comScore
  1. Mediaite
  2. Gossip Cop
  3. Geekosystem
  4. Styleite
  5. SportsGrid
  6. The Mary Sue
  7. The Maude
  8. The Braiser

What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Essay

Legos for Girls: A Reprise


 

It hasn’t exactly been quiet on the Lego front, lately, what with leaked pictures of Lord of the Rings sets, and the release of their DC Universe line. But it’s been pretty quiet on the Lego Friends front, except inside the adult Lego modeling community, who are finding some fabulous ways to turn a cafe kitchen, a disco, and a beauty salon into some sets that are a little more far and away more outside of the tiny gender box that Lego has placed their girls toys in.

Naturally, some are writing about how this advantage to the adult modeling community (that of new figurines, colors, and brick shapes to play around with) proves that everyone alarmed by the gender-specificity of Lego’s line was just being “silly,” and they obviously did not realize that you can make Legos into, like, anything! Lego asked girls what they wanted, and this was it. You can’t blame them for wanting to sell bricks.

I’d like to deconstruct this.

First, for what it’s worth, I’d like to say that impressive Lego creations are always impressive. The folks out there who collect the bricks to make them are dedicated people who craft work that delights me, a intense internet user, on an at-least-weekly basis. The idea that they’ve got more to work with from a company that’s notoriously cagey about how it releases its blocks, what colors it uses, and how and where it distributes sets, is great. And for the record, this plane is pretty awesome. If this model was in the spirit of Lego’s girls line, I would probably not have a problem with the line at all. But Lego isn’t encouraging young girls to build aeroplanes. It’s just a nice coincidence.

And now, the deconstruction.

Lego did some serious research to determine just what girls – 50% of the market – like. Their answer is Lego Friends.

Lego did research. This they assured even us, on Twitter, in response to our initial post. At least, until they inexplicably trailed off mid-multi-tweet-sentence. There’s no better response to this statement being used as an excuse for the Friends line than this Sociological Images post. I encourage everybody to read the whole thing, but here’s the salient bit:

Executives are going to great lengths to explain that the line is based on research, using anthropologists who spent time with girls in their homes. The frame gives the company an excuse for reproducing the same old gender stereotypes that we see throughout our culture.  They can shrug their shoulders and say, “Well, what are we to do? This is what girls want.”  In this way they are trying to make it clear that they shouldn’t be held accountable for the messages their products send…

The market research manager sums up Legos’ impression of what girls want this way: “The greatest concern for girls really was beauty.”

Sociological Images juxtaposed that sentence with this Lego ad, from 1981.

If you asked a little girl what she wanted for dinner if she could have anything, she might say marshmallows, but you probably wouldn’t give them to her. Beyond that problem, in this case, is that young girls have already been told what they want by mass media. Peggy Orenstein, author of books on the effect of mass media on girls, talks about this in Cinderella Ate My Daughter. From The Daily Beast:

Disney alone has 26,000 Disney princess items on the market today, part of a $4 billion-a-year franchise that is the fastest-growing brand the company has ever created. “What these companies will tell you is that girls want this, so they give it to them,” says Orenstein. But for girls who don’t want to play with pink princess toys, there’s virtually no other option…

…that marketing hasn’t told them is for boys instead. Orenstein’s book focuses mostly on the “princess” trend in marketing to girls, but her points are relevant to Lego’s take on femininity, which prominently includes stereotypically nurturing or body-conscious roles for girls to play.

The more mainstream media girls consume, the more they worry about being pretty and sexy. One study, from the University of Minnesota, found that just seeing advertisements from one to three minutes can have a negative impact on girls’ self-esteem.

Orenstein is the first to admit she’s not a perfect parent. But her advice to others is to pride yourself on saying no. “People have said to me, ‘Don’t you feel like you’re brainwashing your daughter because you’re not giving her the choice of what she consumes?’ ” Orenstein says. “But there’s not really a choice. Disney isn’t giving you a choice.”

Sociological Images also talks about the quiet fact that there is no “control group” for Lego’s research, only children already indoctrinated by mass media… and that Lego is at least partly complicit in the fact that few people consider Lego to be a toy for girls.

According to Business Week, Lego has spent most of the last decade focusing their products on boys.  They have deliberately designed products that they expect will appeal to boys and included boys almost exclusively in their marketing material. Today Legos are shelved in the boy aisle is most toy stores.

So, basically, what Lego has done over the last few decades is take a truly wonderful gender-neutral toy, infuse it with boyness, and tell every kid who’ll listen that the toy is not-for-girls.  Now, stuck with only 50% of the kid market, they’re going after girls by overcompensating. And, to top it all off, they’re shaking their heads and doing “science” to try to figure out girls, as if they’re some strange variant of human that regular humans just can’t get their head around.

Ah, but wait! All of this argument is supposed to be rendered moot by saying “Lego is in the business of selling bricks.

It is not.

This is a very familiar argument to those who like to point out that female superheroes are drawn to be viewed voyeuristically by (straight) male readers, while male heroes are not drawn for (straight) women’s voyeuristic gaze. “You can’t blame them! Sex sells!” comes the answer. Frankly, the concept that if a practice is turning a profit it must be morally unassailable is badly flawed. We criticize retail outlets constantly for immoral but economically efficient practices like substandard worker pay and contributing to environmental pollution, why is it less legitimate to criticize them for social issues as well? We can argue about which of these causes are most important to solve, but hopefully there’s no denying that stereotypes are harmful in the first place.

Lego Friends paints “girl things” only slightly more progressively than most Bratz sets. Lego Friends is tacitly separate from the rest of the considerably diverse Lego universe (town and cityspace,robotspiratestrainsVikingscastledinosaursundersea exploration, and wild west, not to mention licensed sets), and the mini-figures themselves are incompatible (in terms of the actual fastening joints of their hands and accessories). There are very few ways to turn this in a way that doesn’t implicitly say “Girls, you get caring for animals, baking cakes, putting on make up, singing on a stage, keeping house, working in a small inventor’s lab or playing in a treehouse. Boys, you cannot do any of those things, and we don’t think you should even want to. Boys, you can build a town, go to space, make robots, time travel, battle armies, and explore unknown areas of the Earth. Girls, you cannot do any of those things, and we don’t think you should even want to.”

This is gender stereotyping. It is the rigid compartmentalization of interests that any child should be able to freely explore into separate categories, and that is bad for children of both sexes. If it was any other kind of stereotyping, would the excuse “well, it sells units” be used?

TAGS: | | |


  • Victoria Eden

    I think I just felt my ovaries fist pump while screaming “Fuck yeah!”.

    As a girl who loves Legos, this whole debacle has just sickened me. I used to make, among other things, stables for my Barbie horses and cars for the Barbies to drive in. The fact that they weren’t pink never stopped me.

  • Kath

    It’s all very well to blame LEGO, and I agree they’re at fault in this, but there’s one group who didn’t seem to be particularly criticised in this article. Who’s that, you wonder? Well, how about the parents?

    It’s as much a fault of the parents as it is that of the marketing and “research” people that toys are segregated like they are. You, as a parent, don’t have to compromise on your beliefs and views to bring a child up. If you think LEGO is gender-neutral in its base form (which it is), then buy your child the non-themed sets – there’s plenty of them about. If you start breaking these toys up into boy/girl groups around your child, you’re instilling it in them that’s what these toys are. If your little girl wants a fire station, buy her one. If your son wants a princess doll for his Action Man to rescue, hit him and tell him women are more than capable of rescuing themselves, then buy him a fire station too.

    If parents buy this Lego is for Boys, Frilly Dresses are for Girls stuff, they’re not helping the problem. They’re giving into the consumer-driven culture that’s forced upon kids from a young age (due to TV, advert magazines, spoilt kids at school), and they’re contributing to these issues. And when you do the opposite, such as buy a girl a fire station, teach the child that it’s fine to like things that others say are for the other gender because they don’t know better (or are wilfully ignorant) and make it clear to them that they should be what they want to be.

    Kids toys are… damning things, I’d say. I think the whole market is disgusting, and it’s been like that since I was a kid 10-15 years ago (22, by the way). I remember being jealous of my not-quite-brother-in-law-sort-of because he had all the big LEGO sets, and I had some of the smaller ones. I remember wanting all the Bionicle figures, I remember everything like that. It’s about selling low quality wide market products at a high price and high replacement rate. It’s not about teaching kids, it’s not about letting them be creative and so on, it’s about… making a quick buck.

    I’m 22, I won’t be having kids ever although one day I may adopt (but who knows?), and I’m going to say this to parents – Don’t fall into the traps of consumerism for your kids. Don’t fall into the traps of segregation, stereotyping and blatant sexism. Remember that everything comes at a cost – the Disney Princesses are strong women, but at the cost of realism and independence (there’s always a man…), not to mention the semi-sexualised and idealised art, just as an example – and that your job as a parent is to prepare your kids for the world. Gender boundaries are collapsing each year, varied sexualities are becoming more prominent, people are growing up as themselves, not as society dictates. Don’t let your kids be bound by the constructs of Masculine and Feminine, don’t let them be bound by the idea that girls have their toys and their strengths and boys have their own. Let them be who they want to be, play with what they want to play with and grow up as themselves.

  • http://profiles.google.com/amberlovescomics Elizabeth-Amber Delaney

    I do understand the argument about some people preferring gender neutral toys and I don’t agree with it for my own personal choices in shopping for family; I still can’t see what’s wrong with Lego Friends. They’re cute little figures! Is the complaint about marketing because I don’t see that there’s a case for shady research practices either? The have their own documented studies by their experts. If I were selling a product and wanted to expand, I’d set out to quiz the potential buyers/recipients. I think people are complaining for the sake of trying to topple a business giant. LEGO isn’t saying it’s doing away with any toys already offered. I would be completely on board if that were the case (ie, “let’s cancel our current bricks to only produce pink and purple ones.”) There is still a choice. Buy the standard bricks or buy the Friends. Why are people trying to eliminate the choice?

  • Kath

    The problem is that LEGO haven’t addressed the problem. Go back twenty, thirty years and their marketing was pretty much “these toys are for girls and boys alike”, but in that time frame they’ve swung around and focused heavily on boys, with less than 1/3 (that’s my guestimate formed by looking at the M:F ratio in the recent Minifigures line) of minifigures across all ranges representing girls, and the girl-centric lines (of which there are two, I believe, the new Friends and the shambling zombie that is Belville) are incredibly “girly” in that they’re bright pastel colours and revolve around horsies and pwetty ponies and lil’ kitties and stuff like that. Yeah, one or two of the Friends line seem pretty positive (I think one is a scientist) but largely it’s all stereotyping and pink-washing.

    What’s wrong with LEGO is that they’ve forgotten what they are, forgotten what made them popular. They’ve moved into this Boy’s Zone idea of selling and it’s bitten them in the backside. Even their basic block sets have a few girl versions which are, as you guessed, pink.

    And that’s not counting their love of limited-use pieces. The creativity that LEGO was praised for died years ago.

  • Anonymous

    Two days ago I was watching TV with two male friends (one of whom is not very sensitive to sexism or the idea of checking his privilege) and a commercial for Lego Friends came up. Immediately the less sensitive one very loudly groaned ‘Why do they have to ruin legos?!’

    I tore into him so much about that comment and told him that the toy line was the result of sexism and gender stereotyping. So really it was people who think like him that ‘ruined legos’ (he assumed that women like me were the cause). I then explained to him (and our other friend who was like ‘Oh great, they’re arguing again’) that girls like regular legos and will play with them but a lot of people think they won’t or tell them not to.
    I really wish that this article had existed two days ago. I would have pulled it up and forced him to read it.

  • Anonymous

    Yes. But creating these toys wasn’t really about making choices (besides, these toys look like Polly Pocket rip-offs). It was about ‘girls clearly don’t like playing with legos so we should make legos that are for girls’. If the goal had been to make legos for girls who otherwise wouldn’t like legos I would be more okay with this but it was about all girls because no girls like legos.

  • http://tansyrr.com/ Tansy Rayner Roberts

    I think the idea that parents don’t think about this stuff and deal with it on a daily basis is pretty patronising, Kath.  It’s all very well to say that parents have a choice in what toys they give their children (which is true, but over simplified) but if the choice is a building toy with no female characters, and one that is pink and princessy all over, is that a fair choice?  You’re either telling your daughter (or son) that pink is the only way to demonstrate feminininity, OR you’re telling them that girls don’t matter, aren’t important.

    The same thing happens in the superhero aisle, and Doctor who action figures, and all the other stuff my daughter loves. Finding girls in the sea of boy characters is far more difficult than it should be.  (and yes, she has Superman and Batman as well as Wonder Woman and Supergirl, but guess which of those were bought off the rack, and which had to be hunted at greater expense via eBay)

    It’s saddened me for years that it’s so hard & expensive to acquire female minifigs for my Lego-loving daughter, and that toy manufacturers think/expect so little of boys that they push sets at them with all or almost all boy characters, rather than a more diverse mix for their building and storytelling.

    Now I’m just sad I can’t buy that Lego Friends green plane (with girl pilot) pictured above, because my daughter would adore it, and so would my godson and his brothers.

  • Kath

    Perhaps it was a little patronising, and if it came across that way I apologise, but I feel my point still stands. There’s a lot of similar toys on the market, like Mega Bloks and so on, but even the “boy sets” for LEGO tend to still appeal to other people. LEGO do include some women in their other sets, but they tend to be in the more expensive sets. It’s hard to tell if they’re classed as “strong” or not, but they can often be scientists, researchers, historians and so on – there’s even a police officer, fire fighter and so on.

    But LEGO shouldn’t be about gender, it should be about creativity and expression. It’s sad that such a great toy has been reduced to articles like this, because it shows just how badly they’ve lost their way.

  • Victoria Eden

    I think that is the exact point that the article is making. It shouldn’t be so hard to find female minifigs or action figures that aren’t pink or more expensive. This line isn’t helping that.

    I bet if you did some Googling you could find the pieces used/instructions for the plane above. It might take some trial and error to put it together, but that’s half the fun.

  • http://twitter.com/Super_Widget Joanna

    On saying that, I have come across some pretty awful parents in my time working in retail.  I get parents asking me for something a little girl would like and after recommending a few genuinely good games they go, “But do you not have anything more girly?”

    I remember one time a young girl really wanted her father to buy her a math game on the DS.  Her stupid fucking air-headed father just shrugged her off saying, “Nah it’s all maths, you wouldn’t like it.”  I never wanted to punch someone so bad.

  • http://twitter.com/archasa Åsa M Larsson

    I have a 9 year old daughter who totally loves lego. Noone has ever had to persuade her to do so by making them pink or part of a “home economic” set. She loves the cars, the houses, the Star Wars fliers, the Harry Potter, the Atlantis – all of it. She builds her own worlds and creates stories of wonder and war and friendship. I am so freaking TIRED of toy companies thinking they give girls what they want, when all they do is create the horrible sterereotypes.

    Speaking as an anthropologist these “tests” are a joke and an insult to my profession as well! I doubt a single serious professional was involved in devising them.

    If you want to read a wonderful (and sad) story about a boy who wanted a video game with a girl protagonist and a purple console, and his awesome older brother, check out this blog post in HuffPo:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristen-wolfe/dear-customer-who-stuck-u_b_1190690.html

  • Anonymous

    The problem isn’t with Lego, or the actual set itself, it’s a symptom of sexism in toys, and in society in general. This isn’t some movement to topple Lego – I love legos. This movement is to topple gender stereotypes, especially the ones being targeted at the most susceptible of people.

    It’s not a simple choice that’s being given here; “either you want pink bricks or you don’t!” No, the marketing is VERY CLEARLY saying this product is for GIRLS. Meaning A) current Legos aren’t, and B) that girls won’t play with regular ones, and C) that girls only want to play with pink blocks and figures with boobs and curvy figure.

    All of those are wrong, and they need to realize that and admit their mistake, for the sake of everydamnbody.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1416961662 Tracy Hodge

    There is an equally disturbing trend in the Legos that are marketed to boys – they are all (with the exception of City) essentially war toys. Pirates, Star Wars, even the Harry Potter Legos emphasize the violent aspects of that world. I was initially thrilled when the Mars colony legos came out, only to realize that it was all about repelling invaders. Bleh. What ever happened to the giant box of bricks? These days I don’t want to buy Legos for my son *or* daughters.

  • Anonymous

    I remember back in the late 80s/early 90s there was a toy called “Dreambuiders” which was essentially chunky pastel Legos that you used to build houses. Their tagline was “The building set just for girls!” It didn’t last because girls who wanted to make stuff with blocks found the sets boring (you were only able to build suburban houses, apparently girls weren’t supposed to like cutting-edge architecture), and girls who didn’t want to play with blocks weren’t going to start just because the blocks were pink.

    I’m predicting a similar fate for Lego Friends. I know a kid who loves Leggos, and if the marketers had bothered asking him what kids wanted, he’d say a giant box of undifferentiated bricks. I’m sure if that had been an option, kids of both genders would have told Leggo they wanted that, not pointless gendered crap.

  • Anonymous

    This really seems like something the market will control.  I seriously doubt that in a world full of better options for concerned parents that this would succeed, but if it did, it would be because there are girls who WANT this kind of plaything available.  There are Polly Pockets, Littlest Pet Shops, Bratz and a whole host of things that don’t fit in with your thesis.  If LEGO had a successful “girlie” franchise, I do not think it would be the end of the world.  LEGO fans who want to buy LEGO sets for themselves or for younger girls don’t have to buy these things, right?  This is the smallest non-issue I’ve read about in years.

  • http://twitter.com/chrysouladreams Chrysoula Tzavelas

    I do not understand why ladies who love LEGO as it is are convinced that all girls will love LEGO as it is. I am an adult woman and ever since I was a child I have despised the standard LEGO minifigs. Additionally, I think the new colors are awesome, I think the figure designs are far better than BRATZ and I think the kits are interesting and focused on what kids are interested in.

    I also don’t understand why liking princesses and pink toys is something apparently a child should be punished for.

    I’m trying hard to teach my son in a gender-neutral way. The only way the new LEGO hurts this is the ‘For Girls’ label at the top. The toys themselves are awesome, and he is very excited by them, just like I am. 

    As for the limitation of the line, it just launched. I’m really interested in seeing what they do in response to which kits are popular, and I plan on doing my best to help the inventor kit become the winner. And I really hope unlike their previous feminine lines this one sticks around because the new brick colors and some of the new kit concepts have been sorely lacking in the overall lineup.

  • Grahame Turner

    A) LEGO for girls isn’t anything new, ( http://brickset.com/browse/themes/?theme=Belville ) and 
    B) what’s stopping girls from going into the “boys” aisles and buying “boys” sets? Or vice-versa? (parents, maybe, but nothing else is)

    I worry that we may be pushing adult concepts onto kids toys, and judging from an adults perspective. At least what I remember from being a kid: I didn’t feel like I “had” to buy “boys toys,” I just had little to no interest in the “girls toys.” I don’t really remember the phrase “gender stereotyping,” but I do remember playing with some pretty bad-ass toys.

    So, I haven’t really got a problem with LEGO making toys “marketed” to girls–mostly because it seems to me a great way to get kids interested in building things. Perhaps there are girls who want to build stuff, but don’t want to build a fighting robot, or a ninja temple (and this fictional girl mystifies me), but if there’s a disco, or a dream house: sold! Nothing stops her, then, from using those bricks to make something else.

    It’s not like the sale of these toys will take other LEGO toys out of the aisles; it’s merely putting more options out there. If anyone is to blame, is it LEGO, is it the parents, or is it the toy stores?

  • Anonymous

    I have no idea why I feel the need to respond to this post. Maybe becuase as a new father I worry so much about the growth and development of my daughter and being able to relate to her with toys the way my dad did with me, and legos were a big part of that. I’d like to be 100% against the scary things I see out there for kids, but I have to be practical; I can’t eliminate it all and I can’t protect her from it. I can only teach her to deal with it.  That being said, I still have returned gifted pink clothing by the pound based solely on principle. But I haven’t eliminated it, nor would I. If she wants to like pink, that’s fine with me, but I refuse to bury her under it. If she wants to like this new lego trend, then so be it. I’d sooner bite my lip and let her play with these things than deny her the spatial relationship development that legos excel at teaching. Still, if anyone gives her a tutu, I’ll burn it on the spot.
    My parents gave her a home depot tool belt set, that got saved.

  • http://twitter.com/acidragdoll Bel

    It was completely patronizing and I don’t think your point stands at all.  What the hell is a parent supposed to do if their kid wants gender-”appropriate” toys, explain to them that they aren’t allowed because the family is trying to subvert the patriarchy?  You act like it’s so simple and like the burden is on the parent to basically keep the markets and the media away from their child.  It’s ridiculous.

  • http://twitter.com/acidragdoll Bel

    You realize it’s completely possible these parents had children who wanted girly things?

  • Kayla Martyn

    Liking princesses and pink toys is not something a child should be punished for. No one is saying that. The problem is presenting it as the ONLY option for girls, and telling them that everything else is for boys. This not only limits the girls, but the boys as well because most won’t want to play with something that is labeled “for girls”. 

  • Kayla Martyn

    Oops, I accidentally hit like on this comment. 

    There are also girls who do not want these kinds of things, but it’s becoming their only option because everything else is marketed to boys. And not everyone buying toys for a child will think about what the individual child wants. They will see that the toy is “for girls” and buy it, and soon little girls end up with only “girlie” things. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kalynn-Osburn/100000209378615 Kalynn Osburn

    I totally support your enthusiasm, but frankly the whole ovaries fist pumping sounded painful!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kalynn-Osburn/100000209378615 Kalynn Osburn

    It’s not so much about the Lego Friends being “girly” in appearance as it is about the LEGO Friends sets that you can buy which include “gender acceptable” standards of what girls should play with. If they had a fighter jet Lego Friend’s set I wouldn’t give a damn how pink it was!

  • Anonymous

    I’ve got news for some of you:  little girls DO like girlie things.  Not all girls, of course, but most of the 6 year old girls I know do.  I have a 9 year old son who owns every Lego set known to man (from fire houses to Harry Potter, Star Wars, etc.)  I also have twin 6 1/2 year old daughters who have never once taken any interest in building with those Legos. 
     
    My girls do, however, have a big pink bucket of Legos, which includes all of the accessories to build little pink and yellow and green houses with a flower garden and yard for a dog (which comes with the set).  And they LOVE it.  My son often builds with them too – using their pink blocks. 

    We have spent many an afternoon in the Lego aisle at Target and my daughters have never once asked for a Lego set until they saw the Hello Kitty Megablocks set show up recently.  And I have a feeling they will be asking for the new Friends set too. 
     
    Bottom line:  Lego created these new sets because the girls weren’t wanting the other ones.  You can debate the societal cause of that all day long, but you certainly can’t blame Legos for creating the new line.  I, for one, will happily purchase a set if my girls put it on their birthday list.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kalynn-Osburn/100000209378615 Kalynn Osburn

    I worry about things like this on a constant basis. Not just on the level of a woman who wants to have a child someday, but on the level of an educator who has to work hard not to reinforce gender norms on children who may not fit into them. In the end it’s not about whether LEGO’s releases a pink set or keeps it classic. It’s about the people. It’s about the parents who let themselves believe that girls toys have to be pink or purple or frilly or “gear” to their gender while apparently everything else is supposedly boys territory. And on the boys side, we reinforce their stereotyping by insisting that everything pink and girly is forbidden to them.

    Here is a wonderful little article http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristen-wolfe/dear-customer-who-stuck-u_b_1190690.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

    It gives some perspective on the whole issue from both perspectives.

  • Victoria Eden

    No worries. They have very tiny fists.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PXTUQYBHWYUZYLLWTRHYO3PJPM Jodie

    I don’t believe this article is saying the product itself is bad. Lego bricks tend to come in very limited colors, and it is wonderful to include more shades. Like you said, it’s the marketing that’s the problem. That’s IS what the article is getting at.

  • Anonymous

    I’m gonna respectfully disagree here. There’s no reason to have a separate line for girls, at all. The overt marketing push to boys over the last 20 years is the only thing that seems to “require” this overcompensation. Legos should have stayed non-gendered, that’s it. If you want the girls back in your market-share, start showing boys and girls playing and building things together, like they do in real life. If you want to have home and hospital sets, sure, do that, but they don’t need to be in another line. And they don’t need to be pink. 

  • Anonymous

    This. 

    But I think maybe she’ll understand more when there are nieces, nephews, and best friends’ babies around. It certainly was an eye-opener to me how impossible it is to keep your children from being marketed to for hours a day when I was suddenly surrounded by these small people. Even just going to daycare, or seeing their friends on the block with their Dora backpacks and Beauty and the Beast tennis shoes. You can only control what’s in your own home, after all, and it’s a big marketing world right outside your door.

  • Anonymous

    Something to really think about when you try to compare kids today to your childhood: they are not the same at all. AT ALL. In the last 20 years the retail sector has identified children as a new consumer market and this has changed childhood and play drastically. 

    And as a little bit of education, go to the toy section of target or something soon. Just look at how enforced and obvious the girl and boy sections of it are. It hasn’t always been like this, and it doesn’t reflect real life where boys and girls play together and share toys. At least until they really internalize that they shouldn’t, which is the only message this kind of stuff sends. 

  • Anonymous

    But can’t I blame Lego for dropping all their advertising that showed girls since the 80′s? Have you seen a Lego commercial or print ad since then as awesome as that one up there with the girl in cords? I haven’t. It’s all boys, all the time. Every lego commercial looks just like a hot wheels commercial, and they both communicate to every single person (and small person) watching that they are for boys and not girls. Children don’t just look at the world with fresh eyes, they see and hear all this marketing pablum directed at them from pre-speech days, but they don’t have the critical thinking skills to see it for what it is: gender essentialism. 

    And please, everyone on this thread: Nobody is saying that girls can’t like (or in real life don’t like) pink. We’re just questioning why it’s the only color they get. A spectrum of femininity is possible, we should recognize that in every cultural by-product we make. 

  • Anonymous

    Aww…don’t hate on the tutu. I loved ballet as a little girl. Just make sure your sons can dance in it, too :)

  • Kath

    Actually, as for the tutu – if she wants to do ballet and is good, then… y’know, let her. The strength and skill of ballet dancers is immense.

  • Kath

    “what’s stopping girls from going into the “boys” aisles and buying
    “boys” sets? Or vice-versa? (parents, maybe, but nothing else is)”

    Peer pressure and ignorance. I think children have pressure from their peers (and from adults, and especially TV) to play with what their friends are. If your daughter’s friends are all playing with Polly Pocket and she’s playing with Hot Wheels, chances are she’s going to feel some sort of social exclusion or even verbal abuse from her peers because she’s going against what they believe in.

    It’s the same thing that seems to stop boys wearing skirts/dresses, from designing fashion in school and so on – the social rules in that group are incredibly unforgiving, and if you go against them then it will be noticed. Some places will be much more lax about that, but generally? I think there’s a massive pressure on kids to do what the other kids do and play with the same sort of things.

  • Kath

    And why do girls want these things? Who says girls want these things?

    Do you not think that it’s, basically, some sort of conditioning? Due to the segregation of children’s TV and adverts, there’s This Is For Girls and This Is For Boys (and the parents can often buy into this), and the kids pick up on that. Girls are told they want the new Crapping & Crying Baby, Barbie’s Dream Nightclub or Pink Princesses Playfully Popping Pills – they’re not given any hints to the contrary, or if they are it’s always with a bit of a… controversy factor. If you think about the tomboys in cartoons and stuff, it seems as if they’re treated differently and perhaps not entirely positively.

    It’s the same with boys, they’re told they want these new things.

    Yeah, I think some girls will genuinely want these toys, but I think a lot of it is less about choice and more about the market. Children are told what they want, they’re told that these are the toys on the market (when in fact they’re a fraction of what’s available) and who they’re for. If you went to a school of young children and asked who the Princess Aurora doll is for, I bet you would almost unanimously get “For Girls!” as an answer.

  • Kath

    They still sell the boxes of bricks. Perhaps not so much in toy stores, but if you go on the LEGO website there’s a massive range to be had… just try not to facepalm at the pink sets.

  • Kath

    I don’t believe I’ve ever said that, but if I implied it then I’m sorry but that wasn’t my point.

    If you read the end of my post below, you’ll see I said “don’t be bound…”, by which I meant open your mind and that of your child, don’t restrict yourself to buying toys from one aisle of the store. Take your child down all of them, let him or her see what’s available and make their own mind up. Teach them that they’re allowed to play with whatever toys they want, and that even if it says “for girls” or “for boys”, it doesn’t mean that it’s just for those groups.

    Part of a parent’s job is to regulate what comes in and out of their homes. That might mean limited exposure to adverts on TV (DVDs get around that) as an example, but it could take any form.

    Heck, even if your child wants these toys, write a letter to the company out of sheer principle.

  • http://twitter.com/Super_Widget Joanna

    Yes, that is true and there’s nothing wrong with that.  But when parents ask me to recommend something and then dismiss my recommendation for something “girlier”, it seems to me that they would rather give their kid pink princesses than something with a little substance.  Kids don’t really decide what they like till they’re about 7.  Why not introduce them to variety before hand?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_R7GVNIKWG3S2UTHEQOMSZXT4M4 Anna B

    That’s not necessarily true.  Unless you keep your child in an isolated cocoon, our means of guiding our children is to keep safe, learn, and live. We don’t walk our children around blindfolded, forbid them to watch TV, surf, gag them, plug their ears or have a remote zapper to keep them from absorbing what other people around them, WHO AREN’T their parents, tell them.

    It’s all well and good that we can tell little kids what they can eat, what they can or can’t watch on TV, what they can or can’t etc., but try explaining gender stereotyping to a 4 year old boy when they tell you what they want at the toy store. Or the video game store.  Go ahead. Explain it. They may not object, but they’re not going to understand it.

    Case in point, my own four year old is a huge fan of Dora.  When his aunt mused, “Isn’t that for girls?” I said, “No. I think it’s appropriate for both girls and boys.” If he wears my shoes, I don’t tell him, “No, that’s for girls.” When I saw him wearing a princess costume, I didn’t stop him and tell him he can’t. I just told him I loved what he was wearing. I let him watched Tangled, because I knew he’d enjoy it, and he did, and I don’t care if he likes watching Disney Princesses. I also don’t mind if he plays with his Ironman and Spiderman figurines. I love it that his Power Rangers collection includes the pink and yellow rangers, along with red, blue, green, and gold, as a matter of fact–because they’re part of the team. I didn’t give it a thought when he preferred to wear a Wolverine costume for Halloween. And so on and so forth. So on my part, I am trying to create a non-gender stereotyped environment for him. HOWEVER, one day, when I sent him off to school with a Dora band-aid, he came home declaring that he didn’t want Dora band-aids anymore, because some little girl told him, “It’s for girls!” Before this incident, I’ve *never* introduced gender stereotyping to him. Never. At least not that kind (I’m hardwired to buy his clothes from the “boys” section. If he, however, asks me to buy him a skirt, I would) But here we have it.

    On hindsight, if I hadn’t been around, his aunt, who had object to him kissing his cousin, also a boy, goodbye, or even his father, who needed a nudge about it a couple of times, would have introduced it to him earlier. But in both cases, they never gave me a problem for it.  

    This isn’t a case of other parents being or not being diligent about this.  In the case of Dora, a few years ago, it was marketed to both boys and girls. It’s only lately than an explosion of PINK Dora made it “for girls”, and Diego “for boys”. 

    So no, it isn’t that we’re falling in the traps on consumerism. More like we’re being shoved into it. Or pulled. Or coerced. We’re not raising robots. We’re raising people.  In the same way I’m not going to forbid my son from liking toys that are typically associated with boys, and in the spirit of it, for girls, I can’t keep him from the reality that society and more important so-called market-studies  in general has ideas about what he should or shouldn’t like based on his gender. I could, perhaps, but I would have to lock him up in the basement without TV, internet, or radio. No visitors, either.

  • http://claimid.com/lewisgrubb Lewis

    If advertising for commercial products has become the preferred method for communicating concepts to children, then we have far bigger concerns than gender essentialism in toys.

    Take a look at some Amazon reviews for these sets to see real world examples of young girls with diverse interests who enjoy having expanded options.  They seem to be finding the sets of their own volition, with their *parents* at their side.  Girls also get the gender-neutral Harry Potter sets, which come in a dazzling array of gray-green, off-white, and various browns. 

    Lego can’t force the world to make positive content for girls, but parents can certainly try to protect their kids from Disneyfication and American Idolism, or at least provide context so that their daughters aren’t pressed into lifelong service being consumers of vacuous products and shallow, self-aggrandizing ideas.

  • http://claimid.com/lewisgrubb Lewis

    This issue doesn’t end at adulthood.  There’s an evolutionary benefit to adapting to the wider social group, and it extends to all of human life.  I don’t think people realize the extent to which their interests, beliefs and actions are influenced by the psychological impetus of wanting–and needing–to fit in.  It’s so pervasive that this entire discussion is driven, in part, by participants who have adapted to a changing society without bringing a genuinely innovative belief to the table.  Even self-deception is something of an adopted mode of being, one that displays itself most prominently in group centers, where people are willing to do a lot of pretending to maintain a place among others.

  • http://twitter.com/chrysouladreams Chrysoula Tzavelas

    For reference, the flyer I found on my desk today for Lego Friends has 3 kits. All have pink in them but it isn’t the primary shade: the convertible is teal and purple, the cafe has a pink canopy, clear walls and a blue base, and the family home has white and tan walls, with pink and purple roof-tiles on a green base. Pink is present and a flavor but definitely not the only shade. 

    :-)

    Also, I’ll freely admit that I haven’t seen ANY Lego advertisements outside of Lego catalogs and magazines, ’cause we haven’t really watched much TV in a decade. It’s certainly interesting wondering how that’s influenced the kids.

  • http://twitter.com/chrysouladreams Chrysoula Tzavelas

    As far as I know right now the sets that aren’t aimed at girls aren’t labeled LEGO FOR BOYS (unlike the girl stuff). I am sure that yes, if they watch commercials that only show those boys, and shop at big box stores, and so on, they may get that impression. But the kits themselves don’t actually say BOYS ONLY the way the girl stuff does. I wish it didn’t.

    Also, somebody above did mention smacking a boy for wanting a princess doll, which is what I was responding to. Because apparently boys only want princesses to rescue or something. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/chrysouladreams Chrysoula Tzavelas

    They don’t really seem that similar to me but I’ve spent a fair amount of time frowning at existing girl-toy lines. They are _different_ from existing LEGO and I get the impression some people are reacting more strongly to the change in traditional forms rather than actually doing a side by side comparison of the new dolls with the other girl toys. That may not be the case here, of course,  but there’s been lots of screaming all over the internet.

  • http://twitter.com/MPelletierProg Martin Pelletier

    That’s a kickass plane, but I like the statement behind the plane better: that LEGO (the toy, not the company and its huge faux-pas) are awesome and creative, which means you can make them do what you want. Doing it in spite of the imposed design (and implied message) is brilliant.

    What are the other models made out of the LEGO Friends sets? What is the modeling community the article speaks of?

  • Kayla Martyn

    Oh, the punishment thing makes a lot more sense now :) That’s horrible though!

    I think nothing is labelled “boys only” because unfortunately we tend towards male being the default. It’s only for girls when it’s specifically labelled, and unfortunately a lot of parents seem to think that way and only by things labelled as such for their daughters. Then their daughters learn that unless it’s labelled for girls, it’s not for them. Everything else is for boys. I wish there was no gendering at all, and kids could just play with whatever they want! Wouldn’t that double toysellers’ markets?

  • Karen Fitz La Barge

    Our daughter is 11 and now builds and programs robots with her LEGO Mindstorm sets.  She is also on her LEGO league team at school.  –Her first year on the team she had to deal with sexism from one of the older male teammates who wanted to kick her off the team since she was female. So is this lego gender stereotyping real and hurtful?  You bet it is!

    When she was younger we were excited to hear about the Belville sets.  (Since she was into ponies and kitties and castles at the time, the Belville set was a nice addition to her other regular legos.)  –But trying to find a local store that carried the Belville line was a major problem. Nobody stocked it. –We finally got it directly from LEGO, but it took a while to come.  The good news is that once we ordered from Lego we were on the mailing list for the lego catalog, which arrives regularly and we didn’t have to deal with the “boy toy” aisle stigma anymore.

    As said previously, the problem with the regular lego sets is the rarity of female minifigs, and their vanilla generic presentation. They are not marketing the regular line to girls.

    The problem with these new Friends lady figs is that their LEGS DONT MOVE and they are not the same size as the regular minifigs.  Which means these figs won’t fit into the cockpit of the space ship properly.  These are major differences.  A major fail on the part of lego. And a major reason we won’t buy these.

    The parts and pieces and figures of the girls sets MUST be compatible with the rest of the line.  Because if they are not it is called SEGREGATION.  And we are not ok with that.

  • Is foiekaj

    Force feminisation on a boy that doesn’t gravitate towards a
    traditionally female identity through individual endeavour and you won’t be making a socio-political statement so much as causing irreparable harm to his sense of masculinity.

    I sincerely hope that – as a father – you prioritise the safety of a child’s mental health over social experimentation.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NE7CPHFMWHJDIQUPJKCQNFON3U Amanda

    Dang, that was so close. “If your daughter wants a fire station, buy her one.” YAY!!! “If your son wants a princess doll…..hit him…”?????? BOO!!!! :( If my son wants a princess doll, there’s a consignment store down the street and he can have one. You  almost had me there. But you forgot to take it both ways. Whose to say this hypothetical son has such a limited imagination that all he does is rescue said princess and then leaves it at that?
    I’ve been teaching my kids that there are more to princesses in this world than vapid beauty and servants. Because there ARE princesses in this world, THAT is a reality. BUT, they do NOT have to be “Disney” princesses. We don’t have to ignore the reality. Just change the stereotype. (For the record, I’m not one of those Disney Moms. Not my thing.)
    My final thought is this… those without kids postulate on this topic way too much. I have 3 kids – and older boy and twin girls. And they all play with a varied amount of Legos, dinos, Star Wars, dolls, stuffies, pink, blue, etc, etc…. in both the ways they were meant to be and in ways that stretch the limits of imagination and gender boundaries. Parents – relax and let their imaginations run. If you raise them with values, they will take care of the rest. :)

  • Kath

    It was also a poorly-phrased joke, so that’s probably where the confusion arose. It was a criticism levelled at the “man saves the princess” stories that happen frequently.

  • Kath

    All I can say is you got a like from me for that.

  • http://taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com/ Taste_is_Sweet

    Beautifully and brilliantly said. I have a six year-old boy and it broke my heart to see him go from a child who purposely decided all his stuffed animals were girls to a boy who is very aware that most of his classmates think he shouldn’t play with his ‘Little Ponies’ because ‘they’re for girls’. He told me very proudly that he thinks he’s changing their minds but I’ve also seen him no longer interested in some things because they are so obviously ‘for girls’. And this comes from peers, his teachers at school, and television, not from his parents.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_R7GVNIKWG3S2UTHEQOMSZXT4M4 Anna B

    Thank you very much!  Fortunately, we’re finding that more parents than ever (though not by a majority) are being more thoughtful about this. It would be more powerful, though, if brand corporations agreed with the philosophy.

  • Kath

    Oh, that’s great.

    I think that whilst we might disagree on certain small aspects, it seems like we all have the same idea on this subject. Hurrah :)

  • http://twitter.com/Librariandad Keith Engwall

    I’ve got 3 boys and one middle girl (age 9).  She’s surrounded by their toys every day, and while she does play some with the Harry Potter stuff, she really has never been all that interested in the Ninjas, Star Wars stuff.  She wants to be a vet.  Sexist, I know, but after she saved a kitten from under a Jeep, that’s what she wants to do.

    When I showed her the Veterinarian set, she thought it looked “cool” and “pretty”.  That’s high praise from her.  Do I want Lego to do more?  To make less frilly sets?  Absolutely.  But considering that their previous attempts at “girl” sets were jewelry, princesses, things you don’t actually need to build, etc., this is a huge step in the right direction.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.  Fortunately, they do have this great site for getting customer input (
    http://lego.cuusoo.com/), there’s a place for the above picture to be posted and for people who want this kind of thing to support it to get the folks at Lego to see that people might buy it, which is the best way to get them to make it.
    As far as the incompatible hands… apparently they don’t rotate, but they do hold standard accessories and you can fit a 1×1 brick on them.  And you can exchange hair on the heads with standard legos (probably not helmets), so I don’t know what that’s about.

    It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better than most of what you can find in “the pink ghetto”.

  • http://twitter.com/Librariandad Keith Engwall

    Ok, I can see your point.  I’ll still probably buy them (we can’t afford Mindstorms and I’d like to have some kind of lego that my daughter actually wants to play with), but I see your point.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Elizabeth-O/2061376 Elizabeth O

    You rock.  I was getting annoyed that people seemed to be missing the point.  The girl figs don’t work with regular legos.  That is not just a marketing thing, but an implicit statement that these figures do not belong with the standard sets.  It’s funny cause I was frustrated, and just about to make a post about this, when I came across your lovely post.  YEA!

  • http://twitter.com/Super_Widget Joanna

    Lol, wut?  I know plenty of guys who wear eyeliner and skinny jeans and they are perfectly socially stable.  I have perfectly straight male friends who watch My Little Pony.  Your idea of masculinity is entirely outdated. 

  • Grahame Turner

    Would that not, then, make it society’s fault, rather than the fault of LEGO for making “girl toys” and “boy toys”? 

    Bearing in mind I have a single semester of sociology under my belt (i.e., just enough to be dangerous, not enough to have authority), one of the lessons that stuck fastest was that societies will largely govern themselves. A group’s social code will largely be enforced with the threat of ostracism. Rightly or wrongly, peer pressure is one of those mechanisms. Part of the reason social change is hard to enact, you have to effectively get everyone to agree on a new social code–getting any large group to agree on one thing is nigh impossible.

    That isn’t to say I don’t think peer pressure is a factor, mostly that–especially after reading this story: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristen-wolfe/dear-customer-who-stuck-u_b_1190690.html –I’m more inclined to believe it’s parental pressure more than that of peers.

  • Grahame Turner

    Maybe the Target in my town is laid out differently, but it didn’t feel all that different from Kay-Bee Toys back in the day when I was there a couple months back (wanted to buy a LEGO set, got the Creator series. Hell yeah being an adult). There were a few aises with dark packaging and things that looked like they would explode, given the chance, and a few aisles filled with bright-colored (largely pink) packages. Down the back, a rack of board games. I do remember Toys R’ Us being laid out similarly, but on a much grander scale. 

    However, if marketing has changed, I would suggest it’s because of reinforcement. 20 years ago, I was seven–I was interested in Transformers, TMNT and LEGO toys. My sister would sometimes join me in Turtles-related games, but I almost never chose to play with her horse toys. Marketing likely reinforced those choices (my sister also watched the TMNT cartoon with me), and we bought accordingly. More marketing, more buying. Lather, rinse, repeat. It worked on me, it’ll probably work on the majority of kids–which is really the goal of marketing, as far as I can tell. 

    It just seems, to me, a bit reactionary to try and shield all kids from an experience that only a few may actually encounter. That isn’t to say the kids who may experience some kind of problem because they’d rather play with LEGOs than Barbies (or vice-versa) don’t deserve some kind of attention, merely to say: that’s not the goal of marketing–nor do I imagine ad execs would think it’s their problem. Consider how many ad campaigns are “successful” (i.e., you see the ads everywhere, you see people with those products) and how many of those you think are dumb–it’s clearly not marketed to you, but it’s still working on someone.

  • Grahame Turner

    Maybe the Target in my town is laid out differently, but it didn’t feel all that different from Kay-Bee Toys back in the day when I was there a couple months back (wanted to buy a LEGO set, got the Creator series. Hell yeah being an adult). There were a few aises with dark packaging and things that looked like they would explode, given the chance, and a few aisles filled with bright-colored (largely pink) packages. Down the back, a rack of board games. I do remember Toys R’ Us being laid out similarly, but on a much grander scale. 

    However, if marketing has changed, I would suggest it’s because of reinforcement. 20 years ago, I was seven–I was interested in Transformers, TMNT and LEGO toys. My sister would sometimes join me in Turtles-related games, but I almost never chose to play with her horse toys. Marketing likely reinforced those choices (my sister also watched the TMNT cartoon with me), and we bought accordingly. More marketing, more buying. Lather, rinse, repeat. It worked on me, it’ll probably work on the majority of kids–which is really the goal of marketing, as far as I can tell. 

    It just seems, to me, a bit reactionary to try and shield all kids from an experience that only a few may actually encounter. That isn’t to say the kids who may experience some kind of problem because they’d rather play with LEGOs than Barbies (or vice-versa) don’t deserve some kind of attention, merely to say: that’s not the goal of marketing–nor do I imagine ad execs would think it’s their problem. Consider how many ad campaigns are “successful” (i.e., you see the ads everywhere, you see people with those products) and how many of those you think are dumb–it’s clearly not marketed to you, but it’s still working on someone.

  • Is foiekaj

    My “idea” of masculinity is inherently more relevant than yours, for I am male. Anecdotal evidence and shallow interpretation does not qualify a redefinition of male identity.

  • http://twitter.com/Super_Widget Joanna

    Maybe the suicide rate is because men are being bullied into a “masculine” image by other men.  
    Personally, I don’t care how “masculine” a guy is and no one should force traditional gender stereotypes on anyone who isn’t comfortable with it.

  • Is foiekaj

    @twitter-317081222:disqus  “I don’t care how “masculine” a guy is and no one should force
    traditional gender stereotypes on anyone who isn’t comfortable with it.”

    I agree; ideally, nobody should force any type of identity on a child before they’re able to choose for themselves; but actively encouraging young boys to flirt with femininity if they’re not showing any explicit interest of their own accord is just as harmful; and would adversely affect a far larger portion of the male population.

    Your personal interest – or lack thereof – in masculinity in men lacks relevance; a male’s ability to find harmony between physiology and psychology is about far more than appeasing the interests of the opposite sex, I assure you.

    As for the suicide-rate comment: Are you suggesting that there is more pressure on males to adhere to traditional masculine behaviour now than there was at any other time in the last fifty years?
    If anything, masculinity is being shunned, vilified and manipulated more than ever.

  • Grahame Turner

    Maybe the Target in my town is laid out differently, but it didn’t feel all that different from Kay-Bee Toys back in the day when I was there a couple months back (wanted to buy a LEGO set, got the Creator series. Hell yeah being an adult). There were a few aises with dark packaging and things that looked like they would explode, given the chance, and a few aisles filled with bright-colored (largely pink) packages. Down the back, a rack of board games. I do remember Toys R’ Us being laid out similarly, but on a much grander scale. 

    However, if marketing has changed, I would suggest it’s because of reinforcement. 20 years ago, I was seven–I was interested in Transformers, TMNT and LEGO toys. My sister would sometimes join me in Turtles-related games, but I almost never chose to play with her horse toys. Marketing likely reinforced those choices (my sister also watched the TMNT cartoon with me), and we bought accordingly. More marketing, more buying. Lather, rinse, repeat. It worked on me, it’ll probably work on the majority of kids–which is really the goal of marketing, as far as I can tell. 

    It just seems, to me, a bit reactionary to try and shield all kids from an experience that only a few may actually encounter. That isn’t to say the kids who may experience some kind of problem because they’d rather play with LEGOs than Barbies (or vice-versa) don’t deserve some kind of attention, merely to say: that’s not the goal of marketing–nor do I imagine ad execs would think it’s their problem. Consider how many ad campaigns are “successful” (i.e., you see the ads everywhere, you see people with those products) and how many of those you think are dumb–it’s clearly not marketed to you, but it’s still working on someone.

  • http://twitter.com/Super_Widget Joanna

    Children don’t decide what they like till they reach a certain age, so exposing them to a range of options in their early years is far from harmful.  At least they’re getting an option and you’re not forcing any one ideal on them.  Teenagers particularly go through a myriad of phases anyway.  I myself went from hippy to goth to tomboy, all of my own accord and I’m far from all of those things today.

    Any parent who forces their child to live up to their ideal, whatever that may be, is harmful, including your forced feminization of boys and shit like Toddlers in Tiaras.

    There’s a huge pressure from society for men to be masculine and women to be feminine.  This is wrong.  The whole boys have to be strong and girls have to be pretty thing are old fashioned stereotypes that need to die.  What if a boy likes to knit instead of play sports?  How is he “less of a man” for doing something that he likes?  Who are you to tell him that he needs to be more masculine?  Masculinity isn’t being shunted.  Gender segregation is.  Let people be what they want to be.

    Men who are depressed are less likely to ask for help for fear of of appearing weak.  This is what stereotypical masculinity does to men.  Boys aren’t allowed to cry, this is what they believe, so instead of showing emotion or seeking help they resort to suicide.  Do you think this is right?  Does your ideal of masculinity include looking tough in front of the other guys?  Men are human and therefore capable and should be encouraged to express emotion or weakness.  Otherwise you’re just asking the impossible of them.   

  • Is foiekaj

    “so instead of showing emotion or seeking help they resort to suicide.”

    That theory doesn’t match statistical evidence. You still haven’t answered my earlier question.
    In modern society men are increasingly encouraged to disown masculinity and instead embrace expression of one’s emotions in ways traditionally associated with femininity; and yet the suicide rate is climbing.

    I find it interesting how the original subject of discussion was the issue I have with inversely asserting masculinity and femininity on respectively gendered children when there is a deficiency of explicit merit; and yet it hasn’t taken long for you to evolve the topic into a condemnation of masculine values.
    You don’t seem to be displaying any inhibition when lecturing a man on the perils of masculinity and championing feminine traits as solutions to male problems; yet in the same post you deny the notion that masculinity is being shunned or vilified.

    From well before the first foundations of civilization were laid on fertile soil; men have expressed emotion and weakness in a different way to women. The fact that the male approach to emotion isn’t effective for all men does not then equate to it being ineffective for most.

    If a boy wants to knit rather than kick a ball, then all power to him. He isn’t less of a male as result; but he cannot be considered a conventional male; convention dictated by the pattern of a majority. That’s neither good or bad; it simply is.
    I understand the feminism theory of underlying psychological equality between the sexes; that a gender neutral society will nullify traditional gender differences in mentality – differences engineered by a patriarchy. It’s most probably a fallacious philosophy; there is much more biological data contradicting the theory than supporting it.

    I think we’re arguing about two different issues. Suppression of identity is always a problem; whether it be a girl wanting to play sports, a boy wanting to knit, or either wanting to embrace stereotype – none should be suppressed. In that respect I agree with you.
    The concern I have is that there is a blatant display of hypocrisy amongst self-proclaimed “progressives” once the virtues of masculinity enter into the equation.

  • Anonymous

    Good thing no man has ever been raised by women. What a disaster that would have been!

  • Is foiekaj

    You’re a fan of Eminem too? What’s your favourite album? Personally I think the Marshal Mathers LP was a classic; but the Slim Shady LP is a close second.

  • http://twitter.com/Super_Widget Joanna

    Why is expressing emotion a bad thing for a man?  What about masculinity is being suppressed?  I don’t think men are killing themselves because they are being encouraged to be nice.  I really don’t get what masculinity is to you, because of all the men I know, being a man involves being a good person and doing the right thing. 

  • http://twitter.com/Super_Widget Joanna

    A shining example of all mothers everywhere I know. 

  • http://twitter.com/Super_Widget Joanna

    And hey, isn’t Eminem like rich and famous now?

  • http://www.facebook.com/colonel.greenlead Robin Chang

    Susana,

    I’m a member of an internet community watchdog group for inappropriate use of LEGO fan-made Intellectual Property.

    I’d like to point out that the first image in this post is an original fan creation by Nathaniel Brill (http://www.flickr.com/photos/34338074@N06/6671163259/in/pool-1832004@N24/).

    As you did not obtain permission from Nathaniel to use this image, please remove it from your blog post.

    Regards,

    Robin “GreenLead” Chang

  • Anonymous

    Everyone seems to forget Paradisa. 20 years ago, I had “girl Legos”. They were pastel and were things like a beach cafe and a horse stable.

    I’m not agreeing with the Lego Friends choice, but not because they are making girly Legos…but because the minifigs can’t be used with the regular sets. Have feminine Legos and masculine Legos, that’s fine. But let them all be used interchangeably.

  • David Pickett

    Thank you for your continued coverage of this story. It has been very on point and helpful in my thinking about the LEGO Friends sets. I just wrote an article the analyses the 40 year history of the LEGO Group’s attempts to market to girls which you may find interesting http://thinkingbrickly.blogspot.com/2012/01/lego-gender-gap.html

  • http://twitter.com/LegoMyMamma LegoMyMamma

    Actually, one of the new Friends sets is an airplane: http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=3063-1  TLG can only get so many products launched at one time, not to mention they’ve been busy with a bunch of spam.

    All LEGO sets are meant to be re-built using the owners’ imagination.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ryan-Howerter/100002260871449 Ryan Howerter

    As a 19-year-old (male) member of the adult Lego online community, I couldn’t be happier with the Friends theme. Of course, all I look at is parts and the pretty colors. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000633315228 John Lockhart

    That may well be. But the particular aeroplane pictured is not an official LEGO set, and therefore the picture cannot be used without permission of the owner.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ryan-Howerter/100002260871449 Ryan Howerter

    –edited (I misunderstood your comment at first)–

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eden-Godsoe/642513371 Eden Godsoe

    As a girl I was really into math, science, building, etc.  And I want my daughter to be excited about those things too as well as confident in her skills.  I hope she loves LEGO as much as I did and as much as her older brother does.  However I don’t think we need pink & purple LEGO to get her interested.  I pulled together a list of gender-neutral toys that will foster an interest in math & construction without jumping to stereotypes.  Here is that list in case you are interested.  

    Toys & Tips to Feed a Girl’s Love of Math, Science & Building
    http://www.skinnyscoop.com/list/eden/toys-tips-to-feed-a-girls-love-of-building-math-science

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=606635719 Meg McGarry

    I love it when people who DON’T have kids (don’t even WANT kids, by their own confession) tell parents they aren’t doing their jobs and how to correct this problem. Thanks!!! :D

  • Anonymous

    ok im a 66 year old female fan of legos.  i have 7 grand children. 4 boys 3 girls.  they boys that are older got tired of legos at about 4 or 5. i have  a 6 year old grandson that still playes with them.  one of the girls who will soon be 14 loves them. we are mostly into modulars. i have bought us 2 of the friends sets and we love them!  we usually build the set, then after a short time take them apart and build something else.  i think everyone has went crazy over  a toy.  its just a toy. she likes cats dogs frogs and birds. she likes to go shoping for new cloths  with her friends.  she is a twin and her twin is the girly girl. this is how they have always been. different as night and day and  bff. don’t make a mountain out of a molehill!