Here we are a few years later and Toys R Us have declared that they will not market toys by gender in the UK either:
Toys R Us today bowed to anti-sexist marketing demands and pledged to drop gender labelling for its products.
The retailer declared that it would be more “inclusive” when marketing toys for girls and boys, and said it would draw up plans in the long term to remove “explicit references” to gender in its store.
The move follows pressure from a group called Let Toys be Toys. A spokeswoman for the group gave a classic liberal justification for their demands:
Megan Perryman, Let Toys Be Toys campaigner, said: “Even in 2013, boys and girls are still growing up being told that certain toys are for them, while others are not. This is not only confusing but extremely limiting as it strongly shapes their ideas about who they are and who they can go on to become.”
This is liberal autonomy theory, the idea that we should be self-determining individuals and that therefore predetermined qualities like our sex are "limiting" and should be made not to matter.
It's a key difference in the outlook of liberals and traditionalists. A traditionalist would not describe sex distinctions as "limiting." For us being a man or a woman is a core aspect of identity, one that connects us to a larger good or life principle of masculinity or femininity that we then seek to fulfil in our own lives.
Nor is the liberal position as open-ended as Megan Perryman suggests. Her group, Let Toys be Toys, is a member of an international movement, The Brave Girls Movement. This movement encourages girls to cultivate the following qualities:
independence, ambition, adventurousness, courage, healthy risk-taking, strength, intellect, conflict resolution, self-knowledge, creativity, athleticism, leadership, critical thinking skills, generosity, activism, camaraderie and kindness.
It's a list that, with just a couple of exceptions, focuses on getting girls to adopt more traditionally masculine qualities. It's as if the group is suggesting that there is something wrong or inferior with girls being feminine.
Why would they have this focus? One way to see the answer is that feminists have assumed that men set up a patriarchy in order gain an unearned privilege over oppressed women. Therefore, the theory goes, the gold standard in life has been enjoyed by men - so women therefore have to chase after what men have and do.
The other way to see the answer is that liberals are not as neutral about the aims of life as they claim. Liberalism has evolved to treat careers as the ultimate end in life and therefore it is believed that women should be oriented to competing with men in the workplace. Hence the emphasis on ambition, risk-taking, leadership and so on.
Anyway, we trads will continue to celebrate the differences between men and women; perhaps one day it will be a selling point in promoting traditionalist communities.