French Retailer Système U Creates Controversy with A Progressive New Toy Catalog

Girls love their dolls and boys love their trucks, but who cares if it’s the other way around sometimes? In fact, isn't it kind of awesome when it's the other way around? The French apparently don't think so. Gender specific toys are still part of a heated debate in Europe because of a controversial catalog from Système U supermarket cooperative, per Time magazine.

Système U released a catalog featuring (brace yourself) boys playing with dolls in pink high chairs and girls playing with trucks. The horror. Even though I’m being sarcastic, conservatives in France found this catalog to be no laughing matter. According to Time, “Though many parents have welcomed the catalog, conservative critics have labeled it as brainwashing and 'male hatred,' while others have called for a boycott of the Système U supermarket cooperative responsible.”

Meanwhile, Système U claims that their catalog wasn’t part of an activist agenda; they were simply responding to customer demand. However, there are activist organizations dedicated to the very cause of making toys gender neutral, such as Let Toys Be Toys. The British organization’s website explains their mission statement:

Let Toys Be Toys is asking retailers to stop limiting children’s interests by promoting some toys as only suitable for girls, and others only for boys. Toys are for fun, for learning, for stoking imagination and encouraging creativity...Isn’t it time that shops stopped limiting our children’s imagination by telling them what they ought to play with?

Offering more toy options to both genders isn’t going to end masculinity as we know it (critics can calm down), but it will help validate non-conformity, provide children with more options, and hopefully eliminate cultural disapproval for girls who like Legos and boys who like teatime.

Santa has a hard enough time getting to every child on one night, let’s not make his job any more difficult by making him sort though ‘girl toys' and ‘boy toys'.

Image: Anthony Crider/Flickr