I read a great piece this morning on the Target situation du jour from local writer and friend who explained with great compassion and insight why she and her family would still be patronizing the Bullseye, restroom politics notwithstanding. And she took care to explain her position in such a way that I found myself nodding along and agreeing and, well, see for yourself how well thought out and nuanced it is.
Not because I’m a backwards bigot who has never seen a cross-dresser.
And not because I want my children to live in a bubble of Stepford proportions, clad head to toe in Vineyard Vines and playing with their intentionally-curated pink Barbie houses and blue Matchbox cars. I happen to think that popular distinctions between the sexes are mostly BS, and mostly stereotypical. Playing with tools and cars does not a penis endow, nor does care for the garden or interest in the goings-on of a kitchen qualify you for membership in club uterus. But that’s a whole other post entirely.
No, I’m angry that the conversation has so completely shut out (for the most part) women’s, and particularly mother’s, concerns, and it seems to be more of the same, tired “business as usual, pretty little ladies need not bother themselves” from the mainstream media and on social media.
It strikes me as terribly dismissive – and ironic – that the legitimate concerns for the safety and privacy of roughly half the population (and Target’s bread and butter demographic) are being shoved aside to further a political agenda, on Target’s part, aimed to build their social capital as the unofficial Best Corporate Advocates for What is Currently Cool and Trending.
I think women, along with people in the trans community, are both being used in this equation.
Trans and gender-fluid individuals don’t want attention drawn to their plight the way it has been the past week, I have no doubt. The hatred and vitriol I’ve seen spewed across the internet on both sides of the issue has been breathtaking. And as someone who has written publicly about dog moms, I’ve seen it all, people.)
And on the other hand, concerned mothers are being marginalized and dismissed as hateful bigots because they don’t want creepy pretenders claiming sudden and terribly convenient gender-fluidity-for-the-sake-of-restroom-access using the toilet alongside themselves and their little, and not-so-little, girls.
How, precisely, a Target team member is to be expected to accurately vet the validity of a baseball-clad bro in gym shorts’ claim to a female mind and soul has yet to be convincingly explained to me. Because they didn’t think it through. They didn’t arrive at the logical conclusion that bad people will exploit a bad policy in order to do bad things.
This move by Target? It was never about better care for people who lay claim to transgenderism. It was about making a political statement and garnering valuable corporate activism capital in the eyes of an increasingly secular marketplace and, even more so, in the echo chamber of social media and the mainstream news cycle.
And the outrage from the other side of the aisle? It was never about marking out or marginalizing or demonizing the “others.” At least not from where I’m sitting, clutching my own proverbial pearls and wondering whether or not my little girl will be safe when she’s in the restroom one day, without me there standing guard outside the stall door.
But now it’s become both of these, because we’ve lost our damn collective minds. And it’s hardly possible to order a coffee without offending someone, bumping up against a competing worldview or accidentally uttering a trigger word.
Listen, even if we disagree 110% on matters of human sexuality, it is still possibly to have courtesy and mutual respect for one another.
And maybe, for Target and for every other retailer-cum-social engineer out there in the fray, a simpler and more authentically respectful solution to all parties involved would have been the addition of single-occupancy family/individual restroom and dressing room to their stores. (Because you know dressing rooms are coming next.)
But that wouldn’t have been nearly as splashy or, therefore, nearly as sexy.