Yet More #FirstWorldProblems…

Tesco has defended its decision to label a children’s chemistry set a boys’ toy, despite criticism from gender equality campaigners.

Oh. Those.

Campaigners from Let Toys Be Toys, an online pressure group that is calling on retailers not to limit children’s development by promoting separate “boys’” and “girls’” toys, said that Tesco’s labelling of its “Action Science Chemistry Set” was sexist.

A bunch of people with too much time on their hands and an overweening desire to run everyone’s life right down to the most minute detail.

A Tesco spokesman responded on Twitter: “Toy signage is currently based on research and how our customers tell us they like to shop in our stores” adding that “further research” would be commissioned later in the year to ensure “an up-to-date reflection of customers’ thinking”.

I hope that doesn’t mean they are giving in to this sort of fruitcake, but it would never surprise me if they were…

“I do wonder what that research shows. Perhaps you ask a group of customers about every toy, to assign gender-appropriateness to it. Surely you care more than that, though? Surely, you see it as your own role to allocate each of your toys to boys or girls? I bet your research simply asks “Do you want toys grouped by gender?” so you can selflessly keep the important responsibility of ensuring girls are kept away from that awful, boy-ridden science ‘thing’.

I take such consolation from knowing that, somewhere, Tesco employees are helping to perpetuate gender stereotypes for the rest of us. I bet it’s a crack team of sociologists and behavioural psychologists, and not just a few, bored administrators mindlessly allocating science to boys and anything pink or kitchen-related to girls.

Or perhaps I’m wrong and you’re just a simple-minded corporate behemoth without the institutional intelligence or social sensibilities to do what’s right in this situation and follow the lead of Boots, for example. But hey! I’m just a girl. What do I know?

Clearly, it means you ‘know’ that the very best thing for your profession us to be seen as a whiny, insecure control freak obsessed with other peoples’ lives.

And maybe we’ll indulge the scientists with their obsession with ‘social sensibilities’ when they get a wiggle on with inventing something useful…

13 comments for “Yet More #FirstWorldProblems…

  1. May 16, 2013 at 10:44 am

    This looks like chastising the simian while completely ignoring the organ-grinder; it’s the parents and families who are perpetuating the stereotypes and who would continue to do so even if every retailer adopted a gender-neutral stance tomorrow.

    I can’t imagine parents like the woman I overheard in Boots telling her partner that a baby activity centre was out of the question – ‘They’re for boys, stupid!’ – or the mother who decks her pre-teen daughters out in make-up and high heels are going to experience a Damascene revelation in the newly-unisex toy aisles of Tesco and buy little Shyanne a chemistry set.

    And, conversely, I once overheard what sounded like the last act of a Greek tragedy going on next door, complete with wailing chorus and stentorian bellows of rage; our neighbour had bought her 3-year-old son a toy tea set and his grandparents had just found out.

    But this presents an insurmountable obstacle for the do-gooder; if you are full of the obligatory respect for your fellow-person, what do you do when he or she persists in enforcing the abhorred gender stereotypes?

    The answer appears to be ignore it; everyone knows big corporations are guilty of.. er…well, something, so let’s put the blame on them instead.

    (PS. I like the string of tags, which has almost a poetic quality to it this week)

    • May 16, 2013 at 1:25 pm

      It isn’t the parents fault at all. Just like with food, booze and tobacco, people are too dumb to make their own choices.

      Parents are not picking gender specific toys, it’s the faceless corporations with their aggressive advertising that are forcing them to to pick these things against their will.

      Or something…

    • May 20, 2013 at 5:47 am

      Heh! I just noticed the tag string… 😉

  2. Johnnydub
    May 16, 2013 at 11:26 am

    To highlight the stupidity of this gender neutral bollocks let me recount you a story.

    A Swedish dad bought his little girl a fire engine toy – being a good gender neutral dad ( / lefty fruitcake – delete as per your point of view)

    A couple of hours after he gave her the toy he sticks his head in the door to see how she’s doing – and she has wrapped it it a blanket and is singing nursery rhymes to it (as if it were a doll)

    Yup – Nature (as it is) 1, Left batshittery 0

    • David A. Evans
      May 16, 2013 at 8:56 pm

      That’s just too funny.

    • May 20, 2013 at 5:48 am


  3. May 16, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    I had a bit of a discussion with the toy nutters. They said that they were pro choice, but thought that labels removed choice. Not much in the way of reply when I asked if they therefore believed every advert as they must feel like they have no choice with them either. Nor was there any answer when I dug into their point that they wanted to allow free choice by removing any signs by asking if they were looking for a job for life removing signs everywhere and anywhere when it would be better off to teach kids to ignore signs. That way kids could use their intelligence in any future situation rather than wait for a nannying organisation to do the job of removing unnecessary signs for them.

    • May 20, 2013 at 5:50 am

      Oh, they do what they do for other people – of course adverts don’t work on them. They’re too smart!

      It’s everyone else that’s in danger… 🙄

  4. Voice of Reason
    May 17, 2013 at 12:48 am

    “And maybe we’ll indulge the scientists with their obsession with ‘social sensibilities’ when they get a wiggle on with inventing something useful…”

    And yet the strongest criticism against science is often that they don’t take people into account. The conservative columnist, George Will, declared some years ago that science shopuld only discover what we want it to.

    • amfortas
      May 17, 2013 at 9:07 am

      When we talk of ‘scientists’ here, what we mean is ‘Zoschial Scientists’. There is no doubt in my mind that sheafs of research grant requests are at this moment being ‘evaluated’ by those august and busy bodies that dole out hundreds of thousands of coerced taxpayers’ dollars to mendicant mendacity-mongers in our University departments. PhDs are being planned around the wickedness of labels. Dozens of 18 year olds in their first year courses are being allocated to ‘teams’ which will stake out the naughty lingerie for 9 year olds aisles in stores, counting heads (sorry: collecting data) but forbidden to assign gender to those that purchace the thongs and bralettes and tiny leather suspenders for the sub-adult sized fishnet stockings. ‘Studies’ will condemn the manufacturers and criticise ‘parents’ but no responsibility will be assigned to mothers. That would be a sexist stereotype.

  5. richard
    May 18, 2013 at 9:55 am

    I bought a chemistry set for my son. Each and every chemical had a warning relating to cancer or teratogeny. Nevertheless, scientific knowledge requires risk so he put several chemicals into a test-tube and heated them on a little meths burner as supplied. Boiling chemicals soon emerged, propelled by steam, hissing and bubbling. My table was badly marked, and the remainder of the set was thrown away after our eyes had stopped streaming.
    There is no reason why girls can’t create havoc with substances allegedly too dangerous to throw in the bin, and then throw them in the bin.

    • May 20, 2013 at 5:50 am


  6. Twenty_Rothmans
    May 18, 2013 at 10:43 am


    It’s a great shame that the great research chemists of yesteryear did not do the same. We could have remained ignorant and safe. And as everyone knows, safety is more important than ignorance. That aside, you cannot buy a decent chemistry set any more.

    So is there any hope that these penis enviers might ever rail against the use of the term ‘testosterone’ in the sense of meaning violent, reckless and – er – blokeish – on the grounds that females also like to get down and dirty?

    As opposed to Sarah’s oestrogen-fuelled rant – “Sir, Sir, Isaac’s put my hair in the inkwell”

    These people are really so deluded that they do not understand that we men draw a distinction between those who can rebuild an engine or use a lathe and those who can’t. We are holders of penis, after all, we are all the same.

    Once a few more women theoretical physicists become prominent enough to change the way the world thinks, perhaps attitudes will change. But in the meantime, it seems that they are too busy writing bitchy missives to Tesco. And about themselves.

    Which is a very girly thing to do.

    I wonder if it has ever occurred to Sarah that despite being handed a screwdriver and a bag of spanners (although I suppose she was), men are the greatest chefs? Explain that and stay fashionable.

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