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Leave Lego alone

Why gender politics don’t belong in the playpen


 

zgrredek/Flickr

A number of so-called “feminist” and “health” groups are speaking out against Lego for launching an allegedly sexist line of building blocks and action figures specifically designed for girls. Said groups believe that the new pink and pastel-y Lego line gives young girls the impression that “being pretty is more important than who you are or what you can do.” But Lego says it created the line after getting requests from female customers (“moms and girls”) to make toys with brighter colours and domestic themes: i.e. girls want to play house, not just build one.

And why shouldn’t they be able to? If boys/tomboys can build Lego spaceships, why can’t girly girls build Lego doll houses? Besides, marketing a new line to girly girls won’t dissuade tomboys from using traditional Lego anyway. I know this because I was a tomboy, and seeing girl toys on TV didn’t shame me into discarding my action figures; it just made me happy that I had a Transformer that could contort itself instead of a baby doll that could pee on its leg. Advertising may work wonders on kids, but it doesn’t make them want things they don’t like. Even McDonald’s couldn’t market a kid-friendly salad. Lego’s foray into feminized toys is good thing, because it will encourage girls to build pink palaces rather than buy them preassembled. Gender politics don’t belong in the playroom for the most basic of reasons: kids don’t care about politics. They care about playing—and all playing is role playing. Why can’t a little girl be an astronaut one day and a happy homemaker the next? Isn’t that what play is for, the uninhibited ability to inhabit different identities?

The compulsion of feminist groups and new age parents to pull back the pink and blue lining on kid culture is undoubtedly a noble one. But if they really want to make the world a better place for kids, they should stop promoting gender-neutral toys, and hammer home the message that the gender of your toy doesn’t have to match your own.


 
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Leave Lego alone

  1. There was nothing wrong with Lego the way it was.

    Enough with the pink girly-girl crap.

    • Isn’t the “crap” the notion that because something is the colour pink this makes it “girly-girl”?

      Would you ever call on a man to stop wearing  a “pink girly-girl” tie???

      • Pink and girly-girl stuff go together….and it doesn’t reflect anything about real people.  It’s purely a marketing ploy that people have been told to confuse with biology.

        • I’m not saying there’s no marketing advice being considered by lego, but my four year old niece asking her mom why there’s no pink lego isn’t a “marketing ploy”, it’s just a young human being who likes the colour pink wanting to buy a product she’s interested in in the colour she likes.

          • Who raised her to think building blocks should be pink?

          • It’s just impossible that she likes pink because she likes pink? My other niece prefers green. Was there a plot by the environmentalists to get to her too?

      • “Would you ever call on a man to stop wearing  a “pink girly-girl” tie?”

        I would and I do. Men shouldn’t let other men wear pink – if there was a handbook for males, never wear pink would be in there along with a few other basic sartorial do’s/don’ts like no underwear with kilt.

        • It’s just a colour. It’s not biology.

          • Exactly.

          • So men can wear pink…and girls shouldn’t be drowned in it, as though it had something to do with their gender.

        • I’m with you on the kilt bit, but pink is so great with my skin tone!

          • Keep wearing it…

  2. What’s a little funny is that most of these articles that lament the girly Lego don’t seem to remember that they’ve done it before. My younger sister had the whole Paradiso collection and they were full of pink blocks, dolphins, and female Lego figured in bathing suits and the like. Of course, she played with my Castle, Pirate, and Imperial (Colonialism!!!) Lego sets too, just to balance things out.

  3. I would have been all over this stuff as a kid!!! “Lego’s foray into feminized toys is good thing, because it will encourage girls to build pink palaces rather than buy them preassembled”…… sooooo true!!! SIGING YOUR PRAISES LEGO!!!

    • Anyone who buys a pink castle should have their head read.

      • It may not be to everyone’s taste, but I don’t think that a person who bought this, or this, or this is necessarily in need of professional psychological help.

        • I can’t see 2 out of the 3….but you are nit-picking to avoid the point.

          • Hmmm something weird with the links I can’t seem to fix.

            As to your point, it seems to be that anyone who likes pink is either crazy or weak minded.

            Unless they’re a man.

          • Stop it.

  4. Lego is the perfect toy, the way it WAS. Not even the “now you can build a pirate ship with everything in THIS box!” can match the awesomeness of the Legso of thirty years ago, when the kids were faced with a mountain of red/blue/white/black blocks, and some weird “roof” blocks and yet managed to create for endless hours.  I know I did.  
    These new colours, as well as the “kits”, are an insult to kids’ intelligence.  Give them something simple, and they’ll create masterpieces!  

    • Well, why don’t we just give them wooden blocks then.  Let’s not let have kids have any fun in case we stunt their imaginations. 

      • I don’t get why people care what other people’s kids want to play with…it’s not like Lego has come with out with anything that Barbie and countless toys that appeal to femine sensibilities haven’t offered for decades.  Why should kids that enjoy those toys be vilified?

  5. Seems clear that Lego wasn’t selling to girls, and hopes that this change will attract that market. How are they to be vilified for reaching out? Nobody said girls can’t buy Ninjago or World Racers if that’s’ what they prefer.

  6. I am 37 years-old and am a successful entrepreneur. I have no shame telling people that I am an avid collector of lego in my spare time. I also have no shame telling people that the new line of brightly coloured legos has brought me much joy and gratification as a lego collector.  That is all I have to say

    • You go Nathaniel!

  7. my first thougt is its just lego  just sayin

  8. I’m a step-grandfather with two young granddaughters and I bought two sets of “girly” Lego. They love playing with it as do I. I raised two boys of my own with traditional Lego and have always enjoyed the creativity of free play with this amazing product. When I saw the pink sets I said “the girls might like this”. The one who is the princess loves the pink and pastel colours. The other one is tomboy who will build a tower out of it only to take the utmost delight in knocking it over – repeatedly.

    I don’t know what motivated Lego to produce “girly” Lego, but I celebrate the variety and agree completely with Ms. Teitel – the feminists can leave us alone and let us enjoy ourselves!

    • ‘When I saw the pink sets I said “the girls might like this”.’

      Because otherwise it wouldn’t have occurred to you to buy Lego for girls to build things with.

      Cultural conditioning.

      • “Cultural conditioning.”

        Or being an observant grandfather.

  9. IF YOU DONT WANT TO PLAY WITH PINK LEGO DONT BUY IT . LOL 

  10. It was the ‘pink’ that triggered the thought.

    The point is we keep making divisions between people when there are none in reality.

    On edit…this was meant to be a response to @tom selleck’s moustache

    Not sure how it ended up over here.

    • I am not sure about your children and grandchildren, Emily but boys do tend to play with cars and girls tend to gravitate toward dolls.  There are exceptions to these rules but if you watch them play with a room full of toys that is the way it is and it isn’t “cultural expectations”.  I had a sister who was a tomboy…..out of 6 sisters, she was the only one who didn’t love Barbies. 
      The other 5 of us would have sold our souls for a “pink castle”.  We were absolutely pumped when my one sister got the Barbie camper for Christmas.  My parents also had sons and we lived on a ranch.  They could have cared a less if we were girlie girls or tomboys….5 out of 6 were girlie girls.  We had limited tv and read Nancy Drew that we took out of library.
      Lego is just giving the girls what they want.

      • No, boys are given cars and girls are given dolls…even babies learn the behaviour expected of them.

        It takes a very strong person to overcome the heavy-duty cultural expectations.

        ‘Pink’ is a retail gimmick….a manufactured concept to sell toys. It wasn’t even always pink.

        “An article in the trade publication Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department in June 1918 said: “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”[18] From then until the 1940s, pink was considered appropriate for boys because being related to red it was the more masculine and decided color, while blue was considered appropriate for girls because it was the more delicate and dainty color, or related to the Virgin Mary”

        They changed it in the 40s.

        • No, I don’t think so.  My nephew wore the little high-heeled shoes in our toy box and carried around the purse when he was two and then he dumped those and started crashing the cars when he was three.  He’s never looked back.
          Another nephew had an Ernie (Sesame Street) doll that he carried around faithfully until he was about three and then he dumped that for trucks and transformers.  We are all about getting boys to explore their feminine side……only works when they are young toddlers;  although there have been some boys who later “came out” who enjoyed the Barbies…..

          • They weren’t ‘exploring their feminine side’, they were just being normal kids. Girls play with cars too when they’re allowed.

            Of course it only ‘works’ when they’re toddlers….school takes care of that by forcing them further into the socially accepted roles.

            Boys continue to play with dolls though…we just call them ‘action figures’.  And girls go on to drive cars.

          • Girls do play with cars but in a different way than boys do…they don’t ram them into one another.  Boys like rough & tumble play.
            If you check the research you will find that the jury is still out on whether there are biologic gender differences in toy preference and the way boys and girls play.
            A 2002 study with monkeys showed that female monkeys preferred dolls & male monkeys preferred cars…..the monkeys hadn’t had any cultural suggestion prior to testing.
            I will leave you to do your own research.

          • LOL yeah they do.  Smash em up, run them off tables, fling them across the room.

            And they do rough and tumble just fine….the jury isn’t still out….sorry.

            Monkeys also smoke, kill each other and throw feces….so they aren’t anything to go by.  Plus, as you know….monkey see, monkey do.

            Kids also imitate their parents….simple as that.  If kids see mom always taking care of babies, they will play with baby dolls, and if dad drives a truck, they will play at driving truck.

            Lately….to the horror of traditionalists….little girls have seen moms do something quite different….and now they want laptops, cell phones and iPads too.

            No more dollies.

            Life goes on.

    • Not necessarily, there was the sad story of the of the boy who, due to surgical misadventure, was sexually reassigned. From infancy, the boy was raised as a girl and was touted as irrefutable evidence that the behavioural tendancies of boys and girls were entirely cultural. Unfortunately, as the boy/girl grew older, his biology started taking over, leading to the confusion and subsequent psychological trauma that resulted due to him/her trying to conform to cultural expectations of how a girl should act despite his internal biological drive.

      Likely, as with most other aspects of health and physiology, the nurture vs nature debate falls somewhere in the middle, and one can’t ignore one over the other.

      • Which simply reinforces what I’ve been saying.

        Human ‘sexuality’ is far more fluid than people think….and there are no hard and fast rules about who likes and does what….and no point whatever in trying to culturally reinforce myths about gender.

        • Respectfully, I don’t really see that as reinforcing what you’re saying. Your position requires the assumption that they’re trying to reinforce myths to begin with as opposed to simply responding to an already existing tendency and/or desire.

          It’s not as if Lego has some nefarious scheme to subterfuge biology and coerce girls towards pink objects in order to reinforce a cultural stereotype; they’re simply responding to the market demographics to expand their share. Or, put another way, if they could get away with selling lego to little girls without having to put up the capital investment of having to manufacture them in pink, they would have done so a long time ago.

          • Earth culture is solely myths and legends….successful ad campaigns just feed into the standard narrative.

            ‘Darmok and Jalad at Tenagra’

          • Right, by capitalizing on already established, observed and studied norms. Such norms may or may not have a biological origin. 

            Temba, at rest. 

          • Established by beliefs, folk tales and retailers.

          • “Established by beliefs, folk tales and retailers.”

            Not necessarily, and we’re just running full circle to the original assumption.

            Kiteo, his eyes closed.

          • LOL now you’re just being silly. Bye

  11. Pink is a color. So what. 

    I think the more important issue is not pink Legos alone, but the idea of programming the building sets to be a castle, car wash,  pirate ship, whatever…….Legos WERE better when they were just blocks of many colors and kids had to use their imaginations. 

  12. This is a very good perspective. And I like the way the last paragraph is vague enough to appease anyone who wants to encourage the reversal of gender roles while still offering “traditionalist” some sort of victory.

  13. Anyone who frets about the whole “pink” phenomenon has probably never had a daughter. We have two girls and we try pretty hard a) to minimize their exposure to marketing and b) not to worry too much about what they’re into as long as it’s reasonably wholesome. Our four year old has “loved” pink exclusively since she could say the word. And despite whatever sinister influences in the home that are causing this, her little sister loves blue. So there. 

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