Every so often a fairly silly meme takes off and makes the social media rounds—it’s invariably the silly ones, rarely the meaningful or thoughtful ones—and this week’s lucky winner is a tweet from tweeter and evolutionary biology professor Katie Hinde, who took it upon herself to do this:
Did I just take a bunch of NASA tank tops from the boys section & put them in the girls section? Yes. Yes I did. pic.twitter.com/hXHBbaog2W
— Katie Hinde (@Mammals_Suck) June 12, 2017
Yes, yes she did, and some time later some poor tired old Target retail associate came along, saw those tank tops on the rack, sighed, and moved them back to the boys’ section. And life went on, as it does.
There is a certain subset of feminism that believes, with no evidence or else with the stupidest evidence imaginable, that the only thing keeping more women out of Mars-bound rocket ships is—well, the placement of tank tops in Middle America retail stores. There has been an enormous drive in recent years to get more young women involved in science and technology, and I guess this is another shot fired across the bow of what Katie Hinde apparently believes is some sort of Grand Sexist Conspiracy to keep young women out of Merritt Island, I guess.
Consider the facts, however. If indeed, there were this massive untapped retail potential that Target were severely underutilizing—if they could reasonably expand their marketing strategies to effectively advertise all of their children’s lines to all of their child customers, regardless of sex—then surely they would do it. Put another way, who do you think knows better how to make Target customers buy more Target clothes: Target, or a college professor? Put yet another way: why does Target divide its clothing styles between boys and girls, and why does it make those styles different—NASA on one side, floral prints on the others?
Consider this possibility: on average, most young girls are not really all that interested in NASA stuff. They are, quite frankly, probably more interested in “girly” stuff like flowers and kittens and other cute things. Surely there are some girls who want to buy rocket-ship-themed summer clothing, and that’s fine—they’re welcome to it, as welcome as they are to fly those rocket ships one day. But there is a reason that massive cutthroat retailers, to a man, organize their clothing by sex: it’s because girls and boys, men and women, overwhelmingly want to purchase different things, and retailers want to cater to those desires. And that’s okay.