A couple of weeks ago I raised a concern about a sign that hung in Nordstrom’s children’s department which read “Boys Stink.” The support from readers of this blog was fantastic, and I want to thank you all for lending your voice to this matter. I have to say, though, that the amazing response from readers was matched by an equally amazing response from Nordstrom. The Manager of the Scottsdale store removed her store’s signs, contacted the corporate office and PR departments of other stores featuring the same layout and design to encourage them to do the same, AND personally called all the folks that contacted her directly to say the signs were down and apologized for the poor judgment. In addition to the local Manager’s efforts, the Director of Visual Merchandising sent personal emails of the same tone to all of the people who contacted corporate about the signs.
In a phone conversation with a friend of mine, the Manager expressed gratitude for having this issue brought to her attention. She acknowledged that there really was nothing cute about a sign reading “Boys Stink” and regretted that it had gone up in the first place. And then she said something that I think we can all relate to,
“I saw it, but I didn’t really see it. You know?”
Yeah, I do know.
How many times have we recited nursery rhymes that imply the superiority of one sex over the other? How many times have we heard chants that suggest some battle between the sexes? How many times have we read logos on shirts or titles on books that involve the degradation of one sex by the other?
* In the words of my friend Melissa Wardy of Pigtail Pals and Ballcap Buddies, “You don’t raise girls up by breaking boys down.” Is there really a winner when the advancement of one means the decline of the other? The battle of the sexes is a zero-sum game, but since the beginning of time we’ve pitted one sex against the other while all evidence points to the fact that this is indeed not helpful to anyone.
Don’t we want kids to get along and respect each other? Isn’t that what we expect them to do as adults? The “boys versus girls” messaging is so prevalent, it is easy to see how many of us have become desensitized to it. Yet, if we open our eyes to it, it’s plain to see how it is eroding relationships between boys and girls/ men and women and we need to ask ourselves “Why?”
I never doubted that Nordstrom would remove the “Boys Stink” signs from their stores, but I think what happened was a bit more than a store responding to “offended” customers by taking down some plaques. I like to think we helped a big corporation to SEE something. And for this I thank you!