Feminist on John Lewis fiasco: ‘What on earth is going on?’

An avowed feminist has hit out at John Lewis for making its children’s clothing ‘gender neutral’.

In an article for the Mail Online, Jeanette Kupfermann criticised an “absurd” movement in society to end differences between the sexes.

She stressed that true equality does not involve erasing differences between boys and girls.


Earlier this week, John Lewis announced that it has done away with separate ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ sections in its stores and removed gender specific labels from its clothing line.

All John Lewis children’s clothing – including dresses and skirts – will now be labelled for both boys and girls.

Kupfermann wrote: “As an anthropologist, I know that, without exception, all studies show societies everywhere, at every point in history, differentiating the sexes. Clothing — and other artefacts — act as symbols of these differences, which is what the campaigners hate.


“They call this ‘stereotyping’, arguing that it holds back women, denies minorities their rights and recognition, and limits people.”

But Kupfermann argued that once you do away with these cultural differences, “the world not only loses its colour but its clarity and its ‘markers’”.

the world not only loses its colour but its clarity

Jeanette Kupfermann

Questioning what the world would look like if other groups campaigned to eliminate differences, she said: “Spectacle wearers could demand that everyone be forced to wear glasses; short people that only they can wear heels so that all height differences are equalised. The list is endless.”

Kupfermann added: “I’ve always considered myself a feminist. I’ve fought for equal opportunity and rights and to give women a voice and better education so they can make the fullest use of their potential. But believing in equality doesn’t mean that I believe men and women are the same.”


John Lewis’ decision provoked a strong reaction from shoppers, who said they would be taking their business elsewhere.

Writing on the John Lewis Facebook page, mum Debra Hemani expressed her frustration saying: “My son is a boy and I want to go to the boys’ department to look for his clothes. Why is that not OK? I think this change is ridiculous.”

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen commented: “I have no idea what would possess John Lewis to do this. Boys and girls labels and signs are informative. I think removing them could be very confusing for the customer.”

He added: “I cannot see many customers buying a dress for their six-year-old boy.”

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