Amazon's toy search is now gender-neutral. Here's why that matters.
As of this week, Amazon has officially gotten rid of gendered search categories under its Toys & Games section. According to Kottke, the change originally came to light when a friend of someone in Amazon’s taxonomy department tweeted the news — and it’s received over 1,000 retweets to date.
The change may seem like it’s not a huge deal, and to some may even seem like an inconvenience — but it’s actually a pretty rad decision on Amazon’s behalf. Kids should be able to play with whatever toys they want to play with, without feeling ashamed of being interested in something that isn’t traditionally marketed towards their gender. By getting rid of “boys” and “girls” categories, maybe we can begin to make that a possibility. This is not to say that girls can’t play with dolls and boys can’t play with action figures (both are awesome, obviously), but rather that both should feel like they’re allowed to play with either. As long as a kid is having fun and using their imagination, all toys should be fair game. (Pun intended.)
In the most ideal of scenarios, by expanding our conceptions of what it means when something is “for girls” or “for boys,” we might even begin to change our ideas of gender itself. Getting rid of gender labels on toys is obviously not going to solve everything, but it’s definitely a start — and we applaud Amazon for making the change.
That being said, the move was made with little fanfare and is essentially unnoticeable unless you’re looking out for it. Here’s what the search categories looked like before, versus how they look now.
With a little searching, the “boys” and “girls” categories do still exist on Amazon if you dig deeper, but getting rid of the separation at top-level is still a big step. Jezebel even made this very cool gif that shows if you try searching for toys with “him” or “her” attached to it, Amazon no longer fills it in as an option. (As you can see, “for boys” and “for girls” is still there, but hey. Baby steps.)
Perhaps the most heartening discovery we found was that Amazon’s new “STEM Toys & Games Store” was an option under both the girls and boys pages — which just goes to show that small changes could have a very big effect on these kids’ futures. Either way, here’s hoping that Amazon’s decision helps to shift the conversation when it comes to marketing toys, and that other brands and retailers follow suit.