Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Shoes for the boys

It's a shame I have to write this. Yet another retailer has resorted to lazy gender stereotypes in order to shift more wares.

This time it's high street shoe shop, Clarks.

Signs in their shop windows read: 'Because boys test their shoes to destruction, so do we' and 'Because girls love comfort and style, we design both into our shoes'.

So boys wear their shoes out by running about and having fun in them, while girls just like to sit around being comfortable and looking pretty. I think a lot of mothers of girls would disagree with this. Girls are just as capable of wearing out their shoes as boys, and boys are just as likely to want their shoes to be comfortable and look good.

And of course, the boy sign was in the inevitable blue, and the girl one the usual pink. Don't get me started on pink.


I had a look at Clarks' website (there's no sign of these slogans there), and to their credit, both boys and girls are shown involved in an action activity and something a bit arty - boys on their bikes, and a boy playing a guitar, versus girls with a home-made cart, and one clutching a pile of schoolwork.

It looks like they have tried to get a good balance, and not go all pink princess. So it's a shame they did this.

Maybe they have done some research, and actually have some robust data that tells them that boys generally 'test their shoes to destruction' and girls prioritise 'comfort and style' in their footwear. If they do, then I'd really like to see it.

Online petition

The signs were pounced on by lawyer and parent Emma Dixon, who set up an online petition, asking Clarks to remove them.

There are a lot of online petitions, and you might wonder if they do any good, but this is the kind of simple issue that, by signing a petition, you can send a clear message to a retailer that you don't like what they are saying. And so I think there's a pretty good chance it will succeed. That would be another small victory for feminism, although it's a battle we shouldn't still have to be fighting.

Sign the petition asking Clarks to remove the signs here.

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