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The Globe and Mail

Toy store eliminates gendered departments; firestorm ensues

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A London toy store has done away with the notion of separate boys' and girls' departments – and created a monster-truck-sized debate in the process.

After being accused of gender stereotyping, the Regent Street store Hamleys now divides its toys by interest and type, according to the Mirror.

Although the activist who sparked the debate is cheering, the store isn't patting itself on the back for being enlightened, reports the Mirror.

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"We are in the process of detailed planning for a complete refit of our store on Regent Street.

"As part of this planning, it was made clear to us from consultants and customer surveys that our store directional signage was confusing." Maybe they suspected much of the response would be negative.

Telegraph columnist Judith Woods, for one, imagined the reaction of harried parents who would feel sabotaged by the change: "'We do not want achingly PC signs,' they grieved. 'We want to spend money we haven't really got as quickly and efficiently as we can, for Christmas is hurtling towards us like a bespangled juggernaut of tinsel and expenditure, and the only rational response is to Buy More Stuff.

"'Besides which, a pink floor and a blue floor is the only way that fathers know how to shop. If it's all mixed up, we will descend into chaos, as the average daddy can't tell the difference between Peppa Pig and a Moshi Monster.'"

Her bottom line: "Most girls like pink. Most boys like blue. End of."

Blogger Anna North poked fun at this line of reasoning:

"And what if, transfixed with confusion and terror, a parent accidentally purchases a dinosaur for his or her little girl? ... Someone must stand up for the children of Britain before it's too late!"

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Do you think erasing the gender lines in toy stores would make it easier or harder to shop?

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