Targeting Gender

Now Target has gone ahead and done it, or at least some think Target has.

“Our teams are working across the store to identify areas where we can phase out gender-based signage to help strike a better balance. For example, in the kids’ Bedding area, signs will no longer feature suggestions for boys or girls, just kids. In the Toys aisles, we’ll also remove reference to gender, including the use of pink, blue, yellow or green paper on the back walls of our shelves. You’ll see these changes start to happen over the next few months.”

I happen to be reading and blogging about Carolyn Custis James’ new book, Malestrom, right now and she’s working hard to let the Bible — not culture — define what manhood is and what manliness is (by the way, the very common Greek and Latin terms for manliness do not appear in the NT — and one must wonder why). The issue for me is a Christocentric reordering of both manhood and womanhood, not a post-fall capitulation to power structures and roles.

The cross and resurrection redefine social orders, and this is the clear implication of the household regulations in Colossians and Ephesians. As Ben Witherington and others have observed, the superordinate person in the pairing is called to deny himself and the subordinate person is empowered by exercise of the will to live as is fitting “in the Lord.” Far from an endorsement of cultural patterns, and the Roman ones were pervasively hierarchical, the household regulations challenge the hierarchies for a new creation kind of kinship and fellowship.

Manhood and womanhood are now seen through the cross and resurrection, not through Genesis 3; through Genesis 1-2, not through the Fall. Genuine manhood is serving the other; genuine womanhood is serving the other.

Well, others seem to be basing their ideas on post Fall and cultural patterns in our history and culture.

Grant Castleberry, at the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood:

Over the weekend, Target became the next corporate powerafter Amazon, to rid themselves of all gender designations and labels for children’s toys and bedding.

In the corporate rush to not be the company behind the ever-moving gender eight ball, all it seems to take is a few social-media punches from disgruntled, progressive customers, and companies are swift to jump on the winding, zigzag gender line.

The problem is, the line keeps moving and twisting, and in this case, disappearing….

The Bible teaches that men are wired by God to protect and to pursue, so it is not surprising that they naturally like toys that by-and-large involve fighting, building, and racing. Women, on the other hand, are wired by God to nurture and to be pursued, so it is also not surprising that they largely enjoy playing with American Girl Dolls, Barbies, and Disney princess dresses.

[SMcK: Where does this come from? I suggest it comes from either Victorian culture or the culture of the 1950s. The woman of Song of Solomon is both pursuer and pursued. I could go on.]

Toy companies, of course, aren’t basing their marketing strategy on the Bible, but they do understand to a large degree God’s natural wiring of boys and girls, and they shape the production of their toys accordingly.

Franklin Graham has gone on record as well:

“In order to be gender-neutral, they won’t be separating things like toys and bedding into boys’ and girls’ sections. Oh really? And they won’t be using pink and blue colors to identify sexes. I think Target may be forgetting who has made their stores strong. It’s not gender-neutral people out there—it’s working American families, fathers and mothers with boys and girls they love. What’s next? Are they going to try to make people believe that pink or blue baby showers are politically incorrect? I have news for them and for everyone else—God created two different genders. Jesus said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female (Matthew 19:4). You can’t get any clearer than that. If you agree, share in the comments below—and let Target know what you think. Let them know that you are perfectly willing to shop where the genders God created are appreciated. (1-800-440-0680) Target is way off-target on this one! 
#‎OffTarget”

[Is pink and blue some kind of creation order? I contend these colors are stereotypes and not shaped by the cruciform existence of Christ. Which of our colors expressing servanthood for the sake of the other?]

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.