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Tales from the Watercooler: A toy is a toy, be you girl or boy

M&S bowed to pressure to make sure that  its own-brand toys will be gender-neutral

If you can score two minutes to yourself today within the maelstrom of spending, spare a thought for the retailers whose shelves you have so gleefully cleared.

These organisations have given you many opportunities to ensure your sons and daughters don’t wake up on Christmas morning and think you a tight-fisted get for only giving them half a Curly-Wurly. (That would be a “Wurly”). Not only has M&S flung open its doors and permitted you to fill its tills, but it has also bowed to pressure to make sure that, next Christmas, its own-brand toys will be gender-neutral. This doesn’t refer to the oddly smooth crotches sported by Barbie and Action Man and the Bratz (actually, I fear the Bratz are probably horrifically accurate, anatomically), but to the fact that toy kitchens will no longer be marketed at girls and plastic assault rifles at boys.

So, would it bother you if your little princess asked for a Death Force Cougar hovertank with actual firing missiles and realistically muddled rules of engagement? What if your little prince assured you he would DIE ON THE SPOT if you didn’t get him the Kid Showbiz dressing table with working mirror and cotton bud dispenser? Personally, I grew up in a house full of women, so the opportunities to play soldiers were limited. The opportunities to play dress-up, thrillingly, were numerous.