on stereotypes, no one said you can’t be a doctor if your woman, or a beautician if your a man. Its 2017 do you know what my son was doing? he played mums and dad’s with his little cousin and her dolls which are pink by the way (not that he noticed or even cared) and after that both of them went and built a zombie shelter in the back yard, got all muddy and then shot the “zombie baby dolls”(which came to life apparently) with NERF guns. GIVE THEM TOYS AND LET THEM JUST BE KIDS!!!!!!!