Woman who sparked Target’s gender-neutral stance receives death threats

Megan Boyanton August 14, 2015
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The woman who sent the breakthrough tweet to Target about their gender specific restraints has endured a string of hateful messages from conservative customers.

Ohio resident Abi Bechtel accidentally sparked a movement when she tagged Target in a Twitter post, condemning their distinctive girls and boys aisles.

Two months and thousands of retweets later, the retail corporation announced its new stance on gender-neutral Toys and Home sections.

The Internet’s response to the change was mixed – with many users enthusiastic and others outraged.

An overwhelming number directed their aggression with the change directly towards Mrs Bechtel, who has described the hatred on her Twitter account.

While she has the human decency to keep many of her attackers’ names private, the on-line bullies are less than courteous.

Writing for Time, Abi Bechtel – who is a creative non-fiction writer – described her experiences, saying: “If my Twitter mentions these days are any indication, a lot of men still feel that their masculinity is at risk of being contaminated just from having toys for boys shelved near toys for girls.

“Masculinity, it seems, is so fragile that proximity to pink can taint it.”

The mother of three children recalled the playground memory of one son, sporting glitter nail polish, being confronted by other boys about it.

After he explained that anyone can wear it, the friends accepted the clarification and moved on to another topic.

She continued in her article, saying: “We don’t have to teach our kids to live inside the narrow confines of gender stereotypes.

“This is why Target’s announcement that it’s removing gender identifiers from its toy and kids’ bedding department is a big deal.

“When toys aren’t color-coded pink or blue or labeled ‘boys” or ‘girls,” kids are freed up to play with what they want and pursue their own interests.

“No longer boxed into their half of the toy section, children of all genders can be nurturers and builders, scientific and creative, peaceful and rowdy, chaotic and organised, homekeeper and adventurer.”

On Twitter, the Episcopalian describes herself as a “alleged sexual libertine & conversational terrorist”.

Mrs Bechtel has handled the abuse with charming self-control and intelligent argument.

On her blog, entitled, “Faith, Feminism, and Fat Acceptance”, she wrote a response to Dr Albert Mohler, Jr, who criticised her parenting on his podcast.

His ranting blamed her immediate family life and her three sons’ lack of “willingness or eagerness to play with dolls” for her tweet to Target.

She responded to Dr Mohler, who presides over the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with an expressive counter-argument, which ends by saying: “You are not my people, Albert Mohler.

“My church family, the people who know me and who are part of my sons’ lives, the priest who leads us and the community that surrounds us — these are my people, and they are the only ones who are qualified to comment on my parenting or my faith.

“My sons, my partner, and I are known and loved there, and that is enough.

“And frankly, if I’m the kind of woman and mother and Christian who meets your disapproval?

“That’s a badge of honor.”

Related topics: Abi Bechtel, Discrimination, gender neutral, LGBT, LGBT rights, target, Trans, Transgender, Twitter, US

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