Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Poor Target

Photo: Christine Logel, The Canadian Press
Read the story in The Record here
Did you see this today? The photo shared and tagged around the world admonishing Target’s tactless disregard of gender neutrality and its’ shameless sexist exploitation of innocent babies across North America?  It’s a horrid day for consumerism. No longer are our retail outlets only responsible for draining our pocket books they have a new role; leaders of social context and gender coding. You had to know I would have an opinion, I always have an opinion, I’m seriously considering in fact that I should become an opinion columnist; you don’t have to be right you only have to have a passionate position—it’s a perfect fit really.

As for those cute little pjs--I’ll take one in pink, size 12 with a little extra give in the torso and one in black, 36 long. I hope they come in tall size; it’s really hard to find stuff to fit my 6’4” husband. My kids will all need one too. I’m up to five now, I could actually knock off my Christmas shopping with one stop to Target—sleepers for everyone! They are perfect!

Hold your fervor Associate Professor Aimee Morrison, if you’re reading. Let’s talk about where you jumped the track. I feel like I need to make an argument for the other side.

Damn straight I’m raising our daughters to only date superheroes. My husband and I have been married a long time, we know the trials and commitment it takes to raise a family and maintain a strong relationship while keeping the lights lit and the refrigerator filled. We need everybody, Superheroes, princesses, fire-breathing dragons, and dragon slayers. 

If we are, as we should be, raising our girls to be strong capable independent women should we not also be protecting them from the side effect of carrying the entire weight of the world squarely and solely on their own shoulders? Namely a partner whose greatest ambition in life is to beat Final Fantasy Four and submit the next winning suggestion in the ‘Lays Name the Flavour’ contest. I’m not sure if you are aware Aimee but this is becoming a disturbing norm. I’ve seen enough boy-men in my grown up life and their husband-wives to be perfectly fine with the notion of coaching my girls to do a little sexist fishing from the right bank to secure the type of future happiness they are hoping to achieve.  

I wouldn’t put it so bluntly but it’s a tool I use to remind myself to keep at the good fight of raising our son to be a Man of Steel when it would be so much easier to just let him eat Cheetos and play Minecraft all day. Hero is a good ambition to instil in a young man. I want him to be just like his Father, my husband and partner a definitive hero; a man of distinguished courage, devotion, and honor who puts the needs of others above his own (a dictionary definition not a personal one, although it fits perfectly). A man who compliments the strength of his partner doesn’t rely on it. If that’s sexist, I’m guilty.

All of nature is guilty; every partnership in the wild kingdom is built on complimentary roles. There is always a nurturer and always a provider. It just happens that biologically, human men are designed to be heroes. Why do we want to take that away from them? Let them be heroes! Teach them to be, encourage them to be, it is part of their biological foundation. Let women expect that a man should be a provider and a protector; let them settle for nothing less than a superhero they can rely and depend upon without skepticism, it frees us up to love more passionately and more patiently, to nurture guiltlessly . It’s a Ying-Yang. We are built to work together to form teams, partnerships that create passionate and productive families where children can grow and flourish and make positive impacts on the world they will inherit. I’m not making this up, Target didn’t make this up, nature built us this way to ensure we thrive as a species.  

Why can’t that be okay?

I’ve committed my entire adult life to raising and nurturing my family, everyone from my husband Mike to our dog with the slightly lower than average doggy IQ. Mike has been right alongside me the entire way, strong, dependable and fiercely protective of our life together. He is my bare-chested stallion (okay, my mother read Harlequin when I was a child. Should I have her arrested?).

The point is that we are partners, we compliment one another; strong individuals separately, but dynamically stronger together. A force actually that has created and protected an atmosphere of security, growth and exploration for three amazing children (I’m not going to be humble here, they are amazing; strong, compassionate, curious and happy). Together we keep the lights on and the cupboard full. The five individuals in our unit move together to support one another in our individual dreams and we take chances because there is no question that we belong in a safe place to land when things don’t go according to plan. Is this a bad thing? It’s our differences that make us stronger together. 

I’m so tired of the ‘Down with Disney’ bandwagon. I like fairy tales. I want heroes and princesses and love stories where the heroes swoop in and sweep people off their feet. I want there to be a place where these people can buy clothes! You go Target!

Now that I’ve gotten my gender bias rant out of the way, because let’s face it I really just needed an excuse to be opinionated, I would really like to point something out.

At Target, Aimee, you have the freedom to buy your clothes from any department you choose regardless of your gender. How awkward that you assumed so publicly that the “I only date Heroes” shirt was only for girls or that no one other than a boy could grow up to be a Man of Steel. But it's only your opinion right, it doesn't actually have to be...right.

Up with Disney!