Pride Month-themed displays and merchandise from brands and retailers are nothing new, but this year Target seems to have taken things too far. The controversy started earlier this month when shoppers took to social media to call the big box store out on the “tuck-friendly” women’s bathing suits with “extra crotch” coverage and pro-LGBTQ+ children’s apparel that was prominently featured in the store.
At first, Target CEO Brian Cornell doubled down on the chain’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. But new reporting about the merchandise being pulled from the shelves or displays being relocated to less prominent parts of the stores seems to suggest that Target is feeling pressure.
On Wednesday’s show, Megyn was joined by Victor Davis Hanson, author of The Dying Citizen, to discuss the controversy and why corporations are getting themselves into these situations to begin with.
The Target Pride Month Controversy
Pride Month technically doesn’t start until June 1, but the front-of-store displays in Target have been up for a couple of weeks. “Target decided it would be a great idea… to make Pride Month gear that includes bathing suits that are ‘tuck friendly’ – that have extra material around the crotch, which no woman needs because we don’t have penises down south in Rio,” Megyn said. “We don’t need extra material and we don’t need tuck friendly, but the Target CEO is out there defending this.”
When asked about the company’s DE&I initiatives last week, Cornell seemed to take pride in the policies. “When we think about purpose at Target, it’s really about helping all the families, and that ‘all’ word is really important,” he said during an interview on Fortune’s Leadership Next podcast. “I think those are just good business decisions, and it’s the right thing for society, and it’s a great thing for our brand.”
But the company now appears to be changing its tune. According to a Fox News report, Target stores in more conservative southern states like Georgia and South Carolina have been quietly moving the Pride displays to more discreet areas of the floor. “They’ve had so many irate customers,” Megyn said. “I’m sure it includes a lot of parents going in there saying, ‘Get this out of here. I don’t want to look at it, I don’t want my kid to look at it, and I don’t want to shop here if you’re promoting it.’”
A source told Fox News there were “emergency” calls on “how to deal with team member safety” and minimize the displays – by taking down mannequins and removing signage – because of the backlash the merchandise had generated. It remains to be seen if stores in other parts of the country will follow suit.
The Rise of Woke Corporations
Just as Bud Light is still reeling from its partnership with trans activist Dylan Mulvaney and Miller Light caught flack for its ‘female brewers’ commercial, Target is learning the lesson of what happens when you go woke. “The question is why did they do these things? And I think part of it is the vast transformation in corporate culture,” Hanson noted.
As he explained, executives used to rise through the ranks of the companies they led, often starting in entry-level jobs. “But now what they’re doing is they’re bringing right out of the schools of business on the two coasts… very young people that are woke,” he said. “And these corporations are hiring them at very high levels and these people… they have no affinity or contact with middle America or working class America.”
He pointed to Bud Light’s vice president of marketing, Alissa Heinerscheid, who is currently on a leave of absence as a result of the Mulvaney fallout, as one such example. Heinerscheid is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Harvard Business School, and Hanson said she “had no experience in the actual working or the clientele of a corporation.”
This hiring tactic “almost ensures that these corporations are out of touch with anybody other than their own class and income,” Hanson explained. So, while they may be able to out-woke each other in the cozy confines of their corporate boardrooms, “they have no idea how they sound to normal people outside their small little groups,” he added.
Ultimately, these corporations – like the more progressive elements of the Democratic Party – are further alienating their base. “They’re getting very risky because they’re pushing a lot of these constituencies – African-American adult males, Latino groups, working class whites – who had voted for Biden as if their loyalty is guaranteed no matter what they do,” Hanson concluded. “They just keep getting more and more radical each iteration.”
You can check out the full interview with Hanson by tuning in to episode 557 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.